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ACLU membership among Republicans up since Sept. 11, 2001
KRT Wire ^ | Jun. 06, 2003 | Naftali Bendvadid

Posted on 06/22/2003 1:09:02 AM PDT by JTN

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Membership in the American Civil Liberties Union and similar groups has soared since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, an increase that is especially noteworthy because the ACLU appears to be making significant headway among conservatives, who have traditionally despised the organization.

The ACLU has signed up such prominent conservatives as former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), a firebrand whom liberals loved to hate when he was in Congress. It has formed lobbying alliances with right-leaning groups from the American Conservative Union to the Eagle Forum to Americans for Tax Reform.

"You name it, we've gone into bed with them," said ACLU spokeswoman Emily Whitfield.

While it is impossible to know for sure, ACLU leaders and conservatives believe a major portion of the 100,000 members who have joined since the Sept. 11 attacks have come from conservative ranks. The dramatic expansion has brought the ACLU's membership to 400,000, by far the largest in the group's 80-year history.

The increase suggests that despite the war on terrorism, many Americans remain deeply troubled by the potential for the federal government overreaching that is embodied in such antiterrorism measures as the USA PATRIOT Act, which expands eavesdropping powers. The ACLU has often served as a barometer of public anxiety about big government.

The ACLU's expansion is not unique; the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which focuses on Internet privacy, has nearly doubled from 5,000 members to 9,000. "It's a general sense of fear and distrust of government, and concern that police and the Department of Justice are getting more power than they should have," said Kevin McLaughlin, the foundation's membership director.

But it is the ACLU, the nation's premier civil liberties group, that has undergone the most striking transformation. The group, which has always claimed to be nonpartisan, is seizing on the attacks in an attempt to remake itself - polishing its image, aggressively reaching out to conservatives and launching new ads. The ACLU holds its first full membership meeting in Washington starting Wednesday, and it will include a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.

"I think the ACLU is taking its reputation and its image more seriously," said Laura Murphy, who heads the group's Washington office. "What we are doing ... is repositioning the ACLU. And for some people, they're rediscovering us on a whole panoply of issues."

That is especially true of conservatives, who previously had little time for the ACLU but are deeply concerned about the Bush administration's antiterror initiatives. "It's scared a lot of conservatives," Barr said. "They now recognize that we do have common ground with the ACLU."

Many were startled when the ACLU signed up Barr, an outspoken prosecutor in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, as a consultant last January.

Of course, many conservatives have a libertarian streak, so the alliance may not be as strange as it first appears. "The Republican Party that I grew up in was a civil libertarian party," said Sheila Kennedy, author of "What's a Nice Republican Girl Like Me Doing in the ACLU?"

The ACLU and its new allies have held forums, written letters to lawmakers, button-holed members of Congress and otherwise argued that the Bush administration's push for expanded eavesdropping powers and enhanced information-gathering is dangerous.

The alliance is all the more striking because many on the right have distrusted the ACLU for years. Former President George Bush, the current president's father, famously accused Democrat Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign of being a "card-carrying member of the ACLU" - a crack calculated to please the conservative base.

Today, a Web site affiliated with the conservative Coral Ridge Ministries portrays the ACLU as virtually satanic. It features a snarling wolf with the legend, "The ACLU: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing."

Some conservatives seethe at the ACLU's opposition to school prayer and its support of gay rights and abortion rights. In addition, many on the right consider the ACLU to be hypocritical for paying scant attention to gun rights.

But as the government has accrued more power since the Sept. 11 attacks, many conservatives are increasingly concluding they are on the same side as the ACLU.

Shortly after the World Trade Center collapsed, Congress enacted the PATRIOT Act, expanding the FBI's wiretapping and search powers. Another government initiative, CAPPS II, would use databases to scrutinize every airline passenger and assign that person a threat level of red, yellow or green.

A Pentagon program called Total Information Awareness, which is now on hold, would monitor individuals' credit card purchases, bank records and so on in the hunt for terrorists.

The ACLU has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with conservatives to battle each of these proposals.

"On the right and left - for different reasons and coming from different places - there is concern about the government listening to everyone's phone conversations and reading people's mail," said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union. "And when you share those kinds of concerns with other people, you damn sure better get together with them."

Added ACLU field organizer Matthew Bowles, "They're just beginning to see that we don't have horns and tails."

The two sides have not come together on every issue stemming from Sept. 11. The ACLU has been very concerned about the treatment of 762 immigrants who were detained after the attacks, while many conservatives have noted that all of them committed visa violations of some kind.

