|http://www.DiscoverTheNetwork.org||Date: 11/18/2006 12:35:49 AM|
|AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION (ACLU)|
|125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY
Established in 1920 by Roger Baldwin (who candidly stated that “Communism [was] the goal” toward which his efforts were directed), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) characterizes itself as America’s “guardian of liberty,” working to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” “We work,” says the ACLU, “also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor.”
The ACLU handles more than 6,000 court cases annually from its offices in almost every U.S. state. As of September 2006, the organization claimed to have “more than 500,000 members and supporters.” During the twenty months following September 11, 2001, its membership rolls swelled by some 55,000 — largely as a result of its allegations that the Bush administration was trampling on the civil liberties of Americans during the post-9/11 era.
Since 9/11, the ACLU, along with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, has led a coalition of civil liberties groups urging city councils across the United States to pass resolutions creating “Civil Liberties Safe Zones”; that is, to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Patriot Act. The ACLU also endorsed the Civil Liberties Restoration Act of 2004, which was introduced by leftist Democrats in Congress to roll back, in the name of protecting civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
When the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Justice Department instituted a program requiring males visiting the U.S. from Arab and Muslim nations to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the ACLU organized protests against what it called this “discriminatory” policy. It similarly protested an FBI anti-terrorism initiative to count and document all of America’s mosques, wherein extremist calls for violent jihad were not uncommon.
On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, when FBI and Homeland Security agents were tracking down illegal Iraqi immigrants considered to be dangerous, the ACLU set up a telephone hotline and conducted “Know Your Rights” training sessions giving illegals free advice on how to avoid deportation.
In a 2002 federal lawsuit naming Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta as a defendant, the ACLU challenged a new Aviation Transportation Security Act policy prohibiting non-citizens from working as airport security screeners. In conjunction with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the ACLU has lobbied against any policy that would authorize security personnel at airports and border checkpoints to scrutinize travelers from terrorism-sponsoring nations any more closely than other travelers. Depicting racial and ethnic profiling as “shameful and unlawful,” the ACLU has represented Muslim and Middle Eastern plaintiffs in discrimination lawsuits against numerous airlines.
The ACLU opposes the Computer-Assisted Passenger Profiling System (CAPPS) used by airlines to check for various passenger characteristics that have historically been correlated with terrorist activities. In late 1997, when the CAPPS system was first set to be put in place, the ACLU set up a special online complaint form to collect information on incidents of discrimination and mistreatment by airport security personnel. As Gregory Nojeim explained, his organization was “concerned that the CAPPS system will have an unequal impact on some passengers, resulting in their being selected for treatment as potential terrorists based on their race, religion or national origin.”The ACLU has sued over the National Security Agency’s terrorist surveillance program in Detroit, New York, Oregon, and San Francisco.
The Texas chapter of the ACLU was a signatory to a February 20, 2002 document, composed by the radical group Refuse & Resist, condemning the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations. The document read, in part, “[T]hey [the U.S. government] are coming for the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants. … The recent ‘disappearances,’ indefinite detention, the round-ups, … the denial of any due process … have chilling similarities to a police state.”
In 2003 the ACLU held rallies on behalf of an Intel software engineer in Oregon named Maher Mofeid Hawash, who U.S. officials were keeping in custody on suspicion that he had given material support to Taliban and al Qaeda forces fighting American troops in Afghanistan. (In February 2004, Hawash was convicted of the aforementioned crimes and was sentenced to seven years in prison.)
The ACLU passionately defended Sami Al-Arian, the former North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In an effort to thwart the U.S. government’s investigation of Al-Arian’s role in funding PIJ suicide bombings in Israel, the ACLU said that the search warrants authorizing an FBI raid of his home and offices were overly broad, and that the items seized as evidence should therefore be returned to him.
The ACLU also came to the defense of radical attorney Lynne Stewart, who in February 2005 was convicted on charges that she had illegally “facilitated and concealed communications” between her client, the incarcerated “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, and members of his Egyptian terrorist organization, the Islamic Group, which has ties to al Qaeda. On February 17, 2005, just after Stewart had been sentenced for her crimes, the ACLU of Massachusetts declared her prosecution “a chilling testament to what is being done to individual rights and to the rule of law itself in the name of ‘fighting terrorism.’”
