- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

Nobles: Retired Reps. Richard Armey and Bob Barr, for soiling their shoes (though not necessarily their souls) and sacrificing a certain amount of income for the sake of civil liberties via their planned consulting work with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Staunch conservatives that they are, it's not likely that either would agree with many of the positions taken by the ACLU. Their records prove it each of them scored a mere 7 percent on the ACLU's latest legislative scorecard.
However, all three probable partners in this improbable troika are passionate about protecting the privacy rights of citizens even if they disagree about how far those rights should extend. Mr. Armey led the fight against the government's Orwellian-seeming TIPS (Terrorist Information and Prevention System) program, and Mr. Barr has repeatedly gone after the Bush administration on policies that he believed violated civil liberties.
Now, instead of being gaveled to a stop on the House floor, both men will have access to the ACLU's microphone. The ACLU announced this week that it is planning to hire Mr. Barr for a six-month consulting contract on informational and data privacy rights, while Mr. Armey is considering consulting with them on similar issues.
It's worth noting that each hour that each man spends at the ACLU is an hour that they could spend far more profitably say by billing for $500 per hour lobbying for someone else. However, both men apparently care so much about those issues that they are willing to put their principles before their paychecks.
Now, we probably won't agree with every spirited stance that they take or principled defense that they make. We'll certainly continue to disagree with many of the issues espoused by the ACLU. However, such service is vital to balancing the public debate. We wish Messrs. Armey and Barr well in their tenure at the ACLU.

Knave: Accused identity thief Philip Cummings.
Given his appearance in court this week as a key player in what could be the largest case of identity fraud ever discovered, Mr. Cummings may already be thinking about trying to change his name. He'll certainly have plenty of choices. Prosecutors believe that Mr. Cummings and an associate stole the sensitive financial information of about 30,000 individuals and then sold that information at $60 per head to scammers who used it to run up fraudulent charges of at least $2.7 million.
As a computer help-desk employee at a software support company, Mr. Cummings had password access to large databases at several major credit institutions. Authorities were alerted when customers at Ford Motor Credit Co. began complaining about unauthorized credit checks. They eventually discovered that Mr. Cummings had downloaded hundreds of credit reports at a time from both that company and several others.
As James B. Comey, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, pointed out, "With a few keystrokes, these men picked the pockets of tens of thousands of Americans and, in the process, took their identity, stole their money and swiped their security."
It may take years for victims to remove the costly mistakes from their credit records. The upside is that they are not legally responsible for the charges.


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