The ACLU is nuts. But so was John Adams:
“One of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.”—John Adams on his decision to defend British soldiers charged with killing Americans in the Boston Massacre
The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting for things which should seem obvious to all justice minded people: torture (and evidence gained from torture) is not ok; secret evidence and trials are not ok; being held without charge is not ok. And you know what? Quite a few people agree with the ACLU. Their list of statements of support for the John Adams Project include:
Norman Reimer, Executive Director of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Janet Reno, Former United States Attorney General
Retired Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, Navy Judge Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, Current President and Dean, Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire
Patricia Perry, Mother of John William Perry, an NYPD officer who was killed on 9/11 while helping people escape from the World Trade Center
Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch is a lawyer and officer in the United States Marine Corps. In 2004, Lt. Colonel Couch withdrew from the prosecution of a Guantánamo Bay detainee, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, because he believed the evidence he was asked to use to prosecute Slahi had been obtained through torture, and was therefore inadmissible under U.S. and international law.
William Webster, Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Director of the FBI from 1978 to 1987 and Director of the CIA from 1987 to 1991, Webster is a former federal judge and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II
September 11th Advocates, The September 11th Advocates are women whose spouses died on 9/11. The group was instrumental in the formation of the 9/11 Commissions and later called for a new, independent panel.
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace
Suppose you think the ACLU defends a lot of weird cases. Nazis and Porn and stuff the average person doe not want to talk about. And you would be right: the ACLU does amazing work stopping bad precedent from becoming doctrine. I think that makes them some of the coolest people around, but it also makes them unpopular and awkwardly intense. Fine. But right now they’re not fighting for anything tangential; they are fighting for some of the basic principals of the United States of America:
- You can’t torture people
- You need to tell them the evidence against them
- You need to have a public trial
- You can’t hold people without trial
The John Adams Project is as simple as that.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.