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Good evening and welcome to tonight's meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California. I am John Diaz, the Editorial Page Editor for The San Francisco Chronicle and your moderator for tonight. We would also like to welcome our listeners on the radio and invite everyone to visit us on the internet at www.commonwealth.org. And now it is my pleasure to introduce our distinguished speakers, Chairman of the American freedom agenda Bruce Fein and former United States Congressmen at the seventh district in Georgia, Bob Barr good evening gentlemen. These gentlemen are here tonight to talk about the American Freedom Agenda which was formed by a group of leading conservatives who are challenging the Bush administration's policies with regard to usurping legislative and judicial authority. The discussion tonight is going to focus on the first really the first consorted and highly public effort on the part of conservatives to repudiate and challenge the Bush administration and uphold the government's responsibility to the US Constitution and the rule of law. I would like to start the discussion with introductory remarks from each of our guests. Let's start with the Chairman of the American Freedom Agenda Bruce Fein. Mr. Fein is a Harvard graduate. He served during the Reagan administration in the Department of Justice. Mr. Fein, good evening. Thank you. I would like to begin my remarks by paraphrasing one of our founding fathers. And if he were here today I think he would say as follows. "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell." And President George W Bush and Dick Cheney should learn by those examples. They have asserted powers that exceed anything that was indicted against King George the Third in the Declaration of Independence. If they would have read an earlier portion of that they would have recognized that our rights are not at the sufferance of the President and the Vice President who can desist from claiming we are on a battle field where he can proclaim martial law anymore and at any moment. But our rights are unalienable. We are endowed by our creator. With the right to life liberty in the pursuit of happiness and they depend upon no monarch's grace. Let me outline some of the more outrageous usurpations that make you and all of the American people less safe in light of the President's precedence that he is setting that other foreign leaders may follow and are discouraging foreign governments from cooperating with the United States in attacking international terrorism. Now just last week, a British parliamentary committee reported that the British were resisting cooperating with our CIA in conducting important covert operations because they feared detainees would be tortured or they would be maltreated at Guantanamo Bay. We have at present 26 former CIA operatives under indictment in Italy because they kidnapped and sent to Egypt for torturing an individual on President Bush's say so alone that he was a terrorist. Apparently he got it wrong; he is now suing for redress. In Germany 13 former CIA operatives are under arrest warrants because they kidnapped a German citizen in Macedonia, dispatched him to Afghanistan for brutal treatment in a prison, dumped him back in Albania, he is now suing in the United States courts. He has been told by the CIA he can't win under the states secret states secrets doctrine because to expose the culprits would to be expose a state secret, an under cover agent. Now what do these kinds of cowboy like assertions do to the safety of the United States? Think this, the doctrine that's being propounded is that the President of the United States may identify in his say so alone anyone as a criminal or a terrorist abroad. On his say so alone dispatch our CIA or other covert operates to kidnap that individual, place them in prison, torture them and dump them out. Now think of you perhaps visiting Paris. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, thinks you are sympathetic to the Chechens. He sends the current version of the KGB to kidnap you, send then send you to a Belarus prison, say you are there indefinitely without a lawyer. And you ask him, "Well, how can you do this"? He says "Well President George W. Bush has set the example." And Mr. Putin would be correct. Now what else is President Bush doing that's causing us to be less safe. He is asserting a power to identify any American citizen or non citizen as an enemy combatant on his say so alone. Now what is an enemy combatant? It's not confined to someone who was picked up on a active battlefield of hostilities, attempting to kill an American, anyone who has any affiliation, has displayed any kind of support, moral support or otherwise can be identified as an enemy combatant without any judicial review, send to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention based up on secret evidence and those detainees do not have access to a lawyer. If they wish to challenge their detentions they can go before what's called a Combatant Status Review Tribune. And for that tribunal the government is presumed to be correct and infallible. Now that's an instruction of Mr. Bush who also claims that title to infallibility, he never made a mistake during his you know, six years may be since birth. I think he thinks he issues encyclicals like the Vatican on the issues of faith and morals. But he does seem to get wrong more than once. But based up on the a kangaroo court you are then subject to detention, basically for life because the President says that we are in the condition of warfare. Under the constitution anytime that there is one individual on the planet, whether in Bhutan or otherwise, who are on top of a mountain, threatens to kill an American, well then we are at war. Now under that standard the war is endless. And James Madison informed us, with perpetual war there can be no freedom, because we are in a constant state of jeopardy that the President will declare martial law and we will have military justice everywhere. You know this old saying goes; military music is to music what military justice is to justice. And that is based up on a core truth. It's not because necessarily they are evil minded people. But remember military justice is what the Founding