The following is a brief summary of the New York Times “Must Do List” “Must Do List,” a list of actions that it urges the new Congress to take to roll back “the Bush administration’s assault on some of the founding principles of American democracy.”
Every candidate for Congress and President should be quizzed on these points and anything less than 100% support should cause a voter to look elsewhere for a candidate.
1) Restore habeas corpus. The right to challenge imprisonment in court, even for those the administration labels an illegal enemy combatant.
2) Stop illegal spying. Mr. Bush’s program of intercepting Americans’ international calls and e-mail messages without a warrant
3) Ban torture, really. The provisions in the Military Commissions Act still allows the president to decide what constitutes torture and abuse.
4) Close the C.I.A. prisons. The series of “shadowy” prisons run by the C.I.A. at secret places across the globe.
5) Account for the “Ghost Prisoners”. Human Rights Watch says it has identified nearly 40 men and women who have disappeared into secret American-run prisons.
6) Ban extraordinary rendition. The odious practice of abducting foreign citizens and secretly flying them to countries where everyone knows they will be tortured.
7) Tighten the definition of combatant. Virtually any foreigner anywhere, including those living legally in the United States, can be labeled an “illegal enemy combatant.”
8) Screen prisoners fairly and effectively. Hundreds of innocent men were sent to Gitmo, the vast majority will never even be brought before tribunals and still face indefinite detention without charges.
9) Ban use of evidence tainted by torture. The Military Commissions Act is far too permissive on evidence obtained through physical abuse or coercion.
10) Ban secret evidence. Under the Pentagon’s new rules for military tribunals, judges are allowed to keep evidence secret from a prisoner’s lawyer if the government persuades the judge it is classified.
11) Tighten definition of “classified evidence.” Rules for excluding evidence that may effect national security are too broad.
12) Respect prisoners’ right to counsel. The Bush administration has been unceasingly hostile to any lawyers who defend detainees, going so far as listening to conversations and intercepting mail between prisoners and their lawyers.
13) Halt the administration’s race to classify documents to avoid public scrutiny. 15.6 million in 2005, nearly double the 2001 number.
14) Reverse the harm done to the Freedom of Information Act. The current administration has encouraged agencies to reject requests for documents whenever possible.
15) Stop F.B.I. spying on nonviolent antiwar groups. Congress should revisit the section of the Patriot act that allows this spying.
16) The United States should apologize to a Canadian citizen and a German citizen, both innocent, who were kidnapped and tortured by American agents.
17) Close the Guantánamo camp. It is a despicable symbol of the abuses committed by this administration (with Congress’s complicity) in the name of fighting terrorism.