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News ::
GREEN PARTY CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF SECURITY
26 Nov 2001
Bush is sacrificing due process, protections
against unwarranted search and seizure, privacy,
and the right to dissent, with craven help from
Democrats, say Greens
THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES

MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release:
Monday, November 26, 2001

Contacts:
Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576,
nallen (at) acadia.net
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,
scottmclarty (at) yahoo.com


GREEN PARTY CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF SECURITY

Bush is sacrificing due process, protections
against unwarranted search and seizure, privacy,
and the right to dissent, with craven help from
Democrats, say Greens

Greens call for release of those held on
nonexistent evidence and suspicion based solely
on ethnicity or immigration


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Green Party sharply
criticized recent measures enacted by the Bush
Administration and the recent antiterrorism
legislation passed by Congress, calling them a
severe blow to constitutional rights, protections
against violations of privacy, and
anti-discrimination guarantees, and unlikely to
be effective in keeping Americans safe from acts
of terrorism.

"President Bush has established an Office of
Homeland Security that is subject neither to
congressional nor public oversight," said David
Cobb, a Texas Green organizer and Legal Counsel
for the national party. "We're seeing new tools
for the suppression of legitimate political
dissent. The distinction between domestic law
enforcement and foreign intelligence is being
erased. Ashcroft's terrorism alerts are being
used to frighten Americans into accepting these
measures and sacrificing their privacy rights.
These actions are systematically eroding the
freedoms President Bush says we are fighting to
protect."

Greens list several measures that violate
essential rights and freedoms:

*** The Antiterrorism Act passed by Congress at
the President's request in late October guts the
Constitution's guarantees of habeas corpus,
presumption of innocence, and due process,
allowing the the federal government (the Justice
Department, CIA, FBI, and INS) to incarcerate or
detain nonecitizens on nonexistent or secret
evidence, conduct wiretaps and surveillance
without evidence of wrong-doing, conduct searches
and seizures without warrant, eavesdrop on
private conversations between defendants and
their lawyers in violation of attorney-client
privilege, and investige private citizens without
'probable cause'. The bill also allows the
government to wield the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) as a weapon to
harass dissident organizations under the guise of
fighting terrorism, subjecting them to
unconstitutional search and seizure.

"The bill, with the Orwellian nickname USA
PATRIOT Act, is being used to target non-citizen
Arabs, even though the Constitution's protections
apply to all people in the U.S. regardless of
citizenship," said Steve Breyman, a member of the
Capital District and Rensselaer County (New York)
Greens and a professor of environmental policy at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New
York. "But this legislation abrogates the
constitutional rights of all Americans, even as
we're being told that opposing it means lack of
patriotism."

Greens note that the Antiterrorism Act passed
with the support of both Democrats and
Republicans -- only Sen. Russell Feingold voted
nay in the Senate -- and that conservative
Republicans, not Democrats, negotiated expiration
dates for some of the bill's more repressive
violations of privacy. The expiration dates may
prove meaningless if the 'War on Terrorism' is as
open-ended as President Bush promises.

"This is the same 'bipartisan' surrender as when
Democrats helped confirm Ashcroft and Norton,"
added Robbie Franklin, a Texas Green and
treasurer of the Green Party of the United
States. "Constitutional rights are not
negotiable, to be compromised in order to
investigate crime. It was against such
compromises that the Bill of Rights was enacted
in the first place."

*** Since September 11, the government has
detained nearly 1,200 people, many on immigration
violations; the Justice Department will not say
how many have been released. Muhammed Butt, a
55-year-old Pakistani man, died of a heart attack
after being locked away for a month on a simple
visa violation. Other detainees have been denied
the right to see a lawyer or their families. The
New York Times reported on November 13 that the
Justice Department is profiling students of Arab
ancestry.

"We praised President Bush's condemnation of
harassment against Muslims and people of Arab
ancestry after the September 11 attacks," said
Anita Rios, an Ohio Green and member of the
party's national steering committee. "But the
widespread targeting by the government of many of
the same people undermines protections against
bias based on ethnicity and religion. We take
this personally, as many Green Party members come
from Arab and Muslim backgrounds. Our 2000
presidential candidate is Lebanese-American."

Greens demand that those held on nonexistent
evidence, baseless suspicion, or irrelevant
reasons be released, and that due process be
guaranteed for all held on more substantial
evidence. The government should adhere to
prevailing standards of evidence and to usual
legal procedures for those held only on invalid
visas, with full respect for the legal rights of
immigrants and consideration of amnesty for
undocumented workers and their families.

*** President Bush has ordered secret military
tribunals, with the power to wield the death
penalty, for noncitizens accused of assisting
terrorists. Apologists for this order claim that
Abraham Lincoln also instituted secret trials
during the Civil War, but ignore the Supreme
Court's later decision that Lincoln's suspension
of habeas corpus was unconstitutional, saying
that military trials (what the court called
"martial rule") must be confined to the location
of an actual war, may only be used for a limited
duration, and may not be applied in places where
the civil courts and government are in full
operation.

"The U.S.'s reputation as a free nation governed
by laws and whose government is limited by rights
will suffer greatly -- especially in the Muslim
world, since most of those targeted will be
Muslim or Arab, but also among nations -- and
among many Americans, including Greens -- who
have called for an international court to deal
with terrorists and who oppose the death
penalty," said Anita Rios.

"There's an inherent conflict of interest here,"
said David Cobb, noting that the President's
order abolishes the constitutional separation of
executive and judicial branches. "The fact that
military courts are tied to the executive branch
means that there will be pressure from the
president to try and convict, for public
relations reasons, whether the person is guilty
or not. Furthermore, the verdicts of military
courts are not likely to be accepted overseas,
and it may set a terrible precedent for how our
own citizens will be treated when detained in
other countries."

*** Torture has been discussed as a means of
stopping further terrorism, even though torture
(whether committed by the U.S. or 'outsourced' to
less democratic nations) violates international
law, is notoriously unreliable for collecting
information, and places the U.S. at the moral
level of the Taliban.

*** A national ID card has been proposed, even
though such a measure won't stop terrorists and
can easily be used to violate privacy by tracking
Americans' travel, spending habits, and other
personal information.

*** Some Congress members and Bush Administration
officials (especially advisor Paul Wolfowitz)
want to revise the Posse Comitatus Act in order
to allow the U.S. military to be used for
civilian law enforcement.

*** President Bush signed an executive order that
allows any incumbent president to block release
of presidential documents of a predecessor,
whether or not the past president wants the
records disclosed. Under this order, files that
incriminate current and former officials can be
hidden from investigation by journalists and
historians -- a valuable strategem for the Bush
Administration to shield current officials from
future accountability.


MORE INFORMATION

The Green Party of the United States
http://gp-us.org


END
See also:
http://gp-us.org
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