The American Freedom Agenda Act Of 2007by Doug Mataconis
It’s gotten almost no coverage in the mainstream media, but earlier this week, Ron Paul introduced a bill that would repeal most of the Constitution excesses we’ve seen over the past seven years:
On Monday, Rep. Ron Paul, the outsider Republican presidential candidate who has long upheld these values and who was an early voice warning of the grave danger to all of us of these abuses, introduced the AFA’s legislative package into Congress. (The mainstream press has an irrational habit of disparaging outsider candidates — as if corrupt money and machine endorsements equal seriousness of purpose — even though the Founders hoped that the system they established would lead citizens, ideally those unembedded in the establishment, to offer their service to the nation.)
Here’s is Paul’s speech to the House when he introduced the bill:
Madam Speaker, today I am introducing a comprehensive piece of legislation to restore the American Constitution and to restore the liberties that have been sadly eroded over the past several years.
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 U.S. 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.
I invite my colleagues to join my efforts to restore the U.S. Constitution by enacting the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007.
By way of summary, the bill would:
- repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006
- prohibit the admittance of evidence obtained under torture or coercion in both civilian courts and military tribunals
- prohibit acquisition of intelligence that contravenes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
- grant standing to Congress “to file a declaratory judgment action in an appropriate Federal district court to challenge the constitutionality of a presidential signing statement that declares the President’s intent to disregard provisions of a bill he has signed into law because he believes they are unconstitutional.”
- prohibit all officers and agents of the United States from engaging in kidnapping, imprisonment, and torture abroad based solely on the president’s judgment that the person is an enemy combatant
- protect journalists’ rights to publish information acquired from the executive branch, with the only exception being when there is a “direct, immediate, and irreparable harm to the national security of the United States.”
- prohibit the use of secret evidence to designate a foreign individual or organization as a terrorist or terrorist organization.
The full text of the bill can be found here, and is well worth taking a look at.