Fathers described as the very essence of tyranny, because it combines the prosecution function, the judicial function and the jury function in the same branch. And you don't get acquittals when the same person who charges you is the same person who decides whether they are you are their charge was accurate or not. Now what else is the President doing than setting a very menacing standard for the United States. You know that the main challenge in defeating international terrorism is to dry up recruits. Well one of the best recruiting tools that Al Jazeera and Al Qaeda have is examples of abuses. The Mahir Arar he was a Syrian Canadian citizen who we deported to Syria, where he was tortured and dumped back in to Canada. We refused to apologize although the Canadians have paid him over a million dollars and said we made a mistake. Mr. al-Masri, who the Germans have insisted was not complicit in any wrongdoing, is now some one who is shown to have been brutalized in Afghan prisons and is put on Al Jazeera TV like other grave victims and otherwise in order to encourage the disappointed and disaffected youth in the Middle East to join Al Qaeda. It's the recruitment that comes from our injustices that makes us less safe. Every time that there is an example of some one in Guantanamo Bay has been unjustly held, the people who recruit for Al Qaeda say, see this shows Bush isn't against terrorism. He just doesn't like those who subscribe to Islam. Now one of the reasons why I think Bush has been so bold a President is because he has targeted the abuse at people whose names are difficult to pronounce. They are not Jones and Brown, well they are al-Masri and Hamdan and Hamdi. But that may play in the United States, it certainly is not some thing that's effective in trying to convey to those who are in the Middle East and are the best recruits or would be recruits for Al Qaeda that we are applying even handed justice. And then the last element I suppose that makes us less safe is that President Bush is setting example of lawlessness that discourages Democrats and rule of law proponents abroad from believing that we would come to their aid in trying to turn their regimes from despotism into democracies which would provide less fertile ground for jihadist to be developed. Now what are the ways in which the President is disregarding the rule of law? Well as it's often said, as a concession to the shortness of life I will listen I will certainly limit the cases. But as a small sample, first he claims the right to flout the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 in gathering phone intelligence. What his argument is that, post 9/11 he is been crowned with authority to do anything he wants to gather foreign intelligence and Congress has no authority to limit what he does into that banner of foreign intelligence, meaning he can open our mail, break and enter into our homes, kidnap us, survey all our e-mails, international phone calls, all in his say so alone, because he is gathering foreign intelligence. Indeed he has gone so far to say he can commit torture in the name of gathering foreign intelligence even when he has signed a bill that prohibits torture, which leads us to another element of his lawlessness. Under his theory of the Presidency, he is endowed with power to sign a bill into law and then say, but it won't comply with the portions that I don't agree with and I say are unconstitutional. Now if he knew history which he doesn't, he would remember that King James the Second was overthrown because he was claiming the comparable part to dispense with the laws of Recusancy because James was favorable to the Catholics at that time. And for that reason the Founding Fathers wrote in the Article Two of the Constitution an obligation that the President take care that the laws be faithfully executed. It's a very clear, lucid, unambiguous language. But the President is interpreting that to mean that he is entitled to sabotage the faithful execution of the laws by these signing statements, where he declares, without any judiciary view what the constitution means, what powers he has and then ends up enforcing a law that Congress didn't pass. Congress only votes on entire bill, not on the Swiss cheese edition. The other elements that the President is employing are showing how he has a sneering contempt for the law. It was revealed just last week Bob, you may recall July 17th, he issued an order under what's called the International Economic Emergencies Powers Act stunning. He says that on his say so alone he can identify anyone in the United States as creating a "significant risk of undermining reconstruction program in Iraq, or political reform by creating a risk that an act of violence might be committed." And when he identifies you, he doesn't inform you. But you are instantly subjected to a financial death penalty. All your assets are frozen; no one then can do any business with you. In fact if Bob or I were a lawyer who offered you if you are on this list legal services to challenge the constitutionality for what was done, we would be guilty of a crime. If a doctor came to offer services because someone suffered a cardiac arrest they would be guilty of a crime, for providing any services to someone who is on the list. The list of course is not public. So you don't even know whether you are placing yourself in jeopardy by providing support, services or goods to someone who has been blacklisted. Now this is something that goes far beyond the worst days of McCarthyism, at least there they provided in Attorney General's list that was public. This is not required even to be public. Now a President who had a decent respect for the Constitution would have had some lawyers, may be he had Alberto Gonzales to look at this, before it was signed. And that was why it was so replete with constitutional errors and omissions. But something of this seriousness in gravity is not to be joked about. Any yet the President treats the Constitution and the Rule of Law with his sneering attitude of "Oh why if I can be a president, do I have to obey any other injunctions?" He may decide to quit and go act at Crawford, Texas if we harass him with the Constitution. But those are my closing observations; I just make this last remark. The constitution is a