William Barr's Record

UPDATE: On Feb. 14, 2019, the Senate confirmed William Barr to be the next attorney general of the United States by a vote of 54-45.

In December, President Donald Trump nominated William Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general of the United States. If Barr is confirmed by the Senate, it will be his second stint as the top law enforcement officer in the country. Barr previously served as attorney general for President George H.W. Bush from 1991 until 1993.

During his time in government as well as in the private sector, Barr amassed a record of advancing policies that advocated dragnet government surveillance, mass incarceration, and discriminatory profiling while pushing an aggressive theory of expansive executive power that sidelines Congress’ constitutional role in checking the president.

The ACLU does not endorse or oppose nominees or candidates for political or judicial office, but we have analyzed Barr’s civil liberties and civil rights record before his confirmation hearing. We hope this analysis will provide members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with the information they need to press Barr on his record and determine whether he is firmly committed to upholding the Constitution and safeguarding our rights and liberties as the next attorney general of the United States.  

William Barr's Surveillance Record

Serving as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Barr writes memo advocating sweeping executive branch powers.

The Drug Enforcement Administration beings amassing phone call data in bulk, while under Barr leadership. The program forms a blueprint for the NSA's bulk collection program.

Barr joins Verizon as general counsel and executive vice president.

Bush launches Stellar Wind program to intercept the contents of Americans’ phone calls and emails without a warrant, and to collect metadata in bulk.

The Department of Justice finds portions of the Stellar Wind program illegal.

Documents indicate that Verizon is participating in the Stellar Wind program by this time, if not earlier.

Barr lobbies Congress on behalf of Verizon for retroactive and future immunity from private lawsuits for participating in illegal surveillance programs.

The Guardian reveals that the NSA is collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers.

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