The American Bar Association, at its 2006 mid-year meeting, took an official position opposing the President's domestic surveillance program. “Our founders gave us a government that can act swiftly in times of danger, but also protect our basic freedoms. It is very encouraging that Americans understand and insist on preserving that balance,” said American Bar Association President Michael S. Greco. He was commenting on the ABA's commissioned poll, that found seventy-seven percent of Americans said that the President can not suspend constitutional freedoms anytime he thinks it is necessary to protect the country. Greco expressed concern that there must be checks and balances in the form of oversights by the courts and congress “to prevent the very human temptation to abuse the power.” Greco stated that “neither now of ever in the future should we be frightened into sacrificing constitutional freedoms because something happened or something is about to happen.” Greco released a policy proposal by the ABA’s Task Force on Domestic Surveillance that included the six following clauses:
1) Call on the President to abide by our constitutional system of checks and balances and respect the roles of Congress and the judiciary in protecting national security consistent with the Constitution
2) Oppose any further electronic surveillance in U.S. for foreign intelligence purposes that does not comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and urge the President, if he believes FISA is inadequate, to seek amendment or new legislation
3) Urge Congress to affirm that the Authorization for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress in September 2001 did not provide an exception to FISA, saying such an exception must be explicit
4) Urge Congress to conduct a comprehensive, thorough investigation of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program
5) Urge Congress to assure proceedings of that investigation are open to public
6) Urge Congress to review and make recommendations regarding intelligence oversight process
Greco said, “It is a time when we should be having conversations about our constitutional freedoms as well as our security." In order to facilitate those conversations, The American Bar associations as created a site, Conversations on the Constitution. You can download a free copy of the constitution there. They have created conversation starters in the areas of separation of powers, the advice and consent of the Senate, establishment of religion, and unreasonable searches and seizures. The objective of the program is to help Americans appreciate the significance of our constitutional principles, and better understand the complex legal issues facing our nation. This is a time when Americans cannot afford to remain uninformed.