Republicans also now run Congress and the White House, and ACLU activists know their new conservative allies are more likely to get their calls returned in the corridors of power.

"I can count," Murphy said. "I know who's in charge."

This is not the first time the right and left have come together to fight what they see as a power grab by law enforcement. Both were appalled by the 1993 FBI raid on the Branch Davidian complex outside Waco, Texas, for example.

But rarely, if ever, have conservatives and civil libertarians teamed up to this extent. And that has done wonders for ACLU membership.

The organization was founded in 1920 as a response to the crackdown on dissent during World War I, and its membership stayed at 10,000 or less for years. But every time the public has perceived a threat to its liberties - during the McCarthy era or following revelations of President Richard Nixon's abuses of power, for instance - ACLU membership has spiked.

"We get letters from people saying, `I never thought I'd join the ACLU, but now I'm going to,'" said Whitfield, the group's spokeswoman.

The ACLU also has sought to increase its membership and clout over the past year and a half by actively promoting itself as the chief vehicle for those dismayed by the government's response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The group has launched a "Safe and Free" campaign designed to mobilize opposition to the antiterrorism legislation.

It has followed the cases of those detained after the attacks especially closely - sending videographers into the jails, interviewing the detainees after they were released, and filing lawsuits on their behalf.

The ACLU also has launched a television advertising campaign for the first time. An ad in the $3.5 million campaign features a narrator saying, "Look what (Attorney General) John Ashcroft is doing to our Constitution," and its shows hands crossing out and cutting up the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The ACLU also has expanded its Washington staff and hired new field organizers. Murphy calls the overall effort a "branding campaign."

Ultimately, she added, it is no surprise that conservatives and liberals should find common ground.

"The Bill of Rights and the Constitution is not the hand-maiden or vehicle for a particular party," Murphy said. "Everyone needs it. Everyone wants to be defended by it at some point."


© 2003, Chicago Tribune.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aclu; acludonors; aclumembers; ashcroft; republicans; september12era
Interesting. I have heard some conservatives and libertarians (such as Matt Drudge) speaking well of the ACLU, or at least not presenting them as Satan incarnate. Are there any FReepers who have joined, or who have considered it? I'd also be interested in hearing opinions on the Electronic Frontier Foundation, although, of course, they don't have the same leftist stigma attached to them.
1 posted on 06/22/2003 1:09:03 AM PDT by JTN
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To: All
"ARE THEY FOR US OR AGAINST US?" (Updated Daily - Click Here.)

2 posted on 06/22/2003 1:40:55 AM PDT by Cindy
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If the American Civil Liberties Union was anywhere close to what its name implies, I'd be a member too.
3 posted on 06/22/2003 3:10:09 AM PDT by libertylover (Were we directed from Washing when to sow and reap, we should soon want for bread.-Jefferson)
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"You name it, we've gone into bed with them," said ACLU spokeswoman Emily Whitfield.

okay, I'll name GOA.

if ACLU has gone to bed with GOA, it was forcible rape.

4 posted on 06/22/2003 3:53:40 AM PDT by glock rocks (shoot fast. shoot straight. shoot safe. practice. carry. molon labe)
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I'm not ready to join the ACLU today, because of some of their positions on other issues.  But, that's not saying that I won't join tomorrow.  As strange as it may seem, it appears that they may be changing for the better.  I know that sounds rather incredible.  But then, who would have ever thought that a large portion of the GOP (most notably, the leadership) would become the right wing of the Democrat Party?

For that reason, I will join them in helping to oust those in the House and Senate (on either side of the aisle), who voted for the USA Anti-Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Control Act.  In this regard, I have only three votes that I can cast.  As such, I will not be voting for Rep. Kevin Brady (R), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) or Pres. George W. Bush (R) for any position in the future.

And if the ACLU, that I have often referred to as the American Criminal Liberties Union, should continue to move further toward the right or if the GOP continues to move further to the left, then I just may have to consider using the money that I used to use for GOP party membership, for ACLU membership.  The amazing thing is, that only two years ago, I could not have imagined myself ever making that statement.  It just shows how morally corrupt the leadership (not all) of the GOP has become in recent years.  It's sad.


5 posted on 06/22/2003 4:23:42 AM PDT by Action-America (The next country to invade Europe has to keep France!)
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To: JTN; Action-America; glock rocks; libertylover; Cindy; sarcasm
The ACLU is not your friend, but the IRS is the Gestapo. Echelon, Carnivore, Magic Lantern, MK-Ultra...I can give you links to some pretty awful data on these very real programs. From founding documents to current activities.

