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This Week in Civil Liberties (01/03/2014)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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January 3, 2014

What executive order governs the NSA’s surveillance abroad – even when that surveillance sweeps up Americans’ communications?

What constitutional amendment did a District Court judge cite when knocking down a Florida law that required applicants for the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to submit to suspicionless drug tests?

How many states carried out executions in 2013?

Which state became the first in the country to allow people to carry marijuana and use it at home without threat of arrest?

True or false: according to the president’s own review panel, the NSA call-tracking program has not been essential to preventing any terrorist attack.

The Most Important Surveillance Order We Know Almost Nothing About

Over the last seven months, we have learned an incredible amount about the government’s post-9/11 surveillance efforts. But there is a crucial gap in our basic understanding. We now know, for example, a good deal about how the government conducts surveillance that targets Americans, and about surveillance of foreigners that sweeps up Americans’ international communications when the actual surveillance takes place on U.S. soil (for example, from a Google facility in the United States). But we still know very little about Executive Order 12,333, which governs the NSA’s surveillance abroad — even when that surveillance sweeps up Americans’ communications.

Florida Cannot Drug Test People Simply Because They’re Poor

Citing the 4th Amendment’s protections against unreasonable government searches, a federal District Court handed down a blistering decision in the final hours of 2013 that knocked down a Florida law mandating that all applicants for the state’s TANF program submit to suspicionless drug tests.

Counting Down to the End of the Death Penalty

The start of a new year always presents an opportunity to think back on the successes and failures of the past year and to look forward to the future with a sense of hope and optimism. Before the countdown begins to 2014, let’s take a moment to reflect on the progress we’ve made towards abolition of the death penalty in 2013. We’ve got a lot to celebrate.

Legal Marijuana in CO Will Bring Justice and Savings

Coloradans take a lot of pride in our pioneer spirit. This New Year’s Day, Coloradans are pioneers once again as the first legal marijuana stores open and Colorado becomes the first state in the country where you can carry marijuana and use it in your home without the threat of arrest and criminal prosecution.

ACLU Appeals Decision Upholding NSA’s Mass Surveillance

The ACLU filed an appeal on Thursday in New York challenging the dismissal of our lawsuit against the NSA’s mass call-tracking program. Through the program, the government collects records on every call made and received in this country, allowing it to construct detailed maps of Americans’ everyday lives.

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