October 19th, 2007

American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007


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.

Please look up and contact your representatives about this issue. Send them a link to the bill. Demand that they take a stand on this issue and show their true colors.

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

I urge you to take the time to review the bill, and contact your representatives demanding their open and active support as it makes its way through the House.

10 Responses to “American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007”

  1. Dan
    October 19, 2007 at 12:35 pm #

    This is an excellent thing that Ron Paul is doing. It will show just how little influence he really has over the government he wishes to rule.

  2. Parker (brother #3)
    October 19, 2007 at 3:18 pm #

    I like how this will show whether they are for the Constitution or not. It’s about time we make them vote for things that are black and white and not something that’s grey.

  3. Parker (brother #3)
    October 19, 2007 at 3:19 pm #

    And Dan,
    Im pretty sure Ron Paul isn’t planning on “ruling” over this government. If you want a ruler then vote Guliani. Im curious how you would vote on this if you were a representative (although I would never vote for you…)

  4. Dan
    October 19, 2007 at 6:11 pm #

    (although I would never vote for you…)

    Haha, I figured not. :)

    I like how this will show whether they are for the Constitution or not. It’s about time we make them vote for things that are black and white and not something that’s grey.

    Huh, Bush drew similar lines in the sand. Either you were with him or with the terrorists. Now you guys are using the same threats, either we’re with you or we’re against the Constitution. Exactly how are you any different than Bush?

    So how would I vote on this if I were a representative? I would vote against it. It’s unfortunate, but Mr. Paul chooses to respond in extreme to this extreme situation, instead of bringing things back to the norm. He would rather take this to ANOTHER extreme.

    Besides which, there are substantial problems with the bill.

    1. He doesn’t specify or define torture. George Bush says he doesn’t order anyone to torture, so any evidence gathered from detainees in Gitmo, under Ron Paul’s bill will be fine, because they can argue fairly that what they do is not torture (even if it is).

    2. Section Six about presidential statements is completely confusing and utterly weak and ineffectual. Come right out and remove presidential signing statements, Mr. Paul. Or are you afraid that once you become the ruler of America, if you completely close all loopholes vis a vis presidential signing statements, you wouldn’t be able to use them yourself?

    3. Section Seven:

    intent of bringing the kidnapped person for prosecution or interrogation to gather intelligence before a tribunal that meets international standards of fairness and due process.

    The Bush administration can claim they follow this to the T. Again, too vague.

    4. Section Eight. Under how Ron Paul writes it, Robert Novak will not be charged for revealing Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA operative. Again, too weak.

    5. Section Nine. Leaves open the use of force. Very weak, Mr. Paul.

    It actually is a fairly disappointing bill.

  5. Kelly Winterton
    October 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm #

    I have sent a letter to Hatch, Bennet, Bishop and Bush telling them that I am watching for their support of the Constitution by supporting this bill.

  6. Connor
    October 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm #

    Huh, Bush drew similar lines in the sand.

    Anybody can draw a line. The question is what the line marks. Yes, Bsh drew a line regarding his foreign policy, declaring that those who didn’t support his foreign aggression and neoconservative policies were against our government, and therefore enemies.

    This is a different line. The line is drawn regarding a document our leaders have all sworn to uphold and defend. In that sense, the line has already been drawn, but some have crossed over to the other side, as it were.

    Now you guys are using the same threats, either we’re with you or we’re against the Constitution.

    Threats?

    “With us”?

    No, either you’re for the Constitution or you’re not. Either you abide by its precepts and uphold its provisions, or you don’t. If you only partially obey the Constitution, then no, you’re not for it. This isn’t about partisan politics. This transcends partisan politics.

    It’s unfortunate, but Mr. Paul chooses to respond in extreme to this extreme situation, instead of bringing things back to the norm.

    Norm? What norm? Right now, the norm is anything but Constitutional. Like Orwell said, “speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.”

    Anything but extreme action—repealing invasive, un-Constitutional laws from recent years and radically downsizing government—will only slow down the train that’s plummeting into the abyss of fascism.

    1. He doesn’t specify or define torture.

    You skipped over the word ‘coercion’.

    2. Section Six about presidential statements is completely confusing and utterly weak and ineffectual.

    Um, no it’s not. It allows any signing statement to be challenged by our representatives in court to overturn executive rulings. Its a step in the direction of adding checks and balances to counteract executive arrogance.

    Or are you afraid that once you become the ruler of America, if you completely close all loopholes vis a vis presidential signing statements, you wouldn’t be able to use them yourself?

    What a silly and absurd question. Obviously you haven’t studied Paul’s voting record or proven character. Tell me, Dan, do you make such a loose insinuation simply because he’s not a fellow Democrat?

    The Bush administration can claim they follow this to the T. Again, too vague.

    What “international standards of fairness and due process” is Bush following? Sure, this is slightly vague, but it allows an avenue for criminal prosecution in court when somebody can prove that they’re not reasonably complying.

    4. Section Eight. Under how Ron Paul writes it, Robert Novak will not be charged for revealing Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA operative. Again, too weak.

    False. Read on:

    …unless the publication would cause direct, immediate, and irreparable harm to the national security of the United States.

    Ousting a CIA agent certainly falls in this category.

    5. Section Nine. Leaves open the use of force. Very weak, Mr. Paul.

    What does this section have to do with force? This simply specifies that secret evidence can’t be used when designating an individual or organization as a terrorist threat.

    It actually is a fairly disappointing bill.

    …in your opinion. An opinion with which, of course, I disagree.

  7. Josh Williams
    October 19, 2007 at 11:32 pm #

    I think Dan’s argument here is “If I wrote the bill, there would be no ambiguous language.”

    Sen. Paul is, in fact, a consummate politician; I expect that he chooses his words very carefully, for very specific reasons.

    Considering the track record of the Bush-Cheney presidency, there’s the chance the bill will be ignored no matter what how it’s worded.

    On the other hand, compared to the recently discussed California SB 777 , the “Freedom Agenda Act” seems pretty clearly worded indeed.

    I think any bill that gives legal leverage, however weak, against such a machiavellian, totalitarian oligarchy, has got to be a step in the right direction.

    Huh, Bush drew similar lines in the sand. Either you were with him or with the terrorists. Now you guys are using the same threats, either we’re with you or we’re against the Constitution. Exactly how are you any different than Bush?

    In my opinion, there is a big difference between the (faintly high-handed) idealism of Connor, and the narcissism displayed by Bush, Cheney, and friends.

    Forgive me for being a little philosophical here. An idealist says he won’t compromise, but generally, he will. A narcissist says he will compromise; but he will never do so, no matter the circumstances. (How’s that for “dialectic”?) The line that bush drew in the sand wasn’t a line, but a lasso; he reserved the right to pick and choose however he pleased, guilty until proven guilty.

    Nevertheless, the question implied in the text above, lies at the heart of the problem: “who gets to draw the line of constitutionality?” All I know is, it shouldn’t be the president alone.

    This isn’t about partisan politics. This transcends partisan politics.

    That’s easy for you to say, Connor. Just don’t tell the Congress!

  8. Parker (brother #3)
    October 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm #

    “Mr. Paul chooses to respond in extreme to this extreme situation”

    And you woudn’t? That’s like you falling off your house and breaking your neck, and the ambulance comes and tells you to go take a hot shower and get some rest…
    You can’t solve big problems with small solutions..

  9. LDS Anarchist
    October 29, 2007 at 12:08 am #

    I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for this bill to pass. Congress doesn’t care one bit about the Constitution. You are engaging in wishful thinking.

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