Civil Liberties

GIFT Gives No New Freedom on the Net

  • By
  • James Pinkerton,
  • New America Foundation
February 16, 2006 |

Remember when the Internet was supposed to liberate everyone? Well, that was then. Today, it's a different story.

But wait! Here comes the U.S. government, defending our freedom. On Tuesday, the State Department announced its Global Internet Freedom Task Force (GIFT, get it?). That's right, the same Uncle Sam who brought us such secret operations as Carnivore, Total Information Awareness and the National Security Agency wiretaps is now giving the world the gift of free and open speech. Ri-i-i-ight.

No Such Thing as Free Speech

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
February 12, 2006 |

Mark Twain once wryly observed that Americans had the great good fortune to enjoy the freedom of speech -- -- and the good sense never to use it.

A Caricature of Government

  • By
  • James Pinkerton,
  • New America Foundation
February 9, 2006 |

Call it a Tale of Two Places--and a Difference.

One part of the tale was told Tuesday in a Georgia Baptist church. Another part has been told in the Muslim world over the past two weeks.

Yet, perhaps the most important part--the difference--tells us how one violent place became peaceful, and how the other violent place became more violent.

Will Our Capacity for Destruction Snuff Liberty?

  • By
  • James Pinkerton,
  • New America Foundation
January 3, 2006 |

As we look to 2006, it's hard to be optimistic about the future of freedom. But over the course of the 21st century, there's reason for hope--if we think boldly enough.

In the short term, the threat to liberty is obvious enough: People overseas want to kill us, and so the government must protect us--although sometimes governments misuse their might, focusing on internal dissidents, forgetting about external enemies.

Proper Sin Tax?

  • By
  • Mary Bissell,
  • New America Foundation
November 22, 2004 |

It wouldn't be the holiday shopping season without schmaltzy commercials, mall Santas, and Halo 2, the most hotly anticipated video game in American entertainment history. Expected to gross $80 million, this "shoot-'em-up" sensation may not change the world, but it could help put the compassion back into conservatism with a financial boost for chronically under-funded domestic policy programs.

Losing the Home Front

  • By
  • Margaret Talbot,
  • New America Foundation
December 22, 2002 |

If we are about to go to war, then ours is a curious sort of home front. It's not just that the public attitude toward war with Iraq is ambivalent, though that's part of it, certainly. There is a reason we think of "home front" as a World War II concept and not a Vietnam one. "Home front" suggests the appearance, at least, of unified, even monolithic opinion. Support for this war is soft and shifting -- it depends a great deal on how pollsters ask the question -- and plenty of people remain divided within themselves.

We'll Just Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

  • By
  • James Pinkerton,
  • New America Foundation
June 20, 2002 |

Did you hear about the government's new plan to launch anticipatory strikes against evildoers?

No, not President George W. Bush's policy, announced on June 1, of "preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." That's old news. Now it's time to look ahead, to "Minority Report," the new Steven Spielberg movie, which offers a window into the dystopic future when government power is taken to extremes. If the film scares you, remember, it isn't "only a movie"  -- it's real life, too.

Arrested Development

  • By
  • James Forman Jr.,
  • New America Foundation
September 10, 2001 |

The Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., is the kind of institution conservatives love -- a place that offers opportunity but demands responsibility. Students are in school ten and a half hours per day, all year long, mostly studying core subjects like reading, writing, math, and history. When not in class, they work in student-run businesses, where they earn money and learn job skills. Those who achieve academically are held in high esteem not only by their teachers but by their peers.

When Perception Is Reality

  • By
  • Gregory Rodriguez,
  • New America Foundation
June 3, 2001 |

The growing national crusade against racial profiling is being called the civil rights movement of this generation. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans believe profiling is widespread, and an even greater majority disapprove of it. Yet throughout the country, the evidence for its existence is largely anecdotal.

Racial Profiling: Are We All Really Equal in the Eyes of the Law?

  • By
  • Debra Dickerson,
  • New America Foundation
July 15, 2000 |

Maryland police, claiming that Liberian college student Nelson Walker wasn't wearing a seat belt, dismantled his car searching for drugs; hours later, having found none, they handed him a screwdriver, saying, "You're going to need this." For two hours, sans explanation, Florida police held up a vacationing black family while they dismantled their vehicle, searched their luggage and brought in a K-9 unit.

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