In the summer of 1787, the Constitutional Convention met to craft the United States Constitution. The Anti-Federalists didn't approve of the document as written because it offered no protection to individual rights, and they refused to sign it. George Mason said, "I would sooner chop off [my] right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands." Jefferson wrote to Madison, "A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth." Eventually, the Federalists persuaded the Anti-Federalists to sign by promising them they would address the individual rights matter once the Constitution was ratified. James Madison's feelings were mixed, but he took up the task of writing a bill of rights, which he called "a nauseous project," and he introduced it into the first session of Congress in 1789. After some haggling, the 10 amendments were ratified as one unit, which guarantees, among other things, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to a fair trial. - Writer's Almanac
There Goes the Republic
The defense authorization bill that Congress passed and President Obama had threatened to veto will soon become law, a fact that should be met with public outrage. Human Rights Watch President Kenneth Roth, responding to Obama’s craven collapse on the bill’s most controversial provision, said, “By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.” On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney claimed “the most recent changes give the president additional discretion in determining how the law will be implemented, consistent with our values and the rule of law, which are at the heart of our country’s strength.”
What rubbish, coming from a president who taught constitutional law. The point is not to hock our civil liberty to the discretion of the president, but rather to guarantee our freedoms even if a Dick Cheney or Newt Gingrich should attain the highest office.
Sadly this flagrant subversion of the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process of law was opposed in the Senate by only seven senators, including libertarian Republican Rand Paul and progressive Independent Bernie Sanders. - more from Robert Scheer
See also Congressional Tyranny, White House Surrender - by Ralph Nader