The ACLU National Security Project (NSP) fights for people and communities harmed by the government in the name of national security, particularly people of color and other marginalized communities who are disproportionately subjected to unjust scrutiny and violence. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, NSP strives to ensure that people are able to participate fully in civic life and are free from discrimination, unwarranted suspicion and surveillance, unlawful force and detention, and the injustices and stigma that result from abuses of national security policy. Recognizing the danger and impacts of expansive claims of state power, NSP advocates for a robust system of checks and balances, and policies that comply with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights. Originally created as an informal ACLU working group after the September 2001 attacks, NSP is now at the forefront of virtually every major legal battle relating to national security, civil liberties, and human rights.
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Hina Shamsi — Director
Hina Shamsi (@HinaShamsi) is the director of the ACLU National Security Project, which is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices comply with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights. She has engaged in litigation, research, and policy advocacy on issues including the freedoms of speech and association, racial and religious discrimination, unlawful uses of force and detention, privacy and surveillance, and torture. Her work includes a focus on the intersection of national security and counterterrorism policies with international human rights and humanitarian law. Hina has testified before Congress and appears regularly in the media. She is the author and co-author of publications on targeted killing, torture, and extraordinary rendition, and has monitored and reported on the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. She is also a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a course in international human rights. Before joining the ACLU in her current position, Hina worked as a senior advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions; as a staff attorney in the ACLU’s National Security Project; as the acting director and senior counsel of Human Rights First’s Law & Security Program; and, as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. Hina is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Northwestern University School of Law.
Patrick Toomey — Deputy Director
Patrick Toomey (@PatrickCToomey) is the deputy director of the ACLU National Security Project, where he works on issues related to privacy and surveillance, racial and ethnic discrimination, and the use of novel technologies like artificial intelligence. His litigation and advocacy often focus on national security prosecutions or policies where these issues intersect. Patrick has litigated high-profile cases challenging sweeping surveillance programs operated by U.S. intelligence agencies, and has represented Asian American scientists who have been wrongly investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. government. Patrick’s writing and commentary on national security and civil liberties issues appear regularly in the media. Patrick 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, Patrick worked on criminal defense, regulatory defense, and intellectual property matters at a law firm in New York.
Ashley Gorski — Senior Staff Attorney
Ashley Gorski is a staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project, where she works on issues related to government surveillance, national security prosecutions, and racial and religious discrimination. She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the ACLU, Ashley worked at a New York law firm and served as a law clerk to the Hon. Jon O. Newman, United States circuit judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and to the Hon. Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, United States district judge for the Southern District of New York.
Brett Max Kaufman — Senior Staff Attorney
Brett Max Kaufman is a staff attorney in the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, where he works on issues related to national security, privacy, surveillance, and technology. Brett 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, Brett 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. He spent two years at the national security fellow in the ACLU’s National Security Project, and one year as a teaching fellow in New York University’s Technology Law & Policy Clinic, where he continues to serve as an adjunct professor of law.
Sarah Taitz — Fellow
Sarah Taitz is a fellow at the ACLU National Security Project. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and New York University School of Law. During law school, Sarah worked as a student advocate in the NYU Immigrants Rights Clinic and interned with the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project. Before joining NSP, she clerked for the Hon. Allyne Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and the Hon. Kermit Lipez of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the First Circuit.
Shaiba Rather — Fellow
Shaiba Rather is a fellow at the ACLU National Security Project. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. During law school, Shaiba served as an editor on the Harvard Law Review and worked as a student advocate in the HLS Human Rights Clinic, Crimmigration Clinic, and Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic. Before joining NSP, she clerked for the Hon. David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Layla Al — Paralegal
Layla Al is a paralegal with the ACLU’s National Security Project. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Global Studies and a minor in Human Rights. During college, Layla worked as a research assistant for the Pearson Institute, co-chaired the Institute of Politics’ Student Advisory Board, and served as co-president of the African and Caribbean Student Association. Prior to joining the National Security Project, Layla interned with the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Aena Khan — Paralegal
Aena Khan is a paralegal with the ACLU’s National Security Project. She graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a minor in Arabic Language and Culture. During college, Aena served as Managing Editor of the student-run Miscellany News, as co-president of the Vassar Law Club, and as senior class president. Prior to joining the National Security Project, Aena interned with the Council on Foreign Relations, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the ACLU’s National Political Advocacy Department.
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