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ABA head warns against 'taking shortcuts' with Constitution

[JURIST] American Bar Association [profession website] president Michael S. Greco said Friday that American civil liberties were under stress in a time of conflict, but that policymakers should resist the temptation to "take shortcuts with the Constitution." He made his comments as the ABA released [press release] a poll [results, PDF] showing that 52 percent of Americans believe the President could not suspend constitutional liberties in the fight against terrorism, and that an additional 25 percent believe the President must seek either congressional or court authorization before engaging in domestic surveillance [JURIST news archive].

The poll was commissioned by a special ABA task force [ABA Journal report; member profiles] set up to investigate the domestic surveillance initiative. Its preliminary report will be submitted to the ABA House of Delegates during the organization's midyear meeting in Chicago [press release] on February 13, where delegates will vote on whether or not to

  • Call on the President to abide by our constitutional system of checks and balances and respect the roles of Congress and the judiciary in protecting national security consistent with the Constitution
  • Oppose any further electronic surveillance in US for foreign intelligence purposes that does not comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and urge the President, if he believes FISA is inadequate, to seek amendment or new legislation
  • Urge Congress to affirm that the Authorization for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress in September 2001 did not provide an exception to FISA, saying such an exception must be explicit
  • Urge Congress to conduct a comprehensive, thorough investigation of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program
  • Urge Congress to assure proceedings of that investigation are open to public
  • Urge Congress to review and make recommendations regarding intelligence oversight process
AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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