Constitution Day: Letter from CCDBR Board President Bob Clarke

Posted on September 18, 2012

CCDBR Board President Bob Clarke submitted this letter to the editor to the Chicago Tribune. We’d like to share it with you in honor of 2012 Constitution Day:

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, RE. CONSTITUTION DAY, SEPTEMBER 17: We have precious little to celebrate on September 17, U.S. Constitution Day.

Civil-liberties advocates increasingly feel we operate in a parallel universe, unseen by the general public and systematically underplayed by the mass media: a universe of such excesses of surveillance and other police-state abuses that traditional protections like the Fourth Amendment are being effectively obliterated.

Witness the “normalization” of practices that have spawned like poison mushrooms with alarming speed: fusion centers (spy/surveillance coordination bodies), indefinite preventive detention, National Security Letters, enemy combatant designation, torture outsourcing and black sites, racial profiling, state secrecy claims, drone surveillance, the incarceration society, warrantless searches.

Cultivation of fear (e.g. the orchestrated hysteria over potential violence during Chicago NATO protests) and sweeping “national security” justifications are used to promote this erosion of freedom.

But nothing so encapsulates the dangers we face as the appearance this year of Attorney General Holder at Northwestern School of Law, where he made Chicago the historic venue for an unprecedented official declaration: that due process before execution of U.S. citizens need not be “judicial:” a secret, unreviewable, presidential order suffices for a lethal drone hit on anyone, anywhere, any time.

Worried about this? The Obama/Holder reassurance is “trust us.” But from James Madison onward, constitutional protections have been founded on the exactly opposite principle: do NOT trust unfetttered executive authority.

So, Chicago, no candles on the constitutional cake this year: save your breath to fight back for our rights!

Robert Clarke, President
Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights