Hentoff: How deep into our civil liberties?

“…Freedom is no policy for the timid. And my plaintive plea to all my colleagues that remain in this government as I leave it is, for our sake, for my sake, for heaven’s sake, don’t give up on freedom!”

~Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey

Nat Hentoff
Richmond Times-Dispatch
8/7/2010

…Consider what has happened to our individual constitutional liberties since December 2002, under George W. Bush — and also clearly Barack Obama, who, as I continually report, has in his first term been even more abusive of our privacy and the separation of powers and (never even conceived by Bush) has bullied through a health care law that hastens the rationing of health care, including the rationing of some of our very lives.

Armey now knows well that the Obama administration’s commitment is not to preserving our freedoms. Thomas Jefferson’s call to us over the centuries is acutely pertinent: “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people . . . .They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

I recognize that no one person or organization speaks for all the Tea Partiers…But if Tea Party members are to succeed in bringing back the Constitution into the lives of all of us — a Constitution many of them carry in their pockets, as Justice Hugo Black did — how much do they know and care about other crucial personal liberties Obama is canceling? And if Armey is concerned about these freedoms, to what extent can he effectively share that concern with enough Tea Partiers to get those liberties back?

To begin, I look at the agenda and priorities of FreedomWorks, of which he is chairman. On its website, there are calls for free trade; repeal of the death tax; Social Security personal retirement accounts that “workers own and control”; fighting to keep the Internet tax-free; enact the flat tax; work, not welfare; oppose the Disclose Act; and other concerns that would appear to be harmonious with insistent views of many Tea Partiers.

What I do not find at FreedomWorks and in reports of Tea Party campaigns and actions is persistent resistance to Obama’s expansion of our being under pervasive government surveillance, as when last year, in Jewel vs. National Security Agency, his Justice Department made so imperious a claim of presidential “sovereign immunity” that “the U.S. can never be sued for spying that violated federal surveillance statutes, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the Wiretap Act.”

Also, there is Obama’s frequent invocation of “state secrets” to entirely close down lawsuits before evidence is even heard, on government violations of the Constitution; his insistence on the need for permanent detention of terrorism suspects who cannot be tried in military commissions or our federal courts because alleged evidence against them has been extracted by torture. Forget our rule of law!…

Read the complete article at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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