Look up the original Fatherland Security legislation & note who were it's authors. What caliber of men re-wrote the Constitution. What venal & low characters re-structured our government...It was just sitting there, on the shelf, awaiting the day they knew they would pass it. It's sweep of power is breath-taking.

Just because the top officials, who were recently ensconced in office, appear to be very moral & decent people, one must not forget what the government has become.

Red light cameras compete for space on the same rack with security cameras. Microphones also abound....

Ruby Ridge, Waco's DEAD Davidians ( they were at least watched by our own military-if not actually killed by them ), the lies about OKC Bombing, Flight TWA 800...
More children died at Waco than OKC. But their parents were wierd nutcases-so no one cares.

One could go quite mad contemplating how many agencies watch & manipulate how many former citizens trying to work & travel ( to pay a higher tax rate than Feudal Serfs ) in this huge Gulag. I think we are inmates of a vast work camp. I had a Gr-Grandfather who literally ran the federal agent out of his town, circa 1918 0r 1919, & no one there paid the income tax-until he & his brothers died. They owned all the businesses there. It was their little town & they & ALL who lived there were free. We lost it when we quit reaching under the store counter for our shotgun.

The ACLU is not your friend, but the IRS is the Gestapo. I won't bother to provide the graphic with Greenspan in uniform like Albert Speer. But I think the suit fits perfectly & the emblems appear to me when I see him on camera. There are so many others in our government who had counter-parts in another government. Reading Albert Speer's book, Inside the Third Reich, one comes to like him. He was just a businessman, who worked with his governemnt during the Depression.

Has anyone bothered to compute the NUMBER of taxes rolled into the very simplest of items-from raw materials to finished product. Take a sheet of paper or a small amount of salt & try to consider all the real estate, personal taxes ( income, FICA, Medicare of labor ), sales taxes on power to manufacture & produce, fuel taxes on the fuel to deliver, sales taxes when you purchase-all of these at every stage of production, wholesale, & retail. When you give up & simply estimate how many, then estimate what percentage of the final cost, this totals.

Try that exercise & tell me we are still free. Herr Greenspan was once ( in another world ) an associate of Ayn Rand. What a difference does money & power make in an individual.

A new legion of Fatherland Security forces would really be over-kill. Find the number & percentage of governemnt employees who are ARMED. Find the number & percentage of local police who have been 'federalized'-some train at federal police academies. Yes, some of what they learn may be very good for controling crime-but they are then under the penumbra of the government. Remember how the John Birch society used to demand that local police stay local?? Do you you know how many FEEMA facilities exist?? Have you seen one??? They were concieved to run the nation-after a nuclear exchange. They are most useful now, in these times of terrorism.

By the way, Mr. Drudge is really a fine fellow, does fine work, & I like him, but 'they' say he has certain proclivities which give him an unusual view of the world ( which most of us lack ). They can't say this very loudly.

Thanks for the interesting post. Try looking at & some of their ilk. Way too commie-pinko, but you might be amazed at some of the ongoing questions in this Gulag. turns my stomach, but this guy bought transcripts from the federal trial in NY , early 2001, of an Osama bin Laden agent ( who had attempted to purchase fissionable or waste nuclear material ). The media will not talk about most of what happens.

Let's just hope & pray the Supremes do wait till after the 2004 election to resign. Let's hope & pray that John Ashcroft stays where he is. Lets just hope & pray that the Joint Chiefs are all US born ( one recent chairman was NOT ). Let's just hope & pray that Sgt. Rummey can get enough former, retired, general officers to help him in re-structuring & salvaging the military. China will demand our full attention very soon. They already do, but we don't talk about nasty things in the Brave New World.

Lets just hope & pray that Mr. Bush might consider asking the reliable soldier, Dick Cheney, to swap places with Condi Rice...Besides changing the whole world ( in 2008 ), I should just like to see the real reaction of Hitlary & the millions of commie-libs when they awake to that headline on Drudge!! Condi VEEP!! YES!! POTUS '08!! It would be the Lord's work she would do. And she can play fine music on anyone's piano. I hope & pray.
6 posted on 06/22/2003 5:55:16 AM PDT by GatekeeperBookman
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The ACLU stands "shoulder-to-shoulder" with NAMBLA, North-American Man-Boy Love Association. The ACLU is representing them pro-bono in a suit for for helping to cause the murder of Jeffrey Curley, a 10-year old boy molested and murdered by a NAMBLA member Charles Jaynes.

