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Agenda for a New Congress: Civil Liberties

It is time. After working to defend civil liberties against daunting odds, the ACLU’s job now is to begin restoring our lost liberties — and to make sure the new Congress has the courage to
act.

For the past five years, our nation has been held hostage by the politics of fear — with too many of our leaders caving into the notion that we must sacrifice our civil liberties in the name of the war on terror.

But this Tuesday, voters helped restore our system of checks and balances, and rejected the fear-mongering.

Here’s what we have to understand right out of the box — the election results won’t matter much if all it produces is a Congress without the courage to demand answers, expose wrongdoing, restore justice and end abuses.

And we can’t wait another minute. We must demand that our newly-elected leaders — Democrats and Republicans alike — begin the hard work of restoring accountability, checks
and balances, and respect for civil liberties to our democracy. Make restoring lost liberties a top priority.

After five long years of profound abuses of power by the White House and Congress’ failure to hold the president accountable, the ACLU knows what needs to be done. The new Congress should immediately:

* Demand a thorough investigation into the NSA’s warrantless
eavesdropping and stop funding this illegal program and start
investigating it instead. We will immediately build on our ACLU
v. NSA courtroom victory by continuing to challenge this program
in court and in Congress.

* Restore respect for human rights and undo the damage done by
both the Bush administration’s despicable practices and the
recently passed Military Commissions Act. We must close
Guantánamo and begin immediately to push for the restoration
of due process and the writ of habeas corpus, a cornerstone
of our Constitution and our legal heritage.

* Expose massive invasions of our personal privacy and the
monitoring and suppression of those who dare to disagree with
government policies. We need to do away with FBI monitoring of
peace activists and religious organizations and end unfettered
government access to our private financial, health care, and
communications records.

* End government intrusion into the most personal and private
aspects of our lives. It is time to reclaim the moral high
ground and fight for marriage equality, put the brakes on the
federal government’s relentless assault on reproductive freedom
and stop the funneling of billions of tax dollars to religious
institutions that are free to discriminate.

It’s going to be up to the ACLU and our members to push for the
restoration of our rights in the weeks and months ahead. Because if
the only change Congress brings are subtle shifts in policy and moving
around of a few nameplates on Capitol Hill, we’ll still be left with a
hole in the fabric of our democracy.

With your support, we’ll make absolutely certain that’s not how these
critical next few months unfold. Make restoring lost liberties a top
priority.

You and other outspoken supporters of the ACLU have stood firm and
insisted that we must not yield to an administration intent on abusing
its power and silencing its opposition. And you deserve a great deal
of the credit for helping lift the cloud over our democracy.

But we are not done yet. It’s still up to you and me — each and
every one of us — to see our work through and end the abuses and
the utter absence of accountability that have been the hallmarks of
our government over the last five years.

Your generous donation will play a vital role in helping the ACLU
begin the work of reclaiming our Constitutional heritage and restoring
the full vibrancy of our democracy. Please help restore our lost
liberties today:

Sincerely,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union

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