Two legislative issues before Congress being publicized by the ACLU are of importance to all Americans who cherish our U.S. Constitution and our freedoms as a sovereign people.
grant the president – and all presidents after him – sweeping new power to make war almost anywhere and everywhere. Unlike previous grants of authority for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the proposed legislation would allow a president to use military force wherever terrorism suspects are present in the world, regardless of whether there has been any harm to U.S. citizens, or any attack on the United States, or any imminent threat of an attack. The legislation is broad enough to permit a president to use military force within the United States and against American citizens. The legislation contains no expiration date, and no criteria to determine when a president’s authority to use military force would end.
Of all of the powers that the Constitution assigns to Congress, no power is more fundamental or important than the power “to declare War.” That is why, in 2002, when Congress was considering whether to authorize war in Iraq, it held fifteen hearings, and passed legislation that cited specific harms, set limits, and defined a clear objective. Now, Congress is poised to give unchecked authority to the executive branch to use military force worldwide, with profoundly negative consequences for our fundamental democratic system of checks and balances. Once Congress expands the president’s war power, it will be nearly impossible to rein it back in. The ACLU strongly opposes a wholesale turnover of war power from Congress to the president – and all of his successors.
Yes. This is an unconstitutional law, in my judgment, and should NOT be passed by Congress. It abrogates specific Congressional war powers that Congress has no business handing over to another branch of government. Here are a couple more articles for information purposes: link and link. The vote could come very soon.
Secondly, several provisions of the Patriot Act are coming up for renewal again (after being renewed in February for three months), and the ACLU, in several places on its website (such as here and the blue box on the right side of their page, “At Issue: No More Extensions for the Patriot Act: Act Now”) advocates against those renewals:
Three provisions of the Patriot Act are expiring at the end of May. For almost ten years the Patriot Act has given the government too much leeway to pry into our private lives. For example, section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is scheduled to expire, permits the government to obtain things in investigating certain individuals even if those individuals are not suspected of doing anything wrong. And, the National Security Letter (NSL) provision of the Patriot Act, which expanded the FBI’s authority to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies without prior court approval, has been rampantly abused to collect sensitive information on wholly innocent people
This blog concurs with the judgment that these provisions should be sunsetted.
Lynn Woolsey, who agrees with ACLU positions far more than I do, will almost surely vote in accord with both these ACLU recommendations, and if she does, those will be another two good votes on her part.