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The ACLU and the "Professional Left"

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August 12, 2010

As you might’ve heard, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been denigrating what he called the “professional left” – those who have been trying to hold the Obama administration to the commitments it made in its early days.

But the administration shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss legitimate critiques. In recent weeks, we’ve been observing that, while the Obama administration has made significant progress in some areas, there is a real danger that this administration is institutionalizing some of the most problematic Bush-era national security policies. We wrote a whole report on this phenomenon, as a matter of fact, assessing the administration’s national security policies 18 months after President Obama was inaugurated.

This morning, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer was on Democracy Now, talking about the report. Jameel said:

I think it’s disappointing when the press secretary responds to thoughtful criticism in that way. I think it debases political debate to respond in that way, and I think that the press secretary, as part of his job is supposed to set a tone, and I don’t think that’s the right tone. Our report is about the policies, we stand by the content of the report, and the same report that criticizes President Obama for adopting some of the Bush administration’s policies gives President Obama all kinds of credit for things he’s done right.

[…]We think it’s important to give the administration credit when they get things right, and we did, and we think it’s important to hold the administration accountable when they get things wrong, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

While some may associate us with “the professional left,” as a nonpartisan organization, the ACLU is of neither the left or the right. We just defend rights.

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