Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.”     Frederick Bastiat

October 20, 2007

The American Freedom Agenda Act Of 2007

by 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.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m interested to see what happens if the press catches onto it. This is the only place I’ve seen it mentioned, so if it doesn’t hit the mainstream news sources (CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, etc) I’m sure it’ll die a quiet death since neither the Dems nor the GOP seem interested in reversing these powers.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 20, 2007 @ 10:49 am
  2. A quick Google search indicates that this hasn’t been picked up much outside of the blogs.

    Comment by UCrawford — October 20, 2007 @ 10:51 am
  3. This action may have held traction in say, 2006 or earlier this summer when the Democrats were all about reforming and checking the war powers of the President. But with the passing of additional surveillence powers however, I also think this will quietly die in committee. Of course, without actually taking action, both Dems and ‘Pubs will offer lip service about keeping the liberties of the people safe, while contributing to their demise.

    Comment by Adam — October 20, 2007 @ 12:40 pm
  4. It’s rare that I find myself unequivocally supportive of a piece of legislation; it seems as if there’s always a downside. But this bill seems 100% good to me; it’s a shame that so obviously necessary a piece of legislation has so little chance of success.

    Comment by Chepe Noyon — October 20, 2007 @ 5:49 pm
  5. I think it’s a great bill with no chance of going through, but Paul will no doubt use it to his advantage in his campaign. He’s a fantastic candidate and even being able to say to voters – look I tried to pass this legislation – will do him a great benefit. Good luck Ron Paul. I hope he wins so that I will be safe from American imperialism in Canada during my lifetime.

    Comment by bob — October 21, 2007 @ 1:14 am
  6. It is a good bill. Its getting no press attention. The Paul campaign doesn’t seem to be pushing it. I don’t see it mentioned on the front page of their web site. Its depressing but true that most Americans seem to prefer security to freedom.

    Comment by Bob — October 21, 2007 @ 6:53 am
  7. All of Ron Paul supporters send The Freedom Agenda Act Of 2007 information to every person they know and ask everyone to send to everyone they know and each of us write and call our congressman everyday.

    Comment by Sue Higdon — October 24, 2007 @ 7:26 pm

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