Four prominent conservative thinkers are set to launch a campaign "to
restore checks and balances and civil liberties protections under
assault by the Executive Branch," arguing that, "since 9/11, the
President has acquired too much power."
Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who led the effort to impeach
President Clinton, is one of the organizers of the effort, called the
American Freedom Agenda. Others are David Keene of the American
Conservative Union, writer and conservative direct mail pioneer
Richard Viguerie, and constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who served in the Reagan
administration as associate deputy attorney general.
At a 1 p.m. news conference today at the National Press Club, they will
pitch a legislative package "to restore congressional oversight and
habeas corpus, end torture and extraordinary rendition, narrow the
President's authority to designate 'enemy combatants,' prevent
unconstitutional wiretaps, email and mail openings, protect journalists
from prosecution under the Espionage Act, and more."
In a statement, the four said the president "has encroached on the power
of Congress to make laws, and on the power of the courts to interpret
the law - a scenario that the Founding Fathers foresaw and warned
against." As a result, they said, "We are issuing this call to
Americans of all political and philosophical persuasions to join us in
urging Congress to enact The American Freedom Agenda."
"The AFA would roll back the alarming recent concentration of power in
the White House and its end runs around due process... The AFA seeks to
restore America's tradition of respect for the rule of law and the
benefits of dispersed as opposed to concentrated power, to redeem the
principle that no man is above the law, and to prevent injustices that
undermine national security."
"We are conservative scholars, activists and writers. We do not favor a
crippled executive or enfeebled government. In a time of danger, checks
and balances make for stronger government because the people will more
readily accept a muscular authority if barriers against abuses are
strong. If at some future time Congress, in turn, aggrandizes power and
invades the executive or judicial domains, we will be equally alert to
sound the alarm. But today, the clear and present danger to conservative
philosophy is the White House."