Richard Clarke Discusses National Security and Civil Liberties at ACLU Conference

July 8, 2004 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Panel Discussion Follows with FBI Whistleblower Coleen Rowley, Former Congressman Bob Barr and Legal Experts Including Attorney for John Walker Lindh


SAN FRANCISCO – Former White House terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke will present a keynote address on balancing national security and civil liberties to a packed house at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Annual Membership Conference today.

As Clarke warned in his best-selling book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, “”In this era of threat and change, we must renew our pledge to protect th[e] Constitution against the foreign enemies that would inflict terrorism against our nation and its people.?We must also defend the Constitution against those who would use the terrorist threat to assault the liberties the Constitution enshrines.””

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said Clarke’s message “”reinforces the principles that our country was founded upon: devotion to the rule of law and a political system based on checks and balances that allows us to be both safe and free.””

Clarke’s speech will be followed by remarks and a panel discussion on national security with FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley and former U.S. Representative Bob Barr (R-GA), moderated by Romero. A second panel moderated by ACLU President Nadine Strossen will address current legal cases involving detainees and the war on terror, with Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan, ACLU Legal Director Steven R. Shapiro, and trial attorney James Brosnahan, who represented accused Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh.

Rowley, an FBI special agent, was called the “”conscience of the agency”” by Time magazine when it named her “”Co-Person of the Year”” in 2002 for risking her career when she criticized the FBI in an extensive memo to Director Robert Mueller.

Joining Rowley is former Congressman Bob Barr, who has become an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 legal measures, particularly the Patriot Act, which was adopted by Congress just 45 days following the events of 9/11. Barr is also a consultant to the ACLU on matters of privacy and national security.

In a column last month, Barr wrote that “”the fear of terrorism – indeed, the fear of the possibility of any act of violence by anyone – has prompted the undermining of civil liberties in the United States on a scale never before witnessed in our history, including during times of declared war.””

During the second panel, the ACLU’s Strossen will moderate a discussion on detainees and the war on terror.

James Brosnahan, a trial attorney who represented John Walker Lindh, will offer his perspective on a case in which his client was held incommunicado in international waters during interrogation by U.S. officials. Although initially charged with terrorism, Lindh, an American citizen, pled guilty to lesser charges and is now serving 20 years in federal prison. The judge in the case, at the government’s request, also barred Lindh from talking about his experience.

Last week the Supreme Court delivered an emphatic repudiation of the Bush administration’s claim that it can conduct the war on terrorism as it sees fit with virtually no opportunity for meaningful judicial review. Insisting that a system of checks and balances is essential to safeguarding both liberty and security, the Court ruled that foreign citizens detained at Guantánamo Bay and American citizens detained in military brigs – including Yaser Hamdi – are entitled to their day in court.

“”The Hamdi opinion strongly suggests that the Court has learned from its past mistakes and is no longer willing to defer to executive claims of military necessity in every instance, as it did when it upheld the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II,”” the ACLU’s Shapiro said. “”As Justice O’Connor wrote for the plurality in Hamdi: ‘[A] state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.'””

The full plenary panel discussion, as well as an excerpt of Clarke’s speech, will be webcast live at

For more information on the ACLU’s conference proceedings and activities, go to /2004memberconf

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.