Safety department apologizes to ACLU for placement on terrorist map

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 12:38pm

The state public safety commissioner apologized Wednesday for placing an ACLU letter about school Christmas parties on an Internet map of suspicious terrorist activities.

The alert about the ACLU letter was removed from the map of “terrorism events and other suspicious activity” on the website operated by the Tennessee Fusion Center, an intelligence branch of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Office of Homeland Security.

“In this case, a decision was made to take it down out of sensitivity,” safety department spokesman Mike Browning told The City Paper.

He said safety department Commissioner Dave Mitchell apologized in a phone conversation with Tennessee ACLU Executive Director Hedy Weinberg.

“He had a conversation with Hedy about the fact that it was placed on the map inappropriately,” Browning said. “Apparently, they are going to have a meeting and have a discussion about this and other issues that are of concern to the ACLU.”

Weinberg called it a case of “really blatant stupidity” on the part of the state intelligence agency.

“There clearly should be some oversight of this agency,” she said. “It’s fine to say it was a mistake and the analyst shouldn’t have put this up [on the Internet map.] But who’s checking the analyst? There needs to be a guideline or principle, perhaps even a law, that protects the citizens’ First Amendment right to protest, to speak out, to do what he or she might want to do without fearing that law enforcement is collecting information about those people’s political or religious views or associations.”

The ACLU sent its letter on Christmas earlier this month to 137 school superintendents in Tennessee. The letter cautioned that holiday celebrations focusing primarily on one religious holiday amount to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The ACLU said it was responding to a number of complaints from families about school Christmas party activities. 

4 Comments on this post:

By: spooky24 on 12/22/10 at 12:32

They got their point across and that is all that matters. Perhaps, Ms Weinberg could change that to- "our excuse is really blatant stupidity"

"There clearly should be some oversight of this agency" I doubt that would do any good when clearly the ACLU set themselves up for this. Their omnipotent rhetoric fails to notice that perhaps, they may offend someone, and they may retaliate. Total negative press was the goal and it worked quite well. I might suggest that in the future, Ms Weinberg, you stop to think about the fact that letters like the one in question hurt the causes of the ACLU more than help. Since 100% of the goal of the letter was financial support I might also suggest that you make that fact a little less clear.


By: Farmer Wilson on 12/22/10 at 6:44

“In this case, a decision was made to take it down out of sensitivity,”???

Earlier they were saying it was an accident, now they are saying a decision was made, which one is the lie?

By: govskeptic on 12/23/10 at 7:21

Another critic forced to lie down and play dead to "the Almighty
ACLU"! Guess they showed the Dept of Safety who is the Big Dog!

By: Loner on 12/27/10 at 7:37

The ACLU's Hedy Weinberg is a professional zealot. Part of her job description includes "proactive" engagement. She's pretty good at it. She got her apology.

Still, one might think that the ACLU would have bigger fish to fry....intimidating public schools officials - over the issue of the observance of the reputed birth of Jesus of Nazareth - smacks of bullying and short-sightedness on their part.

I'm afraid that Ms. Weinberg is not fully aware that a great deal of our personal privacy has already vanished. Same goes for "free speech". Much of it was sacrificed upon the altar of "Homeland Security" and its "Fusion Centers" soon after the 9-11 attacks.

The Patriot Act was already written, when Bin Laden's men struck. Senator Joe Lieberman trotted it out and the rest is history.

This is the price that we Americans are being asked to pay, as we engage suicidal religious fanatics in a modern-day holy war.

I'm suggesting that the ACLU consider and deal with the causes, not the effects of the so-called "global war on terror".

I invite Ms. Weinberg to come online and debate this.