ACLU, NRA, Others Call for Investigation of Feds

Press Release: As Trials Of Waco Survivors Open In Texas, ACLU, NRA, Others Ask Clinton To Address Federal Police Abuse.

January 10, 1994

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Rifle Association, and other organizations from across the political spectrum today called on President Clinton to appoint a national commission to investigate serious allegations of abuse by federal law enforcement agencies and to recommend steps that must be taken to reduce constitutional and human rights violations by federal law enforcement personnel.

Led by the ACLU, the organizations delivered a letter to President Clinton in which they pointed out that federal law enforcement authorities now comprise close to 10 percent of the nations total police forces. Some 53 separate federal agencies -- from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and from the U. S. Mint Police Force to the Bureau of Indian Affairs have the authority to carry firearms and make arrests, the organizations said, a figure that represents an enormous expansion in recent years in terms of both personnel and jurisdiction.

What is lacking, the ACLU and other organizations said in their letter, is systematic oversight and review of federal police practices. Such lapses, the organizations said, have lead to serious allegations of abuse, including the improper use of deadly force, use of unreliable informants without sufficient verification of their allegations and physical abuse.

The call for a national commission came as the survivors of the confrontation between the Branch Davidians and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, went on trial in San Antonio, Texas.

Independent experts have already questioned the federal law enforcement practices that led to the tragic deaths of so many men, women, and innocent children, said Laura Murphy Lee, the Director of the ACLU's Washington Office.

We, of course, recognize that the majority of federal officers strive, often under dangerous and demanding circumstances, to carry out their duties in a restrained, lawful, and professional manner, Murphy added. But at the same time, we know that the Waco confrontation was not an isolated incident.

In addition to the ACLU and the NRA, the other organizations issuing the call include the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms; the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation; the Drug Policy Foundation (later renamed the Drug Policy Alliance); the Independence Institute; the International Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; The National Legal Aid and defender Association, and the Second Amendment Foundation.