by Caroline Fredrickson, Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 04:37:44 PM EDT
Caroline Fredrickson is the Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.
With Congress on recess and the president blowing out birthday candles, Washington's had a relatively quiet week. But it's the eye of hurricane - a few moments to reflect and regroup before it all starts back up on Monday.
This week, my ACLU colleagues have guest posted on MyDD about the Hamdan ruling, NSA spying, and the ever-expanding secrecy of the Bush administration. These specific abuses of power, and a spate of others, form a disturbing constellation. As the administration's power grab grows more visible, each abuse looks more and more like the same standard fare. Each new announcement of a secret, potentially illegal, and certainly troubling program or tactic is as predictable as it is shocking.
And it is shocking. The scope of this administration's abuses of power has no precedent. No president has operated under so heavy a cloak of secrecy, and no administration has held itself so flagrantly above the law.
In the name of "national security," Bush circumvents secret courts designed specifically to protect national security interests; he authorizes programs to spy on American citizens illegally; and fails to stop "rendition," the practice of kidnapping individuals and handing them over to countries where torture is the verified norm. All the while exempting himself from the rule of law.
It is long past time for these abuses of power to end - abuses that should never have occurred in the first place.
We've celebrated some notable victories this month - the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, the defeat of the flag desecration and federal marriage amendments, and the newly rescheduled hearings on the Voting Rights Act. We're gaining momentum in a powerful fight against government abuses.
I'm glad we've had this week in particular - the Fourth of July - to discuss these issues. The Bush administration's actions remind us why protecting our freedom is so important. Celebrating our nation's founders' triumph over tyranny can seem hollow when our current leader orchestrates spying, kidnapping, and torture. But we can and do celebrate the resolve and determination of Americans across the country to end this administration's violations of civil liberties, and our victories along the way.
Thank you for taking part in these postings. We're all working together to move this country forward - and we know it's an uphill climb! But this Fourth, I hope you toasted to freedom: to our most recent victories, to victories to come, and to protecting our constitutional rights for the next 230 years and beyond.