Among the hallmarks of America’s heritage of freedom is the recognition and protection of civil liberties. Stretching all the way back to Magna Carta in 1215, it is a heritage that is enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of the Rights.
Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. Freedom of assembly. The right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Habeas corpus. Due process of law. The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The right to effective assistant of counsel. The right to confront witnesses. The right to a speedy trial. The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishments. The right of trial by jury. The right to privacy. The right to be presumed innocent. All of this is what is means to be an American.
Unfortunately, however, both Republicans and Democrats, in the name of “keeping us safe” ‘ from terrorists, Muslims, illegal immigrants, drug dealers, communists, foreign regimes, and other bugaboos have severely damaged, if not destroyed, these critically important rights.
Indefinite detention. Torture. Denial of trial by jury. Denial of speedy trial. Military tribunals. Hearsay evidence and evidence acquired by torture. Denial of effective assistance of counsel. Secret surveillance. Denial of due process of law. The USA PATRIOT Act. FiSA courts. Assassination. TSA searches. Homeland Security. Highway checkpoints. Warrantless trespasses, searches, and seizures.
Infringements on civil liberties are the hallmarks of totalitarian regimes. They have no place in a free society. Unfortunately, such infringements are are now core features of American life. Restoring a free society to our land necessarily means restoring civil liberties.