Tuesday, April 10, 2007

American Freedom Agenda

Arnold Toynbee once said about apathy within a civilization,

"Civilizations proceed from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage. Apathy is also anti-democratic: democracy requires the informed consent of the governed, and will not last if the people can't be bothered."
Depending on who you ask you will get a different response as to where America is now in the cycle of civilization. My opinion is that we are in the selfishness to apathy stage, but beginning to lean towards the dependency stage. One way to combat this is to get back to the basics of what brought us our liberty and abundance to begin with.

In conjunction with this topic an alliance of conservatives recently held a news conference to announce the American Freedom Agenda, a coalition launched to defend civil liberties and roll back excessive presidential power. They explain their ten principles and invite all presidential candidates to pledge their support. What does this support entail? A return to the Constitution, the basics upon which our country was founded. Only by educating people about the reality of where we have come and where we are headed will apathy subside and change occur.

Check out the press conference video and the ten steps below.

The American Freedom Agenda’s (AFA) mission is twofold: the enactment of a cluster of statutes that would restore the Constitution’s checks and balances as enshrined by the Founding Fathers; and, making the subject a staple of political campaigns and of foremost concern to Members of Congress and to voters and educators. Especially since 9/11, the executive branch has chronically usurped legislative or judicial power, and has repeatedly claimed that the President is the law. The constitutional grievances against the White House are chilling, reminiscent of the kingly abuses that provoked the Declaration of Independence.

The 10-point American Freedom Agenda would work to restore the roles of Congress and the federal judiciary to prevent such abuses of power and protect against injustices that are the signature of civilized nations. In particular, the American Freedom Agenda would:

* 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.