Woody Creek now a ‘Bill of Rights Defense Zone’ | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creek now a ‘Bill of Rights Defense Zone’

John Colson

The Woody Creek Caucus on Thursday joined hundreds of towns and states across the country in passing a measure rejecting some of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act.The resolution, the Bill of Rights Defense Resolution, is based on a nationwide movement, as caucus co-moderator George Stranahan described. The movement calls on local, state and national governments to reject national security officials’ attempts to undermine or violate civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.The resolutions are a reaction to provisions of the Patriot Act, which Congress passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Critics of the act maintain it gives unconstitutional powers, with little or no congressional oversight, to federal law enforcement and security agencies.Among other things, the resolution calls for government officials at all levels to “reaffirm your official oaths” to “protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, which is the sole source of your offices and your official powers.”The goal of the resolution is to condemn and reject federal efforts “to use secret, warrantless searches, seizures and surveillance” against U.S. citizens; to jail U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants” without full access to federal courts; and to engage in other security-related actions that undermine rights to “freedom of speech, association, peaceful assembly, privacy and religion,” among other particulars.The resolution cites a warning by the American Bar Association to the president and attorney general of the United States against circumvention of such things as the separation of powers in the federal government. It also calls on the U.S. Congress to hold hearings into controversial electronic surveillance programs that many view as violations of federal law.Kevin Doyle, owner of the Woody Creek Cellars wine distributor, proposed passage of the resolution after visiting the Telluride and seeing signs declaring it a “Bill of Rights Safe Community.” Doyle read aloud the resolution, which local attorney Dwight Shellman prepared, before the unanimous vote.”As they take our rights, unless we fight to get them back, they’re gone forever,” Doyle told the assembly.The next step for the caucus, according to Shellman and Stranahan, will be to present the resolution to other area caucuses and to local governments and demand hearings on the matters itemized in the resolution. After that, the plan is to ask that all local officials “reaffirm your oaths” of office and pledge to resist attempts by federal security and law enforcement officials to conduct activities that violate basic civil rights.The resolution declares Woody Creek to be a “Bill of Rights Defense Zone,” and calls on other governmental and nongovernmental entities to make similar declarations.Caucus member Dan Kinney suggested that too much “legalese” burdened the resolution and it needed an accompanying document written in “plain talk” to make it clearer for regular people. The caucus named Kinney as the man to write it, and it will later be attached to the resolution.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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