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.
by Shirley Tabata Ponomareff
In 1942, national League President Marguerite Wells cautioned that in times of crisis such as war, “the citizen loses sight of government and what government is doing, who is doing it, how it is being done.” She summed up the League’s objective in that wartime period: the support of democracy. Today, as our country wages a war against terrorism, the League continues in this proud tradition. From the time that the USA PATRIOT Act became law in 2001, the League has actively lobbied in support of legislation that would limit some of the law’s extreme provisions. At the same time, it has promoted education through panels and workshops as well as its “Local Voices” project.
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.