FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Gathering to Focus on Continuing Overreach of Bush Administration
WASHINGTON -- During a gathering of more than 1,500 civil libertarians, the American Civil Liberties Union today continued its charge to end the Bush administration’s unprecedented abuse of power. Citing a variety of examples, the organization fielded high-charged panels of experts all united in calling for the return to fundamental Constitutional principles and the rule of law.
“The ongoing abuses of power that we have seen by the current administration must stop,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The America we hold in our hearts and our minds is one of fairness, justice and the rule of law; all principles that we have seen this administration betray time and again.”
The ACLU membership conference, currently being held in the nation’s capital brings together more than 1,500 card-carrying members of the civil liberties union for an unprecedented gathering of experts on the government’s abuse of power. They are joined by many of the individuals who have courageously stood up in protest.
Today’s opening plenary titled “Abuse of Power – Government Intrusion into Private Matters” features Cecelia Fire Thunder, the former President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who lost her position for considering opening a Planned Parenthood branch on her reservation, Reverend James Lawson who is a member of the ACLU National Advisory Council and longstanding civil rights activist and Vic Walczak of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and his clients Barrie and Fred Callahan, Beth Eveland, Tammy Kitzmiller, Bryan Rehm, Christie Rehm, Cynthia M. Sneath and Steven Stough who challenged their school board’s attempt to teach intelligent design as science in public school classrooms. The session will be moderated by Rob Remar of the ACLU National Board.
“It is the courage of ordinary people coupled with a vibrant and unwavering commitment to the rule of law that makes America so strong,” said Steven R. Shapiro, ACLU Legal Director. “Repeatedly we have seen this government betray these principles by spying on Americans exercising their First Amendment rights, holding hundreds incommunicado without charging them for any crimes and tapping into the conversations of ordinary people without ever getting a warrant from a judge.”
High-powered political leaders and newsmakers will continue the conversation throughout the day and into tomorrow when the lunchtime plenary will highlight “Abuse of Power -- Law, American Values and the National Interest.” This session, moderated by Jackie Northam of NPR, will feature John Dean, former counsel to the Nixon White House, Alberto Mora, the former general counsel of the U.S. Navy, Steven R. Shapiro, the ACLU Legal Director and Katrina vanden Heuvel, the publisher and editor of The Nation.
ACLU leaders are available for comment during the duration of the conference, including on Tuesday, when President Bush is expected to sign the Military Commissions Act into law. The ACLU has been vocal in its opposition to the act, noting its failure to protect due process, elimination of habeas corpus for many detainees, undermining of enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, and granting of a "get out of jail free card" to senior officials who authorized or ordered illegal torture and abuse.
Founded in 1920, the ACLU is the nation’s premier guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
More information is available at www.aclu.org/conference.