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AMERICA'S VALUES AND THE NEXT PRESIDENT

'Liberty'

December 14, 2007

So far, Democratic candidates offer more hope in that regard than Republicans. Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Christopher S. Dodd voted against the Military Commissions Act, which stripped detainees of habeas rights, and all four also opposed the Protect America Act, which removed from court oversight any electronic surveillance "directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States" -- even if an American is at the other end of the line. Republican Sen. John McCain voted for the military commissions bill but did not vote on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. As for Guantanamo itself, four Republicans -- Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter -- have defended the facility, with Hunter noting snidely that "those guys get taxpayer-paid-for prayer rugs." All four are wrong to support this running abrogation of liberty; Hunter manages to be offensive on top of it. Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Dodd, Bill Richardson, McCain and Mike Huckabee would close Guantanamo.

America is not a police state -- far from it. But an overweening executive, a compliant Congress and understandable public anxiety about terrorism have combined to make this country less free. The next president must recognize that this nation is defined by its liberties. Personal freedom must not become collateral damage in the war on terror -- for if that occurs, we have lost it all.

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