ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU
NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE
ACLU Launches National Campaign
To Insure That Congress Is Not Misled
About Administration's Persian Gulf Policy
For RELEASE: AFTER 2 P.M. Monday, December 17, 1990
WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today launched
a national campaign to insure that government officials do not
mislead or lie to Congress about the Administration's military
plans in the Persian Gulf.
The ACLU placed an advertisement in today's _Federal Times_
stating that government employees have "the legal right and a
political responsiblity" to tell Congress if they know that
Congress has been misinformed. The ACLU offered to assist anyone
in getting information to the proper congressional officials. (A
copy of the advertisement is attached.)
"The experience of the Iran-Contra affair and the Vietnam War
teaches us that the Administration is most likely to deceive
Congress--and the American people--when it is pursuing a
controversial foreign and military policy in the face of
congressional and public cautiousness and opposition," Morton H.
Halperin, the Director of the ACLU's Washington office, said at a
Washington news conference.
"Government employees who mislead or lie to Congress can be
guilty of a crime, as was the case with John Poindexter, Robert
McFarlane and Richard Helms," Halperin continued. "The ACLU
therefore urges any person who has knowledge that Congress was
deliberately given the wrong message about Administration policy
on the Persian Gulf crisis to notify Congress or, if necessary,
the media, to set the record straight.
"Congress cannot perform its constitutional function of
deciding whether or not to authorize the President to go to war
if the Administration deceives Congress about the President's
policy and intentions," Halperin concluded.
Daniel Ellsberg, who disclosed the Pentagon Papers to expose
executive branch deception during the Vietnam War, joined
Halperin at a news conference. "Senator Wayne Morse told me that
if I had given the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the
documents in the Pentagon Papers in 1964 rather than in 1969, the
Tonkin Gulf Resolution never would have passed and the horrors of
the Vietnam War might have been averted," he said.
Ellsberg then addressed his former colleagues and their
successors in the executive branch: "If you have documents or
other information bearing on decisions of war or peace about
which you know that Congress is being misled or manipulated, you
should be prepared to give that information to Congress and the
public, now, before the guns have started.
"Even if you fear the loss of your career or possibly -- as I
expected -- prosecution and prison, those risks may be worth
taking," Ellsberg said. "A war's worth of lives is at stake."