Succeeding the worst president in United States history, and doing so with the support of majorities in both houses of Congress, Barack Obama ought to have led us into a golden age of reform in American government.
He has not.
The private institutions that were allowed to wreck the economy under Bush have not been reformed.
The unjustified foreign wars that Bush lied us into continue to be fought. The military brass want still more troops to bleed and die in Afghanistan.
The health care reform that nearly three-quarters of the American public demands teeters on the brink of disaster under the weight of the money bags of unregulated health care profiteers.
This week, the President and his majorities in Congress have an opportunity to undo the most sweeping desecration of the Constitution in the history of the republic: the so-called USA PATRIOT Act.
Russ Feingold and nine other Senators have introduced the JUSTICE Act to correct the worst of the crimes of the PATRIOT Act. It must pass.
Hearings are scheduled also in the House. Its members must remember and remember well the words uttered by one of its most distinguished members on Feb. 17, 2002:
How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?
We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it.
We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant.
We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups.
We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and financial records.
We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for intelligence surveillance.
We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy.
Dennis R. Kucinich no doubt will remind his colleagues once again of their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution . He will urge them to restore the Bill of Rights without compromising our national security.
It can be done. It should be done. It must be done.