White House Tells Musharraf: Never ‘Restrict Constitutional Freedoms’ To Fight Terrorism

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"White House Tells Musharraf: Never ‘Restrict Constitutional Freedoms’ To Fight Terrorism"

During today’s White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino condemned Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of “emergency rule” in Pakistan. She said that the administration is “deeply disappointed” by the measure, which suspends the country’s constitution, and believes it is never “reasonable” to “restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism”:

Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?

MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/11/perinoconstfreed4.320.240.flv]

The Bush administration never suspended the U.S. Constitution; instead, it interpreted the document so broadly as to provide all the powers they desired. A look at some of the ways the White House has overstepped its constitutional powers in the name of national security:

First Amendment: In September, a federal judge ruled that the FBI’s use of secret “national security letters” to obtain citizens’ personal data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations “violate[d] the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers.”

First Amendment, Fourth Amendment: In Aug. 2006, a federal district court in Detroit ruled that the Bush administration’ss NSA warrantless wiretapping program was unconstitutional, violating the “separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III.”

Article I: Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attempted to justify the administration’s detainee policy by claiming, “There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the Contitution reads: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”)

Article II: In June, House investigators revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney had exempted his office from an executive order order designed to safeguard classified national security information by claiming that he was not an “entity within the executive branch.” (Read the duties of the Vice President, outlined in Article II of the Constitution HERE.)

Musharraf also complained of “judicial activism” to justify his declaration of emergency rule. Despite Perino’s comments, Musharraf seems to have taken a page from the White House playbook.

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