On the Justice Department

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by Ron Paul: Too
Much Government in the Gulf

of Congressman Ron Paul before the US House of Representatives:
Statement on H. Res. 1422, June 24, 2010

Speaker, the House of Representatives recently considered H.RES.
1422, honoring the 140th anniversary of the Department of Justice.
I voted against this resolution because of the Justice Department’s
history of violating individual rights.

It is the Justice
Department that leads the ongoing violations of the Fourth, Fifth,
Ninth, and Tenth Amendments in the name of the “war on drugs.”
It is Justice Department agents who perform warrantless wiretap,
and “sneak-and-peak” searches under the misnamed PATRIOT
Act. It is the Justice Department that prosecutes American citizens
for violating unconstitutional federal regulations even in cases
where no reasonable person could have known their actions violated
federal law.

Some like to
pretend that the Justice Department’s assault on liberties
is a modern phenomenon, or that abuses of liberties are only carried
out by one political party. However, history shows that the unconstitutional
usurpations of power and abuse of rights goes back at least almost
a hundred years to the “Progressive” era and that Justice
Departments of both parties have disregard the Constitution and
violated individual liberties.

During World
War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s Justice Department imprisoned
people who dared to speak out against the war. Following the war,
the progressive assault on the First Amendment continued with the
infamous “Palmer raids,” named for Wilson’s Attorney
General A. Mitchell Palmer. Just as President Wilson’s policies
of foreign interventionism and domestic welfare served as a model
for future presidents, Attorney General Palmer’s assaults on
civil liberties served as a model for future attorney generals of
both parties. Think of Robert Kennedy authorizing the wiretapping
of Martin Luther King, Jr., John Mitchell’s role in the abuses
of civil liberties by Nixon Administration, Ed Meese’s assault
on the First Amendment with his “pornography commission,”
Janet Reno’s role in the murder of innocent men, women and
children at Waco, and the steady erosion of our rights over the
past decade. In addition, it is the attorney general and the Justice
Department that defend and justify violations of constitutional
liberties by the president and the other federal bureaucracies.

Many civil
libertarians were hopeful the new administration would be more sympathetic
to civil liberties than was the prior administration. But the current
administration has disregarded campaign promises to restore respect
for civil liberates and has continued, and in many cases expanded,
the anti-freedom policies of its predecessors. For instance, the
current administration is supporting renewal of the policies of
warrantless wiretapping, and other PATRIOT Act provisions. The administration,
despite promising to be more open and transparent, is also continuing
to use the claim of "state secrets" to shield potentially
embarrassing information from Americans. According to the New
York Times, the current administration is even outdoing its
predecessors in the prosecution of government whistleblowers. It
is little wonder that the head of the American Civil Liberties Union
recently said he is disgusted with the administration’s record
on civil liberties.

Of course,
Madam Speaker, Congress bears ultimate responsibility for the Justice
Department’s actions, as it is Congress that passes the unconstitutional
laws the Justice Department enforces. Congress also fails to perform
effective oversight of the Justice Department. Instead of honoring
the Justice Department, Congress should begin to repeal unconstitutional
laws and start exercising congressional oversight of executive branch
agencies that menace our freedoms.

the Ron Paul File

30, 2010

Dr. Ron
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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