ACLU wants NATO security plans released by Monday

April 20, 2012 3:01:06 PM PDT
With just four weeks to go, the American Civil Liberties Union has set a deadline of Monday for the Secret Service to release security plans for the NATO Summit.

The Secret Service has consistently said that it will announce its NATO security perimeters two to four weeks before the event. It's four weeks now.

The qualified guessing is that the announcement will come two weeks out, as it has in other similar national special security events. The ACLU says two weeks is not enough time for first amendment purposes.

"We are one month out today. We are one month away. The Secret Service has an obligation to release those plans and it has an obligation to do that right away," Harvey Grossman, ACLU, said.

The ACLU says it wants the Secret Service to publicly disclose the NATO summit security perimeters around McCormick place - and it wants that information by Monday evening, or it will go to court. The ACLU is basing its legal argument on a 2003 federal court settlement involving the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority- which runs McCormick.

That settlement grants leafleting -- one person at nearly every door -- and also provides "Outdoor group expressive activity areas". One of those areas is defined in the settlement as the "bluestones," or the darker stones that surround the pylons along King Drive, which is right in front of McCormick's front door. That areA will most certainly within what will be the Secret Service security perimeter.

A Secret Service spokesman had no direct comment on the possibility of legal action, but said the service is going to "...stick to our two to four week time frame..." and that its goal is to be "comprehensive" and "accurate" before revealing any details on the perimeter.

The ACLU and many protest leaders say revealing the perimeter two weeks ahead of the event is meant to weaken court challenges -- simply because there won't be enough time.

"If these restrictions the Secret Service puts in place are not compliant with the agreement or the constitution, then we need to have judicial review of that. The executive's discretion is not unbounded even in the interest of national security," Grossman said.

As Cermak road in front of McCormick gets a new surface, the question is - how close will protestors be allowed? The city is expected to designate specific areas for protest though where they are, how big they are, and whether they're within sight and sound of McCormick Place.

"We have a couple sites in mind. We're working on that. It's not finalized yet," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.

The ACLU says is has been talking with the city and the Secret Service for the past four months specifically about that 2003 court settlement -- and the clock is ticking.

The ACLU also said Friday that the Secret Service asked for some further discussion next Tuesday.