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Bush Names Civil Liberties Board

The 9/11 Commission recommended the establishment of a civil liberties board to ensure our rights weren't trampled in the conduct of the war on terror. Bush has faced criticism for dragging his feet in appointing a chair to the board. Today he named the chair and several members.

Bush picked Texas lawyer Carol Dinkins, who was deputy attorney general under former President Reagan, to chair the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and Alan Charles Raul, an administration official in the former Bush and Clinton administrations, to be vice chairman.

The other members chosen by Bush were: Lanny Davis, once a crisis manager in the Clinton White House; former Solicitor General Ted Olson; and General Electric Co. executive Francis X. Taylor, a former head of diplomatic security and counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department.

Ted Olsen, whose wife was killed in the 9/11 attacks, who represented the Administration before the Supreme Court as Solicitor General in defending the Administration's enemy combatant policy?

Alan Charles Raul, former Associate White House counsel to President Reagan, and a supporter of the Administration's enemy combatant policy, has been lobbying for the position since right after the Sept. 11 attacks. Here is an op-ed he wrote, titled "Cheer Ashcroft On, With a Little Friendly Oversight; A civil liberties panel would help quell the naysayers in the fight against terrorism" for the Los Angeles Times (December 5, 2001, available on Lexis.com)

In his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Justice Department's anti-terrorism campaign, Asst. Atty. Gen. Michael Chertoff uttered the words Americans want to hear right now: "Are we being aggressive and hard-nosed? You bet." As a matter of common sense, we all know that we can't beat ruthless adversaries unless we suspend our most delicate sensibilities.

The country's most fundamental civil liberty in the aftermath of Sept. 11 is protecting our lives from terrorists who want to kill us. To that end, Congress quickly passed a new anti-terrorism bill and the USA Patriot Act, and gave the Justice Department and intelligence community broad new powers to conduct surveillance against terrorists and squeeze their funding. But some members of Congress are getting squeamish about the Bush administration's tactics, particularly the proposed use of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, the detention of about 1,100 possible suspects or material witnesses and the monitoring of jailhouse communications between detainees and their attorneys.

The congressional criticism isn't fair, but it is a leading indicator that President Bush will not get a free ride in waging the war against terrorism on the home front. The first thing that Bush and Ashcroft must do is ensure that their extraordinary counter-terrorism tactics are necessary and likely to be effective.

Every public indication suggests that the administration's actions to date easily pass this test. But the test has a nuance: Aggressive measures must not be unreasonably counterproductive. The military tribunal option, for example, has caused a problem in obtaining the full cooperation of countries such as Spain, where one investigating judge has threatened not to extradite suspects who would not receive civil trials.

Another potential problem concerns the voluntary interviews that the Justice Department wants to conduct with about 5,000 men in the U.S. holding passports from countries used as Al Qaeda's favorite recruiting grounds. This eminently reasonable measure could end up being shot in the foot as a result of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's memo saying that individuals brought in for questioning could be detained for unrelated and potentially trivial immigration infractions.

Obviously, the INS position is lawful and legitimate; equally obvious, however, is the fact that threatening detention is not likely to enhance cooperation or allay mounting anxieties in the Arab American community. Consequently, the administration's anti-terrorism campaign ought to be more inclusive and consultative.

There is no reason not to seek the wisdom (if not the blessing) of relevant House and Senate members on matters such as the use of military tribunals.

The Patriot Act obligates the administration to report to Congress on the use of some of the new powers and requires the Justice Department's internal watchdog, the inspector general, to "review information and receive complaints" regarding alleged abuses of civil rights and civil liberties.

The president should embrace this accountability. Our government is not going to be able to fight international terrorism unless our operatives can get pretty close to the line of what is acceptable in our constitutional tradition. Given the need for secrecy and speed, the president will have to consult creatively with Congress to avoid a backlash and, time permitting, seek out opportunities to justify the use of new powers to the public.

But the president also could consider establishing a blue-ribbon civil liberties council that would advise him privately on the wisdom and implications of new anti-terror measures. The council could be drawn from current and former attorneys general, White House counsels, Judiciary Committee chairs, judges, law professors and historians.

They would help the president answer the hard questions about where the country is better off limiting certain liberties for a time in favor of safeguarding American lives and livelihoods.

Given the expectation that the president will be as tough as he needs to be to beat the bad guys, an independent, confidential sounding board could help him make the hard-nosed calls in both directions. (emphasis supplied.)

It seems to me that Mr. Raul is suggesting that the role of the civil liberties board is to make the Administration's policies palatable to the American public. I think that defeats the point of an oversight commission.

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  • Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#1)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    WDSWJS*
    As a matter of common sense, we all know that we can't beat ruthless adversaries unless we suspend our most delicate sensibilities.
    *What delicate sensibilities would Jesus suspend?

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    Jesus would have said: Let the truth come out. He DID say (they say): "You cannot serve God and money." And who can forget the (in)famous: "What does it profit a gang to invade a country for racism and profit, and lose their souls?" Unlike most parts of the Bible, we now have the answer to the question: Something like $600 billion, gross. Could be up in the trillion two, trillion five destroy the economy entirely level. Man, those are some expensive flowers the Iraqis are throwing. I didn't see Henry Kissinger on the list of civil rights libertines in this latest example of foxes 'guarding' the hens.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#3)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    That is a joke right?

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#4)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    Paul, "I am God", and i will take care of this soon. I am that I am.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#5)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    TL, In Charles Raul, Bush has appointed someone who doesn't believe that protecting our civil liberties are a priority to a board that was constituted to ensure that our civil liberties are protected. After reading what Raul wrote, I don't see how anyone can come to any other conclusion. Heres an idea. How about appointing people to a Civil Liberties Board that actually believe in civil liberties. Brothers Charles, Paul, and Fred. It was Jesus who said "you will know the truth and the truth will make you free." Why is it necessary to cover things up if there is nothing to hide?

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    i have a c-note for anyone that can prove to me dubya can actually SPELL the words "civil" or "liberties".

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    Posted by Fred: "Paul, "I am God", and i will take care of this soon." No thanks, we don't need a miracle. All we need is a little JUSTICE. The only board that would be worth a damn would be IMPARTIAL. That's an unknown word to Bush, who is a treasonous dictator who despises democracy. Just like the God of the Bible (not necessarily the G*d of Jesus), the God of Kings, and the Religion of the Wrong God, which way too many people believe in.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#8)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:56 PM EST
    Paul re:"The only board that would be worth a damn would be IMPARTIAL." You hit the nail right on the head Paul. I don't see how you can read Bush appointee Charles Raul's comments, without having doubts regarding his impartiality. Isn't the silence from our friends on the right regarding this issue amazing? They are usually the first to scream partisanship, real or imagined, over anybody who is in any way critical of the administration. Raul's comments reminded me of the old Monty Python (wink wink nod nod) sketch. Unfortunately what they are doing to our freedoms and liberties isn't funny.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    so you somehow think a president is going to appoint 5 opponents of his policies to any board on any subject. Talk about naive. While this site may have cheered a panel of 2 jihadists and three defense lawyers for jihadists, why would a politician be so stupid as to oblige opponents?

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#10)
    by glanton on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    Folks, the title of this thread really says it all, doesn't it?

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    Posted by Ed: "so you somehow think a president is going to appoint 5 opponents of his policies to any board on any subject." What does 'a president' have to do with anything? This is not an 'executive' fight for legal power. It is the accession of ILLEGAL, unconstitutional power. Having Bush, the liar and demonstrable TRAITOR, chose anything, ever again -- is just the icing on the cake. Credibility shot out of a cannon, you might as well expect to hear the Bronx cheer, Ed, forever. Unless you truly support treason, you are on the wrong side of history.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#12)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    Genghis Khan, Herbert Hoover, and Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs? ..oh well, I was close.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#13)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    er - J. Edgar Hoover.

    Re: Bush Names Civil Liberties Board (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:57 PM EST
    Our dear, late ex-Mayor: Frank Rizzo himself, of course. He of the billy club in the cummerbund.