by Kelly McFarland Stratman and Nancy E. Tate
The League of Women Voters Education Fund launched its multi-tier project, Local Voices: Citizen Conversations on Civil Liberties and Secure Communities, in February 2005. The project combined one of the League’s strongest traditions—convening community dialogues—with established methods of public opinion research. A complete report of the project’s findings and the League’s recommendations for action was released on September 7. Citizen desire for a transparent and open government is among the project’s important findings. The League’s recommendations in a nutshell: When it comes to the critically important relationship between our civil liberties and our nation’s security, government openness and public involvement are not just desirable—they are essential.
In an exclusive interview, Rick Blum, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, answers questions on open access to government, individual liberties and security. He emphasizes the importance of citizens “asking questions, documenting successes and problems, and really pushing aggressively to defend participation and democracy.”
by Laura W. Murphy
The 2001 counter-terrorism bill known as the Patriot Act contains a series of provisions that are scheduled to “sunset” by the end of 2005. The sunsets were put in place to have some mechanism that would force Congress to give the Patriot Act a second review. In 2001, many members of Congress uneasily voted in favor of the bill with good reason. Now they have an opportunity to review and revise the Act to achieve the proper balance between security and liberty.