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In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [MP3 CD]

Anthony D. Romero , Dina Temple-Raston , Michael Prichard

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This title is presented in Mp3 CD Format. Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, and award-winning journalist Dina Temple-Raston take a critical look at civil liberties in this country at a time when constitutional freedoms are in peril. Using the stories of real Americans on the frontlines of the fight for civil liberties, "In Defense of Our America" provides a look at the dangerous erosion of the Bill of Rights in the age of terror.

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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You should read this book. 12 July 2007
By Francisco L. Montalvo - Published on Amazon.com
I watched Anthony Romero on CSPAN2 BookTV pitching this book at a book show in Chicago. He recommended it as a book you might give someone who rolls his eyes at you when you say you support the ACLU.

The book is a good consolidation of how civil liberties have become victims in the war on terror. I'm a politically moderate, active duty military officer and didn't start reading this book until I was convinced that I could do it with an open mind. By that I mean that I sought to eliminate most prejudicial skepticism, since I don't believe any human being can eliminate all of it.

The book hops back and forth a bit, sometimes making it hard to follow. But knowing that the book is designed to be a fairly concise synopsis for a skeptical audience makes me understand why he did it this way. If you dwell on the same subject to long and the reader disagrees with the author, perhaps you can keep the reader engaged by mixing the stories.

The one annoying thing that Mr. Romero does in his book pertains to the abortion argument. He seemingly laments when an abortionist is referred to as a "baby-killer", but in turn summarizes anyone who opposes abortion as "anti-choice" and "the Jerry Falwells." In my opinion, intelligent discussion precludes the use of loaded language, as it only serves to get an emotional rise out of people. I am disgusted by Pro-Lifers who call Pro-Choicers murderers just as I am disgusted by Pro-Choicers who call Pro-Lifers crusaders or fascists. My personal jury is still out on the abortion issue, and when I listen to so many people with an inability to argue without exchanging barbs, I remember why.

The only other thing that I'd like to add is that Mr. Romero rightfully criticizes former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for his role in justifying torture and inhumane treatment of detainees. But I do object to Mr. Romero claiming that Mr. Rumsfeld believed himself above reproach since he was not at Abu Graib when the torture happened. This book was published in 2007 after Secretary Rumsfelf was replaced; towards the end of 2006 it came to light that Secretary Rumsfeld had offered his resignation twice during his tenure and one of those times being quite specifically for the Abu Graib incident. The President rejected the requests both times. This does not mitigate Mr. Rumsfeld's culpability in the matter, but it does speak to his recognition of his responsibility.

Conclusively, it was a good book that leaves me with the desire to learn more about several topics of government and gave me a better appreciation for something that I have known since I took my oath of service: that we must defend our country and our ideals, but we must also ensure that we maintain our country and our ideals worth defending.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable but disjointed 8 July 2007
By Philip - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very readable account of civil rights battles in the time since 9/11, covering specific stories on gay rights, wiretapping, intelligent design, etc. In the preface the authors state it is meant to "read like a novel" and it is an easy and interesting read that most could finish in a couple of days.

My major complaint is that the stories are intertwined for no good effect. After a paragraph on intelligent design, the story suddenly jumps to torture. The entire book plays out this way, jumping back and forth among 5 or 6 stories. While this technique can work in film and novels, with nonfiction it gives me mental whiplash. It would be far better to keep like subject matter together-- indeed, in the references they do just this. So why not in the text?

My other minor complaint is that I would have preferred more detail and reasoning. However, this book does seem to aim at the widest possible audience, and those who follow civil rights may be slightly disappointed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book 23 Jan 2008
By Paul Lappen - Published on Amazon.com
This book looks at the current state of civil liberties in America, by exploring case studies of several different types of cases.

Matthew Limon is a gay teenager from Kansas who was sentenced to a seventeen-year prison term for having consensual sex with a boy three years younger. If his sex partner had been female, the sentence would have been much less. As a way to lessen the impact of a proposed total abortion ban in South Dakota, Cecilia Fire Thunder, the President of the Sioux Nation, advocated putting an abortion clinic on Sioux land. The school board of Dover, Pennsylvania attempted to force the local high school to include "intelligent design" into the biology curriculum. A middle-age science teacher named Bertha Spahr led the fight against the plan. Kot Hordynski is part of a non-violent anti-war group at the University of California, Santa Clara. The Pentagon put him on a terrorist watch list and called him a "credible threat."

Before anyone thinks that the American Civil Liberties Union, of which Romero is the Executive Director, is an anti-conservative or anti-Catholic group, consider: the ACLU defended Rush Limbaugh's right to privacy when prosecutors wanted his medical records to prosecute his drug bust; they argued that anti-abortion protestors have a right to march and be heard; the ACLU stood up for Oliver North's constitutional rights during Iran-Contra; when a high school senior wanted to put a quote from the Bible in her yearbook, the ACLU argued that she had a right to free speech-even religious speech. Also, the ACLU helped strike the provision in the Virginia constitution that denied Jerry Falwell's church the right to incorporate in Virginia.

This is a gem of a book. It does a good job of showing how civil liberties were not in good shape, entangling average people, even before 9/11; since then, things have gotten noticeably worse. It is very much worth reading.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Romero's ACLU is great but his co-writer is a disaster 9 Nov 2007
By M. scher - Published on Amazon.com
The stories of very brave Americans asserting their constitutional liberties should be a wonderful book and filled with wisdom about why civil liberties are so important. Sadly the work of the ACLU is lost in a mish-msh of chopped up bits and pieces of 6 stories. Who can remember where you left off with one person some 50 pages before, as you try to read about all the others also in disjointed pieces? Somebody thought writing nonfiction as if it was an "experimental film" was very hip. Too bad. The book's structure is confusing and disappointing, suceeding only in obscuring the achivements of idealistic, Americans confronting government gone wild and how they get help from great lawyers like Romero and the ACLU.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ACLU promotion 20 Feb 2009
By Thomas W. Sulcer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a book by the head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a society which deserves credit for their fierce legal advocacy of freedom. No other organization would rush to the defense of John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban" captured by US forces in Afghanistan. He's been painted by the press as a traitor, written off by American public opinion, and so it is refreshing that, at the very least, the ACLU would hire lawyers and advocate for his right to a fair hearing, and promote their advocacy in books like this one.

The issues championed by the ACLU tend to be seen as so-called liberal issues, such as gay rights, rights to abortion, and so forth. While Director Anthony D. Romero said on "The Colbert Report" that the ACLU doesn't necessarily side with the left, for all practical purposes, the ACLU has an image of being a left-leaning organization, although it tries to paint itself as non-partisan. But it IS a partisan organization. And, as a result of its partisanship, its thinking misses the mark. I don't think the ACLU understands how the issues of "freedom" and "security" relate. Persons from the left who want to reinforce their mindset will enjoy this book; but I recommend readers choose tough tough non-partisan critiques. I'd list them but Amazon has a "one book" only policy in these reviews; readers can email me and I can send a list of nonpartisan books.

Thomas W. Sulcer
Author of "The Second Constitution of the United States"
(free on web; google title + Sulcer)
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