Based on my junk mail, I would guess that when John Ashcroft stepped down as Attorney General the American Civil Liberties Union lost its chief fundraiser. Misrepresentations about Ashcroft and the Patriot Act were prominent features of ACLU fundraising letters during the first term of the Bush administration.
The revelation of the NSA surveillance program of al Qaeda terrorists has given the ACLU and other left-wing “legal rights” organizations such as the Center for Constitutional Rights another boost. Yesterday both the ACLU and the CCR filed lawsuits challenging the legality of the NSA surveillance program, the ACLU lawsuit in federal court in Michigan and the CCR lawsuit in federal court in New York.
Plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit include the ACLU and its Michigan affiliate, CAIR, Greenpeace, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Christopher Hitchens and others. Hitchens has issued a bizarre statement explaining his joinder in the lawsuit. He is appalled that “the entire existence of the NSA’s monitoring was a secret, and its very disclosure denouned as a threat to national security.” Actually, its disclosure has compromised national security, but that apparently counts for nothing when weighed against Hitchens’s own need to protect his confidential journalistic sources, as alleged in the complaint (PDF). (Hitchens has not lost his marbles. In the New York Sun article on the lawsuit, Hitchens condemns CAIR as a “shady and disgusting organization.”)
The complaint in the ACLU lawsuit is of interest for reasons beyond Hitchens’s own hilarious contribution. The asserted interest of the ACLU, its Michigan affiliate and the individual board member plaintiffs of the ACLU Michigan affiliate appears to derive from their representation of terrorist detainees and their communication with others of a similar bent. ACLU Michigan board member Noel Salah, for example, complains that the NSA program has caused him to curtail his communications with “Palestinians under Israeli occupation” and inhibited his “efforts to promote peace and justice in this country.”
The CCR lawsuit (PDF) represents the distilled essence of the absurdity on display here. CCR complains that the NSA surveillance program has compromised its representation of terrorist detainees and others. The CCR plaintiffs complain, for example, that their representation of terrorist clients has been inconvenienced by the NSA program in that the attorneys are now “compelled to undertake international travel to avoid the risk of jeopardizing the confidentiality of privileged communications.” Among the individual plaintiffs in the CCR lawsuit is Rachel Meeropol, a CCR attorney better known as the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, both executed as Communist spies. Participation in the lawsuit is apparently her way of upholding the family honor.
Everyone knows the ACLU. CCR, however, is far less well known. David Horowitz provides background on CCR in his invaluable book Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left. CCR was founded in 1966 by William Kunstler, Arthur Kinoy and Morton Stavvis, attorneys who, according to Horowitz, were either members of the Communist Party or politically allied with the radical agendas of the new left. (Horowitz mentions in a footnote that he met with Kinoy in the early seventies; Kinoy handed him a 35-page manifesto written by Kinoy and Kunstler calling for the formation of a “new Communist Party.”) One of its primary missions now is the representation of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo.
The ACLU and CCR lawsuits appear to be part of a closely coordinated legal attack on measures and means that have proved instrumental to the defense of the United States. The lawsuits also appear to represent the distilled essence of the merger between radical Islam and the radical left that has taken place in the conduct of hostilities against the United States. Reading the complaints in these lawsuits brought to my mind the jeremiad of the radical folk singer Phil Ochs: “…find yourself another country to be part of.”
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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