ACLU Issues Report On Obama Administration's Civil Liberties Record

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Will Matthews, (212) 549-2582 or 2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU Issues Report On Obama Administration's Civil Liberties Record

First Year Saw Civil Rights Advances And End Of Torture But Continuation Of Overbroad Domestic Surveillance Practices

WASHINGTON - The
Obama administration's record on restoring civil liberties during its
first year in office is mixed, according to a new report analyzing the
administration's performance released today by the American Civil
Liberties Union. Of a set of 145 detailed recommendations the ACLU made
to the new president upon his election, the administration has acted on
just over one-third of them.

"Starting with bold executive orders
to end torture and close the prison at Guantánamo, and continuing with
positive actions in areas like open government and civil rights, the
Obama administration has made some significant strides toward restoring
civil liberties and the rule of law," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive
Director of the ACLU. "But in other areas, the administration has
fallen short by allowing some of the Bush administration's most
troublesome practices to continue and by failing to take steps that
would restore some very fundamental rights and values to American life."

The administration's record on the
ACLU's highest priority recommendations – those it asked President
Obama to take on his first day in office – is uneven. Despite the
president's executive order to close the notorious prison at Guantánamo
Bay, Cuba, it remains open, detainees remain there without charge or
trial and the flawed military commission system is still being used.
And while the president ordered an end to torture and the Justice
Department has initiated a very limited inquiry into detainee abuse,
the president has shown little appetite for encouraging a comprehensive
torture investigation that would include high level officials from the
Bush administration. The Obama administration has also retained its
authority to engage in extraordinary renditions.

On the ACLU's other top priorities –
those it asked President Obama to act on within his first 100 days –
the administration's record is weak. On issues like spying on
Americans, monitoring of activists, terrorism watchlists, the Real ID
Act and DNA databases, the administration has carried out none of the
ACLU's recommendations.

"Our hope a year ago was that the
Obama administration would restore our nation's long tradition of
respect for privacy and the rule of law by rolling back the
privacy-invading domestic security policies enacted by the Bush
administration," Romero said. "Unfortunately, many of those policies
have not been reversed, and we now run the risk of seeing them become a
permanent part of American life."

On the issues of civil rights, open
government, freedom of speech and reproductive freedom, the
administration has fared much better, as it has acted on about half of
the ACLU's recommendations.

"In the face of enormous domestic
and international challenges that naturally occupied much of President
Obama's attention, the administration has managed to initiate a lot of
positive actions that deserve commendation and which can help put
America on a path toward regaining its standing as a global leader in
freedom and equality," said Romero. "But it is clear after one year
that the administration has a lot more work to do, and the ACLU will
continue to vigorously fight for and support such action."

A copy of the ACLU's analysis of the
Obama administration's record on restoring civil liberties, including a
chart showing which of the ACLU's recommendations the administration
acted upon, is available online at: www.aclu.org/america-unrestored

Additional information about the American Civil Liberties Union is available online at: www.aclu.org

 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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