It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad
Senator John Cornyn points out that the ACLU, in a mad dash to bash the Bush administration, has become so useless and contradictory that it’s started attacking laws that it once openly endorsed merely becuase they got confused and thought it was authored by a Republican:
We are talking about the ” Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986″ authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy ( Democrat) which the ACLU endorsed at the time.
The ACLU did allege in a press release in September that a federal court had struck down parts of the Patriot Act — calling the decision “a landmark victory against the Ashcroft Justice Department.” Newspapers across the country repeated that message. But as legal experts immediately discovered, there were two important problems with the allegation: They were attacking the wrong person and the wrong law.
In fact, the court had actually struck down a law authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, during the 1980s. That statute balanced the national interest in protecting electronic communications privacy against the legitimate needs of national security, by establishing a procedure for obtaining electroniccommunications records in certain national-security investigations through the use of so-called “national security letters.” The Patriot Act amended the law to make clear that such letters could be issued in terrorism investigations as well.
So the statute in question was written by Mr. Leahy, not John Ashcroft. And it was the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, not the Patriot Act in 2001. Indeed, the Patriot Act did not change a single word of any provision attacked by that court.
What’s more, in 1986, the ACLU endorsed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. And shortly after that law was approved by the Senate on a voice vote and the House by unanimous consent, the chief legislative counsel of the ACLU called it a “significant advancement of privacy rights of citizens in the age of new communications technology.”
Indeed we do need honest debate, not only about the patriot act but also about organizations that disingenuously cloak themselves in the disguise of “protecting the rights of all citizens” and relabel them as what they actually are “focused political groups with agendas of their own”.