What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: timothy_m_runtz
Like the experienced doctor he is, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has diagnosed a major problem in America and issued a prescription. That prescription is a bill he introduced on Monday, October 15 titled the “American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007” (H.R. 3835).
In introducing this bill, Rep. Paul commented as follows:
This legislation seeks to restore the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution by our Founding Fathers to prevent abuse of Americans by their government. This proposed legislation would repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and re-establish the traditional practice that military commissions may be used to try war crimes in places of active hostility where a rapid trial is necessary to preserve evidence or prevent chaos.
The legislation clarifies that no information shall be admitted as evidence if it is obtained from the defendant through the use of torture or coercion. It codifies the FISA process as the means by which foreign intelligence may be obtained and it gives members of the Senate and the House of Representatives standing in court to challenge presidential signing statements that declares the president’s intent to disregard certain aspects of a law passed in the US Congress. It prohibits kidnapping and extraordinary rendition of prisoners to foreign countries on the president’s unilateral determination that the suspect is an enemy combatant. It defends the first amendment by clarifying that journalists are not to be prevented from publishing information received from the legislative or executive branch unless such publication would cause immediate, direct, and irreparable harm to the United States.
Finally, the legislation would prohibit the use of secret evidence to designate an individual or organization with a United States presence to be a foreign terrorist or foreign terrorist organization.
With the introduction of this bill, a line has been drawn in the sand. Either our elected leaders are for the Constitution, or they are not. There is no middle ground, no selective support, no obedience with convenience. Either a politician honors his/her oath to support and defend this document, or they do not.
It really is that simple.
And so, with this Act which serves to restore and secure several Constitutional guarantees which have been abused or denied in recent years, we will see where our leaders stand.
But this bill needs our support. We must get the attention of our various representatives and urge them to publicly and actively support this bill. We must hold them accountable and have them state where they stand, so as to learn if they really do support the Constitution at all times, or only when it is politically convenient to do so.
This bill’s importance is summarized by William Grigg as follows:
Point by point, the measure describes how the Bush Regime has made war on the Constitution — through the creation of extra-constitutional military commissions; the presidential designation of U.S. citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” devoid of due process rights; the effective abolition of the fundamental due process guarantee, the writ of habeas corpus; the institutionalization of the demonic practice of torture; the use of “extraordinary rendition” to outsource torture of detainees to terror states abroad; the employment of presidential “signing statements” to nullify laws; the practice of warrantless wiretapping….
The Bill of Particulars presented in the act is detailed, but not exhaustive. However, by addressing those specific abuses, and reversing the policy perversions that created them, the measure would bring our nation several important steps away from the abyss. Just as importantly, by putting congressmen on record about these matters, the bill will provide the public with a priceless tutorial regarding the true nature of our national representative body. A large-scale activist campaign based on this one piece of legislation could transform the Ron Paul presidential campaign — whatever its outcome — into a peaceful trans-partisan rebellion against Leviathan.
Likewise, Naomi Wolf, author of the book The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot, describes the situation thusly:
This is the answer both to those who say “What we can do?” and to those who claim (actually, sometimes whine) “there is nothing we can do.” And if we don’t act on this now we will get the democracy we deserve — which is no democracy at all.
Put aside your partisan ideal world — sometimes issues simply transcend partisanship — and if ever there is an issue that is above and separate from party politics, it is the restoration of the democratic system we inherited. There are good people and passionate patriots across the political spectrum