Not only that, Charles Jaynes went to the Boston Public Library the MORNING HE MURDERED THIS BOY and viewed the NAMBLA site a few hours before kidnapping Jeffrey. The libraries continue to offer 100% unfiltered Internet access allowing NAMBLA to be provided to pedophiles courtesy of our taxes... again thanks directly to the ACLU.

I'd sooner slit my wrists than support or join the ACLU.
7 posted on 06/22/2003 9:18:22 AM PDT by Tamzee (Liberalism.... the willing suspense of rationality.)
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To: Action-America
I will join them in helping to oust those in the House and Senate (on either side of the aisle), who voted for the USA Anti-Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Control Act. In this regard, I have only three votes that I can cast. As such, I will not be voting for Rep. Kevin Brady (R), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) or Pres. George W. Bush (R) for any position in the future.

Well said, I will be forced to change the names to reflect my elected (?) representatives, but very well said.
8 posted on 06/22/2003 9:25:38 AM PDT by WhiteGuy (MY VOTE IS FOR SALE)
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To: GatekeeperBookman
Echelon, Carnivore, Magic Lantern, MK-Ultra...

I'm familiar with all of these except Magic Lantern. Can you elaborate? I've also heard of a program called Garden Plot and I guess you seem like the person to ask.

9 posted on 06/22/2003 9:29:14 AM PDT by JTN
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To: Action-America; libertylover; glock rocks; GatekeeperBookman; Tamsey; Cindy; WhiteGuy
I forgot to mention this in my original comment, but there is an organisation known as the Institute for Justice which takes a more libertarian view of civil rights. For example, they took up the school voucher case in Ohio that went before the Supreme Court, on behalf of the voucher program. They won
10 posted on 06/22/2003 9:36:01 AM PDT by JTN
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To: Action-America
For that reason, I will join them in helping to oust those in the House and Senate (on either side of the aisle), who voted for the USA Anti-Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Control Act. In this regard, I have only three votes that I can cast. As such, I will not be voting for Rep. Kevin Brady (R), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) or Pres. George W. Bush (R) for any position in the future.

Pretty optimistic, aren't you? That would be 98 senators. The only one who voted against is Feingold. Or Fiendgold; I don't remember.

11 posted on 06/22/2003 9:38:20 AM PDT by JTN
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I recall magic lantern allows folks close at hand, with certain equipment, to read keystrokes & or screen content on a PC. One could easily reduce the paranoia by one half-that which derives from reading of these things-by assuming them to be intended & deployed only for legitimate security issues. The programs & systems may also be not nearly as effective as advertised.

You mention the infamous garden plot-it really does stretch credulity to believe such a story. But....
12 posted on 06/22/2003 10:12:27 AM PDT by GatekeeperBookman
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To: GatekeeperBookman
But what? Are you just having fun with me?
13 posted on 06/22/2003 11:20:38 AM PDT by JTN
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The ACLU is a hotbed of commies and lefties. The notion that Barr and his compatriots are going to make them see the light is humorous.

If libertarian Republicans are unhappy with the PAtriot et al, I would suggest they form their own "union".

14 posted on 06/22/2003 11:27:27 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: jwalsh07
Well, there is the Institute for Justice referred to above. I don't know that they have challenged USA PATRIOT, though.
15 posted on 06/22/2003 12:03:14 PM PDT by JTN
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The Communist Background of the American Civil Liberties Union

The Fabian Philosophy of the American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union: Masters of Deceit

The ACLU: Bill of Rights' Implausible Defenders

16 posted on 06/22/2003 3:04:50 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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No play intended. These are very dark subjects & the material about garden plot is truly awful. I wonder if garden plot is/was in fact real.
17 posted on 06/22/2003 7:13:11 PM PDT by GatekeeperBookman
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To: GatekeeperBookman
I don't know what it is you are trying to get at. I see that in the "To" line to comment #6 you put "sarcasm", but I don't know what position it is you are trying to mock. Are you saying there are no red light cameras, no echelon, no Waco or Ruby Ridge? Are you saying that we are not overtaxed? Then there are the last two paragraphs which are pretty much what you normally read here at FR. What is your point?

18 posted on 06/22/2003 10:43:48 PM PDT by JTN
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Mr.sarcasm is a MAJOR poster at FR. You are disturbing yourownself.
19 posted on 06/23/2003 3:34:38 AM PDT by GatekeeperBookman
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To: GatekeeperBookman
20 posted on 06/23/2003 7:54:51 AM PDT by JTN
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