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GREEN PARTY CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF SECURITY

by Green Party Media Team Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001 at 6:56 PM

Bush is sacrificing due process, protections against unwarranted search and seizure, privacy, and the right to dissent, with craven help from Democrats, say Greens

THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release:

Monday, November 26, 2001

Contacts:

Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576,

nallen@acadia.net

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624,

scottmclarty@yahoo.com



GREEN PARTY CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON CONSTITUTIONAL

RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF SECURITY

Bush is sacrificing due process, protections

against unwarranted search and seizure, privacy,

and the right to dissent, with craven help from

Democrats, say Greens

Greens call for release of those held on

nonexistent evidence and suspicion based solely

on ethnicity or immigration



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Green Party sharply

criticized recent measures enacted by the Bush

Administration and the recent antiterrorism

legislation passed by Congress, calling them a

severe blow to constitutional rights, protections

against violations of privacy, and

anti-discrimination guarantees, and unlikely to

be effective in keeping Americans safe from acts

of terrorism.

"President Bush has established an Office of

Homeland Security that is subject neither to

congressional nor public oversight," said David

Cobb, a Texas Green organizer and Legal Counsel

for the national party. "We're seeing new tools

for the suppression of legitimate political

dissent. The distinction between domestic law

enforcement and foreign intelligence is being

erased. Ashcroft's terrorism alerts are being

used to frighten Americans into accepting these

measures and sacrificing their privacy rights.

These actions are systematically eroding the

freedoms President Bush says we are fighting to

protect."

Greens list several measures that violate

essential rights and freedoms:

*** The Antiterrorism Act passed by Congress at

the President's request in late October guts the

Constitution's guarantees of habeas corpus,

presumption of innocence, and due process,

allowing the the federal government (the Justice

Department, CIA, FBI, and INS) to incarcerate or

detain nonecitizens on nonexistent or secret

evidence, conduct wiretaps and surveillance

without evidence of wrong-doing, conduct searches

and seizures without warrant, eavesdrop on

private conversations between defendants and

their lawyers in violation of attorney-client

privilege, and investige private citizens without

'probable cause'. The bill also allows the

government to wield the Foreign Intelligence

Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) as a weapon to

harass dissident organizations under the guise of

fighting terrorism, subjecting them to

unconstitutional search and seizure.

"The bill, with the Orwellian nickname USA

PATRIOT Act, is being used to target non-citizen

Arabs, even though the Constitution's protections

apply to all people in the U.S. regardless of

citizenship," said Steve Breyman, a member of the

Capital District and Rensselaer County (New York)

Greens and a professor of environmental policy at

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New

York. "But this legislation abrogates the

constitutional rights of all Americans, even as

we're being told that opposing it means lack of

patriotism."

Greens note that the Antiterrorism Act passed

with the support of both Democrats and

Republicans -- only Sen. Russell Feingold voted

nay in the Senate -- and that conservative

Republicans, not Democrats, negotiated expiration

dates for some of the bill's more repressive

violations of privacy. The expiration dates may

prove meaningless if the 'War on Terrorism' is as

open-ended as President Bush promises.

"This is the same 'bipartisan' surrender as when

Democrats helped confirm Ashcroft and Norton,"

added Robbie Franklin, a Texas Green and

treasurer of the Green Party of the United

States. "Constitutional rights are not

negotiable, to be compromised in order to

investigate crime. It was against such

compromises that the Bill of Rights was enacted

in the first place."

*** Since September 11, the government has

detained nearly 1,200 people, many on immigration

violations; the Justice Department will not say

how many have been released. Muhammed Butt, a

55-year-old Pakistani man, died of a heart attack

after being locked away for a month on a simple

visa violation. Other detainees have been denied

the right to see a lawyer or their families. The

New York Times reported on November 13 that the

Justice Department is profiling students of Arab

ancestry.

"We praised President Bush's condemnation of

harassment against Muslims and people of Arab

ancestry after the September 11 attacks," said

Anita Rios, an Ohio Green and member of the

party's national steering committee. "But the

widespread targeting by the government of many of

the same people undermines protections against

bias based on ethnicity and religion. We take

this personally, as many Green Party members come

from Arab and Muslim backgrounds. Our 2000

presidential candidate is Lebanese-American."

Greens demand that those held on nonexistent

evidence, baseless suspicion, or irrelevant

reasons be released, and that due process be

guaranteed for all held on more substantial

evidence. The government should adhere to

prevailing standards of evidence and to usual

legal procedures for those held only on invalid

visas, with full respect for the legal rights of

immigrants and consideration of amnesty for

undocumented workers and their families.

*** President Bush has ordered secret military

tribunals, with the power to wield the death

penalty, for noncitizens accused of assisting

terrorists. Apologists for this order claim that

Abraham Lincoln also instituted secret trials

during the Civil War, but ignore the Supreme

Court's later decision that Lincoln's suspension

of habeas corpus was unconstitutional, saying

that military trials (what the court called

"martial rule") must be confined to the location

of an actual war, may only be used for a limited

duration, and may not be applied in places where

the civil courts and government are in full

operation.

"The U.S.'s reputation as a free nation governed

by laws and whose government is limited by rights

will suffer greatly -- especially in the Muslim

world, since most of those targeted will be

Muslim or Arab, but also among nations -- and

among many Americans, including Greens -- who

have called for an international court to deal

with terrorists and who oppose the death

penalty," said Anita Rios.

"There's an inherent conflict of interest here,"

said David Cobb, noting that the President's

order abolishes the constitutional separation of

executive and judicial branches. "The fact that

military courts are tied to the executive branch

means that there will be pressure from the

president to try and convict, for public

relations reasons, whether the person is guilty

or not. Furthermore, the verdicts of military

courts are not likely to be accepted overseas,

and it may set a terrible precedent for how our

own citizens will be treated when detained in

other countries."

*** Torture has been discussed as a means of

stopping further terrorism, even though torture

(whether committed by the U.S. or 'outsourced' to

less democratic nations) violates international

law, is notoriously unreliable for collecting

information, and places the U.S. at the moral

level of the Taliban.

*** A national ID card has been proposed, even

though such a measure won't stop terrorists and

can easily be used to violate privacy by tracking

Americans' travel, spending habits, and other

personal information.

*** Some Congress members and Bush Administration

officials (especially advisor Paul Wolfowitz)

want to revise the Posse Comitatus Act in order

to allow the U.S. military to be used for

civilian law enforcement.

*** President Bush signed an executive order that

allows any incumbent president to block release

of presidential documents of a predecessor,

whether or not the past president wants the

records disclosed. Under this order, files that

incriminate current and former officials can be

hidden from investigation by journalists and

historians -- a valuable strategem for the Bush

Administration to shield current officials from

future accountability.



MORE INFORMATION

The Green Party of the United States

http://gp-us.org



END

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