15 May 2014

House committees take first step to reform NSA

Last week, the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees approved a bill that would begin the process of restoring constitutional limits to dragnet government surveillance. While a praiseworthy step in the right direction, the progress to date remains both entirely too slow, and deferential to the intelligence agencies. Congress should immediately pass the

29 Apr 2014

Hedges v. Obama: The Supreme Court digs its head deeper into the sand

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to consider Hedges v. Obama, a constitutional claim challenging a law that could enable the indefinite military detention of US citizens—within the US—without trial, charge, or evidence of crime. The decision is remarkable, both for its implications for fundamental rights, and its reflection on

17 Mar 2014

Beyond CIA & NSA spying: Corruption

Even before open war erupted last week between the CIA and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), embattled NSA officials had woven tangled skeins to downplay public crimes including lying to Congress. Many observers have noted the double-standard apparent in Feinstein challenging the CIA while deferring to the NSA. Few have recognized that

30 Dec 2013

Dueling judicial rulings on NSA Spying, and why they don’t matter

Two federal judges reached opposite conclusions in separate cases challenging NSA spying. One was thoughtful; the other reflected much of what is wrong with our courts. Ultimately, however, neither will matter. The NSA’s dragnet continues unabated, and only Congress is poised to stop it. Dueling judicial rulings on NSA Spying

01 Aug 2013

Cracks widen in the armor of the surveillance state

This article was originally published at the People’s Blog for the Constitution, the blog of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Members of Congress sensitive to constitutional limits on executive power have introduced no fewer than a dozen bills to curtail NSA spying. Most of them would do nothing to address

06 Jun 2013

FBI & NSA spying revealed: Uncle Sam is watching you, and both Congress and the courts are complicit

The (UK) Guardian published a previously secret court order authorizing dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans without any pretense of justification, confirming concerns raised by civil libertarians (including me) for years. Since first taking office in 2009, the Obama administration has repeatedly extended the USA PATRIOT Act, including the overbroad section

24 May 2013

President Obama vs. his administration’s legacy

President Obama’s speech yesterday, presenting his vision of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, included welcome rhetoric about the importance of constitutional principles, including Due Process and rights to dissent. It may represent the high watermark for civil liberties since his inauguration five years ago. It is disappointing, given his thoughtful words,

13 Mar 2013

Killing us softly

Why Holder’s letter carries little water Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) forced a long overdue conversation in Washington about checks and balances on executive power. Yet few observers recognize the ultimate importance of his actions, or why the Senate’s confirmation of the new CIA director remained premature. Prompted by Sen. Paul’s

07 Mar 2013

Bipartisan Senate filibuster challenges Brennan CIA nomination

A bipartisan filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA riveted Washington on Wednesday. Senators from both sides of the partisan aisle, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), took to the Senate floor to force further debate on a nomination that should not proceed. Sen. Paul’s 12 hours of

06 Mar 2013

Immigration enforcement: a trojan horse?

Comprehensive immigration reform, along with the fiscal cliff and sequester, has recently dominated Washington. But observers have overlooked how calls for stronger immigration enforcement could undermine the rights of not only immigrants, but also US citizens. Conservative members of Congress have demanded tighter enforcement as a condition of considering meaningful