ACLU Releases Presidential Transition Plan To Restore Civil Liberties

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American Civil Liberties Union
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or

Plan Offers Guide To Recovering Freedoms Lost Under Bush

WASHINGTON – In anticipation of the presidential election, the American Civil Liberties Union today released a set of detailed recommendations on steps that the new president should take to “clean house,” renew freedom, and restore the nation’s reputation.

“This past administration has left us with a disastrous legacy of bad policy, abuse of power, and civil liberties violations,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington Legislative Office of the ACLU. “The next president, whoever he is, must immediately begin the process of undoing this far-reaching assault on our nation’s freedoms and core values, and the ACLU’s ‘to do’ list provides a detailed roadmap for achieving that.”

The new ACLU document, entitled, ”Actions For Restoring America,” recommends actions to be taken by the next president on his first day in office, in his first 100 days, and in his first year. The ACLU’s list consists of actions that the executive branch could take on its own.

On Day One, the next president should, by executive order, direct all agencies to prohibit the use of torture and abuse; direct the new Attorney General to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate, and, if warranted, prosecute any violations of federal criminal laws; close down Guantánamo and either charge and try detainees in criminal or traditional military courts or transfer them to countries where they won’t be tortured; and end the practice of extraordinary rendition.

In his first 100 days, the president should take actions, as detailed in the ACLU document, to end illegal spying and surveillance, to protect Americans from privacy violations and discrimination, to end the federal death penalty, and to increase government transparency.

For the new president’s first year, the ACLU proposes actions across a broad variety of areas that are needed to undo the Bush legacy.

“For starters, the next president should immediately put an end to torture, shut down Guantánamo and the military commissions and ban ‘extraordinary rendition,” said Fredrickson. “All of these practices are abominations – violations of our nation’s dearest principles and a blot on America’s good name. He must then proceed vigilantly to restore our other precious rights and values that have been trampled upon, including freedom from unchecked government surveillance, racial and gender equality, and government transparency.”

“The actions we are calling for are steps that the next president can take easily – in many cases with the stroke of a pen – but which will carry great weight in restoring our nation’s true place as a beacon of liberty, rights and justice in the eyes of others and ourselves,” said Fredrickson. “Many things the next president will need to do will be hard. But these will be easy.”

The ACLU’s 83-page document proposes actions across a wide variety of topics, including national security, human rights, women’s rights, civil rights, drug policy, the rights of LGBT Americans, immigrants and prisoners, privacy and free speech.

“Presidents have enormous power not only to set the legislative agenda, but also to establish policy by executive order, federal regulation, or simply by refocusing the efforts and emphases of the executive agencies,” said Fredrickson. “The new president must use all of these tools to restore our freedoms and move the country forward.”

“The American people still need to be reminded why grants of unchecked power do not actually make us safer,” said Fredrickson. “And why Americans must stand firm in protecting the values that at our best we have always represented and defended at home and around the world.”

To download and see the entire ACLU transition plan including suggested executive orders, mandates and directives from the president, go to


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