September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:ADL rips ACLU on terror stance
Blurb:Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), castigated the ACLU for running what he called an overzealous, excessive and extreme campaign against measures that the Bush administration has taken to fight terrorism, which the ACLU says compromise Americans civil rights.
Body:The leader of a Jewish defense organization that traditionally sides with civil libertarians is zinging the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for its stance on President Bushs war against terrorism.
In an interview with the Forward, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), castigated the ACLU for running what he called an overzealous, excessive and extreme campaign against measures that the Bush administration has taken to fight terrorism, which the ACLU says compromise Americans civil rights.
Foxman reacted last week to a media campaign launched by the ACLU this month that includes television spots depicting Attorney General John Ashcroft as defacing the Constitution.
The ACLU plays an important role in being a monitor and a guard and a watch to make sure that our freedoms are protected. However, every once in a while it loses perspective, Foxman said. To go on a media campaign with a broad brush stroke is excessive. I find it extreme to accuse this administration or the attorney general of deliberately acting to violate our laws or our constitution or our civil rights.
The ACLUs $3 million campaign is described as the largest mobilization of resources in the organizations 82-year history and the first campaign involving a national television ad.
In addition to the television spots, the campaign includes lobbying efforts, litigation efforts and a public-awareness drive of newspaper ads and brochures, primarily targeting the USA Patriot Act, which Congress passed last year following the September 11th terrorist attacks. The Patriot Act, adopted six weeks after the attacks, vastly expanded the administrations authority to spy on citizens and residents while easing judicial oversight.
At the time, the ACLU sought the support of Jewish organizations in its criticism of the new legislation. Most Jewish organizations refused to join although the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the lobbying arm of the Reform movement, wrote a letter to Ashcroft pointing out some of its objections to the administrations approach to battling terrorism.
This time the ACLU acted alone, declining to build a coalition of organizations to support its campaign.
In the ACLUs television spots, Ashcroft is portrayed as someone who has seized powers for the Bush administration that no president should have: the right to investigate you for what you say, to intrude on your privacy, to hold you in jail without charging you with a crime.
Foxman said that the validity of such assertions should be tested in the court, not by any broad statements with a blitz campaign.
The ACLU should not be scaring the American public, he added, that it is about to lose its rights.
The ACLU vigorously defended its campaign. As we have done for the last 80 years, the ACLU will seek to stimulate debate challenging both the administration and the Congress to insure safety and liberty, said Laura Murphy, director of ACLUs Washington, D.C. national office. The ACLU believes that American society can be both safe and free, but doing so must start with an informed public. Even Attorney General Ashcroft has encouraged such a debate.
Ashcroft himself issued what seemed to be a mild reaction to the campaign, saying, I am glad to live in a country where the ACLU can criticize me and vigorously debate the issues. I consider it my job as attorney general to make sure that this and all of our freedoms endure.