Power to the Princes?

Intellectual Freedom Issues, Privacy

A new administration in Washington. New possibilities. Hope springs eternal, etc., etc. With the arrival of President Obama lots of folks in the intellectual freedom community (me included) were pretty optimistic. One of his very first actions was to sign an order requiring government agencies to be more responsive to freedom of information inquiries. Good sign. At the same time during his confirmation hearings Attorney General Eric Holder was arguing for the retention of USA PATRIOT Act powers to go after library records. Not so good.

Since that first week, I’ve seen a pattern of advocating more transparency, oversight and accountability under law while at the same time retaining the extended powers of the Bush years. Am I disheartened? No, not really. During the euphoria of that interim from election to inauguration [warning, religious reference coming], whenever things got too giddy I kept thinking of a passage from the Psalms , “Do not put your trust in princes….”

It’s just plain old human nature. Once someone, almost anyone of any political party or persuasion gets power, they find it very difficulty to let go. They will find all kinds of reasons for holding on. For advocates of intellectual freedom this means that, while the climate may have improved, the battle continues. Keep the faith!