Call it “Japanese Internment Policy, The Sequel.” In effect, the American Civil Liberties Union does. To America’s citadel of all things liberal, the post-9/11 period is all about America’s designated “enemy combatant” detainees and all the governmental gumshoeing and snooping entailed in making life miserable for any Mohammed Atta wannabes.
For the ACLU, John Ashcroft is a scary amalgam of Heinrich Himmler, Benito Mussolini, J.Edgar Hoover, Josef Stalin, Bull Connor, Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan. And maybe Vlad the Impaler, Francisco Franco and G. Gordon Liddy too. To America’s fortress of all things left, the attorney general is the poster pol for intimidation, intolerance, arbitrariness, xenophobia, domestic spying and garden variety strong-arm tactics.
And as for the USA Patriot Act, it’s tantamount to the legalized jackbooting of the U.S. Constitution.
“You don’t need to be a ‘card-carrying’ ACLU member to know that our government’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th has created the greatest crisis for civil liberties in our history,” wrote Howard L. Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. Those words were part of his message to those gathered recently in St. Petersburg for the ACLU of Florida-sponsored (24th annual) Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award dinner.
But there is an upside for the ACLU.
Its Florida membership now stands at 17,600. Two years ago it was 13,000. That’s a hike of 35 percent in just two years.
How’s that for irony? The Patriot Act as recruiting tool.