American Council of Trustees and Alumni

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), founded in 1995, is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt, nonprofit, educational organization committed to academic freedom, excellence and accountability at America's colleges and universities," its website states [1]. ACTA was formerly known as the National Alumni Forum [2].


National Council

The following are listed as members of the National Council [3]:


The organization is best described by Prof. Joel Beinin:

The first post-September 11 expression of the link between the neo-conservative political agenda and the attack on critical thinking about the Middle East was a report issued by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) in November 2001 entitled ‘Defending civilization: how our universities are failing America and what can be done about it’. As the title suggests, ACTA maintained that criticism of the Bush administration’s war on Afghanistan on campuses across the country was tantamount to negligence in ‘defending civilization’ and proof that ‘our universities are failing America’. ACTA alleged that American universities were brought to this sorry state by inadequate teaching of western culture and American history. Consequently, students and faculty did not understand what was at stake in the fight against terrorism and were undermining the defence of civilization by asking too many questions.
ACTA was founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney. Former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman is a member of its national council. Although she is no longer officially active in ACTA, a lengthy quote by Ms. Cheney appears on the cover of the report, giving the document the appearance of a quasi-official statement of government policy.
The original version of ‘Defending civilization’ named and quoted comments by 117 university faculty members, staff and students in reaction to the September 11 attacks. ACTA’s ire was aroused by my statement that, ‘If Usama bin Laden is confirmed to be behind the attacks, the United States should bring him before an international tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity.’ Other remarks in the report’s list of unacceptable speech included ‘Ignorance breeds hate’ and ‘[T]here needs to be an understanding of why this kind of suicidal violence could be undertaken against our country’.
— Joel Beinin, The New American McCarthyism: policing thought about the Middle East, Race & Class, Vol. 46(1): 101-115; (NB: loads very slow.)

What others say

"In 1995, Lynne Cheney and so-called liberal Senator Joseph Lieberman founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. According to Roberto Gonzalez of the San Jose Mercury News, the Council’s report “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America,” appears to protect academic freedom but actually resembles a blacklist. 'In a chilling use of doublespeak,' says Gonzalez, 'it affirms the right of professors to speak out, yet condemns those who have attempted to give context to Sept. 11, encourage critical thinking, or share knowledge about other cultures. Faculty are accused of being ‘short on patriotism’ for attempting to give students the analytical tools they need to become informed citizens.'

"'Many of those blacklisted are top scholars in their fields, and it appears that the report represents a kind of academic terrorism designed to strike fear into other academics by making examples of respected professors.'

"'The report might also function to extend control over sites of democratic debate – our universities – where freedom of expression is not only permitted but encouraged.'"— Carolyn Baker, Dissident Voice, February 7, 2005.

Related Organizations

Comment: Prof. Beinin finds that these organizations work for the same aims, and some of the principals overlap in these organizations


Contact Information

1726 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-4525
Phone: 202 467-6787
Toll Free: 800 ALUMNI-8
FAX: 202 467-6784
Email: info AT

External links



Articles by ACTA

Articles & Commentary