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Thursday, March 27, 2008

RE: [LPplatform-discuss] Internal Security language

Stephen Dow wrote on LPplatform-discuss:

SD) I have to say the PlatComm and Holtz in particular are bringing me around on the idea of replacing the current platform with a simpler 'pure principles' one.  It's a bit troubling that there is such a divide approaching the Convention, with so many prominent names on this list: (SD

Keep in mind that they signed a petition saying they

04) urge the members of the Platform Committee to vote to revert to the 2004 Platform as the basis for any changes to be submitted to the delegates in Denver. Some changes and additions are no doubt necessary, but there simply will not be time to construct, refine and adopt a comprehensive platform starting with the shriveled 2006 version. (04

After the petition list effectively stopped growing, the Restore04 caucus indeed published an attempt to "construct, refine and adopt a comprehensive platform" that starts from 2006 language rather than 2004 seemingly whenever it can.  Now, with only weeks to go before Denver, their draft (even after submission to PlatCom) is still marred by multiple errors in grammar and even numbering, and has dozens of pieces of novel language that have never been marked up in any Platform Committee discussion or meeting, let alone approved by any prior National Convention. At least one early signer, Alex Peak, has commented on TPW that signing the Restore04 petition should not be taken as support for Rob's draft.

It's easy to see why he thinks so.  A true Restore04 effort would have (as the petitioners asked) taken the 62-plank 2004 Platform as its starting point.  Even if Restore04 changed their mind about the illegitimacy of the 2006 convention and accepted its Platform work except for the plank deletions, they would have had as a starting point a 55-plank platform: the 8 consolidated planks, the 7 retained planks, and the 40 planks that were deleted rather than consolidated.  Instead, "Restore04" now advocates a 30-plank platform whose myriad linguistic innovations have yet to even be identified, let alone closely reviewed.  I'm marking up their draft to source their language in the way that has been done for the PlatCom's 99%-recycled draft, but I've only gotten through the first 9 of their 30 planks.  So far, only about 1/4 of what I've examined is language that was restored from deleted 2004 planks, while over half of it is language retained from the 2006 platform, and the rest is entirely novel.  I expect that only half of the draft will turn out to consist of language restored from deleted 2004 planks -- which ironically is roughly the same ratio for the PlatCom's current draft.  Indeed, less than 1/5 of the PlatCom's current draft consists of language that wasn't in the 2004 Platform.  Will the real Restore04 draft please stand up?  :-)

SD)  One sentence in the PlatComm draft which is a sticking point for me is the first one under "Internal Security and Individual Rights":  "The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security." That sentence was added to the platform in 2002, and dropped in 2004.  In stark contrast to that opening sentence, LP platforms prior to 2002 going all way back to 1976 opened the "Internal Security" plank with wording calling for the "abolition of all federal secret police agencies."  I would not demand that particular language back, but as I say the wording above in the current draft is a major problem for me. (SD

This plank was not included in our original draft, but was a proposal accepted from one of our more radical/purist PlatCom members.  I have no problem with that first sentence, especially given what the rest of the plank says:

The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens. The Bill of Rights provides no exceptions for a time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government's use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.

I instead have two other complaints about the plank.

The first is that it's by far the most ad hoc in our draft.  If not for 19 guys with boxcutters, this plank probably would never have been proposed, whereas every other of our planks is much more about an enduring and timeless topic.

The second complaint is that, as was not discovered until after our Las Vegas meeting, it has two sentences (underlined above) that never appeared in any prior Platform.  (They were approved by previous PlatComs, but weren't adopted.)   This may not turn out to be such a big deal, as now it seems the Committee will be adopting novel language for three planks (Education, Environment, Energy) for which in Vegas it rejected recycled proposals.