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This Week in Civil Liberties (9/14/2012)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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September 14, 2012

Which legislative body passed a five-year reauthorization of a law that gives vast, unchecked surveillance authority to the government?

How many ACLU affiliates participated in a coordinated records request to find out which law enforcement agencies use cell phone location data to track Americans?

In what year did Congress pass the only law protecting the privacy of your electronic communications? (Hint: The law is older than the Internet.)

What is the name of the man who died as a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, despite having been cleared to go home on several occasions?

Which ACLU affiliate organized a flash mob to perform a “Hands Off Women’s Health Care” dance to fight a dangerous bill that could close women’s health centers and leave women without access to safe, comprehensive reproductive health care?

House Reauthorizes Warrantless Wiretapping Program

This week, the House of Representatives passed a reauthorization of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, an unconstitutional domestic spying law that gives vast, unchecked surveillance authority to the government. The lawauthorizes the National Security Agency to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls.

The Senate is expected to take up the law’s reauthorization later this year. Act now to tell the Senate that you’re counting on them to uphold the Constitution, and fix FISA!

New Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

It’s been more than a year since 35 ACLU affiliates filed over 380 public records requests with state and local law enforcement agencies seeking information about their policies, procedures, and practices for tracking cell phones. And 13 months later (and in the wake of this front page article in the New York Times), we’re still handling responses. We’ve posted the latest batch of documents received on our interactive web map. Here are highlights.

Email Privacy Faces a Key Test Next Week

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced this week he will bring legislation before the committee requiring law enforcement to use a probable-cause warrant to access all non-public Internet communications such as email. This legislation is a key piece of efforts to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), first passed in 1986 and not substantially updated since.

The Ultimate Injustice at Guantánamo: The Death of Adnan Latif

On Saturday, Guantánamo prisoner Adnan Latif was found unresponsive in his cell in Guantánamo’s Camp 5, the disciplinary wing of the camp, and pronounced dead. Latif’s case, in life and now in death, represents the repercussions of our government’s failed Guantánamo policy and demonstrates the responsibility each branch has played in that failure.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Dance!

As Michigan legislators observed states quickly upping the ante with extreme war on women policies like the personhood amendments and mandatory vaginal probe laws, they must have grown tired of the state merely being a face in the crowd. So, they decided to dole out their own special brand of crazy in the form of an outrageous, monster War on Women Mega Bill.

On Sept. 20, the ACLU of Michigan, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, is taking over Michigan’s Capitol by staging a flash mob and rally on the Capitol lawn. Watch our instructional video of the “Hands Off Dance” and master the moves we like to call the “Can’t Say It” and the “Pelvic Exam.”

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