News Release

Bush anti-terror proposals would undermine civil liberties, judicial oversight of investigations

Administration seeks to lessen oversight  

Washington, DC (September 11, 2003) -- E.E. "Bo" Edwards, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, today issued the following statement in response to President Bush's remarks yesterday calling for new measures which would further prevent judges from exercising discretion and oversight over the Justice Department's already-questionable handling of terrorism investigations and suspects:

"Again, in the name of freedom, the Bush administration is proposing to take more freedom, this time not just from mere suspects, but from judges.

"Records indicate that courts overseeing the government's war on terror have been little more than rubber stamps, as evidenced by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's granting of virtually every request for a search by the government. We should be gravely concerned that the government now wants to avoid even that amount of oversight; we should ask ourselves what it is that they want to do that they don''t even want sympathetic judges to know about.

"No one can argue that the system of checks and balances which the founders built into our government has not been a key to our success. History tells us that a continuing attempt by one branch of government to circumvent the power of another is a warning we should not ignore." 

Edwards is a criminal defense lawyer in Nashville. He can be reached at (615) 356-5037.

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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.