About the ACLU's National Security Project
The ACLU National Security Project 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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Hina Shamsi — Director
Hina Shamsi is the director of the ACLU 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, privacy and surveillance, discrimination against racial and religious minorities, use of force, torture, and unlawful detention. Her work includes 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. Hina is also a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a course on International Human Rights Advocacy. Before joining the ACLU in her current position, Hina worked as the acting director and senior counsel of Human Rights First's Law & Security Program, as a staff attorney in the ACLU's National Security Project, as senior advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, and as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Northwestern University School of Law.
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.
Scarlet Kim — Staff Attorney
Scarlet Kim is a staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project. Prior to joining the ACLU, Scarlet worked as a legal officer at Privacy International, an associate legal adviser at the International Criminal Court, and a Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at the New York Civil Liberties Union. She also served as a law clerk for the Hon. John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.
Dror Ladin — Senior Staff Attorney
Dror Ladin is a staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project, where he works on issues related to detention, secrecy, profiling, and the intersection of immigration and national security. He is a graduate of Vassar College and Yale Law School. Prior to rejoining the National Security Project in his current position, Dror clerked for the Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and was a Skadden fellow at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and a fellow at the ACLU National Security Project.
Patrick Toomey — Senior Staff Attorney
Patrick Toomey is a staff attorney at the ACLU National Security Project, where he works on issues related to electronic surveillance, national security prosecutions, whistle-blowing, and racial profiling. 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.
Sana Mayat — Nadine Strossen Fellow
Sana Mayat is the Nadine Strossen fellow in the ACLU’s National Security Project, where she works on issues related to racial and religious discrimination, surveillance, and unlawful detention. She is a graduate of New York University and the University of California, Berkeley, School 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.
Makenzie Nohr — Paralegal
Makenzie Nohr is a paralegal with the ACLU’s National Security Project. She graduated from Columbia University, Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. During college, Makenzie served as executive director of the Columbia Economics Review. Additionally, she worked as a Corporate Sponsorships intern at National Public Radio, as well as a political fundraising intern at Tucker Green Consulting. Prior to joining the National Security Project, Makenzie worked at Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP as a litigation and white-collar crime paralegal.
Layla Al — Legal Assistant
Layla Al is a legal assistant 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.
Courteney Leinonen — Legal Assistant
Courteney Leinonen is a legal assistant with the ACLU's National Security Project. She graduated magna cum laude (pass with merit) from the War Studies Department at King's College London where she earned a Master of Arts degree in International Relations. Prior to joining the ACLU, Courteney was an immigration legal assistant with a private law firm based in Philadelphia. Courteney has experience working and interning with U.S. and U.K. based non-profits. Courteney also holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science, Spanish, and International Studies from Indiana University-Bloomington.