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.
CISPA Remains Fatally Flawed After Secret Committee Markup

CISPA Remains Fatally Flawed After Secret Committee Markup

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:20pm
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The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday marked up CISPA,…

The Biggest New Spying Program You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The Biggest New Spying Program You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:18pm

Update: Since this piece was posted, the ACLU has filed FOIA requests seeking more information on data-mining by the NCTC. Read more »

What if a government spy agency had power to copy and data mine information about ordinary Americans…

Misdirection: The House Intelligence Committee’s Misleading Patriot Act Talking Points

Misdirection: The House Intelligence Committee’s Misleading Patriot Act Talking Points

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:46pm

This week the House Intelligence Committee circulated nine talking points to its members explaining why the dragnet collection of innocent Americans’ call records is both legal and effective at stopping terrorism. After reviewing the document, the ACLU has gone point-by-point, making notes that either refute or raise serious doubts about almost every assertion in the one-pager. Just click on the document below and hover on the red dots to see our comments.

Comey's Hollow MLK Guidance to FBI Agents

Comey's Hollow MLK Guidance to FBI Agents

By Laura W. Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Michael German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:21am

Newly sworn in FBI Director James Comey has ordered all new FBI agent trainees to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC, so they can reflect on the FBI's infamous history of hounding the civil rights leader and recognize "the…

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…

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.…

The Sweeping License to Discriminate Hidden in the NDAA

The Sweeping License to Discriminate Hidden in the NDAA

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:58pm

With Congress having recently approved this year’s NDAA, we think it is important to draw attention to a provision (Section 533(a)(1)), which, though hidden away, is unprecedented, sweeping, and could invite dangerous claims of a right to discriminate against not just lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, but also women, religious minorities, and in the provision of health care.

Truly Dishonorable: Military Justice System Betrays Survivors of Sexual Assault

Truly Dishonorable: Military Justice System Betrays Survivors of Sexual Assault

By Elayne Weiss, Washington Legislative Office at 4:49pm

Rebekah Havrilla, a former Army sergeant, received no justice after she was raped by a fellow soldier while serving in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Rebekah testified before the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee at a hearing on military…

CISPA Claws Back to Life

CISPA Claws Back to Life

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:54pm

It's baa-aaack.

The House cybersecurity bill that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) and the military to collect your private internet records is scheduled for an encore appearance on Wednesday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman…