Friday, November 14, 2008

A new Dawn Part 2: The Return of Liberties and the Rule of Law

I was encouraged by evidence of a New Dawn reading about the groundswell within the US Senate to restore lost liberties and bring back the rule of law.

Adam Cohen, writing on the editorial page of today’s New York Times, reports of progress made by US Senators, even before the new President takes office. Lead by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the effort has included a Senate hearing back in September – long before Barack Obama won the election – when law professors, lawyers and civil libertarians outlined the challenges.

Senator Feingold prepared a list of key actions. Quoting from Mr. Cohen’s article, these include:
  • “… amending the Patriot Act”
  • “… giving detainees greater legal protection”
  • “… banning torture, cruelty and degrading treatment”
  • “…amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to restore limits on domestic spying”
  • rolling “back the Bush Administration’s dedication to classifying government documents.”
Senator Feingold concedes that it will not be easy to restore the rule of law. As Mr. Cohen reports: “Many programs, like domestic spying and extraordinary rendition – the secrete transfer of detainees to foreign countries where they are harshly interrogated – have operated in the shadows.” (In actuality, the practice of extraordinary rendition started in the Clinton Administration.)

The time to act is early in the Obama Administration. The Bush Administration distorted the intent of the Constitution through the unlawful expansion of the powers of the executive. Through the practices of torture, detention without trial, and extraordinary rendition, it defamed the reputation of the US as a beacon of freedom and defender of human rights throughout the world.
When it comes to President-Elect Obama restoring liberties and the rule of law, I’m hoping: “Yes, he can!”

Reference: Cohen, Adam, "Democratic Pressure on Obama to Restore the Rule of Law," New York Times, Nov. 14, 2008, p. A28;

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