Monday, June 10, 2013

An Apology for Tyranny: How One Evangelical Conservative Legal Group Contributed to Liberty's Loss

As I mentioned the other day, there is responsibility to be assigned for the massive constitutional violations of privacy and liberty uncloaked this week, the logging of billions and billions of phone records, the PRISM program and related adventures in domestic surveillance.  And there is responsibility that flows back to Bush/Ashcroft and the Patriot Act.  And there is responsibility that flows back to the leadership of conservative and evangelical Christian groups that should have opposed the surrender, in 2001, of liberty in the name of obtaining security.

But now I want to back up my assertion by directing you to the October 2001 "Open Letter" of Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.  There, Sekulow baptizes the maiden voyage of this government intrusion, giving my former employer's blessing to what became the Patriot Act.

In the "Open Letter," Sekulow stakes the claim that the legislation is constitutional, and asserts that the conclusion was supported by Senior Staff.

This was not true at the time that it was promoted to the conservative and evangelical community in October 2001.  "Senior Staff," of which I was one, raised serious questions and objections to the legislative proposal at the time that it was discussed with us.  Truth be told, the ACLJ's support for the act was a fait accompli by the time that consultation was had.

It was unsound -- then -- to support the arrogation of power by the Executive Branch, and to support the derogation of individual liberties.

To my own shame, I kept silence with the notion of keeping my job.  Even when the deleterious impact was reflected in greater and greater encroachments on the exercise of well-established constitutional rights (such as through the creation and maintenance of speech free zones in the name of providing security to "protected persons"), and I should have criticized the security crazed and liberty loathing sense of the Bush administration's policies, I kept silent within the ACLJ, while strenuously litigating for the rights of clients, such as Reverend Patrick Mahoney, to conduct prayer vigils and demonstrations in close proximity to events involving the President, Supreme Court justices, etc.

Now those policies have grown up under the nurture and care of the Kenyan, but the seeds should never have been planted by Bush and Ashcroft, nor watered with the praise of the ACLJ.