Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Voter Guide To Human Rights And Civil Liberties


Voter Election Guide to Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Find out how the candidates compare on a range of issues from torture to wrongful convictions.

By AlterNet
Posted October 11, 2008

For full story see...
Voter Election Guide to Human Rights and Civil Liberties

There's no question the Bush administration has presided over some of the most sweeping expansions of executive power in our country's history. Most of them, like the government's secret spying program, can be traced back to September 11. The terrorist attacks changed the rules of the counterterrorism game by bestowing the president with a perceived, and then actual, authority to dictate the rules. As Vice President Dick Cheney famously told the late Tim Russert days after 9/11, "A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful. That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."

The words are chilling still, especially after seeing hundreds of innocent men wrongly detained Guantanamo and the torture photos at Abu Ghraib. But it is important to remember that the expansion of executive power for counterterrorism has been a bipartisan project. Many of the programs that comprised the post-9/11 rule changes were in the works before the planes hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The CIA's extraordinary rendition program, for example, in which terror suspects are kidnapped and flown to other countries to be interrogated and tortured, actually began under the Clinton administration. George W. Bush dramatically escalated the practice in the name of the so-called "War on Terror." As Election Day nears, as the question of what the new president would do to roll back some of these powers becomes all the more pressing, it is critical to remember that as David Cole recently wrote, "Government officials do not as a rule like to give up power." It is critical that we not assume Barack Obama would necessarily roll back Bush's power grab. For those who truly wish to see change in a new administration, casting a ballot in this election should be a first, not last, step. Fortunately, whereas once it was deemed unpatriotic to criticize the Bush administration's "War on Terror," more recently, its excesses are more widely acknowledged. "Growing consensus," writes Cole, "recognizes that the Bush administration's post-9/11 actions have not only compromised some of our most fundamental principles, but have actually made us less safe."

The project to restore the Constitution and reclaim our democracy must begin the moment the next president takes office. Luckily, there are writers, thinkers and activists who have spent years working to design blueprints for how to accomplish this. The Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, Amnesty International, and the Brennan Center for Justice are just a few critical resources that can show us how we might restore the checks and balances that once defined the United States. AlterNet has culled information from these organizations, examined the candidates' voting records and created an election guide to help you distinguish between Barack Obama's and John McCain's positions on some of the most important human rights and civil liberties issues facing us today.

For full story see...
Voter Election Guide to Human Rights and Civil Liberties

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Fatuous Defence: Australia’s Guided Missile Plans

Even in times of pandemic crises, some things never change. While Australia gurgles and bumbles slowly with its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, there are other priorities at stake. Threat inflators are receiving much interest in defence, and the media ... More>>

Richard S. Ehrlich: Cambodia's Hun Sen Feels Politically Vaccinated

BANGKOK, Thailand -- When Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen received his AstraZeneca vaccination shot, he suddenly felt invulnerable and vowed to rule indefinitely. Hun Sen is already one of the world's longest ruling prime ministers, confident his successor ... More>>

Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: My Final Column?

I’m dying. It’s not easy to write these words. But it’s true. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Brawling Over Vaccines: Export Bans And The EU’s Bungled Rollout
The European Union has been keeping up appearances in encouraging the equitable distribution of vaccines to combat SARS-CoV-2 and its disease, COVID-19. Numerous statements speak to the need to back the COVAX scheme, to ensure equity and that no one state misses out... More>>

Jennifer S. Hunt: Trump Evades Conviction Again As Republicans Opt For Self-Preservation

By Jennifer S. Hunt Lecturer in Security Studies, Australian National University Twice-impeached former US President Donald Trump has evaded conviction once more. On the fourth day of the impeachment trial, the Senate verdict is in . Voting guilty: ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Let The Investigation Begin: The International Criminal Court, Israel And The Palestinian Territories

International tribunals tend to be praised, in principle, by those they avoid investigating. Once interest shifts to those parties, such bodies become the subject of accusations: bias, politicisation, crude arbitrariness. The United States, whose legal and political ... More>>