News Release

Some Major Civil Liberties Issues


Author of the recent book Secret Trials and Executions: Military Tribunals and the Threat to Democracy, Olshansky said today: “Since the attacks of September 11, the United States has witnessed a sweeping revision of its immigration laws, foreign intelligence gathering operations, and domestic law enforcement procedures. These changes, like those adopted during some of the most notorious episodes in our nation’s history, involve a profound curtailment of our civil liberties. In the not-too-distant past, the U.S. government reacted to national security threats with policies that we now remember with horror. The Red Scare and the Palmer raids after the First World War, the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, the repressive and chilling measures of the McCarthy era, and the harassment and prosecution of political dissidents during and after the Vietnam War all represent policies that history will forever recall with regret and shame. Given this unfortunate past, we need to closely examine the current administration’s responses to September 11 and assess what those responses mean in terms of international law, the U.S. Constitution, and our commitment to democracy. We must take a thorough look at what the Bush administration is doing in the name of defending national security and ask ourselves: Is such a compromise of civil liberties, democracy, and human rights ever tolerable?”

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Executive director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation, Bray said today: “We cannot truly wage a war against terrorism by undermining the basic principles of the Constitution and the rule of law, such as free speech, due process, the right to a speedy trial, the right to face your accuser, and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Also at issue is the racial profiling and the targeting of the Muslim and Arab communities.”
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Professor of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley said today: “The commission finds the prisoner not guilty on all charges. ‘Guards! Put the prisoner back in his cell, and throw away the key!’ This is not Alice in Wonderland. It is ‘justice’ Guantanamo-style, to be dispensed by the military commissions that President George Bush is establishing. As explained by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, anyone acquitted may still be held indefinitely. Not to worry, however. The chances of an acquittal are worse than for a snowstorm at Guantanamo…. Military commissions are ad hoc, created on the basis of the President’s power under the Constitution as commander in chief of the armed forces. That is why it is the Pentagon, rather than Congress, that has been scrambling since November to write rules to govern their proceedings. Legally, military commissions occupy a nether existence….”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167