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.

Contact us: nspintake[a]aclu.org

STAFF

Jameel Jaffer — Director, Center for Democracy
Jameel Jaffer is a deputy legal director of the ACLU and director of its Center for Democracy, which houses the organization's work on human rights, national security, free speech, privacy, and technology. He has litigated many cases relating to government surveillance, including challenges to the Patriot Act's "national security letter" provision, the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, and the National Security Agency's call-tracking program. He has also litigated cases relating to targeted killing and torture, including a landmark case under the Freedom of Information Act that resulted in the release of the Bush administration's "torture memos" and hundreds of other documents relating to the Bush administration's torture program. He is currently working on a book about individual privacy and official secrecy, a project he began as an Open Society Fellow in 2013. Before joining the staff of the ACLU, he clerked for Judge Amalya L. Kearse of the U.S. 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.

Marcellene Hearn – Senior Staff Attorney
Marcellene Hearn is a Senior Staff Attorney in the ACLU’s National Security Project where she engages in litigation and policy advocacy challenging torture and unlawful detention. Prior to joining the ACLU, Ms. Hearn was a UN and Legal Advisor at the Association for the Prevention of Torture in Geneva, Switzerland. She has also served as a Legal Specialist for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Tajikistan, and as a Consultant for the International Committee of the Red Cross. While working in private practice in New York, she represented two Guantánamo Bay prisoners in habeas challenges to their detention. Ms. Hearn is a graduate of Columbia College, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.  

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.

Patrick Toomey — Staff Attorney
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.

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.

Ashley Gorski  Fellow 
Ashley Gorski is the Nadine Strossen Fellow in the ACLU's National Security Project, where she works on issues related to post-9/11 racial and religious discrimination, torture, detention, and religious freedom.  She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.  Prior to joining the ACLU, Ms. Gorski 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.

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 with a double major in Biology and American Studies.

Emily Weinrebe — Legal Assistant
Emily Weinrebe is a Legal Assistant in the ACLU's National Security Project. She is a 2013 graduate of Tufts University with a major in Peace and Justice Studies.

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