Now this is scary: finding myself agreeing with conservatives like Bruce Fein and Richard Viguerie (of all people) about important issues. Yesterday John Nichols noted in his blog at the Nation that
The Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch and MoveOn.org have launched a vital campaign to put restoration of the Constitution on the agenda for Democratic presidential candidates -- just as the conservative American Freedom Agenda movement has done for Republican candidates.
Fein, Viguerie, and other prominent Republicans worried about Bush/Cheney’s expansion of executive power are asking Republican presidential candidates to take a very specific pledge to restore the Constitution:
* Prohibit military commissions whose verdicts are suspect except in places of active hostilities where a battlefield tribunal is necessary to obtain fresh testimony or to prevent anarchy;
* Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture or coercion in military or civilian tribunals;
* Prohibit the detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants without proof of criminal activity on the President's say-so;
* Restore habeas corpus for alleged alien enemy combatants, i.e., non-citizens who have allegedly participated in active hostilities against the
* Prohibit the National Security Agency from intercepting phone conversations or emails or breaking and entering homes on the President's say-so in violation of federal law;
* Empower the House of Representatives and the Senate collectively to challenge in the Supreme Court the constitutionality of signing statements that declare the intent of the President to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills he has signed into law because he maintains they are unconstitutional;
* Prohibit the executive from invoking the state secrets privilege to deny justice to victims of constitutional violations perpetrated by government officers or agents; and, establish legislative-executive committees in the House and Senate to adjudicate the withholding of information from Congress based on executive privilege that obstructs oversight and government in the sunshine;
* Prohibit the President from kidnapping, detaining, and torturing persons abroad in collaboration with foreign governments;
* Amend the Espionage Act to permit journalists to report on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution; and;
* Prohibit the listing of individuals or organizations with a presence in the
The CCR, HRW, and Moveon.org are asking Democratic candidates take a more general pledge. As far as I’m able to tell, none of the candidates of either party would be willing to take the specific pledge (since it would mean opposing policies and practices they at least tacitly support).
Federal officials in the