American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)
HR 3835 IH
To restore the Constitution’s checks and balances and protections against
government abuses as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 15, 2007
Mr. PAUL introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committees on Armed Services, Foreign
Affairs, and Select Intelligence (Permanent Select), for a period to be subsequently
determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions
as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To restore the Constitution’s checks and balances and protections against government
abuses as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007′.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Unchecked power by any branch leads to oppressive transgressions on individual
freedoms and ill-considered government policies.
(2) The Founding Fathers enshrined checks and balances in the Constitution
to protect against government abuses to derail ill-conceived domestic or foreign
(3) Checks and balances make the Nation safer by preventing abuses that would
be exploited by Al Qaeda to boost terrorist recruitment, would deter foreign
governments from cooperating in defeating international terrorism, and would
make the American people reluctant to support aggressive counter-terrorism measures.
(4) Checks and balances have withered since 9/11 and an alarming concentration
of power has been accumulated in the presidency based on hyper-inflated fears
of international terrorism and a desire permanently to alter the equilibrium
of power between the three branches of government.
(5) The unprecedented constitutional powers claimed by the President since
9/11 subtracted national security and have been asserted for non-national security
(6) Experience demonstrates that global terrorism can be thwarted, deterred,
and punished through muscular application of law enforcement measures and prosecutions
in Federal civilian courts in lieu of military commissions or military law.
(7) Congressional oversight of the executive branch is necessary to prevent
secret government, which undermines self-government and invites lawlessness
(8) The post-9/11 challenges to checks and balances are unique in the Nation’s
history because the war on global terrorism has no discernable end.
(b) Purpose- The American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007 is intended to restore
the Constitution’s checks and balances and protections against government abuses
as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
SEC. 3. MILITARY COMMISSIONS; ENEMY COMBATANTS; HABEAS CORPUS.
(a) The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is hereby repealed.
(b) The President is authorized to establish military commissions for the
trial of war crimes only in places of active hostilities against the United
States where an immediate trial is necessary to preserve fresh evidence or to
prevent local anarchy.
(c) The President is prohibited from detaining any individual indefinitely
as an unlawful enemy combatant absent proof by substantial evidence that the
individual has directly engaged in active hostilities against the United States,
provided that no United States citizen shall be detained as an unlawful enemy
(d) Any individual detained as an enemy combatant by the United States shall
be entitled to petition for a writ of habeas corpus under section 2241 of title
28, United States Code.
SEC. 4. TORTURE OR COERCED CONFESSIONS.
No civilian or military tribunal of the United States shall admit as evidence
statements extracted from the defendant by torture or coercion.
SEC. 5. INTELLIGENCE GATHERING.
No Federal agency shall gather foreign intelligence in contravention of the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.). The President’s
constitutional power to gather foreign intelligence is subordinated to this
SEC. 6. PRESIDENTIAL SIGNING STATEMENTS.
The House of Representatives and Senate collectively shall enjoy standing
to file a declaratory judgment action in an appropriate Federal district court
to challenge the constitutionality of a presidential signing statement that
declares the President’s intent to disregard provisions of a bill he has signed
into law because he believes they are unconstitutional.
SEC. 7. KIDNAPPING, DETENTIONS, AND TORTURE ABROAD.
No officer or agent of the United States shall kidnap, imprison, or torture
any person abroad based solely on the President’s belief that the subject of
the kidnapping, imprisonment, or torture is a criminal or enemy combatant; provided
that kidnapping shall be permitted if undertaken with the intent of bringing
the kidnapped person for prosecution or interrogation to gather intelligence
before a tribunal that meets international standards of fairness and due process.
A knowing violation of this section shall be punished as a felony punishable
by a fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years.
SEC. 8. JOURNALIST EXCEPTION TO ESPIONAGE ACT.
Nothing in the Espionage Act of 1917 shall prohibit a journalist from publishing
information received from the executive branch or Congress unless the publication
would cause direct, immediate, and irreparable harm to the national security
of the United States.
SEC. 9. USE OF SECRET EVIDENCE TO MAKE FOREIGN TERRORIST DESIGNATIONS.
Notwithstanding any other law, secret evidence shall not be used by the President
or any other member of the executive branch to designate an individual or organization
with a United States presence as a foreign terrorist or foreign terrorist organization
for purposes of the criminal law or otherwise imposing criminal or civil sanctions.
Rep. Paul’s remarks to the floor introducing the bill:
OF HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2007
[STATEMENT INTRODUCING AMERICAN FREEDOM AGENDA ACT OF 2007 — (Extensions of
Remarks – October 15, 2007)]
* Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing a comprehensive piece of
legislation to restore the American Constitution and to restore the liberties
that have been sadly eroded over the past several years.
* This legislation seeks to restore the checks and balances enshrined in the
Constitution by our Founding Fathers to prevent abuse of Americans by their
government. This proposed legislation would repeal the Military Commissions
Act of 2006 and re-establish the traditional practice that military commissions
may be used to try war crimes in places of active hostility where a rapid trial
is necessary to preserve evidence or prevent chaos.
* The legislation clarifies that no information shall be admitted as evidence
if it is obtained from the defendant through the use of torture or coercion.
It codifies the FISA process as the means by which foreign intelligence may
be obtained and it gives members of the Senate and the House of Representatives
standing in court to challenge presidential signing statements that declares
the president’s intent to disregard certain aspects of a law passed in the U.S.
Congress. It prohibits kidnapping and extraordinary rendition of prisoners to
foreign countries on the president’s unilateral determination that the suspect
is an enemy combatant. It defends the first amendment by clarifying that journalists
are not to be prevented from publishing information received from the legislative
or executive branch unless such publication would cause immediate, direct, and
irreparable harm to the United States.
* Finally, the legislation would prohibit the use of secret evidence to designate
an individual or organization with a United States presence to be a foreign
terrorist or foreign terrorist organization.
* I invite my colleagues to join my efforts to restore the U.S. Constitution
by enacting the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007.