Back to News & Commentary

This Week in Civil Liberties (12/2/2011)

The text, "Week in Review."
The text, "Week in Review."
Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
Share This Page
December 2, 2011

Which amendment rejected by the Senate this week would have banned indefinite detention without charge or trial?

What can’t Siri help you find?

How does S-Comm violate U.S. citizens’ rights?

Which state repealed a law that allows death row prisoners the opportunity to try to commute their sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole based on racial bias?

Which agency uses “community outreach” programs to collect intelligence on innocent Americans?

Senate Rejects Amendment Banning Indefinite Detention
This week, the Senate voted 60-38 to reject an important amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have removed harmful provisions authorizing the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world. The amendment offered by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) would have replaced those provisions with a requirement for an orderly congressional review of detention power.

Apple’s Latest iPhone Has No Problem Pointing Users to Viagra, But Comes Up Blank on Birth Control, Abortion
This year’s latest iPhone features Siri, which Apple bills as “the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” Siri can help you secure movie tickets, plan your schedule, and order Chinese food, but when it comes to reproductive health care and services, Siri is clueless.

Detain First, Investigate Later: How U.S. Citizens Are Unlawfully Detained Under S-Comm
Detain first, investigate later — that is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) mantra when it comes to its Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program, a program designed to immediately ensnare any immigrant in the deportation pipeline the moment they come into contact with the criminal justice system.

See a problem with this? Not only does it violate the Fourth Amendment’s basic prohibition against detaining a person without probable cause to do so, but it commonly ensnares the wrong people, including people who are not even immigrants, but United States citizens, causing them to be unlawfully detained.

ACLU Lens: North Carolina Repeals Historic Legislation Combating Racism in Death Penalty
The North Carolina state Senate late Monday voted to repeal an historic 2009 law that would have helped ensure that death sentences handed down in the state were not the result of racial bias.

The Racial Justice Act allows death row prisoners like Marcus Robinson a hearing in which they can present statistics and other evidence showing that death sentences state- and county-wide were tainted by racism and that their death sentence should be commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Big Brother, Come Clean: The FBI is Misusing “Community Outreach” Programs for Intelligence Gathering
The FBI, in true Big Brother fashion, is secretly and deliberately collecting information about innocent Americans for its intelligence files, and illegally recording information about their speech, beliefs, and First Amendment-protected activities. This is bad enough. But to make it worse, the FBI is doing this intelligence collection under the guise of community outreach programs — programs that are supposed to build trust and rapport with the public — without telling community groups or their members what it is doing.

This is your week in civil liberties. Let us know if this is useful or if you’d like to see changes. Share your thoughts:

Learn more about your rights: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Learn More About the Issues on This Page