Thursday, September 29, 2005

ACLU Assails Army

The NYCLU is continuing its campaign against military recruiting. But it’s hard to figure out what they’re objecting to. Last week they announced a campaign to “monitor” recruiters in New York City public schools. On Wednesday night’s O’Reilly Factor, mouthpiece Michael Gross continued to assert that recruiter needs to be scrutinized for potential abuses. He and the NYCLU specifically deny that this is in any way an anti-war effort. But that is hard to sustain in view of the facts.

Even Nat Hentoff former ACLU board member and a Village Voice columnist, could not rationalize the groups stance. "This is a political, not a civil liberties, issue for them," he said. "Unless they can show any kind of constitutional danger, what I see is a free exchange of speech.” Hentoff is not exactly a military supporter, but realizes that interference with the military’s mission and with student’s rights to hear their pitches amounts to a real free speech violation.

The Civil Liberties Union has made political hay out of the “Opt Out” clause in the No Child Left Behind Act. The act ensures that schools receiving federal aid, virtually every public school in the nation, provide student contact information to recruiters. The Opt Out clause ensures that students and their parents can notify their school that they wish to “opt out” of this information sharing. This sounds like an amazingly well crafted piece of legislation for Washington. It provides a balance between the needs and prerogatives of the Federal government and the rights of individuals.

That’s not enough for our liberal watchdogs. According to their webpage on this subject: “Unfortunately, little noticed provisions of No Child Left Behind have given the military unprecedented access to students in school and an aggressive military has turned some of our schools into a recruiting ground.” Schools have always been a recruiting ground. High Schools, Colleges, Trade Schools, that’s where young people plan their futures, and where prospective employers and educators pitch to them.

Somehow the ACLU/NYCLU fears that it is all being abused. Guard against abuses, monitor abuses. What abuses?

The New York City Department of Education cannot document any abuses. Margie Feinberg, of the department’s public affairs office said the department has "not heard of any specific instances" of complaints from students. Individual schools would handle complaints about recruiters.” None of these has been turned up.
Interviewed by the New York Sun, NYCLU spokeswomen Donna Lieberman provided much invective and few facts.

“Ms. Lieberman accused military recruiters of using strong-arm tactics in schools in what she called an attempt ‘to meet the demands for more soldiers to fight an increasingly unpopular war. Students shouldn't have to subject themselves to aggressive military recruitment efforts students face intimidation, harassment, and abuse’ Ms. Lieberman told Sun.”

Her words do not appear to support the group’s assertion that this is not about the war. When she was asked to name a case of recruiting abuse, all Ms. Lieberman came up with was one case upstate. A student there claimed to have been threatened with criminal charges after taking a batch of brochures from a military recruiter's table. That hardly sounds like recruiter abuse. An overreaction perhaps, but one by a law abiding and very overworked sergeant, harassed by a disrespectful adolescent.

So Where’s the Beef? Recruiters will always be in our schools. We will always need soldiers. Sure a few recruiters may cross the line. But the military has a criminal justice system that parallels the civilian one to deal with abuses. One that is substantially more effective at rooting out and dealing with offenders than its civilian equivalent. Could this be in part because its boundaries have not been stretched by the likes of the ACLU?

Help Fight the ACLU Here.


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