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The American Civil Liberties
Union turned down $1.15 million in future funding from the Ford and
Rockefeller Foundations as a result of funding agreements that would force
the ACLU to restrict certain free speech and other undefined activities. The
ACLU's Executive Director, Anthony Romero, made the announcement in October
while also raising the warning; "...We all have a
role to play in protecting our country from those who would harm us further. But
we should not trample--or allow others to trample-- on our most valued
principles that have made us the beacon of freedom around the world."
This past July the Combined
Federal Campaign (CFC) which culls donations from federal employees for
charities, mandated that participating non profits must certify that they do not
employ anyone named on government 'watch lists'. The ACLU subsequently
withdrew from the CFC. Approximately 10,000 non profit organizations
participate in the program.
Guidestar, a non profit which
caters to non profits as a consultant organization that collects information on
American non profits, surveyed the sector and found that 51% of non profit
executives frowned on the government watch lists, citing them as full of
inaccuracies, unreliable, inconsistent and subjective. Several of the
respondents were concerned that the lists, "are based on racial profiling and
scapegoating...political in nature-- the kinds of human rights violations many
non profits work against."
On 35 occasions, Rep. John
Lewis (D-Ga.) has endured lengthy delays at U.S. airports because inexplicably
he is listed on such lists used by the Transportation Security Administration
(TSA). Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), likewise was detained recently
for the same reason. According to the Washington Post, hundreds if
not thousands of airline passengers have complained that they have been unfairly
targeted because their names are on such lists.
Critics cite the lists as
ludicrous, they assume that supposed terrorists will use their real names,
rather than protecting our country the lists instead are creating havoc for
the airlines, the airports, and many thousands of innocent travelers.
Passengers who have challenged the lists and have requested to have their
names removed, have not fared well, once names are listed they cannot be
removed. The TSA has after investigating complaints issued letters that
support the passenger's claim but the traveler must carry the document with them
whenever they are in transit. Rep. Lewis, who is an African-American,
known for his civil rights activism, called the measure reminiscent of South
On November 10th, the ACLU
and 12 national non profit organizations sued the Office of Personnel Management's Combined
Federal Campaign (CFC) over the requirement that forces
charities to compare their employees against such watch lists. The lawsuit
charges that the government did not follow appropriate procedures in instituting
the watch list policy, that the policy is vague and misleading, and that it
violates the First and Fifth Constitutional Amendments.
Posted November 12,
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