Washington Markup

The Good, Bad, and Ugly for Religious Liberty and LGBT Rights in Defense Bill

The Good, Bad, and Ugly for Religious Liberty and LGBT Rights in Defense Bill

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:15pm
A sure sign of early summer in Washington, besides the sticky, humid air, is the House and Senate Armed Services Committees kicking off the annual process to pass the defense authorization bill – known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill always touches on a range of important ACLU issues, primarily those at the intersection of national security and civil liberties, and, this year, sexual assault in the military. But, we, as the ACLU lobbyists who focus on freedom of religion and belief and LGBT rights, weren't left out of this annual summertime rite. Here are a few of the things we saw – good, bad, and ugly.

Manufacturing a “Black Separatist” Threat and Other Dubious Claims: Bias in Newly Released FBI Terrorism Training Materials

By Michael German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:31pm

In a throwback to the J. Edgar Hoover-era COINTELPRO investigations targeting civil rights and anti-war activists, the FBI is now training its agents to be on the lookout for "Black Separatist" terrorists, according to FBI training materials released today by the ACLU. These new disclosures, obtained through Freedom of Information Act litigation, are the latest in a growing flood of FBI training materials that include factually flawed and biased information.

The PATRIOT Act’s Section 215 Must be Reformed

The PATRIOT Act’s Section 215 Must be Reformed

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:16pm

The following remarks were given by Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, at Sen. Rand Paul's press conference yesterday announcing his intention to sue the government to stop NSA surveillance of Americans' communications.…

This Bill Is Mandating Perfect Border Security, Using Your Tax Dollars, Without a Plan.

This Bill Is Mandating Perfect Border Security, Using Your Tax Dollars, Without a Plan.

By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:55am

Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, last year proposed a logical approach to border security: In rejecting measures to put the "cart" of border spending before the "horse" of measuring what resources are needed, he introduced…

Proposed Amendments to #CISPA Don't Protect Privacy

Proposed Amendments to #CISPA Don't Protect Privacy

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:48am

We outline why privacy advocates continue to oppose CISPA, despite amendments proposed in committee yesterday.

The Guantánamo Money Pit

The Guantánamo Money Pit

By Zak Newman, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:55am

The New York Times last week had good news for those looking to cut the exorbitant spending associated with the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. According to the paper, the Department of Defense rejected a proposal from U.S. Southern Command for…

Don't Be Fooled by New NDAA Detention Amendment

Don't Be Fooled by New NDAA Detention Amendment

By Chris Anders, Senior Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:14pm

The Senate is once again debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and is within a day or two of voting yet again on the issue of indefinite detention without charge or trial in the United States itself.

Last year, Congress…

The U.S. Government Can Brand You a Terrorist Based on a Facebook Post. We Can't Let Them Make up the Rules.

The U.S. Government Can Brand You a Terrorist Based on a Facebook Post. We Can't Let Them Make up the Rules.

By Arjun Sethi, ACLU at 12:17pm

This piece originally appeared at the Guardian's Comment is Free. 

The US government's web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be.

As we were reminded again…

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's NSA 'reforms': bad for privacy, bad for business

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's NSA 'reforms': bad for privacy, bad for business

By Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California at 2:29pm

This op-ed originally ran in the San Jose Mercury News before the tech giants released their letter to Pres. Obama and Congress urging widespread surveillance reform. In August, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington,…

Too Classified for Congress? When It Comes to Congressional Oversight of Intelligence Activities, Transparency Should Always Triumph Over Secrecy

Too Classified for Congress? When It Comes to Congressional Oversight of Intelligence Activities, Transparency Should Always Triumph Over Secrecy

By Nathaniel J. Turner, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:11pm

Tomorrow the House of Representatives will have a choice to make: openness and transparency, or secrecy and business as usual. From NSA surveillance to CIA torture, congressional oversight of intelligence activities over the last decade has been inadequate.…