This piece originally ran at POLITICO Magazine.
This week, Patrick Leahy, the Democratic senator from Vermont, introduced a revised version of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to finally start pulling the reins on America's out-of-control surveillance state. The ACLU supports the measure, though it is not a perfect bill. To understand why, it helps to think about something seemingly unrelated: crack cocaine.
Here's a hypothetical for you: Someone approaches you on the street and offers you a big stack of cash with no strings attached. Do you take it?
Of course you do.
As much as we'd like to pretend otherwise, money matters. And that's why the fact that the Smarter Sentencing Act would save taxpayers $24 billion over 20 years shouldn't be overlooked by Congress.
The race is on.
Senator Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced today a new version of the USA Freedom Act to rein in NSA surveillance, and only 10 legislative days remain to get it through the Senate before the November elections.
On the night of October 10, 2012, U.S. Border Patrol agents shot and killed Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. At the time of the shooting, Jose Antonio was unarmed and walking peacefully down a major street in Nogales, Mexico, directly across from the metal border fence separating the United States and Mexico. An autopsy report revealed that Jose Antonio had been struck by 10 bullets, virtually all of which entered his body from behind.
He was sixteen years old.
As Congress debates how to respond to children's migration from Central America, we must not forget that Customs and Border Protection is in dire need of improved oversight and accountability. Here are three examples of how the system is failing and what the ACLU is doing to help:
A court handed down a huge victory yesterday, for two men who were rendered to a secret prison in Poland and tortured by the CIA. But it wasn't in an American court. And it wasn't the United States that was held to account.
The road to Artesia from Las Cruces, New Mexico, is a scenic three-hour drive past pristine white sand dunes, through chilly, foggy mountain ranges, and across flat, open pampas spotted with yucca plants. Artesia, itself, is a dusty town of around 11,000 people, mostly farmers, ranchers, and workers at local oil wells and refineries.