document more for us in this room than it is for public officials. They are all power hungry, they are all engaged in maneuvering for partisan purposes, we aren't. We have an oath even if it's not taken in a formal way like the President to enforce in the Constitution and scrutinize our public officials and insist they be sanctioned, removed from office, for flagrant violation because it's our liberty that's endangered. And I think that we all in this room have an obligation to insist that there will be movement in the Congress to make certain that the kind of violations that we witness repeatedly, far in excess of anything King George did that evoked the Declaration of Independence, result in some sanctions and the removal from office of those who can't be trusted with power, thank you. Thank you thank you Bruce Fein. As you can imagine might imagine, your comments are generating quite a few audience questions. We will get those a minute after Mr. Barr; but first the reminder that you are listening to the Commonwealth Club of California Radio Program, our speakers tonight are Bruce Fein, and former Congressmen Bob Barr. I am John Diaz moderating tonight's program. We now welcome Bob Barr to make his introductory comments, Mr. Barr. Thank you John and that's an honor to appear once again with the Commonwealth Club of California and as many, many listeners who take time from those things that legitimately occupies so much of our time but members of the Commonwealth Club and members of this listening audience do something that far too few of our fellow citizens do. They take time out on a regular basis from all of those things that do occupy our time, education, jobs, family, religion, community to listen to our speakers who discuss issues of both current and historic importance, to take time out to debate, question and discuss these issues and if there is one thought that I think is important, that permeates what what Bruce just said and what I think you come away with from every meeting of this Commonwealth Club of California and that is the need to remind people just how important public discourse and private debate among ourselves, as Bruce said, is so important to the quality not just of our lives and our community and our time but to our fellow citizens all across this land and to those and so many foreign lands who sill legitimately look to America as the beacon of liberty. Let me John, if I could pick up where my very learned friend and colleague Bruce Fein left off and that is with the constitution itself, the document that I consider the greatest document penned by the hand of man. I had read a book recently called The Young Patriots by a gentleman by the name of Charles Cerami. And he recounts largely the thought process and the writing, the drafting of the Constitution by Mr. Madison and Mr. Hamilton and others. And toward the end of this book, Young Patriots, Mr. Cerami makes the point that one would think looking at our constitution, looking at America's importance and influence in the world, that other countries in the more than two centuries since we adopted the Constitution as the foundational document for our country and our society, the many countries would have emulated that experience. And if you go to for example the US Archives or the Library of Congress and look at the Constitutions that are operative in the world in this year 2007 or those that have been operative in the world in the year since the adoption of our constitution well, more than two centuries ago, you might except to see many, many examples of constitutions where they have copied if not word for word, certainly the fundamental principles and structure of our society representing as it does, they says. Mr. Reagan called it the last best hope of man on earth. Yeah Mr. Cerami Charles Cerami, when he researched his book, The Young Patriots and he went to and spend a great deal of time at the Library of Congress looking at, pouring over constitutions, current and prior from around the world, he found not a single constitution, not a single document operative in the world were since ours that that was similar to ours. And it got me thinking. Why is that? Why is this document, the constitution that Bruce talks about and to which all of our national public officials and public officials at the local and state government swearing oath why is it that it is not emulated and copied over and over and over again around the world? I think it's probably because it's a document that scares government. The constitution of the United States is a frightening document to governments whether they are in Europe, here in our own hemisphere or any where else, why, because it is a document that tells the government, you are not all powerful, as a matter of fact you have and will have only so much power as we elect in voluntarily or allow you to have. And that's a frightening thought for government, because why this government exists, why do governments exists? Governments exist to control, governments exist to gain, use and retain power. And as our Founding Fathers so magnificently realized, power comes from one source only and that is the people, the people have the power. We are given the power, not by government, but by as Bruce said, our creator. And we loan that power to government. But it's also important to keep in mind that no government in this country or other countries is ever satisfied with the amount of power that it inherits from its predecessor. Every government looks at the power, considers the power that it obtains and inherits from its predecessor government as a floor, not a ceiling but a floor. A floor of power in which they build, they look for new ways. And this administration is no different except in one respect. It has sought and continues to seek power in an unprecedented manner. There is not as far as this scholar or student of the constitution can tell any prior administration any administration in our history that has viewed with such disdain of the constitution and what it stands for these United States in this administration. You see it in ways large and small. Bruce has recounted several recent examples. The decision by the current administration to completely ignore, almost proudly, ignore the laws of this land duly passed by prior and