Tag Archives: ACLU

ACLU challenges NSA surveillance

On June 11th, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the NSA’s surveillance program.  The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the program violates the First Amendment rights or free speech and association, the right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, and that the surveillance program exceeds the authority provided by the Patriot Act.

ACLU, a customer of Verizon, made the following comments:

This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens.

It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation.  The program goes far beyond even the permissible limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy.

The complaint can be accessed here.

via ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of NSA Phone Spying Program | American Civil Liberties Union.

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ACLU Files Class-Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Detainees

The ACLU and its partners filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of immigrants in New Jersey subject to mandatory immigration detention. The lead plaintiff, Garfield Gayle, a 59-year-old green card holder from Jamaica, has lived in the United States for 30 years. Nearly eight months ago, when federal agents put him in handcuffs at his home, he learned that the government was trying to deport him based on an alleged attempted drug sale offense that happened more than 17 years ago.

“There is no reason to incarcerate people for months or even years on end when they have every incentive to show up in court, fight their cases, and win the right to stay in America with their loved ones,” said Michael Tan, lead attorney on the case.

Heres a link to the complaint.

According to the ACLU, “the case exemplifies many of the problems with widespread, costly and inhumane detentions around the country; there is of course great hope that some of this can change now that there is a lot of talk about immigration reform. Mr. Gayle, along with a record-breaking 429,000 immigrants in the U.S. in 2011, is being held in a detention center even though he has long roots and family in the U.S. and poses no threat.”

For additional information on the issue of immigrants in detention, click here.

via ImmigrationProf Blog: ACLU Files Class-Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Detainees.

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Supreme Court to Consider Right to Sue in Challenge to Wiretap Law

From ABA Journal News:

In oral arguments on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a group of lawyers, human rights groups and journalists have standing to challenge a warrantless wiretapping law.

The 2008 law authorizes the National Security Agency to monitor international emails and phone calls without a warrant for each target, according to Reuters and a press release by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs.

ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer argues that the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was correct when it ruled the plaintiffs may challenge the law because they faced a substantial risk their communications would be monitored and took costly measures to avoid it.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with the Court of Appeals that the constitutionality of the government’s surveillance powers can and should be tested in court,” Jaffer says in the press release.

The government argues that the plaintiffs don’t have standing because the surveillance is secret and they cannot prove they were harmed. A Slate column predicts the government will win, if the Supreme Court “holds to its modern, skeptical view of standing.”

But doesn’t mean the law can never be challenged, the Slate article says. “If the government prosecutes a target using information obtained from surveillance, that person will be able to argue that the introduction of the evidence would violate his constitutional rights. However, if the government avoids bringing such cases, then people who are spied on will be out of luck.”

A New York Times editorial offers a different view. “It would not require a legal stretch for the court to find that the plaintiffs had standing to sue,” the article says.The case is Clapper v. Amnesty International.

via Supreme Court to Consider Right to Sue in Challenge to Wiretap Law – News – ABA Journal.

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Class Action alleges LA denied bail to people on immigration holds

Los Angeles County and its Sheriff Lee Baca unconstitutionally deny bail to thousands of people who are placed on federal “immigration hold,” a class action claims in Federal Court.

Five named plaintiffs, including filmmaker Duncan Roy, claim that people eligible for bail are often detained on the hold for 48 hours or more, even after charges against them are dropped.

The defendants use immigration holds, aka immigration detainers or ICE holds, (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to detain thousands of people “beyond the time that state law mandates that they be released,” according to the complaint.

“Although these inmates are presumed to be innocent and are eligible for bail, LASD has, until this week, forced them to languish in jail while they await trial – at the cost of their jobs, their reputations, and their family and community ties,” the complaint states. “This prolonged pretrial detention also coerces many to take plea deals they would not otherwise accept because it is the only way to secure their rapid release from jail.”

The Sheriff’s Department has said it did not intentionally deny bail to inmates with immigration holds, and it would change its policies to make it clear that those holds do not prevent inmates from posting bail for charges in California, the complaint states in a Page 1 footnote.

“LASD further agreed to 1) promulgate a policy that makes clear that the existence of an ICE hold does not provide a basis to prevent the posting of bail on any pending criminal charge, and 2) notify LASD employees of this policy, and 3) review its database systems to determine whether they could modify the ‘no bail’ notation it places on the files of persons with immigration holds,” according to the footnote.

