From the N.Y. Times:
The American Civil Liberties Union, which since its inception has fought to protect free speech rights, is scheduled to begin a debate today over whether to discipline – or potentially move to oust – two board members for speaking to reporters.
The two dissident board members are Wendy Kaminer and Michael Meyers, both independent and intriguing thinkers on a host of issues (particularly Kaminer’s work on gender and father’s rights and Meyers’ candor about black racism.) Both have been critical of the ACLU’s research on donors and members, which they view as an invasion of privacy. They also blew the whistle on the organization’s agreement to check employees’ names against terrorist watch lists–which they had attacked the Bush administration for compiling in the first place. (John Leo skewered them here).
Kaminer and Meyers also exposed how ACLU director Anthony Romero had advised the Ford Foundation, his former employer, to adopt the language of the Patriot Act, which the organization publicly and vehemently opposes, in its grant agreements to help ensure that none of the foundation’s money inadvertently underwrites terrorism or other unacceptable activities.
Now, personally, speaking, I have no problem with Romero’s legal advice or the use of watch lists to screen out terrorist sympathizers or the use of background checks on donors or members. We are at war with Islamists, and private employers have a civic duty to ensure that they are not funding or facilitiating terrorists. But Kaminer and Meyers are right to call out Romero on the organization’s hypocrisy on these matters–and the group’s witch-hunt tactics are flabbergasting:
In a Dec. 28 letter, Catherine S. Travis, a lawyer who sits on the board of the A.C.L.U. affiliate in Oregon, recommended that the board consider suspending or removing Mr. Meyers and Ms. Kaminer, saying that they had violated their fiduciary responsibilities by talking to reporters about matters she called confidential.
“Appropriate corrective action must be taken now to avoid further incidents that can only impede the organization’s ability to meet the unprecedented challenges to civil liberties we face at this critical juncture,” Ms. Travis wrote.
Can anyone ever take the ACLU seriously again?
Update: What the rest of the blogosphere’s saying…
Captain Ed: “This incident shows just how far their management has led the ACLU into hypocrisy and embarrassment. If Kaminer and Meyers get kicked out for speaking their minds, it will be the final nail in the ACLU’s coffin. After its embrace of the Patriot Act, revealing donor information, and cooperating with the watch lists, the Left won’t stand for it and the ACLU has no friends on the right. Remind me to mourn their passing…”
Commenter Bruce Cleaver at the Brothers Judd: “Even while defending themselves, they take a shot at the current Administration. Nice.”
McQ: Seems to me I remember the ACLU being in favor of protecting whistleblowers…
Update II: ACLU declines to discipline the dissenters, reports the NY Times Saturday.
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