Blog of Rights

The Conservative Hidden Agenda: Restore Habeas?!!!

By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:50am
Among the various conservative luminaries—Newt Gingrich being one of the more recent—calling for a Gonzales resignation, are the principals of a new organization, the American Freedom Agenda. But, aside from the USA scandal, the AFA’s complaints are deeper and more profound. I offer you, ladies and gentlemen, the AFA’s hidden agenda:
  • Prohibit military commissions whose verdicts are suspect except in places of active hostilities where a battlefield tribunal is necessary to obtain fresh testimony or to prevent anarchy;
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture or coercion in military or civilian tribunals;
  • Prohibit the detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants without proof of criminal activity on the President’s say-so;
  • Restore habeas corpus for alleged alien enemy combatants, i.e., non-citizens who have allegedly participated in active hostilities against the United States, to protect the innocent;
  • Prohibit the National Security Agency from intercepting phone conversations or emails or breaking and entering homes on the President’s say-so in violation of federal law;
  • Empower the House of Representatives and the Senate collectively to challenge in the Supreme Court the constitutionality of signing statements that declare the intent of the President to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills he has signed into law because he maintains they are unconstitutional;
  • Prohibit the executive from invoking the state secrets privilege to deny justice to victims of constitutional violations perpetrated by government officers or agents; and, establish legislative-executive committees in the House and Senate to adjudicate the withholding of information from Congress based on executive privilege that obstructs oversight and government in the sunshine;
  • Prohibit the President from kidnapping, detaining, and torturing persons abroad in collaboration with foreign governments;
  • Amend the Espionage Act to permit journalists to report on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution; and;
  • Prohibit the listing of individuals or organizations with a presence in the United States as global terrorists or global terrorist organizations based on secret evidence.

Props to the AFA signatories, all of whom sport some impeccable conservative credentials—Bruce Fein; former Congressman Bob Barr from Georgia; David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union ; and Richard Viguerie, the “funding father of the conservative movement.” Here’s the piece from Time.

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