Liberty in America
By Jerome Grossman
President Bush incessantly describes America's mission as promoting freedom and democracy all over the world. Right now he is doing this in Iraq and Afghanistan at the point of the gun. Tomorrow he might turn his attention and military power to Iran and Pakistan.
However, for the past seven years, the Bush administration has done serious damage to American freedom and democracy here at home, violating the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in a number of ways. This must stop-and the presidential campaign should begin the process.
Many of the violations have been done in the name of fighting terrorism. When the president tells us that the struggle will last for generations, American citizens must ask themselves if we are spreading freedom when we surrender our own rights and whether that surrender is effective in promoting appropriate foreign and military policies.
We are engaged in a national election that will decide national policy for at least the next four years. Yet the candidates for the highest office in the land ignore these basic questions, preferring to campaign in generalities rather than rousing the voters to protect their heritage of liberty. Where is the candidate who will challenge government encroachment of constitutional rights by demanding a rollback of the following violations? That would be authentic leadership for change breaking through the banal clichés ordained by the media.
1. The government's assertion that it has the right to spy on Americans at will and without judicial oversight.
2. The government's policy of using torture while calling it harsh interrogation and later destroying the evidence.
3. The government's policy of kidnapping people and delivering them to “black site” prisons around the world where they are tortured and abused.
4. The government's policy on denying the right of habeas corpus to some individuals, locking them up for no reason and detaining them for an indefinite period without charges.
5. The government’s policy of funding religious institutions, violating the principle of separation of church and state.
6. The government's policy of going to war without a specific declaration as required by the Constitution, using instead an open-ended "authorization."
There are many other violations, some inherited from previous administrations, some thought up by the Bush administration to increase the powers of the president beyond those granted by the Constitution. We are in a crisis of our civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution but now threatened by semi-dictatorial powers put in place under the cover of a misbegotten war. As we impose our versions of freedom and democracy on other nations, we must protect them in America. The presidential candidates should take the lead but will do so only if the demand comes from the voters.