Homeland Security Act and civil rights


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RealGun
October 20, 2004, 09:01 AM
Congressional conference committees are still in Washington trying to reach agreement allowing passage of the Homeland Security Act before the election. The Senate but not the House made provision for oversight of civil rights infringement concerns. News today is that the White House opposes that measure, claiming to have made separate provisions in the Executive Branch. I don't think it would be cynical to regard that as the White House preferring a blank check.

The Senate deserves great credit for this provision in my opinion. The White House position, for some, could be a deal breaker on voting for Bush. The WH position is also a harbinger of what to expect on passage of Patriot Act II.

For those concerned about the implications, I would suggest writing your Senator now and also the White House, or the civil rights oversight will be hurriedly dropped from this slam dunk bill.

I think it is pretty straightforward to make an association between this mode of thinking and gun control concerns. Concentrating authority in the Executive branch could make it easier for Kerry (it could happen) to ban guns in various contexts under the guise of Homeland Security, leaving Congress with nothing to say about it, short of passage of another bill that would require overriding a veto.

Washington Post story (http://tinyurl.com/4dfvj)

excerpts:

"The White House opposed the Senate's call for a civil liberties board and the declassification of the amount of money spent on intelligence operations."

"A major element of the Senate bill, which withstood extensive criticism during debates, is the establishment of an independent oversight board that would be charged with safeguarding Americans' civil liberties and privacy concerns as a check on new governmental power to collect information on U.S. citizens at home and abroad. The White House said the provision is unnecessary because Bush has created a similar mechanism in the executive branch.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who heads the Senate conferees and chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee, said yesterday that creating an independent civil liberties board "is essential to maintaining bipartisan support for the bill." It was a key recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, she noted, and drew support from such diverse groups as the American Conservative Union and the American Civil Liberties Union. Saying she was surprised the White House opposed it, Collins suggested a compromise might be possible, given that the president had embraced a somewhat similar panel."

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Henry Bowman
October 20, 2004, 11:38 AM
While I would let George W. hold my wallet for me (or a blank signed check), I would not similarly trust every person who may ever reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (or hold the office of Atty. Gen. or Supreme Ct. Justice). What that means is that laws must be written with it in mind that your worst political enemy may someday be in the position of enforcing them against you. This was forgotten in the rush to pass campaign finance reform and the PATRIOT Act, etc.

Standing Wolf
October 20, 2004, 04:41 PM
I don't think it would be cynical to regard that as the White House preferring a blank check.

Sounds awfully realistic to me.

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