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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
THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES





MEDIA RELEASE


For immediate release:


Monday, November 26, 2001





National Contacts:


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


nallen (at) acadia.net


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


scottmclarty (at) yahoo.com





Local Contact:


Starlene Rankin, Illinois GP Media Coordinator


starlene (at) greens.org, 773-907-9845








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








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