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Re: "Dear Newt" Letter...

>And what did any of the Democrats do?

>Anyone who thinks that Democrats are "better" for privacy and personal
>freedom than Republicans has probably been taking very high quality
>drugs indeed. A Democratic president has been pushing Clipper --
>Senator Exon is a Democrat.

Yes and Coates is a Republican, Meanwhile Grassley and Dole have a parallel set 
of lossage. Incidentaly on the Exon-Coates ammendment, look into the connections 
between Rimm and the Christian right. The legal footnotes were apparently 
drafted by legal council for the Christian Coalition. Granted there are few 
friends of the Christian Right's manifesto on the Internet, I personally 
consider them an entryist group which the Republicans should recognise as a 

The point was that the original post made the assumption that the Republicans 
were somehow differentiated from the Democrats on this. Its simply not true. 
Clipper was started under Bush (or possibly Regan) and Clinton carried it over 
without change. I don't see any sign at present that a Republican president 
wouldn't simply continue as well.

The only way something is going to get done is if the Clipper program gets 
labeled with the "take out with the trash" tag. Essentially there are always a 
whole series of civil service initiatives that continue from administration to 
administration that everybody knows are looser ideas but it is easier to 
continue with them than give the opposition an opportunity to claim that it was 
a retreat. It sounds (and is) a stupid way to do politics but that is the way it 
works. For some reason the american people consider stopping a bad policy to be 
a "flip-flop" and hence something which demonstrates the unfitness of the office 
holder, just as willingness to negotiate is "vacillation". 

Its not a new principle. Clinton axed a whole raft of programs that the Bush 
adminstration had realised were losers but had continued for the same reason.

What you have to avoid here is making the issue one of party politics. First off 
you will lose because you will bet on the losing side at least half the time. 
Secondly policies that get into the party political arena end up being treated 
in an absolutist and ideological manner which prevents any common sense input. 
You are likely to find both sides taking positions you don't like simply because 
it is advantageous politically.

Secondly you are likely to win the argumkent in the Congress and then lose it in 
the Whitehouse. The next administration will be either Dole or Clinton, more 
likely Clinton because Dole is a fossil and the next election will not be about 
the second world war or the cold war, it will be about responding to new 
technology. Neither Dole nor Clinton is likely to respond well to a mandate from 
congress concerning issues of national security. That is the card the FBI will 
play. The NSA have their own card but none of us know what their real concern 

What I am saying is that we must not allow the Congress to attempt to beat up 
the Whitehouse. They simply do not have leverage on this issue. No President 
will overule the experts on a matter of National security lightly, if it is a 
partisan congressional mandate it will be much easier to reject.

A much better strategy is to portray the FBI as being a rogue agency acting 
outside their brief. The debate must be turned from a simple question of privacy 
versus national security which you will lose regardless of which party is in 
power to one of ecconomic security versus short term national security. You need 
to point out the ecconomic cost of insecure communications. You have to bring to 
light the behaviour of the French for example. Make it clear that US companies 
are loosing business because the French regularly tap fax communications.
Make it clear that encryption is essential to provide high grade protection 
against hackers.

The privacy issue may be what drives cypherpunks but it is not the argument 
which will work in the arena you need to be heard in. They do not care about 
privacy, most particularly not protection against government intrusion. They are 
not even that concerned about protecting individuals privacy against corporate 

If you make it a party issue you will not only lose but risk turning the clock 
the other way. At the moment everyone knows that the export control laws are not 
stopping people from getting PGP. It is not a good idea to rub peoples noses in 
it. It is easy to ignore export violations by turning a blind eye. It is 
difficult to turn a blind eye when people are so anxious to announce what is 
going on. Phil Z. is not having problems because he wrote PGP, he is having 
problems because he made sure the FBI couldn't pretend they did not know what 
was going on.

If you make encryption a party issue then one of those Grassley bills will pass 
and the President in power may not veto it.