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Laws established since 9/11 are threatening the constitutional rights of American citizens, according to a group of panelists who spoke at CU on Friday.
The West Coast Civil Liberties College Tour, an event presented by CU’s chapter of the national student group Young Americans for Liberty, was held on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Eaton Humanities building. The discussion hosted members from the libertarian, conservative and liberal parties respectively, who all agreed upon one thing: rights such as those established by the first, fourth and fifth amendments are under attack.
Glenn Greenwald, a liberal writer and former Constitutional and civil rights litigator, participated in the panel and spoke about the constitutional amendments currently under attack.
According to Greenwald, civil liberties guaranteed by these amendments include freedom of speech, the right to a trial and other due process laws, and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“You see this really radical assault on these liberties,” Greenwald said. “That is changing our political system in ways that are really quite fundamental and threaten to last for a long time.”
The panelists highlighted the suspension of habeas corpus, the PATRIOT Act and torture as examples of civil liberties in decline.
Another panelist Jack Hunter, a conservative talk radio personality and contributor to The American Conservative magazine, cited specific erosions of American civil liberties, including the increase in government surveillance.
“Justice Department documents released by the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] reveal that federal law force agencies are increasingly monitoring American electronic communications and doing so without warrants,” Hunter said.
Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, a libertarian educational group, spoke about his reaction to hearing about lack of due process laws at Guantanamo Bay.
“I thought to myself, this is going to be a fascinating experiment about how the government operates without any constraints, because they announced early on that the constitution would not apply at Guantanamo Bay,” Hornberger said.
The act of holding an American prisoner without trial now exists within U.S. borders, Hornberger said.
According to the ACLU website, “on December 31, 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history.”
Alex Fouss, a 23-year-old senior electrical engineering student, said he thinks the U.S. needs to uphold the principles of the constitution.
“I see our constitution being eroded in a way that isn’t presented to the public in a fair fashion,” Fouss said. “I think it’s important we make sure we stick to the ideals that is country was founded on.”
According to Greenwald, there is no ambiguity about what the government can and cannot do when it comes to these civil liberties.
“The list of limitations that we have imposed on the government about what they can do to us … are incredibly clear and remarkably absolutist in their function,” Greenwald said.
Myles Fraser, a 22-year-old senior biology major, became the president of CU’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter after participating in Buffs for Paul, the student group that supported Ron Paul’s campaign for presidency in 2012.
Fraser thinks economic spending is at the core of many of the issues concerning civil liberties.
“I’m concerned about all of my civil liberties,” Fraser said. “But I think the most pressing issues are economic, because endless spending fuels war.”
Greenwald said that the purpose of the tour is to educate the public and encourage college students to find ways to restore America’s civil liberties.
“Hopefully we can come together to think of ways that we can collectively reverse these trends,” Greenwald said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lilli Delheim at Lilli.firstname.lastname@example.org.