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Civil rights commission yanks report critical of Bush rights record

[JURIST] The US Commission on Civil Rights [official website], newly reconstituted with the addition of a new Republican chairman and another Republican appointee [JURIST report], has removed from its website a controversial staff report highly critical of the civil rights policies of the Bush administration. Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004 was posted online in October [JURIST report] before the November Presidential vote, although full Commission consideration of the document was put off until afterwards. At a November 12 meeting following the President's re-election the Commission split 4-4 [JURIST report; Commission vote tally] on adoption. Outgoing Commission chair Mary Frances Berry and vice-chair Cruz Reynoso nonetheless forwarded the unendorsed report to President Bush in a November 30 letter [PDF] as a final act before their end-of-term resignations. At its January 7, 2005 policy meeting the Commission, with new Republican appointees Gerald Reynolds (chair) and Ashley Taylor, adopted what the Commission website Friday called "a new policy on the public release and posting of reports and Commission documents." The website notice goes on to explain that "To comply with that new policy, the website has been updated and several draft reports that failed to receive a majority of Commissioners' votes have been removed." Although an obvious link to the report on the Commission's home page is now gone, the text of the report is still accessible on other parts of the site. The report was cited in JURIST's Gazette in October 2004 when it first came out and JURIST maintains an archive copy [PDF]. The Commission indicates that copies of the removed draft report and others like it are available from the Commission upon request.

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