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  • Jane
    http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060312/ REPOSITORY/603120387/1001/NEWS01 N.H. remains dedicated to ensuring liberties State pushes
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2006
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      http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060312/
      REPOSITORY/603120387/1001/NEWS01

      N.H. remains dedicated to ensuring liberties
      State pushes freedom in a time of secrecy

      By KATHARINE WEBSTER
      The Associated Press
      March 12. 2006 8:00AM

      Maybe it's New Hampshire's historic suspicion of big government.
      Maybe it's the state's fierce dedication to individual rights, summed
      up in the motto, "Live free or die."

      Whatever it is, New Hampshire has mostly resisted a national trend
      toward greater government secrecy and less individual privacy since
      the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
      Since then, federal and state laws have closed government proceedings
      and records while subjecting residents to greater scrutiny -all in
      the name of homeland security.
      But in New Hampshire, the Legislature and courts often have enhanced
      the public's right to scrutinize government, while protecting
      individuals from greater government intrusion into their private lives.
      When public access to government records has been limited, the
      restrictions usually have been to protect information about
      individuals collected by government: for example, the names,
      addresses and medical records of people filing worker's compensation
      claims.

      "Unlike what seems to be happening at the federal level, New
      Hampshire legislators by and large agree with the old saying that,
      'Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security
      deserve neither security nor liberty,'" said lobbyist and former
      legislative adviser Curtis Barry, citing Benjamin Franklin.
      Another homeland security law passed in 2002 actually expanded
      protection for civil liberties, said Claire Ebel, executive director
      of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.
      Ebel served on a task force after 9-11 that evaluated existing laws
      and model homeland security legislation promoted by the federal
      government. She said many task force members were horrified to
      realize how much power the governor already had: to declare a state
      of emergency or martial law; detain people, quarantine them or place
      them under house arrest; and require people to be vaccinated or
      receive medical treatment in violation of their personal or religious
      beliefs.
      The updated law still allows the state to demand disclosure of
      medical information during a bioterrorism emergency, such as the
      names of people with a particular infectious disease, and to require
      people to submit urine and other samples for testing.
      But it allows people to challenge such orders in court and severely
      restricts the state's use of medical information. It also requires
      the state to disclose summary statistics, such as how many people
      have been infected, quarantined, vaccinated or treated.
      "We may have been the only state where something good came out of an
      attempt to make secret so much of the government's business," Ebel said.
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