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Monday, June 05, 2006

Congress Legislating Our Rights Away by Helen Thomas

WASHINGTON -- Hypocrisy is alive and well on Capitol Hill. An FBI raid on a congressman's office has caused a ruckus between his irate colleagues and the Justice Department over congressional prerogatives.

If only those same members of Congress had been more sensitive about individual rights when they passed the Patriot Act, a law invades all Americans' privacy.

They are the same lawmakers who were complicit with President Bush's unprecedented order to secretly eavesdrop on millions of Americans without a warrant.

Where was the outrage from those lawmakers when faced with the shame of the administration's practice of sending prisoners to secret jails abroad where they could be tortured during interrogation?

Why was Congress silent when Bush wrote his own military law to designate individuals as "enemy combatants," and deny them due process, before sending them into limbo?

For too long, Congress has ignored the imperial outreach of the executive branch on the theory that anything Bush wants to do post-9/11 is just fine. But now those angry House members suddenly have discovered the U.S. Constitution and the historic separation of powers after FBI agents raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., seizing documents and a computer hard drive.

The agents acted lawfully on the basis of a warrant signed by Judge T.S. Ellis of U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va.

The raid on a Capitol Hill office -- said to be the first in history -- followed a sting operation during which Jefferson allegedly accepted a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant. According to a court document, the acceptance of the money was videotaped.---------------
read the rest......
Congress Legislating Our Rights Away

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