An Oath and a Pledge
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.Yes, our founding fathers thought it so important that they made it explicit in this oath. Protecting the Constitution is more important than protecting the Flag, protecting the Citizens, and protecting the national interest.
And yet, not all Presidents have taken this oath seriously. Our current President, George W. Bush, has taken abuses against the Constitution to new lows. Yes, you can argue that he is doing the same things as his predecessors. No doubt that is true, although he has gone much further than any in recent memory.
That is why, to me, the most important issue in the Presidential race this year is the candidates' stands on protecting the Constitution. If a candidate can only keep us safe from terrorists by locking us all up, then I say, don't bother we'll take our chances with the bad guys. If the only way to maintain a healthy economy is by scrapping freedom, then we'll scrounge for bread crumbs. Remember, our founding fathers were willing to give up their security and risk dying to create this institution. We shouldn't be so ready to give it up to keep the securities we have collected over the years.
And that is why it's not surprising that a liberal group and a conservative group with very similar names have taken on this very issue. The right-wing American Freedom Agenda and the left-wing American Freedom Campaign have both created 10-point pledges for the candidates, outlining specifically how they will undo the damage done to our founding document by the current administration.
Rep. Ron Paul, whose campaign has gotten lots of interest but few votes, was the first to sign on. He even introduced a version of the pledge as a bill on the House floor. None of the other Republican candidates (neither McCain nor Huckabee) has followed. However, all of the Democratic candidates have signed the pledge (Obama) or issued similar statements (Clinton).
Here's the bottom line, and why the founding fathers felt so strongly about this. When it's your guy (or gal) in the White House, then abuses of power are all for a good cause. No harm, no foul. But beware. The other team is bound to get a turn in control. And when that happens, they are sure to use all of the same new powers, and are likely to push them even further.
So, if you trust George Bush to decide who is an enemy combatant, would you also trust Hillary Clinton to make the same determination?
Here's the list from the conservative group. See if there's anything on here that's not a no-brainer:
- Prohibit military commissions whose verdicts are suspect except in places of active hostilities where a battlefield tribunal is necessary to obtain fresh testimony or to prevent anarchy;
- Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture or coercion in military or civilian tribunals;
- Prohibit the detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants without proof of criminal activity on the President’s say-so;
- Restore habeas corpus for alleged alien enemy combatants, i.e., non-citizens who have allegedly participated in active hostilities against the United States, to protect the innocent;
- Prohibit the National Security Agency from intercepting phone conversations or emails or breaking and entering homes on the President’s say-so in violation of federal law;
- Empower the House of Representatives and the Senate collectively to challenge in the Supreme Court the constitutionality of signing statements that declare the intent of the President to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills he has signed into law because he maintains they are unconstitutional;
- Prohibit the executive from invoking the state secrets privilege to deny justice to victims of constitutional violations perpetrated by government officers or agents; and, establish legislative-executive committees in the House and Senate to adjudicate the withholding of information from Congress based on executive privilege that obstructs oversight and government in the sunshine;
- Prohibit the President from kidnapping, detaining, and torturing persons abroad in collaboration with foreign governments;
- Amend the Espionage Act to permit journalists to report on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution; and;
- Prohibit the listing of individuals or organizations with a presence in the United States as global terrorists or global terrorist organizations based on secret evidence.