The American Freedom Agenda’s (AFA) mission is twofold: the enactment of a cluster of statutes that would restore the Constitution’s checks and balances as enshrined by the Founding Fathers; and, making the subject a staple of political campaigns and of foremost concern to Members of Congress and to voters and educators. Especially since 9/11, the executive branch has chronically usurped legislative or judicial power, and has repeatedly claimed that the President is the law. The constitutional grievances against the White House are chilling, reminiscent of the kingly abuses that provoked the Declaration of Independence.
The 10-point American Freedom Agenda would work to restore the roles of Congress and the federal judiciary to prevent such abuses of power and protect against injustices that are the signature of civilized nations. In particular, the American Freedom Agenda would:
- 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 United States, to protect the innocent;
- 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 United States as global terrorists or global terrorist organizations based on secret evidence.
“The controversy with the Attorney General is symptomatic of a more serious illness within this Administration – which is the desire for unchecked power,” said AFA Chairman Bruce Fein. “As fellow conservatives, we believe we have a greater responsibility than most to stand up to this particular Administration and demand that it respect the checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, regardless of party affiliation, and we can no more remain silent to the abuses occurring under President Bush than we could if a President Clinton were in office. In advancing the American Freedom Agenda, we are all Conservatives, we are all Liberals, we are all Republicans, we are all Democrats. We are above all Americans who cherish the Constitution more than partisan advantage.”