Hentoff details the most serious rights rollbacks in American history, and heralds the gathering of a new, nationwide resistance.
"The Constitution," said Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ominously in March, 2003, "just sets minimums. Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires." In The War on the Bill of Rights—and the Gathering Resistance, nationally syndicated columnist and Village Voice mainstay Nat Hentoff draws on untapped sources—from reporters, resisters, and civil liberties law professors across the country to administration insiders—to piece together the true dimensions of the current assault on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The first draft of the USA PATRIOT Act to go to Congress included the suspension of habeas corpus. The proposed sequel (PATRIOT Act II) would make it possible to revoke U.S. citizenship, and, for the first time in history, authorize secret arrests. Both Patriot Acts increase electronic surveillance of Americans, with minimal judicial supervision. Hentoff refocuses attention on domestic surveillance initiatives established by unilateral executive actions, such as Operation TIPS and the Total Information Awareness System, both still quietly functioning. Hentoff chronicles the inevitable rise of citizen's groups against these gross infringements, comparing today's Bill of Rights Defense Committees to Samuel Adams's Sons of Liberty, whose campaign against the British helped to precipitate the American Revolution. Afforded little coverage in the major media, the Bill of Rights Defense Committees now have spread to nearly one hundred cities and towns nationwide. Hentoff quotes Lance Morrow, who wrote, "If Americans win a war (not just against Saddam Hussein but the longer-term struggle) and lose the Constitution, they will have lost everything."Nat Hentoff, a prolific author and journalist and weekly columnist in the Village Voice, has won the National Press Foundation Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism, and the American Bar Association Certificate of Merit for Coverage of the Criminal Justice System, as well as the Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Cause of Civil Liberties.