Thursday, June 17, 2004

civil liberties restoration act

This bill was introduced yesterday by seven Democrats, including Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Russ Feingold, Richard Durbin, and Jon Corzine and by Representatives Howard Berman and William Delahunt.

Here's a Washington Post editorial on the subject. From the editorial:

The act would bar the practice of blanket secret trials, reserving secrecy for cases in which the government can demonstrate a specific need. It would require that when the government locks someone up, it must inform him of the charges within 48 hours, and bring him before a judge within three days. It would limit preventive detention to situations in which the government actually has evidence that an individual poses a risk of flight or a danger to the community. And it would end "special registration," which selectively targeted men from Arab and Muslim countries for fingerprints, photographs and interrogations.

The author, Georgetown law professor David Cole, argues that the Patriot Act has been counterproductive. He also uses history as a lesson, pointing out that governments tend to start out abusing foreigners and then turns on its own citizens as well. "In fact, every significant form of political repression that the government has used against citizens began as an anti-alien measure." I'd be interested to see a real analysis of this concept.