The signers of the Declaration of Independence must be turning in their graves this July 4th over the shredding of basic democratic rights by corporate right-wing politicians in Washington.

The picture is so bad that thousands, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, rallied at the Capitol to demand an end to torture practiced by the Bush-Cheney gang. They also demanded restoration of habeas corpus rights. Those rights have been nullified by President Bush as he insists on endlessly imprisoning “enemy combatants” without criminal charges.

We were reminded this week that the assault on the Bill of Rights has been going on for decades.

The CIA released 702 pages of memos revealing its sordid schemes, including assassination plots against foreign leaders such as Congolese Premier Patrice Lumumba and Cuban President Fidel Castro.

One memo reports a request by President Richard Nixon’s Watergate “plumbers,” all of them CIA, for a “lockpicker,” presumably to break into the Democratic Party headquarters.

Also this week, the Tamiment Library at New York University opened for inspection 400,000 pages of FBI files on its spying against the National Lawyers Guild. Among them were files on FBI spying on the Michigan Guild and on the Communist Party of Michigan.

One 1964 memo marked “confidential” shows John Conyers Jr., now chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was a target.

A memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover instructs the FBI’s Detroit Bureau to sabotage George W. Crockett Jr.’s campaign for a judgeship. A leaflet was produced showing a hammer and sickle and branding Crockett an “enemy collaborator.”

Crockett, a leader of the Lawyers Guild, had served as a defense counsel to Communist Party leaders during the Smith Act trials in the late 1940s. A courageous man, he never wavered. And the people of Detroit elected and re-elected Crockett to Congress by landslide margins.

The American people rejected McCarthyism, FBI/CIA abuses, and Nixon’s “enemies list” schemes, and they are rejecting the Bush administration, which has brought this country to a new low in its trampling of civil liberties and the Constitution. July 4th is a good time to renew our commitment to defend our liberties and rights.