April 9, 2003 | News Releases on
We Can Fight Terrorism And Protect Civil Liberties, Analyst Tells Congress
WASHINGTON, APRIL 9, 2003
-Pundits often portray
the battle between fighting terrorism and protecting civil
liberties as a zero-sum game, with one task strengthened only at
the expense of the other. But we can do both, a legal scholar at
The Heritage Foundation told Congress today-provided lawmakers rely
on fundamental legal principles.
"New systems for gathering intelligence, enforcing the law and
deciphering information can and should be constructed in a manner
that fosters both civil liberty and public safety," Paul Rosenzweig
testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on
One way to do that, he said, is to set clear guidelines for any new
governmental powers. Rule No. 1: "No fundamental liberty guaranteed
by the Constitution can be breached or infringed upon," Rosenzweig
warned. In addition, Congress should examine any proposed
intrusions into privacy and ensure they're necessary and as limited
as possible. And any new intelligence system must be designed for
the long term, since the war on terrorism is one with no
To do all this, Rosenzweig said, Congress must maintain strict
oversight, assessing each program and proposal on its own
individual merits. That includes the controversial Total
Information Awareness (TIA) program, which Rosenzweig said Congress
should consider more carefully.
"TIA isn't the Big Brother program some have warned us about," he
said. "It's about providing better tools to enable intelligence
analysts to more effectively and efficiently analyze the vast pool
of data already at their disposal." TIA won't harm civil liberties
if Congress crafts it carefully and maintains strict oversight of
the program, he testified.
That means limiting the government's access to non-governmental
databases, limiting who has access to information, distinguishing
between domestic and foreign activities and imposing tough legal
penalties for TIA abuses, he told lawmakers.
The federal government must also make sure its domestic and
international intelligence agencies tell each other everything they
know. This seems fundamental, but would mark a change from recent
history. Since Sept. 11, "the artificial limitations we have
imposed on information sharing are a relic of a bygone era,"
Rosenzweig testified. As with TIA, he said, the correct response is
expanding the power of intelligence agencies to collect and share
information, while maintaining strict congressional oversight of
those agencies to prevent abuses.
Finally, Rosenzweig urged Congress to "sunset" any new law
enforcement or intelligence systems. That means the new laws would
expire after a given period of time, unless Congress acted to
reauthorize them. Doing so would ensure oversight, and would allow
Congress to review entire programs frequently, to make sure they
were effective and were not infringing on civil liberties.
A transcript of Rosenzweig's testimony is available online at