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    Archive for the ‘Presidential transition’ Category

    Events of Interest: Civil Liberty Groups: Constitution and the New Birth of Freedom (Jan. 14)

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    From the press release:

    The Road from Lincoln to Obama: The Constitution and the New Birth of Freedom

    The congressionally-declared theme of the inaugural ceremony of President-elect Obama, “A New Birth of Freedom,” commemorates President Lincoln’s vision in the Gettysburg Address. Developing this theme, ACS, together with NAACP LDF, MALDEF and Constitutional Accountability Center, will co-sponsor a program on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 entitled The Road from Lincoln to Obama: The Constitution and the New Birth of Freedom. Leading historians, constitutional law experts and civil rights leaders will discuss how the “new birth of freedom” that Lincoln’s spoke of at Gettysburg took form in the Civil War Amendments, which protected liberty and equality, how those Amendments have been interpreted (and in some cases misinterpreted) since their ratification, and how their promise can be fulfilled today. 

    The panel will feature:

    • Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
    • Doug Kendall, Founder and President, Constitutional Accountability Center
    • John Payton, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
    • John Trasviña, President and General Counsel, MALDEF
    • moderator, Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

    A light lunch will be served beginning at 12:00 p.m. The panel will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will end promptly at 2 p.m. Contact Shannon Hiller: shiller [at] OR register at:

    Date: January 14, 2009 at 12:00
    Location: National Press Club, Holeman Lounge; 529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor; Washington, DC
    For more information:

    PC World: Battle Over Privacy, Real ID Awaits Obama

    Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

    PC World has an interesting story about the privacy problems that President-Elect Obama will have to face, including REAL ID. The REAL ID Act was appended to a bill providing tsunami relief and military appropriations and passed with little debate and no hearings in 2005, though members of Congress called for hearings.

    The Act mandates that state driver’s licenses and ID cards follow federal technical standards and verification procedures issued by the Department of Homeland Security, standards that even the federal government cannot meet. I believe the REAL ID system (pdf) creates a fundamentally flawed national identification system and the Act should be repealed. It is a waste to continue to spend Homeland Security funds on this national ID system. Numerous states have rejected the program.

    From PC World:

    Obama has made virtually no public comments about the initiative, which calls for driver’s licenses and other state-issued IDs to include digital photos and be readable by scanning devices. In addition, the one time that the Senate considered a Real ID funding issue during Obama’s tenure there, he didn’t cast a vote. Read more »

    Privacy Stories Published During the Holidays

    Monday, January 5th, 2009

    Here are a few stories of interest that were published recently but were not posted because Privacy Lives went dark for the holidays.

    “City Will Use Cameras to Monitor Trinidad Area,” Washington Post. The District of Columbia will add surveillance cameras provided by businesses to a neighborhood for the usual reason — to prevent crime. 

    The Trinidad neighborhood will be getting up to 30 video cameras on the streets to deter crime, officials announced today.

    The cameras, which will allow D.C. police to constantly monitor the area, are part of a Safe City program, which is funded by Target and Sprint Nextel. Installation will begin in May, officials said.

    “Mexican congress approves widening police powers,” Associated Press. The Mexican Senate seeks to create a registry of mobile phone owners, including their fingerprints.

    Mexico’s Congress on Tuesday voted to broaden police powers, allowing law enforcement agencies to use undercover agents and taped conversations as evidence in a bid to help them fight increasingly bloody drug cartels. […]

    Also Tuesday, the Senate voted to create a registry of cell phone owners to combat kidnappings and extortions in which gangs often use untraceable mobile phones to make ransom demands. Read more »

    Events of Interest: Cato Institute Conference on Counterterrorism Strategy (Jan. 12-13)

    Friday, January 2nd, 2009

    From the press release:

    With a new administration in the White House, January 2009 will be the starting point for a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. This conference presents solid, immensely practical analyses of strategic counterterrorism policies based on the lessons and experiences of the past eight years and earlier, and on what proven strategies will yield the most beneficial results for the United States. In addition, the conference focuses on defining realistic objectives and allocating military, federal and state government expenditures according to these goals. To accomplish this, an outstanding group of national and global experts has been assembled to share their insights, accomplishments, and strategic recommendations for the coming administration.

    This Conference is made possible through the generosity of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

    Registration fee: $50. Registrations must be received by noon Friday, January 9, 2009.

    Conference Schedule

    Monday, January 12

    8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

    9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Panel I: How Overreaction and Misdirection Play into the Terrorism Strategy

    Terrorism seeks to weaken strong powers like the United States by goading them to overreact and waste their own blood and treasure, give sympathy and recruiting gains to terrorists, and come loose from their ideological moorings. Beyond avoiding war and misdirected homeland security efforts, counterterrorism strategy requires some subtle awareness of the different ways a victim state’s actions can play into terrorists’ hands. Countering the strategic logic of terrorism will require the new administration to adopt some very disciplined responses and deny superficially appealing impulses toward overreaction.

    Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute
    Paddy Hillyard, Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University, Belfast
    Michael German, Policy Counsel, ACLU
    Robert Hutchings, Diplomat in Residence, Princeton University

    Chair: Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute

    10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Panel II: Terrorism’s Causes: Grievances, Goals, or Gang Membership

    Much effort has gone into discovering terrorism’s causes, but the roots are as diverse as the groups that adopt terrorism as a tactic. Terrorists are not homogenous from place to place, or even within organizations. Some may regard themselves as geopolitical actors with articulated grievances, and others may be disaffected youth drawn to a thrill-kill cult. Understanding all the motivations that animate terrorists can help to frame a proactive and comprehensive counterterrorism strategy. Read more »

    Events of Interest: Cato Institute: Prospects for Putting Government Information to Revolutionary New Uses (Dec. 10)

    Thursday, December 4th, 2008

    From the release:

    Just Give Us the Data! Prospects for Putting Government Information to Revolutionary New Uses

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008
    12:00 PM (Luncheon to Follow)

    Featuring Ed Felten, Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University; Gary D. Bass, Founder and Executive Director, OMB Watch; Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Moderated by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute Read more »

    Events of Interest: DHS Data Privacy Committee Meeting (Dec. 3)

    Monday, November 24th, 2008

    From the Federal Register Notice:

    SUMMARY: The Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee will meet on December 3, 2008, in Arlington, VA. This meeting will be open to the public.

    DATES: The Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee will meet on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Please note that the meeting may close early if the committee has completed its business.

    ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held in Galleries I and II of the Hilton Arlington Hotel, 950 North Stafford Street, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

    Send written materials, comments, and requests to make oral presentations to Ken Hunt, Executive Director, Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528. Written materials, comments, and requests to make oral presentations at the meeting should reach the contact person listed by November 26, 2008. Requests to have a copy of your material distributed to each member of the committee prior to the meeting should reach the persons listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, below, by November 26, 2008. Persons wishing to make comments or who are unable to attend or speak at the meeting may submit comments at any time. All submissions received must include the docket number: DHS-2008-0185 and may be submitted by any one of the following methods: Read more »