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Putting the Brakes on Bush Police State

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.), incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said he plans to rein in President Bush’s wiretapping without warrants and rewrite the policy for handling terrorism detainees.

“As a Democratic majority prepares to take the lead on the Judiciary Committee, we do not have the luxury of starting with a completely clean slate,” he told an audience at Georgetown University Law Center. “We begin knowing we have a duty to repair real damage done to our system of government over the last few years.”

Leahy accused Bush of “corrosive unilateralism, eroding the privacy rights of Americans and erasing constitutional checks and balances. The Republican House and Senate, he said, accepted White House policy changes without question.

“I came to the Senate during the ebb tide of Vietnam and Watergate,” he said. “In my 32 years since then in the Senate, I have never seen a Congress so willfully derelict in its duties. This has been an unfortunate chapter in Congress’s history, a time when our Constitution was under assault, when our legal and human rights were weakened, when our privacy
and other freedoms were eroded.”

Leahy said he wants Congress to reconsider legislation denying habeas corpus rights to terrorism suspects held at the U.S. Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“We made some bipartisan progress on the committee and in the Senate last year only to be stymied by Republican congressional leaders,” Leahy said.

“We can work together to bring people out of the shadows, to treat hardworking people with dignity and respect rather than disdain and discrimination,” he said of illegal aliens. He supports amnesty for illegal aliens under the euphemism “comprehensive reform.”

Leahy has been harshly critical of Bush’s judicial appointments, which have drawn wide applause from patriots because his nominees believe in interpreting the law according to legislative intent rather than legislating from the bench. He said he would fight future Bush nominees.

(Issue # 1 & 2, January 1 & 8, 2007)

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Updated January 20, 2007