About the ACLU's National Security Project
The ACLU's National Security Project (NSP) advocates for national security policies that are consistent with the Constitution, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights. The Project litigates cases relating to detention, torture, discrimination, surveillance, censorship, and secrecy. Originally created as an informal working group after the September 2001 attacks, the National Security Project is now at the forefront of virtually every major legal battle relating to national security, civil liberties, and human rights.
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Jameel Jaffer — Director, Center for Democracy
Jameel Jaffer directed the National Security Project from 2007 – 2010 and is currently the Director of the ACLU's Center for Democracy. He has litigated cases concerning the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the FBI's use of "national security letters," the government's practice of ideological exclusion, and the abuse and torture of prisoners held at Guantánamo and other U.S. detention centers overseas. He has testified before Congress about issues relating to government surveillance and, since 2004, he has served as a human rights monitor for the military commissions at Guantánamo. His book, Administration of Torture (co-authored with Open Society Justice Institute attorney Amrit Singh), was published by Columbia University Press in 2007. Prior to joining the staff of the ACLU, he served as law clerk to Hon. Amalya L. Kearse, United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, and Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada. He is a graduate of Williams College, Cambridge University, and Harvard Law School.
Hina Shamsi — Director, National Security Project
Hina Shamsi is the Director of the ACLU's National Security Project. She engages in civil liberties and human rights litigation, research, and policy advocacy on issues including the freedoms of speech and association, torture, detention, and post-9/11 discrimination against racial and religious minorities. Her work has included a focus on the intersection of national security and counterterrorism policies and international human rights and humanitarian law. She is the author and coauthor of publications on torture, targeted killing, extraordinary rendition, and privacy and surveillance, and has monitored and reported on the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. She is a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a course on International Human Rights Advocacy. Ms. Shamsi previously worked as the Acting Director of Human Rights First's Law & Security Program and then as a Staff Attorney in the ACLU's National Security Project. Before returning to the ACLU in her current position, Ms. Shamsi served as Senior Advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Northwestern University School of Law.
Zachary Katznelson — Senior Staff Attorney
Zachary Katznelson is a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Security Project. He focuses on accountability for abuse, torture, and other crimes committed in the name of combating terrorism, and on privacy and surveillance matters, including the intersection between civil liberties and cyber security. During the course of his career, he has specialized in a blend of legal, public, and diplomatic advocacy while bringing cases concerning national security and civil rights issues. Mr. Katznelson served as the Legal Director of the British NGO Reprieve, where he oversaw litigation on behalf of dozens of Guantánamo Bay prisoners and investigation of the CIA's extraordinary rendition and secret prisons program. He also has worked on a range of human rights issues. Most recently, on behalf of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, he represented juveniles unconstitutionally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mr. Katznelson received his law degree from the New York University School of Law and his Bachelors degree from Brown University. Following law school, he clerked for then-Chief Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District of California.
Nusrat Choudhury — Staff Attorney
Nusrat Choudhury is a Staff Attorney in the ACLU's National Security Project. She litigates cases concerning post-9/11 civil rights and civil liberties violations, including a challenge to the federal government's administration of the No-Fly List and a challenge to the role of U.S. government officials in the illegal detention, rendition, and coercive interrogation of a U.S. citizen in East Africa. Ms. Choudhury pursues strategies to combat racial profiling and other infringements of the civil rights and liberties of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities post-9/11. She received her B.A. from Columbia University, and is a graduate of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Yale Law School. Prior to joining NSP, Ms. Choudhury worked as a Marvin A. Karpatkin Fellow in the ACLU's Racial Justice Program, and served as a clerk for Judge Barrington D. Parker in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and for Judge Denise Cote in the Southern District of New York.
Alex Abdo — Staff Attorney
Alex Abdo is a Staff Attorney in the ACLU's National Security Project. He has been involved in the litigation of cases concerning the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the treatment of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Navy brig in South Carolina. Mr. Abdo is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. Prior to working at the ACLU, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Barbara M.G. Lynn, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, and to the Hon. Rosemary Barkett, United States Circuit Judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Brett Kaufman — Fellow
Brett Kaufman is a National Security Fellow in the ACLU's National Security Project. Mr. Kaufman is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Texas School of Law, where he was Book Review Editor of the Texas Law Review and a Human Rights Scholar at the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. After graduation from law school, Mr. Kaufman spent one year in Israel, serving first as a foreign law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Asher Dan Grunis and then as a volunteer attorney at Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. He next completed two clerkships in New York City—with the Hon. Robert D. Sack of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and with Judge Richard J. Holwell and (after Judge Holwell’s resignation) Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Patrick Toomey — Fellow
Patrick Toomey is a National Security Fellow in the ACLU’s National Security Project, where he works on issues related to electronic surveillance, national security prosecutions, whistle-blowing, and racial profiling. Mr. Toomey is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. After graduating from law school, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Nancy Gertner, United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts, and to the Hon. Barrington D. Parker, United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to joining the ACLU, Mr. Toomey worked on criminal defense, regulatory defense, and intellectual property matters at a law firm in New York.
Avinash Samarth — Paralegal
Avinash Samarth is a Paralegal in the ACLU's National Security Project. He is a 2011 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Zach Levine — Legal Assistant
Zach Levine is a Legal Assistant in the ACLU's National Security Project. He is a 2012 graduate of Columbia University.
Sameera Rahman — Legal Assistant
Sameera Rahman is a Legal Assistant in the ACLU's National Security Project. She is a 2012 graduate of Yale University.