And maybe it's the FSP?
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
"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
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.