Christian Science monitor interview with the journalist who’s been covering the bill. Good mid-level overview of the content and implications of the bill.
“Secrecy is also a chief concern among critics. The Homeland Security Department’s actions will largely be exempt from Freedom of Information Act oversight by ordinary citizens and will be subject to a decreased level of congressional oversight, critics say.”
“Congress has, to a large extent, left it to the Bush administration to take actions it deems necessary. Critics say this is a blank check that could seriously erode civil liberties by opening the door to widespread surveillance, including creation of a centralized databank collecting all available electronic information on individuals. Supporters say tough measures are necessary during tough times. They stress that the administration will not abuse its powers.”
The founding fathers created laws to forbid searches without warrants and secret trials because they knew from experience with European monarchies that these sorts of policies were subject to abuse. The laws and policies should protect citizens in case the government abuses our trust. That is part of what they meant when they talked about forming “a government of laws, not of men.”
Don’t other people remember this from civics class (and I wasn’t paying that close attention, either)? Do the legislators remember?