S.O.S., T.I.A.

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USA Today's Walter Shapiro demonstrates why awareness is turning out to be the worst thing that could have happened to Total Information Awareness. Expressing what Owen Thomas calls "boundless optimism about the government's technology capabilities," Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is introducing a bill to stop the TIA program. The idea has gotten some support from conservative groups (the American Conservative Union, the Free Congress Foundation and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum among them), if not from actual conservative politicians. (Shapiro notes that not a single Republican senator showed up for Wyden's press conference.)

This odd-duck left-right convergence on privacy issues represents one of the more dramatic shifts in American politics since the Sept. 11 attacks. Who would have dreamed just two years ago that conservative House Majority Leader Dick Armey and right-wing firebrand Bob Barr would leave Congress and sign on as privacy-rights consultants to the American Civil Liberties Union?

Well, people who have been reading Reason might have dreamed it, but it's easy to be principled once you're out of office. The Republicans in Congress have enjoyed plenty of success by staying on the same page with the administration, but this will be an interesting, and important, test case of whether they observe any principles beyond team spirit.

NEXT: Four Caballeros

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  1. JBT’s? You’re making me feel stupid; what are JBT’s?

  2. Just goes to show, the conservative Republicans in Congress are more interested in being Republicans than in being conservatives. Not that they’re alone, of course; Democrats are just as likely to put partisanship above principle. Which just means that the people running this country care about winning, not governing — a rather depressing thought for the rest of us.

  3. So what if congress passes a law? Since when as Admiral Pointy-dexter ever cared what congress said? This man has a track record of ignoring congress. Why do you think the Bush Regime chose him of all people?

  4. for all the good it did…..

  5. Actually, this kind of left-right alliance on civil liberties has been around for a while. The NRA and ACLU joined forces to criticize the lawlessness of Janet Reno’s JBT’s a few years ago, for example.

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