ACLU Rejects $1 Million Plus in Grant Money

The ACLU has refused over $1 million in grant money from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations because of restrictive language that could compromise its ability to defend civil liberties.

Anthony D. Romero, the A.C.L.U.'s executive director, said the language of the contracts governing the Ford and Rockefeller grants was broad and ambiguous, leaving them open to interpretation that could impede free speech and limit advocacy work not only at his organization but also at other nonprofits.

The ACLU statment is here.

It is a sad day when two of this country's most beloved and respected foundations feel they are operating in such a climate of fear and intimidation that they are compelled to require thousands of recipients to accept vague grant language which could have a chilling effect on civil liberties. But the ambiguities are simply too significant to ignore or accept. They include potential prohibitions on free speech and other undefined activities such as "bigotry" as part of a misconceived war on terror. Indeed, vague terms such as "bigotry" often have charged meanings in a post-9/11 world. The ACLU cannot effectively defend the rights of all Americans if we do not stand up for those same rights ourselves.

Let us be clear, we do not support terrorism. We all have a role to play in protecting our country from those who would harm us further. But we should not trample -- or allow others to trample -- on our most valued principles that have made us the beacon of freedom around the world. We will continue to do all that we can to ensure an America that is both safe and free.

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