Friday, November 14, 2008

Restoring the Rule of Law

Adam Cohen writes in The New York Times about one of the more important tasks of the Obama administration: repairing the damage done to the rule of law by the Bush administration.

In a Senate hearing room in September, weeks before Barack Obama won the election, a series of law professors, lawyers and civil libertarians outlined one of the biggest challenges that will be facing the next president: bringing the United States government back under the rule of law.

Cohen notes that President-elect Obama and his administration can do a lot of necessary work themselves but will need the cooperation of Congress, who acquiesced to the Bush administration's mischief. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) may be a key figure.

Mr. Feingold has been compiling a list of areas for the next president to focus on, which he intends to present to Mr. Obama. It includes amending the Patriot Act, giving detainees greater legal protections and banning torture, cruelty and degrading treatment. He wants to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to restore limits on domestic spying. And he wants to roll back the Bush administration’s dedication to classifying government documents.

Assessing the damage will not be easy given the degree of secrecy employed in these matters by Vice President Dick Cheney and his followers, as also noted by Steve Clemons in The Washington Note.

--Ballard Burgher

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