Like many progressive Americans, I thought the ACLU would be there for me/us when the government tramps all over one’s First Amendment rights. Well, think again. They have sold out to the corporations. Keeping in mind the significant hold over our communications, from the telephone to the internet to the post office that the Patriot Act accomplishes, wouldn’t you think that the ACLU would set up some system to be sure that their mail, calls, or email, if intercepted, could be verified? NOT
After realizing, around 2002, that my U S Mail regarding the Federal ADA case, could go astray so that I had to resort to frequent trips to the Federal Courthouse to even find out what had been filed (without notifying me), I eventually realized that, perhaps, my correspondence to the Texas ACLU hadn’t been received. Perhaps, it was. However, I received a negative response.
After my medical records at Stanford in Palo Alto had been altered/corrupted to remove information about the missed diagnosis, I decided in December 2004 to approach the ACLU of Northern California in San Francisco. Mean time, I had discovered in a 2004 AMA handbook about the Federal laws regarding privacy of your medical records and access to your medical records that the Bush administration was now asserting that the Feds had a right to keep information about licensed professional persons in the medical records while forbidding the physician/clinician from allowing you (the patient) to see this information and while the Feds also maintained the right (without your permission) to share this info with licensing boards, law enforcement, and others of their own choosing. Surely, any attorney making a living filing or defending malpractice claims must know about this? Shit! So, I approached the ACLU for representation. I hand carried a request to their old Mission Street office (before they migrated to their high dollar expensive White Shoe digs near the Embarcadero. I was told to expect an answer in two weeks or less. No answer. I had a meeting about the issue with John F. Campbell, Austin attorney who had represented me. When I told him that I requested representation from the ACLU, he laughed and stated ‘they won’t receive it’. I replied that I had caught on to the obstruction to communications by phone and mail, so I hand delivered it to the ACLU in San Francisco. He repeated his prior statement. ‘ Doesn’t matter, they won’t receive it.’
So, I scheduled a trip. The day I was taking off from Austin, an answer arrived…approximately 3 weeks from submission. No interest from the ACLU per the letter. I corresponded again from Texas. A letter arrived purportedly from the ACLU of Northern California that stated they would return my records, if asked. I took them up on this and received copious records regarding an individual in another state, of a totally different name, regarding her treatments for hallucinations mailed to my home address. Anyway, after making more attempts to deliver requests, in person, or by certified, then finally registered mail, I walked in and asked to see the supervisor. I had copies or originals of all documents and the same individual purportedly had signed all the ACLU refusals but his signature was completely different on each document. The office staff said sure. Then a few minutes later, they received a phone call and subsequently told me to leave or they would call the police. I’ve never done civil disobedience before this and decided I would call their bluff. Police do arrive and I am sitting on the floor of their copy room refusing to leave. I’m threatened with being hauled out in a strait jacket. My possessions are picked up and moved without my permission. I’m ticketed and released. The ticket is stolen and as best I know never surfaced again.
The bottom line….the ACLU uses volunteer attorneys from the community to screen their requests for representation. How hard is it for an attorney to replace a request for representation with a fictitious one? If an employed attorney did it, it would then be more traceable. Does the ACLU use sloppy procedure on purpose? Surely they must have a clue? With all the money the public donated, the ACLU could afford high dollar digs down town (near the Federal Reserve!) but not be able to afford a means of protecting yours or anyone’s requests for representations. I attended an outreach session by the ACLU representative, also an attorney, so I complained about the obstruction, receiving records obviously not regarding me, etc. Instead of personally stating he would investigate, I was told just to keep submitting.
It was in a book by Ted Nace that I first saw a statement that the ACLU actions appeared to be protecting corporations over individuals.
The certified mail receipt? It was signed FELON, I kid you not.
Here is the result of the latest effort to have the ACLU of Northern California acknowledge my submission/request for representation: note the absence of a written or signed name. This is unlike the prior efforts where a form letter had a person’s name type written then a signature. It is just that the signature varied widely from document to document, never the same twice.