An AP stringer report is flooding news media across the country. The report claims that the Vermont Democratic State Committee has called Obama "soft" on prosecution of the previous Administration.
Nothing like a little lazy journalism to spice up Mother's Day news reporting.
What we did was ask the Administration to uphold certain legal standards, and to disentangle our country from the civil rights mess left behind by the Bush Administration. Unlike the simplified AP view of the story, we fully accept and understand that (a) the Administration has A LOT on its plate, and (b) they were essentially left a ticking civil-liberties time-bomb by their predecessor.
More, including the full resolution below the fold:
Our Civil Liberties subcommittee has listed laws that appear to have been broken by the previous Administration, and ask the current Administration to avoid certain tactics as cases work their way through the courts. The hope is that this resolution will provide guidance as the Administration feels their way through the dark morass of tangled legal conundrums left behind by the Bush Administration.
We are thrilled to have a smart, committed Democratic President, who is known to listen to well-reasoned arguments, and to take action based on his assessment of those arguments. President Obama has said, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, that he needs the grassroots to apply pressure to counter the pressure from the right, to make it easier for him to do his job. This is some of that counter-pressure.
We hope other State Committees will take up similar resolutions.
Resolution Concerning Civil Liberties
Whereas recent disclosures of internal memoranda by officials in the Department of Justice, and reports of independent bodies, such as the International Red Cross and the Senate Intelligence Committee, are beginning to provide a view into the illegal actions of the previous administration;
And Whereas the interests of the American people in ensuring that they have a full knowledge and understanding of the activities undertaken in their name, and in ensuring that the United States be restored to its position as a world leader in the furtherance and protection of human rights and civil liberties, can only be served if a full accounting of the activities of the previous administration is done;
Surveillance and Unreasonable Search and Seizure
And Whereas the 4th amendment to the US Constitution states that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
And Whereas certain agencies, officials and employees of the U.S. Government are alleged to have engaged in warrantless, unreasonable, and unjustifiable electronic surveillance, without any demonstration of probable cause, in contravention of the 4th amendment;
Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus
And Whereas Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution states that "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
And Whereas US certain agencies, officials and employees of the U.S. Government are alleged to have suspended Habeas Corpus rights when there was neither a rebellion nor invasion;
Torture and Legal Prohibitions against Torture
And Whereas the United States is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment (CAT), ratified by the United States in 1992;
And Whereas Congress enacted policy giving effect to the CAT;
And Whereas certain agencies, officials and employees of the U.S. Government are alleged to have created policies promoting, approved of, and/or engaged in acts of torture, in contravention of the CAT, good intelligence practice, 8th Amendment Constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, and Article 6 which states in part, "This Constitution and the Laws of the United Sates which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the land; and the Judges of every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
And Whereas the CAT prohibits the involuntary transport of individuals to countries where there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.
And Whereas certain agencies, officials and employees of the U.S. Government are alleged to have created polices promoting, approved of, or engaged in the practice of Extraordinary Rendition, in which persons are captured and then knowingly and intentionally transported to countries where there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture;
And Whereas the current US Presidential Administration and Justice Department have attempted to block or otherwise prevent investigations and prosecutions related to the above alleged illegal activities;
And Whereas the previous Administration had adopted a policy and practice of asserting the defense of "sovereign immunity" not only as a defense to civil liability, but also as a means of shielding the administration against legitimate inquiry into the legality of its conduct;
And Whereas the assertion of sovereign immunity by the previous Administration has extended far beyond any legitimate interpretation of the defense to shield government officials from liability for actions taken which could not, under any circumstances, have been founded in a good faith belief in the legality of those actions;
And Whereas the current Administration has, in pending litigation, indicated its interest in perpetuating and expanding the illegitimate defense asserted by the previous Administration, implying that only if the Government chooses voluntarily to disclose any evidence gathered by illegal means can those who used illegal means to gather said evidence be sued for their illegal actions;
Now Therefore, the Vermont Democratic State Committee calls upon the current Administration and Justice Department to cease attempts to block investigations and prosecutions related to said activities, and to cease any and all claims to sovereign immunity for these activities.