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View Diary: 1000 Lawyers with Mario Cuomo Shame Congress Publically (136 comments)

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  •  Lawyers and law students can still sign! (30+ / 0-)

    ...and you can see the list of prominent lawyers who were the original signatories.  Just click here.

    If you are not a lawyer or law student, tell your friends, colleagues, and family members who are.

    Also, here is a press release put out by the American Freedom Campaign on Thursday:

    For Immediate Release – Thursday, December 20

    1,000+ Lawyers Launch Campaign Urging Conyers and Leahy to Vigorously Investigate Bush Administration Criminality

    Mario Cuomo, Reagan official Bruce Fein, and organizations including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Lawyers Guild among prominent initial supporters of the campaign

    Jesselyn Radack, former Justice Department official, discusses how the destruction of interrogation tapes by the CIA is not an isolated incident of obstruction of justice within the Bush Administration

    WASHINGTON – Today, leading members of the U.S. legal community launched a new campaign, called "American Lawyers Defending the Constitution," and called on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to hold wide-ranging hearings to investigate unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush Administration.  Their call was backed by a statement directed to Chairmen Conyers and Leahy signed by more than 1,300 lawyers and law students around the country, including former New York governor Mario Cuomo, former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein, the leaders of numerous legal organizations, and more than 100 law professors in the U.S.

    The American Lawyers Defending the Constitution statement, along with the list of 80 original signers, is available at http://www.americanfreedomcampaign.o... .  The statement is also pasted at the bottom of this release.

    During a telephone press conference, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, underscored the importance of congressional action at this point in our nation’s history.  "For far too long Congress has been the handmaiden of the Bush administration’s undermining and subversion of basic constitutional rights," Ratner said.  "The right to be free from torture; warrantless wiretapping; jailing without habeas corpus; and disappearances into secret sites. Principles going back to the Magna Carta are at stake. As lawyers trained in protecting the Constitution and fundamental rights we call on Congress to do its job: defend the Constitution from its enemies.  Its enemies are the Bush administration."

    Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, echoed Mr. Ratner’s frustration with the Bush Administration:  "George W. Bush has repeatedly violated the Constitution's command that the President enforce the laws by breaking some and refusing to enforce others.  From his illegal war of aggression in Iraq to the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody, Bush has violated the law and deceived the American people."

    Another participant in the press conference was Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department ethics lawyer who, during the capture, interrogation, and prosecution of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban"), observed firsthand how the Bush Administration ignored the rule of law during interrogations and withheld evidence during federal trials.  She drew a connection between the current CIA tapes scandal and her own experience.

    "The CIA videotapes documented agency operatives subjecting terrorist suspects to severe interrogation techniques," Ms. Radack said.  "My e-mails documented my advice against interrogating Lindh without a lawyer, and concluded that the FBI committed an ethics violation when it did so anyway.  Both the CIA videotapes and my e-mails were destroyed, in part, because officials were concerned that they documented controversial interrogation methods that could put agency officials in legal jeopardy."

    "This is part of a pattern," Ms. Radack continued.  "There are some 5 million missing White House e-mails.  No one knows where the hit lists are from the U.S. Attorney massacre.  And now the CIA interrogation videotapes have been erased.  This is criminal.  Remember when the Justice Department prosecuted Enron and Arthur Anderson for destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice?  Now the Justice Department is trying to block congressional oversight and legal proceedings involving this latest scandal."

    Following the call, Mr. Ratner, emphasized how important it is for Congress to follow through with contempt citations against Bush administration officials.  "Just announcing that investigations will be held and subpoenas will be issued is terribly insufficient unless Congress is willing to enforce the subpoenas by issuing contempt citations.  Congress has a constitutional duty to oversee the activities of the executive branch and our entire system of government is threatened when Congress simply folds before an obstinate executive.  Issuing contempt citations against Bolten, Miers, and Rove should be Congress’s first order of business in 2008."

    The American Lawyers Defending the Constitution campaign is being coordinated by the American Freedom Campaign (AFC), a grassroots and grasstops movement to defend the Constitution, and is a joint project of AFC, the Center for Constitutional Rights, National Lawyers Guild, Alliance for Justice, Equal Justice Society, and the American Freedom Agenda.

    The sign-on statement

    Message to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy from

    American Lawyers Defending the Constitution

    We are lawyers in the United States of America.  As such, we have all taken an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law from those who would violate and subvert them, and to hold wrongdoers accountable.

    We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws.  Evidence exists that it has illegally spied on Americans, tortured and abused men and women in its direct custody, sent others to be tortured by countries like Syria and Egypt, and kept people in prison indefinitely with no chance to challenge the bases of their detention.  Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight of the executive branch.

    Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution, federal statutes, and international treaties.  We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President.  Should these hearings demonstrate that laws have in fact been broken by this administration, we support all such legal and congressional actions necessary to ensure the survival of our Constitution and the nation we love.

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