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The "Unreasonable" ACLU By: Mark Landsbaum
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 09, 2005

It should be abundantly clear now that the American Civil Liberties Union is all about an unAmerican ideology.

In its latest foray, the New York affiliate of the ACLU filed suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to stop police from searching people entering the subways. Police thought the searches would be a good idea since less than a month earlier 52 people were killed and hundreds injured in explosions caused by terrorists’ bombs in London’s underground tube. Two weeks later more bombs were found in that city’s public transit system. Thankfully that attack failed.

But the ACLU claims random searches are a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches.”


If we knew nothing else, this might appear to be a plausible, if impractical, application of Fourth Amendment. But we do know more.


The ACLU also has opposed searches of people who match the profile of known terrorists. In those cases, the ACLU maintains that singling out people who match the age, ethnicity and sex of known terrorists amounts to yet another constitutional violation, namely racial discrimination. Never mind the fact that in nearly every terrorist bombing, hijacking and other bloody act of the past 20 years the perpetrators have been men between the ages of 19 and 40 who hailed from the Middle East. No Scandanavian grandmothers have been tied to terrorist acts, yet the ACLU contends that when searching for terrorists, the targeting of young, Middle Eastern men to the exclusion of Scandanavian grandmothers is racial discrimination.


It’s obvious the ACLU doesn’t want authorities searching anyone. If authorities search based on a profile, the ACLU deems it to be unconstitutional discrimination. If authorities search randomly, the ACLU deems it to be unconstitutionally unreasonable. That doesn’t leave police many options. Clearly, something other than protecting “civil liberties” is going on here.


The ACLU would have us believe that random searches of New York’s subway riders are constitutionally unreasonable. But are they?


It’s reasonable to believe that terrorists have selected New York City as a target, considering the devastation and deaths at New York’s Twin Towers on 9-11. It’s also reasonable to think that terrorists, who placed bombs in the London underground system, may use that tactic again. And certainly, it is reasonable to assume that explosive devices must be concealed to get them into New York’s subway system.


So, how is it “unreasonable” for authorities to stop and search the bags and backpacks of people entering the New York subway? Indeed, no one need submit to a search unless he wants to use the subway. Thus, the so-called invasion need not be violated, unless the person agrees to it. What’s so “unreasonable” about that?


It is this ACLU complaint about “racial profiling” that has kowtowed authorities into the absurdity of stopping every fifth or tenth person as they board airplanes, regardless of whether the person is a young child or an 88-year-old Scandinavian grandmother. This is more “reasonable?”


In a convergence of paranoia the ACLU has argued in the subway lawsuit that both approaches – profiling and random checks – “allow the possibility for racial profiling.”

In the suit, the ACLU claims, “concerns about terrorism of course justify – indeed, require – aggressive police tactics…” while simultaneously insisting that, “those concerns cannot justify the Police Department’s unprecedented policy of subjecting millions of innocent people to suspicionless searches.”

The fact is the ACLU is not about protecting rights of Americans from an intrusive Big Brother. The ACLU is, however, all about advancing an ideology.


The ACLU has a long and shameful record of advocacy for those who hate America, and those who would cripple our government, even in a time of war, which is what this country is engaged in with worldwide terrorism.


It’s lawyers are devoted to furthering moral relativism and undercutting, rather than safeguarding, the Constitution. In its beginning, the ACLU drew members from the Socialist International’s program and sought to sabotage the Allies’ war preparations. Many were members of the Socialist Party.

Socialist Party member and ACLU founder Roger Baldwin was a devoted follower of anarchist Emma Goldman, who advocated “propaganda of the deed,” or what today is called terrorist bombing. Baldwin wrote in a 1917 letter to Louis Lochner of the socialist People’s Council in Minnesota about how to conceal their real intentions: “Do steer away from making it look like a Socialist enterprise . . . We want also to look like patriots in everything we do. We want to get a good lot of flags, talk a good deal about the Constitution and what our forefathers wanted to make of this country, and to show that we are really the folks that really stand for the spirit of our institutions.”


The ACLU lives out its ideology by claiming to be a defender of American’s civil liberties, but at the same time acts in ways that are diametrically opposed to American’s best interests.


Make no mistake about the ACLU’s own founding principles. Founder Baldwin wrote, “I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is, of course, the goal.”

The ACLU has worked with terrorists like Sami al-Arian, the North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and led a coalition of so-called “civil liberties” groups to promote non-cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security in implementing the Patriot Act.


It is not unreasonable to stop and search for bombs in the types of places terrorists have detonated them before with deadly certainty. And while it may offend some people to be singled out of a subway queue and searched, there is no constitutional protection against being offended.


In times of war, the vast majority of Americans have shown that they are extremely tolerant of minor intrusions and annoying delays when it means their government is protecting their lives from those who would kill them.


New York City’s lawyer, Gail Donoghue, argues that the city’s random subway searches meet, “all appropriate legal requirements and preserves the important balance between protecting our city and preserving individual rights. . . We are confident our position will prevail in court.” As reported in Newsday newspaper, Barry Kamins, a professor of criminal procedure at Fordham and Brooklyn law schools, said the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of law enforcement to conduct random searches when chiefly seeking to preserve public safety.

“The ACLU’s abuse of the legal system is criminal,” said Don Swarthout, president of
Christians Reviving America’s Values, a group that has asked Congress to investigate the ACLU’s widespread use of “frivolous lawsuits.”


“These searches,” Swarthout said, “are part of a well-thought-out security plan and may stop a terrorist from walking onto the subway trains and blowing up innocent Americans.”


That sounds immanently reasonable, indeed.

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Mark Landsbaum is a freelance writer, author and former award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter in Diamond Bar, California.

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