Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties is a 2004 documentary produced by Robert Greenwald and sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the wake of 9/11 and the ensuing passage of the so-called Patriot Act in October 2011. Ned Martel of the New York Times wrote the following:

In “Unconstitutional,” for example, a Syrian asylum-seeker named Safouh Hamoui, who started a market and raised his family in Seattle, is awakened by gun-toting law officers. Immigration officials detain his wife and several adult children and then keep him captive for nearly a year. The narrator skims over the fact that Mr. Hamoui had been awaiting deportation because of his lawyer’s carelessness (not that such an offense should be punishable in this way).

Imagine the signals the Hamoui file must have sent to security officials: this man could fly planes and had flouted some unspecified immigration procedures. But his demeanor and the embraces of his children upon his return suggest injustice inflicted by pursuers of justice, and that’s really all we have to go on. There are more than 1,000 other detentions, the film asserts, with less happy endings and even murkier facts presented. Still, the on-camera complaints of civil liberties advocates are echoed by some staunch Republican lawmakers, and the Patriot Act’s authors thus appear unapologetic in deporting some good guys along with the bad.1

In 2011, President Barak Obama signed a four-year extension to key components of the Patriot Act though Federal courts have ruled that a number of provisions are unconstitutional.



  1. “Attempts to Sort Out and Make Sense of History”. New York Times. 1-Oct-04.

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