House Hearings: “The Constitution in Crisis: The State of Civil Liberties in America”

Brian Zick

Jesse Lee at The Gavel reports: Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, announced a series of hearings titled “The Constitution in Crisis: The State of Civil Liberties in America.” In these hearings, the Subcommittee will examine the Bush Administration’s policies, actions and programs that threaten Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights and civil liberties and also hear proposals for potential legislative fixes.The series will begin with a hearing on June 7, 2007, which will examine the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and the Administration’s proposals for expanding it.“This Congress must void the blank check the White House has enjoyed for the last six years,” said Rep. Nadler. “The time for real accountability and meaningful oversight is now, and this Subcommittee will fulfill its constitutional duty to protect the fundamental freedoms of all Americans.”Topics to be covered by the hearings include:· The National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and proposed expansions; · The erosion of Habeas Corpus through the Military Commissions Act; · The sanctioning of torture through the Military Commissions Act and other government policies; · The practice of “extraordinary rendition,” or government sponsored kidnapping; · PATRIOT Act threats to privacy rights, including the FBI’s abuses of the National Security Letter authority and intrusions into Americans’ “Freedom to Read”; · Government surveillance of First Amendment-protected activities; and · The gutting of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and Voting Rights Divisions.“Most importantly, we will carefully examine this White House’s seeming disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law,” added Rep. Nadler. “Secret, warrantless spying, the erosion of habeas corpus, the sanction of torture, and this Administration’s contempt for the other two branches of government - these issues demand close scrutiny and congressional action.”

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