Federal Court Rules NSA Data Collection likely Unconstitutional

Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Blog
By Isaac Levey Legal Fellow The controversial National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects Americans’ phone records received its first public judicial setback yesterday, with a federal court finding that it probably violates the United States Constitution. The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia concluded that the program most likely violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the government from conducting “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The government will almost certainly appeal, and Judge Richard J. Leon’s order to stop collection won’t take effect until the appellate process is complete.
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Countdown to 2014

Posted on December 17, 2013 in Countdown
We know, it’s sad, but yes, this is in fact the last Countdown of the year. We promise to come back in 2014 with even better material as we aim to give you a unique breakdown and topical analysis of issues in the U.S. and Middle East.
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Spying, Prying and Justifying

Posted on October 21, 2013 in Countdown
You don’t need us to tell you we like what we see from Bill de Blasio, the progressive Democrat who seems a shoo-in for the next mayor of New York City and has been harshly critical of the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program. But this week he gave us the best reason yet to support his election in two weeks: he promised to end NYPD’s pervasive, widespread surveillance of Arab Americans and American Muslim New Yorkers.
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The Clock is Ticking

Posted on October 16, 2013 in Countdown
Washington’s nuclear-stakes game of “deal or no deal” might finally come to an end today, just hours before the Treasury Department says it the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) just announced that they’ve agreed to a deal to reopen the government and raise the statutory debt ceiling, ending the ongoing government shutdown now in its third week and preventing an unprecedented and catastrophic default by the United States.
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NSA Data Collection: Fact and Fiction

Posted by on October 04, 2013 in Blog
By Isaac Levey Legal Fellow On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing to discuss possible reforms and oversight to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). The hearing, which Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) quite properly insisted on holding despite the government shutdown because of the importance of the issue, focused on the government’s use and interpretations of its authority under FISA Sections 215 and 702. It seems appropriate, particularly since a lot has been said about this lately, to address some of the most common things being said on this issue, and arguments being made, by individuals on all sides.
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A Good Week for Diplomacy

Posted on September 30, 2013 in Washington Watch
By any measure, this was a big week for diplomacy at the United Nations. On Tuesday, President Obama set the tone for the week delivering an important and potentially far-reaching speech before the General Assembly. In his remarks, he reflected on the challenges America faces in attempting to protect its core interests and project its values in a rapidly changing and dangerous world. The speech deserves to be read in its entirety since it represents the most thoughtful statement to date of the President's reflections on how protecting America's interests and realizing American aspirations must be tempered by a recognition of the limits of power.
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Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing on FISA Doesn’t Reveal Much

Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Blog

By Isaac Levey Legal Fellow

On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a rare open hearing on proposals to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). The proposals arise from the ongoing controversy over the National Security Agency (NSA)’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden this summer. Testifying at the hearing from the Obama Administration were Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper; NSA Director Keith Alexander; and Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The nongovernmental witnesses were Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution...

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The Circus Comes to Town

Posted on September 24, 2013 in Countdown
Welcome to the UNGA – where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter; where the world’s most contentious issues are arbitrated by the same countries that started them in the first place! The General Assembly kicks off this week with remarks from two potential and unlikely partners – Today, President Obama spoke to the General Assembly. Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani will take the stage later today.
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Surveillance Court Releases Decision Upholding Phone Records Collection

Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Blog
By Isaac Levey Legal Fellow Whatever you think is the right balance between liberty and safety, and just how much privacy we’re willing to give up in the name of fighting terrorism in the twenty-first century, all serious people should agree that we need to have these conversations out in the open. If we are willing to sacrifice our liberty for security, we should do it openly and democratically, not through a silent opinion by a secret court which only hears argument from one side. A functioning democracy � and a society composed of adults � needs to make these fundamental decisions in public.
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Adam Schiff Introduces Legislation to Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Blog
Today, Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member on the House Intelligence Committee introduced legislation to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to allow for the appointment of an independent, public interest advocate. The bill “Ensuring Adversarial Process in the FISA Court Act,” allows non-governmental attorneys to participate before the FISC as “Public Interest Advocates” in proceedings before the Court.
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