Common Cause Launches Campaign to 'Recapture the Flag'


Common Cause has launched a campaign called "Recapture the Flag," protesting abuses of power by the White House and failure by Congress to oversee the Executive Branch.

Unveiled in a full-page ad in The New York Times, the campaign charges the Bush administration with undermining public trust by using wiretapping to spy on Americans, attempting to restrict Habeas Corpus, engaging in torture and getting around laws to which it objects by signing executive statements.

The ad says the White House ordered staff and former staff not to comply with congressional subpoenas, used the Justice Department to carry out a partisan agenda and led the country into war based on information that the administration either knew or should have known to be inaccurate.

Recapture the Flag includes a citizens' petition demanding a president and Congress that:

--End torture, respect human rights and restore America's reputation in the world.

--Respect the rule of law and fiercely challenge anyone who seeks to undermine the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

--Root out corruption, special-interest abuses and partisan prejudice in the administration of justice.

--Hold to account--without exception--anyone who breaks the law or violates the public trust.

--Protect personal freedom by rejecting warrantless spying and other affronts to individual liberty.

The ad pictures an American flag displayed upside down, by protocol a signal of distress, claiming that democracy today "is indeed in distress."

"No matter which candidate prevails in November, the next president and Congress will need to actively work to roll back these abuses of power and reinstall the historical principles our flag stands for: liberty, justice, freedom and the rule of law," read a press release.

The Recapture the Flag Web site also includes an interactive map showing which candidates for office have or have not endorsed the pledge.

"It is time to restore the core values of American democracy that made us a beacon of hope in a troubled world," said the newspaper ad, "freedom from tyranny, respect for individual liberty and human rights, and government based on the rule of law."

"It is time to right our country and reclaim our flag as the symbol of a democracy we can all be proud of," the ad continues.

Common Cause is a non-profit citizens' lobby dedicated to responsive and accountable government. It claims 400,000 members and supporters in 36 state organizations.

The organization is led by Bob Edgar, a former Congressman and past general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

The campaign's goal is 50,000 signatures.

Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics endorsed the campaign.

"Recapturing the flag is an appealing symbol in a year of bruising presidential politics, when shallow patriotism is celebrated and when politicians and preachers wrap their self interests in the flag," said Parham, executive director of the Nashville-based BCE. "Rather than obsessing about lapel pins, we should focus on those who voted to expand the government's wiretapping powers. Rather than questioning the authenticity of one's religion, we should seek justice through the advancement of human rights."

"I think Common Cause's campaign gives people of faith a substantive, non-partisan way to engage in the political discourse," Parham said. "I commend Bob Edgar and hope church members will ask their political candidates to make these straightforward promises."

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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