Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Prominent Conservatives Launch Effort To Restore "Civil Liberties Under Assault By Executive Branch"

Four prominent conservative thinkers are set to launch a campaign "to restore checks and balances and civil liberties protections under assault by the Executive Branch," arguing that, "since 9/11, the President has acquired too much power."

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who led the effort to impeach President Clinton, is one of the organizers of the effort, called the American Freedom Agenda. Others are David Keene of the American Conservative Union, writer and conservative direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie, and constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan administration as associate deputy attorney general.

At a 1 p.m. news conference today at the National Press Club, they will pitch a legislative package "to restore congressional oversight and habeas corpus, end torture and extraordinary rendition, narrow the President's authority to designate 'enemy combatants,' prevent unconstitutional wiretaps, email and mail openings, protect journalists from prosecution under the Espionage Act, and more."

In a statement, the four said the president "has encroached on the power of Congress to make laws, and on the power of the courts to interpret the law - a scenario that the Founding Fathers foresaw and warned against." As a result, they said, "We are issuing this call to Americans of all political and philosophical persuasions to join us in urging Congress to enact The American Freedom Agenda."

"The AFA would roll back the alarming recent concentration of power in the White House and its end runs around due process... The AFA seeks to restore America's tradition of respect for the rule of law and the benefits of dispersed as opposed to concentrated power, to redeem the principle that no man is above the law, and to prevent injustices that undermine national security."

"We are conservative scholars, activists and writers. We do not favor a crippled executive or enfeebled government. In a time of danger, checks and balances make for stronger government because the people will more readily accept a muscular authority if barriers against abuses are strong. If at some future time Congress, in turn, aggrandizes power and invades the executive or judicial domains, we will be equally alert to sound the alarm. But today, the clear and present danger to conservative philosophy is the White House."

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