Why Is the ACLU a 'Civil Rights Group' When It Provides Legal Support for Jihadists?

When the American Civil Liberties Union sues the government for its right to defend the cleric that inspired the Fort Hood mass murder, couldn't the media describe them as radical, or even left-wing? Instead, the headline in the Washington Post Wednesday was "Treasury sued over edict on radical cleric Aulaqi: Rights groups say rule prevents challenge to effective death sentence."

The Post website is more direct: "Civil rights groups sue Treasury over targeting of terror suspects for killing."

Why aren't groups that oppose terrorists positively defined as "civil rights groups"? What about the "civil rights" of terrorist victims like the murdered at Fort Hood? Post reporter Spencer Hsu lets the ACLU's Anthony Romero claim that endangering the jihadist's rights endangers us all:

Civil liberties groups sued the Treasury Department on Tuesday over its refusal to permit them to challenge the federal government's claim of authority to target U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism overseas for killing.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit against the department and its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in U.S. District Court in Washington. The groups say that without a change, it would be a crime for them to provide even free legal services to a citizen whom the government has designated a terrorist and is seeking to kill.

Human rights lawyers said they were retained early last month by Nasser al-Aulaqi, the father of Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S.-born radical cleric based in Yemen whom U.S. authorities have called a propagandist for al-Qaeda who has helped plan attacks against the United States.

"The government is targeting an American citizen for death without any legal process whatsoever, while at the same time impeding lawyers from challenging that death sentence and the government's sweeping claim of authority to issue it," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a written statement. "Such an alarming denial of rights in any one case endangers the rights of all Americans."

The Post reporter doesn't allow anyone to ask in the piece: isn't it more accurate to suggest, based on real and deadly events, that it's jihadists like Aulaqi who "endanger the rights" and even lives of Americans? The only real denunciation of Aulaqi is recycled from an old Treasury statement:

Stuart Levey, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said at the time of Aulaqi's designation that "Anwar al-Aulaqi has proven that he is extraordinarily dangerous, committed to carrying out deadly attacks on Americans and others worldwide." He added that Aulaqi "has involved himself in every aspect of the supply chain of terrorism -- fundraising for terrorist groups, recruiting and training operatives, and planning and ordering attacks on innocents."

President Obama got as much grief, from the "human rights groups" in the piece:

Human-rights groups say the Constitution and international law do not permit such broad action against civilians, and that lethal force outside a battle zone should be used as a last resort when a threat is imminent.

"President Obama is claiming the power to act as judge, jury and executioner while suspending any semblance of due process," said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

These radical lawyers can easily convince liberals that they are the true defenders of freedom, not the war-on-terror types, or in Obama's case, the aftertaste-of-resistance-to-man-caused-disasters types.

But the same media that thinks border control in Arizona is "very controversial" can't seem to think the ACLU and its ilk aren't doing anything that a majority of Americans might find  to be controversial -- enabling terrorists and their "spiritual advisers." 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis