Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Constitutional Rights for Flags?

In his speech before the American Legion this morning, President Bush called upon Congress and the states to insure that our national flag has the "constitutional protection it deserves." He was referring, of course, to passing a constitutional amendment to criminalize flag burning. Apparently Mr. Bush wants to extend constitutional protection to inanimate objects, while ignoring or undermining protections citizens were granted in our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to that same Constitution.

Over the weekend, a New York Times editorial urged Congress to take these immediate steps to reverse the President's assault on civil liberties: restore habeas corpus, our "ancient right to challenge [our] imprisonment in court"; stop illegal spying on American citizens by restoring judicial oversight; define torture and ban it, rather than leaving it up to the President to decide what constitutes torture; ban secret evidence and evidence obtained by torture, and define the parameters of classified evidence; define "enemy combatant," a designation currently determined by the Decider, through which he can imprison anyone for any length of time, with no accountability; "respect the right to counsel," rather than authorizing government surveillance of communications between prisoners and lawyers; and to regain our moral authority in the international community, halt extraordinary renditions, account for "ghost prisoners," and close CIA prisons.

Surely redressing these egregious assaults on the Constitution should take precedence over protecting the flag--and it would not require a constitutional amendment to do so, either. It would only require Congress to hold the President accountable for "high crimes and misdemeanors."

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