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Congress is hypocritical about privacy

Sun Advocate publisher

Amidst the controversy of the National Security Agency "mining" telephone company records concerning millions of Americans phone calling habits and the fact that President Bush admitted early this year that some Americans have had their phones tapped without the process being approved even by secretive courts, now we find that schools have been required to give the military information about students so that they can contact them for recruiting purposes.

This issue arose on this past weekend when the Deseret News printed a story about the situation. Most citizens, particularly parents have been unaware that this was being done by schools.

According to polls by the Salt Lake paper the majority of people don't see it as a problem; they believe that giving the government information that we would fear giving to just about anyone else is okay.

I'm not sure how I feel about giving the information up to the military for recruiting purposes; it isn't like students and graduates can't make their minds up for themselves. No one is forcing them into the military, although as in all sales, key prospects are identified through the process. But I do have a problem with the way this has been done over the past few years.

A few years ago when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed there was a provision of the law that included the directive that schools must give up this information to recruiters, or possibly lose federal funds.

Most people that were interested in education all concentrated on the provisions of the bill such as yearly adequate progress and other provisions that would mean an outward change in the way education must deal with students. Few must have seen this provision, or because of the ramifications of the rest of the bills impact, the word was slow to get out.

Congress has always been famous for sneaking provisions in bills, particularly spending bills, on things they really don't want a spot light on. Usually those things have to do with pork barrel spending. But once in awhile, or maybe more since I don't have the time to read every bill that goes through congress, they slip in things that might be debated heavily if it were brought to the forefront.

When you speak to members of congress, almost all of them will admit that they don't have time to read all the bills they vote on. Most have staff members who go through the bills and present a summary to the elected official who will cast a nay or a yea on the capitol floor. Certainly, despite these efforts things get through that members just don't see.

The hypocrisy I see here is that members of congress continually criticize the president for things he may do somewhat below what they consider the surface of the law, but they do it themselves within bills and things they propose all the time.

Whether the provision about schools was hidden or it was just there and no one noticed, is certainly debatable. But it is just another example of things being forced on us as citizens without our knowledge.

And if it was done to avoid our knowledge of it, it is that much more despicable.

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