Blog of Rights

Anthony D.

Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. He took the helm just four days before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Shortly afterward, the ACLU launched its national Safe and Free campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis. Romero has led the ACLU in its fight to restore civil liberties, including pushing for accountability for torture committed under the Bush administration and fighting the practice of indefinite detention. Romero is the ACLU's sixth executive director, and the first Latino and openly gay man to serve in that capacity. (Photo by Richard Corman)


Law & Order Tackles Accountability for Torture. Will We Have It in Real Life?

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 12:53pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

"Jack, you want to prosecute a member of the Bush administration for assaulting suspected terrorists?"

"The word is 'torturing.' And yes — it's about time somebody did."


Tortured Logic

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 12:52pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

Recent reports that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering appointing a prosecutor to investigate illegal torture carried out during the Bush administration is a positive sign, especially given…

The Best of Days, The Worst of Days

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 11:19am

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

It was a day of personal schizophrenia for me.

I woke up on the west coast with news of President Obama's selection of Sonia Sotomayor as the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme court.…

Troubling signs from Obama's Administration

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 1:37pm

On his first day in office, President Obama moved our nation miles ahead on the road to restoring its fundamental values by signing executive orders to close Guantanamo, halt the military commissions and end torture.

The ACLU, like millions of people the world over, cheered. The orders were an important first step toward restoring an America we can be proud of again. But we're not there yet, and there are some troubling signs that can't be ignored.

Upon close reading, the executive orders contained worrisome ambiguities. While they halted the military commissions, they left open the possibility of their revival in some form. They also banned torture but left open the future possibility for the CIA to use interrogation techniques not found in the Army Field Manual, the basis for legal interrogations by the military.

Knowing that our freshly minted president put together these orders with lightning speed, we took cautious note, but remained hopeful that once clarification came, so would reassurance.

This was not the first cause for concern. There had been others, like the retention of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. We couldn't help but wonder whether the "new Gates" had experienced a Road to Damascus conversion and was capable of adopting the new president's ideals. Our worries intensified when John Brennan was appointed Deputy National Security Adviser after being shot down for CIA Director because of his problematic civil liberties record. But while we took cautious note of these appointments, we decided to leave speculation aside.

An Insider's View of Gitmo This Week

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 6:04pm

I just stepped off an airplane from Gitmo last night and thought it would be a good time to offer an insider’s take on what really happened down there this week. Unlike the many stories that have been in the press, what follows is a view from the defense table that provides a fuller perspective on the proceedings than what’s been reported.

As you might know, the ACLU has, along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), created the John Adams Project, through which we have sponsored expert civilian counsel to team up with the military defense lawyers representing the 9/11 defendants. It’s part of our ongoing struggle to bring a modicum of fairness to these sham prosecutions and to get Guantánamo shut down for once and for all.

As I write this today our struggle to shut Gitmo and shutter the military commissions is far from over and is anything but a fait accompli.

You probably read in the papers that on Monday, all five defendants expressed an interest in entering guilty pleas in the 9/11 case.This wasn't unexpected news to anyone, as they essentially expressed that viewpoint from the very first hearing in June of this year.

What did change was that the defendants have been meeting as a group since the last hearing. They have recently asked to have all pending law and evidentiary motions withdrawn and that they be allowed to proceed to enter guilty pleas and be sentenced to death. All five men submitted a handwritten motion to the military judge on November 4, 2008 (Election Day) stating that this is how they would like to proceed.

Turkey Day Talking Points on Prop 8

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 3:11pm

This Thanksgiving we are reflecting on what family means to us. For those of us at the ACLU and many people across the country, that will bring to mind what happened to families in California as a result of Prop 8.

So — in what is becoming an ACLU tradition — I’m writing to share some pointers for talking turkey this Thanksgiving about issues that really matter.

Here’s my biggest piece of advice for when Prop 8 and gay marriage come up over the Thanksgiving dinner table: Don’t shy away from the conversation. Do what I’m hoping thousands of ACLU supporters will do over the holidays. Talk to someone you’ve never talked to about same sex marriage and explain that it’s just not right to deny someone their freedom because of who they are or who they love.

Obama: Close Gitmo On Day One. You Can Do It. We've Got Your Back.

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 12:21pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

It's already a time-worn cliché when we say that the election of Barack Obama is historic. I still like saying it. Let me share some of my personal reflections on why this election seems historic…

On January 20, With the Stroke of a Pen, President Obama Can Undo Some of the Damage of the Past Eight Years

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 3:26pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

President-elect Barack Obama will become chief executive of a nation that has been greatly weakened — in particular, our freedoms, our values, and our international reputation have been significantly…

Please Fight Proposition 8's Assault On Same-Sex Marriage

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 12:30pm

(Our Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero, sent out a heartfelt letter to supporters yesterday. Below is an edited version. Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

I'm angry and heartsick about what may happen in California on November 4th.

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