In August 2005, the publication G2 Bulletin reported that ACLU lawyers had been present during interrogations of captured al Qaeda and Taliban enemy combatants who were being detained in Guantanamo Bay; in the majority of cases, these attorneys advised the inmates that they were under no obligation to answer military interrogators’ questions.
According to columnist Debbie Schlussel, ACLU attorney Noel Saleh “openly stated at a town hall meeting with federal officials that he has financially contributed to Hezbollah.” Moreover, writes Schlussel, “He [Saleh] has represented a number of Islamic terrorists, including Ibrahim Parlak and ‘former’ PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] terrorist Imad Hamad.”The ACLU’s affiliations with terrorists are not restricted solely to foreigners. For instance, the organization named unrepentant New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board. Dohrn, along with her husband Bill Ayers, was a 1960s anti-American militant and a leader of Weatherman – described by Ayers as “an American Red Army.”
In the vanguard of the open borders lobby, the ACLU advocates the dissolution of America’s borders and the removal of all restrictions on immigration into the United States. Its Immigration Task Force is currently working on: expanding anti-discrimination laws to require employers to hire illegal aliens; weakening sanctions against employers who hire illegal aliens; barring the INS from conducting inspections without a search warrant; requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide free legal counsel to illegal aliens; and ensuring illegal aliens’ eligibility for welfare benefits. The ACLU has opposed all Justice Department proposals to fingerprint and track immigrants and foreign visitors to the United States, claiming that such measures “treat immigrant populations as a separate and quasi-criminal element of society.” The organization also opposes a Justice Department initiative that would give local and state police the power to enforce immigration laws.
Former ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser attributes the concerns that many Americans have about illegal immigration to a “wave of anti-immigrant hysteria.” Steven Shapiro of the New York Civil Liberties Union and Wade Henderson of the ACLU’s Washington, DC office claim that the desire to regulate immigration can be traced directly to “hostility motivated by nativism, racism, and red scare.”
“Church and state” issues have been a recurring theme on the ACLU docket over the years. Each spring as high-school graduation approaches, the organization distributes a letter to public schools warning them that no one is permitted pray or make public remarks referring to their faith at graduation ceremonies. Moreover, it calls on public schools to censure any speech that might be viewed as having a religious tone.
In 2006 the ACLU demanded that the town of St. Bernard, Louisiana, adjacent to New Orleans, not be allowed to erect a gold and silver cross as part of its memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina — even though the memorial was financed by private funds and is located on private land. That same year, the ACLU sued the school board of Harrison County, West Virginia over a portrait of Jesus that had hung outside a principal’s office for nearly 40 years.
In April 1997 the ACLU of Illinois filed a federal lawsuit challenging the City of Chicago’s operation of scout troops affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) — on grounds that the BSA had traditionally required its members to profess their belief in God, and had barred homosexual men from being scout leaders.
Consistent with its belief that the U.S. is a nation infested with racism and injustice, the ACLU of Southern California endorsed an October 22, 2002 National Day of Protest exhorting Americans to rise up and “Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.” The document announcing this event stated: “Since September 11, 2001, the authorities have rapidly imposed a resoundingly repressive atmosphere. … All over the U.S. people are being killed by law enforcement officers at an escalating rate. … Hard-won civil liberties and protections have been stripped away as part of the government’s ‘war on terrorism.’” Moreover, this document explicitly defended Lynne Stewart, Jose Padilla (who was indicted on terrorism-related offenses), the cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the convicted double murderer Leonard Peltier. The ACLU depicts all four of these individuals as persecuted political prisoners of a repressive American government.
“Freedom of speech” cases rank among the ACLU’s highest priorities. For example, the organization asserts that the First Amendment “protects” child pornography, and that there should be no governmental restriction on its distribution, reproduction, sale, or use. In August 2006 the ACLU objected to new Los Angeles City Council rules of decorum banning the use of slurs and profanity; the organization deemed such standards a violation of First Amendment rights. On the same grounds, the ACLU opposes laws prohibiting the disruption of military funerals by radical antiwar demonstrators, and has fought such restrictions in Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio and elsewhere.
Among the American Civil Liberties Union’s additional issues of concern are the following:
The ACLU has received funding from the Open Society Institute, the Arca Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Columbia Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Columbia Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the JEHT Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Lear Family Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago.