Monday, June 09, 2008
Anxiety and Obloquy Enough
The ACLU has already raised $258 Million from various private sources and is now looking to increase that to $335 million in gifts from the public. The initiative, entitled "Leading Freedom Forward: The ACLU Campaign for the Future" is an effort to build the organization's infrastructure and secure the ACLU's financial funding for years to come. It also seeks to substantially increase the ACLU's presence and effectiveness in states where civil liberties violations are most egregious and opportunities for change most promising, including Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Montana, Mississippi, Michigan, Missouri, and Tennessee.
One part of the campaign of that particularly interests me is a partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to form the John Adams Project to provide expert teams of civilian defense lawyers to assist the under-resourced military defense counsel assigned to Guantanamo detainees.
Having myself, in a former life, toiled as a defense counsel in the Army and knowing the challenges faced by them even in the best of times, I have nothing but the deepest admiration for people like Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, who labor against all the administrative and legal roadblocks common enough in the military system but which have been amplified beyond all reason by an Administration that is nothing short of criminal in its disregard of the rule of law. Providing support to level the playing field, even if only a bit, for the men and women who give their all to defend the despised, often at peril to their reputations and careers, is a cause of the highest merit.
And no better patron name could be given the project than John Adams'. Those who saw the recent HBO series on Adams' life will have some inkling of the courage it took for Adams to defend the officer and soldiers involved in the "Boston Massacre." The series telescoped events in the cases that Adams defended but the truth was no less dramatic and remains worthy of admiration down to our own times. Adams was right when, looking back at a lifetime of exemplary service, he said of his actions then:
The Part I took in Defense of Captain Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country.