Thursday, May 11, 2006

What Do The ACLU And NSA Have In Common?

I knew it was only a matter of time before the ACLU would chime in on USA Today's leaking of classified information about the NSA program. And here it is....

Via ACLU Website:

In a story released today in USA Today it was revealed that the NSA has been collecting call information about millions of American residents and businesses served by Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth. One industry insider referred to it as the “largest database ever assembled in the world.” The American Civil Liberties Union strongly condemned the Bush administration’s most egregious abuse of power to date.

In April, ACLU leaders met with White House officials, asking for a review of whether federal agencies working to combat terrorism are targeting innocent citizens or other lawful residents. Today’s USA Today report confirms that this is the case, despite White House assurances that innocent Americans are not the target of electronic surveillance.

“Once again, it is clear that the president and the attorney general have lied to the American people,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The NSA spying program is not only focused on terrorists or international calls. The government is clearly tracking the calls and communications of millions of ordinary Americans and that's just plain wrong. This news serves only as further proof of how far we have slid into an abuse of power that undercuts the values Americans hold dear.

“Congress needs to analyze what intelligence is gathered, who is responsible for gathering it, and what actions will truly keep us safe,” Romero added. “We can no longer accept hollow, government assurances while they stubbornly refuse to answer questions about the NSA operations. These latest revelations should serve as further proof that this administration does not have satisfactory answers to these vital questions.”

The ACLU noted that there has never been a more urgent need to preserve fundamental privacy protections and our system of checks and balances than the need we face today. This latest transgression transcends the bounds of law and our most treasured values in the name of national security.

“Today's revelation about the NSA's data-mining program only further proves our point that Congress must fully investigate the Bush administration’s illegal NSA wire-tapping program,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This warrantless database violates the constitutionally protected privacy rights of all Americans. This latest revelation serves as a clear signal that the administration’s no-holds-barred approach to ignoring the law governing electronic surveillance has reached new levels. The ACLU has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate NSA spying before attempting to legislate blindly on the issue.

While Congress is investigating that, maybe they should also take some time to investigate the hypocritical practices of the ACLU delving into its own members' private financial information. After all, that is much more intrusive, and has nothing to do with national security.

The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders' commitment to privacy rights.

Some board members say the extensive data collection makes a mockery of the organization's frequent criticism of banks, corporations and government agencies for their practice of accumulating data on people for marketing and other purposes.

Yes, a mockery indeed.

The group's new data collection practices were implemented without the board's approval or knowledge and were in violation of the ACLU's privacy policy at the time, according to Michael Meyers, vice president of the organization and a frequent internal critic. He said he had learned about the new research by accident Nov. 7 during a meeting of the committee that is organizing the group's Biennial Conference in July.

He objected to the practices, and the next day, the privacy policy on the group's Web site was changed. "They took out all the language that would show that they were violating their own policy," Meyers said. "In doing so, they sanctified their procedure while still keeping it secret."

After spending 23 years on the ACLU board, the "defenders of free speech" issued gag orders to him, not to speak about the issue.

The people who are trying to gag my speech and Wendy Cabman's (ph) speech, they are the enemies of freedom. They are the enemies of free speech. And we're not going to concede the control of the ACLU to these renegades who are trying to hijack the ACLU.

Talk about compromising your values. This is the most hypocritical organization out there! Can someone please gag their whining? I'm tired of hearing about it. The ACLU have absolutely no room to talk on this issue. Perhaps they should practice their right to remain silent.

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU