Blog of Rights

Michelle
Richardson

Michelle Richardson (@Richardson_Mich) is a Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office where she focuses on national security and government transparency issues such as the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, cybersecurity, state secrets and the Freedom of Information Act. Before coming to the ACLU in 2006, Richardson served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee where she specialized in national security, civil rights and constitutional issues for Democratic Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.).

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The USA FREEDOM Act is Real Spying Reform

The USA FREEDOM Act is Real Spying Reform

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:11am
Over the last several months, members of Congress have introduced at least two dozen spying reform and transparency bills. Today, a new proposal called the USA FREEDOM Act from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was introduced to significantly limit the collection and use of Americans' information under our nation's spying laws. The ACLU strongly supports the legislation.
Government surveillance oversight

Congress Shouldn't Settle for the President's Opening Offer on NSA Reform

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:28pm

This is the first post in a three-part series.

Less than a year after the NSA's dragnet surveillance of Americans was first exposed to public scrutiny, the president has formally issued a proposal to end the bulk collection of our phone records.…

The Nine Things You Should Know About the NSA Recommendations From the President’s Review Group

The Nine Things You Should Know About the NSA Recommendations From the President’s Review Group

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:00am

The President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies just issued a report that unequivocally rejected the notion that privacy and civil liberties must be sacrificed in order to achieve a balance with national security. Liberty and Security in a Changing World includes 46 recommendations for how to reform Intelligence Community programs and practices, several of which would go a long way toward protecting Americans' rights. Here are the nine most important things you need to know about those recommendations.

Dianne Feinstein's Fake Surveillance Reform Bill

Dianne Feinstein's Fake Surveillance Reform Bill

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:55am

This was originally posted on The Guardian.

Members of Congress have introduced almost 30 separate bills to rein in NSA spying, increase transparency, or rework the secret court process that has sanctioned these programs. Two pieces of…

NSA Legislation Since the Leaks Began

NSA Legislation Since the Leaks Began

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Robyn Greene, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:48am

Since the Guardian published the FISA Court order mandating Verizon Business Network Services hand over all its customers' phone records to the National Security Agency in early June, Congress has responded with bill after bill to rein in the NSA's…

Congressional Momentum Against NSA Spying Continues to Grow

Congressional Momentum Against NSA Spying Continues to Grow

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:01pm

To hear some in the press tell it, Congress could not be more indifferent to the recent revelations that the NSA is collecting all of the phone records of all law-abiding Americans. This isn't entirely an unfair conclusion to draw, however rash. Congress,…

Five Surveillance Myths Stalling NSA Reform, Debunked

Five Surveillance Myths Stalling NSA Reform, Debunked

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:57pm

These piece ran originally at The Guardian.

As you cruise the internet, check Facebook or shoot out a few tweets today, you might notice something strange: a massive digital protest aimed at stopping the NSA surveillance machine. Over 6,000…

The NSA Can Only Spy With A Little Help From Its Feds

The NSA Can Only Spy With A Little Help From Its Feds

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:51pm

This week the ACLU published a damning report chronicling the many ways the FBI has abused post-9/11 authorities to spy on everyday Americans. As we noted, the FBI is even enmeshed in the broad suspicionless NSA dragnet of American phone calls.

One…

Misdirection: The House Intelligence Committee’s Misleading Patriot Act Talking Points

Misdirection: The House Intelligence Committee’s Misleading Patriot Act Talking Points

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:46pm

This week the House Intelligence Committee circulated nine talking points to its members explaining why the dragnet collection of innocent Americans’ call records is both legal and effective at stopping terrorism. After reviewing the document, the ACLU has gone point-by-point, making notes that either refute or raise serious doubts about almost every assertion in the one-pager. Just click on the document below and hover on the red dots to see our comments.

Way to go DHS! And Shame on the Rest of You

Way to go DHS! And Shame on the Rest of You

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:04am

A very important government report on privacy and cybersecurity programs flew under the radar last week.

Produced following President Obama's executive order from last February, agencies were directed to explain how they share our private information,…

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