A “no bail” notation is put onto the record of any detainee with an immigration hold, but the Sheriff’s Department said it will look into modifying the “no bail” notification on inmate files, the complaint states.

More than 19,700 people have been unlawfully detained past their release date, burdening an already overcrowded jail system, according to the complaint.

The complaint estimates that 14 percent of the jail population are inmates with immigration holds, and 43 percent of those inmates were charged with minor offenses.

It costs $100 to $150 per night to keep an inmate in a county jail, the complaint states.

“Even as pressures on the jail population mount, Sheriff Baca has expressed his strong desire to stop housing inmates in Men’s Central Jail because it is an archaic and dangerous facility,” according to the complaint. “The past practice of keeping inmates in jail who want to post bail, and the ongoing practice of holding them for 48 hours or more after they are otherwise entitled to release, is inconsistent with the County’s efforts to manage its jail population and close Men’s Central Jail, and is a waste of taxpayer money.”

Lead plaintiff Duncan Roy, 52, a British film director, claims he was detained for 89 days, spending part of the time in the “‘gay dorm'” of Men’s Central Jail.

Though he suffers from prostate and colon cancer, Roy says, the Sheriff’s Department refused his request to monitor his cancers.

According to the complaint: “On November 15, 2011, LASD arrested Mr. Roy in Malibu, California on an extortion charge for threatening to blog about an allegedly fraudulent real estate deal. LASD booked him into the custody of the Lost Hills Station in Malibu.

“After booking, Mr. Roy was eligible for release on bail at $35,000 according to the Los Angeles County bail schedule. Within hours of his arrest, a bail bondsman traveled to the Station and attempted to post bail for him. The jailer refused to accept the bond, stating that Mr. Roy was going to have an immigration hold lodged on him. Hours later, ICE lodged an immigration hold. LASD coded Mr. Roy’s inmate information as ‘no bail.’

“The bail bondsman again attempted to post the bail bond but the jailer refused to accept it, stating that he could not post bail because Mr. Roy had an ICE hold.

“At arraignment on the charge, a judge approved Mr. Roy’s bail at the $35,000 amount. Afterwards, LASD transferred him to Men’s Central Jail. The bail bondsman again attempted on multiple occasions and over the course of multiple days to post bail for Mr. Roy, but each time LASD personnel refused to allow him to post bail for Mr. Roy. LASD personnel stated that they could not accept the bail bond because of the immigration hold lodged against Mr. Roy.

“LASD also prevented the bail bondsman from meeting with Mr. Roy, telling him that he was not permitted to visit with him because he was not permitted to post bail for him.

“Mr. Roy hired a criminal defense attorney and an immigration lawyer. Neither of them was able to persuade LASD that it was obligated to accept Mr. Roy’s bail bond.”

Roy says he lost the opportunity to work on a film project that was due to shoot shortly after his arrest.

The plaintiffs seek an injunction, and compensatory and statutory damages for constitutional violations, false imprisonment, and negligence.

Their lead counsel is Jennifer Pasquarella with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.

via Courthouse News Service.

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ACLU loses FOIA CIA request

he ACLU won’t get information on unauthorized interrogation techniques allegedly used by CIA agent on suspects captured in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a federal judge ruled.  You can read the opinion here.

The group sued the federal agency for refusing to release the records under the Freedom of Information Act. According to the ruling, the records are composed of reports written by the CIA Office of the Inspector General “relating to the detention, interrogation, or treatment of individuals apprehended after Sept. 11, 2001, and held at detention facilities outside the United States.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson dismissed the ACLU’s claims for all the records except for one, which the judge ordered to be remanded back to the CIA to determine if it holds information that has already been released.

The judge accepted the CIA’s argument that the records are protected by exemptions one and three of FOIA, which allow the government to withhold information sensitive to national security and protected by statute. In this case, the CIA cited the National Security Act as the statute protecting the records.

“The ACLU’s only argument is that interrogation techniques cannot be properly classified as intelligence sources or methods when they are ‘unauthorized,'” states Judge Jackson. “It provides scant support for this assertion, and there is nothing in statute or case law that requires courts to treat information about unauthorized interrogation techniques differently from information about authorized techniques.”After the ACLU’s initial complaint, the CIA released some records that were partially redacted, but withheld the 11 documents at issue in their entirety.

via Courthouse News Service.

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