current Congresses and signed by prior Presidents, that set out for example, the rules under which the government might surveil - might conduct surveillance of American citizens in this country. Prior administrations have recognized that laws, for example the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Actually, those passed and signed by a prior President 30 years ago, in 1978, properly dictates whether they like it or not properly dictates and tells any President the circumstances under which they can conduct surreptitious surveillance of American citizens in this country. Now prior Presidents have looked at laws like that and made a calculated decision. Can we operate within the bounds of that law? Can we carry out the duties and responsibilities that we as the president see in this place and time during our administration within the constraints of that law or can't we. And if we can, then we go to the Congress of the United States which passed the original law back in 1978 and seek to amend it, make our case to the people, make our case to the Congress. This administration looks at the laws of this land and the constitution as something very different. They look at them as something to be ignored when you can and to be moved around like pieces on a chess board whenever they kind of get in your way. We see this in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Actually, ignorance the ignoring of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the current administration. We see it in many other ways as well, large and small. Let's take a small way. That really goes again to sort of a nature of how this administration views the constitutional laws of this land and the entire structure of government. Back during the Cold War era in East Germany there was a state agency called STASI S T A S I which was a secret police. And after the fall of the Communist Empire, controlled largely by the former Soviet Union, when the new governments that came in the German government for example, took over that part of Germany that had been ruled by the Communist East Germany. They went into the archives and the files and the stored areas of STASI. And they found documents and files on virtually every citizen the legal citizens that East Germany under STASI that were recruited and volunteered or were recruited without volunteering to spy on their fellow citizens ran into the millions. They found something else that was fairly interesting. They found vials, closed vials of air and what they discovered in reading the documentation that accompanied these vials of air was these were vials of smells. And they had been gathered over the years where the police the STASI had gone into somebody's apartment or office or had investigated pieces of pieces of clothing or what not. And they had put the smells the odors in these vials; may be hoping for some day that, "Well this might becomes valuable." It was absolutely nonsensical of course. But is it that different from what our Government is doing now in using the technology not of the Cold War Era, but of 2007 to listen into, to amass, to retain and to manipulate, because at some point in the future, something that one of us might have said might be of interest to the government or when analyzed in the context of something else that somebody else has said or done in the interim period might might suddenly reveal to some government brainiac who the next terrorist might be and from when is the next terrorist attack might come. They have to at least our Government nowadays under this administration believes that it has to accumulate, gather and retain all of that data all of that information. So the National Security Agency for example maintains millions upon millions upon millions of pieces of data going from e-mail, internet trafficking, phone conversations and the like, because someday somebody might use little bits of information in those communications to discover something that might to a future "Commander-in-chief." be of interest on that battlefield out there which as Bruce indicated, entails every inch of the globe; our streets, our communities, streets and the communities in Europe, Afghanistan, Iraq, anywhere else. It's that mindset that the Government exists apart quite apart and separate from the people, to use the power that it see fit, for purposes that it desires now and in the future. And if anybody dares to raise a question about this, such as Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey did, in that darkened hotel room, and which the White House Council and the White House Chief of Staffs, elected officials at the time neither neither are the more elected official go to visit the Attorney General to try and get him highly sedative because of very painful medical problem that he was under at the time to sign off on the continuation of a surreptitious surveillance program for America of American citizens and a dating mining data mining operation that as far as we can tell is still ongoing. These are issues these are questions that we need to ask about, not just because of what they mean to those of us today living through this dark period in our nation's history; but of what they mean to future generations as well and to the very fabric of our society based on that constitution. The American Freedom Agendas Agenda is very simple. To go to our leaders those candidates for President for example, alone in which Ron Paul has signed off on the American Freedom Agenda, and ask them to stand up once again as Founding Fathers did, for the writ of habeas-corpus that actually means something unlike the way our current Attorney General views it as a throw away, as something unimportant. To demand of our Public Officials and our candidates that they are actually adhere to the rule of law revolutionary concept, but one that is important to all of us certainly here tonight. And which is at the core of what the American Freedom Agenda which brings together folks from across the ideological spectrum to once again stand for the Constitution of the United States which uniquely and alone among all governing documents in the world; reiterates and recognizes the propositions that we the people and not you the government are the proper repositories for power in our human society. Thank you.