Blog of Rights


Freedom for Jawad?

By Anna Christensen, National Security Project at 4:58pm
After nearly seven years of illegal detention and abuse at the hands of the U.S. government, Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohammed Jawad has won his habeas corpus case, which challenged his detention by the U.S. government. In a long-awaited ruling (PDF) yesterday, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered that Jawad — who may have been as young as 12 when he was first detained by the U.S. — could no longer be held in military custody, and must be returned home to Afghanistan by August 21. Judge Huvelle's decision to grant Jawad's habeas corpus petition, and the Obama administration's concession (PDF) that his detention is illegal and unjustified, represent a decisive victory for the rights of unlawfully detained prisoners.

Judge Calls Government Case Against Jawad "Lousy"

By Anna Christensen, National Security Project at 11:38am

Despite its recent concession that the bulk of its case against Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohammed Jawad consists of evidence illegally obtained through torture, the Obama administration announced on Friday that it may attempt to bring criminal…

A Victory for Free Speech

By Anna Christensen, National Security Project at 1:22pm

In a victory for free speech and academic discourse, last week the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court decision upholding the government's exclusion of Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan from the United States. Professor Ramadan, a leading…

Indefinite Detention: No Guilty Verdict Required

By Anna Christensen, National Security Project at 5:03pm

In her testimony before the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee last week, Denny LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU's John Adams Project, highlighted a number of the most egregious flaws in the…

An Attack on Posse Comitatus?

By Anna Christensen, National Security Project at 1:11pm

On Tuesday, the ACLU filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act with the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, demanding an explanation for the Army's decision to station an active-duty military unit inside the United States. This development represents the first-ever permanent deployment of an active-duty unit within the country. The deployment threatens a significant erosion of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and sparks renewed concerns about the Defense Department's increasing role in domestic surveillance. It raises critical questions, as the ACLU explained, "about the longstanding separation between civilian and military government within the United States — a separation that dates to the Nation's founding."

In the request, the ACLU asked the government to disclose any records relating to its decision to deploy the unit, as well as documents concerning the its purpose, including "contemplated functions; duties; surveillance activities; and relationship to existing civilian agencies or personnel or the National Guard." The release of these records, the ACLU believes, will allow the public to reach an informed conclusion as to whether the deployment represents an erosion of our rights and a violation of federal law.

It's Funny Because It's True: Colbert on NSA Spying

By Anna Christensen, National Security Project at 12:24pm

Not surprisingly, the recent revelation that the NSA had invaded the privacy of hundreds of Americans abroad and their loved ones back home generated a public outcry. Two former military intercept operators recounted their eavesdropping experiences on ABC News — recalling that they and their colleagues had regularly listened to, traded, and joked about American citizens' personal and often highly intimate conversations. They revealed that the NSA engaged in invasive, unnecessary, and dragnet monitoring of innocent Americans, including soldiers, journalists, and aid workers with groups like the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. (We're demanding that the NSA turn over policies and procedures for how the NSA collects, stores, and disseminates Americans' private communications.)

As civil libertarians, we may have become somewhat accustomed to this administration's apparent determination to trample on our rights. For years the ACLU has been fighting against the NSA's warrantless monitoring of Americans' communications here in the United States . Indeed, the new reports confirm what we have been saying all along: the NSA's monitoring is not limited to suspected terrorists (as Bush Administration officials claim). Rather, the NSA is collecting the telephone calls and emails of innocent Americans, often in a suspicion-less and vacuum cleaner-like fashion.

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