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This Week in Civil Liberties (7/22/2011)

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The text, "Week in Review."
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July 22, 2011


  • What Vermont hotel won’t host a lesbian couple’s wedding?
  • Whose president has endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act?
  • Which government agency doesn’t want to see you naked in airports so much anymore?
  • Which 23 documents are secret even though everyone on the Internet has seen them?
  • What White House advisor thinks “0 deaths” is the same as “dozens of deaths”?

The answers to these questions and more on the ACLU’s Blog of Rights…

My Daughter Isn’t Good Enough? Think Again, Wildflower Inn
The ACLU and the ACLU of Vermont filed a lawsuit against the Wildflower Inn, a Vermont resort that refused to host a lesbian couple’s wedding reception due to the owners’ personal bias against lesbian and gay people. Channie Peters, the mother of one of our clients, Ming Linsley (right), writes about why she’s part of the lawsuit.

White House Endorses Respect for Marriage Act
On the eve of a landmark hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the discriminatory so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the White House formally endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA in its entirety. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president “is proud to support the act, which would take the Defense of Marriage Act off the books for once and for all.”

TSA Scanners Start Moving From Naked Bodies to Stick-Figure Outlines
The TSA announced today that it will be rolling out new software on its millimeter wave bodyscanners, which replaces the nude images created by the current machines with generic outlines of the human form. Instead of a human security screener scrutinizing an image of your nude body, a computer will process that image and highlight areas of the body where any “anomalies” are found.

State Dept. Cables? WikiLeaks Documents? What? Where?
Last month, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the declassification of 23 leaked State Department cables. Last week, we received the government’s initial response to our lawsuit; it demonstrates just how far they are willing to go to evade responsibility. These cables have already been fully disclosed online by WikiLeaks and distributed by major national and international newspapers. The U.S. government maintains that the cables are secret.

Civilian Deaths from CIA Drone Strikes: Zero or Dozens?
For well over a year now, the ACLU has been urging the government to level with the public about the number of civilians that are being killed in its drone strike/targeted killing operations. Last month, John Brennan, the White House’s top counterterrorism advisor told reporters that “in the last year ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.'” Zero civilian casualties — during a period when there were more than 100 CIA drone strikes — sounded almost too good to be true. As it turns out, it was.

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