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Privatizing Government : ACLU Offers to Buy Out the Justice Department

December 19, 1985|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union, noting President Reagan's taste for turning over government programs to the private sector, offered Wednesday to buy the Justice Department.

In a statement, ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser said the group sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III telling him it was "prepared to take over the entire Justice Department, including its assets and liabilities, which are many."

ACLU spokesman Ari Korpivaara, chuckling during a telephone interview from his New York office, said: "Well, it's budget time around here, so the idea just came up," adding that there was "probably about $25" in ACLU cash reserves to launch a takeover.

Glasser said the offer was made because "those with a long-term investment in justice believe that the department is now nearly bankrupt. An exam by our auditors of the balance sheet of its key unit, the civil rights division, shows liabilities exceeding assets to an alarming degree."

Glasser said the ACLU decided to make the offer after a news report that the Administration planned to sell the Federal Housing Administration to private interests.

"Must have been a slow day at the ACLU," a Justice Department spokesman said of the purchase offer. "Otherwise, no comment."

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