Center for American Progress

ADVISORY: FISA – Safeguarding Both Security and Freedom
Press Advisory

ADVISORY: FISA – Safeguarding Both Security and Freedom

Washington, DC – How can we make sure that America is listening when al Qaeda calls–and that the freedoms of ordinary Americans are preserved? The Center for American Progress will host a two-part event examining the recent amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The first panel will feature prominent bloggers and activists who have led the campaign to rein in the administration’s quest for expansive powers. Find out what tactics and methods they’ve used and what their next steps will be once the surveillance program comes up for reauthorization in six months. This will be followed by a discussion with experts on national security and civil liberties who will explore the problems with the recent legislation and how Congress should address these problems in the coming months.

Panel Discussion: Bloggers and Online Activists

Featured Panelists:
Spencer Ackerman, Reporter/Blogger,
Nita Chaudhary, Political Action
Caroline Fredrickson, Director, Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union
Julian Sanchez, Contributing Editor, Reason magazine

Moderated by:
Faiz Shakir, Research Director, Center for American Progress

Panel Discussion: Restoring Checks and Balances

Featured Panelists:
Mary DeRosa, Chief Counsel for National Security, Senate Judiciary Committee
Former U.S. Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-OK)
Morton H. Halperin, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Kate Martin, Director, Center for National Security Studies

Moderated by:
Mark Agrast, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Program Agenda:

10:30 A.M. – 11:45 P.M.
Panel Discussion: Bloggers and Online Activists

Bloggers and online activists have been at the forefront of raising awareness about the civil liberties and legal implications relating to the Bush administration’s spying activities.

Citizen journalists and grassroots organizers have challenged the administration’s assertions about the legality of the warrantless wiretapping program. With persistence and shared efforts, these activists have uncovered disturbing examples of administration attempts to mislead and dissemble about its surveillance programs.

Most recently, they have reacted with disdain to the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments, and they have been working to inform others about the ramifications of those changes.

11:45 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Light Lunch

12:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.
Panel Discussion: Restoring Checks and Balances

Nearly 30 years ago, Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to strike a balance between the government’s need for foreign intelligence information and the constitutional requirement that Americans not be subject to electronic eavesdropping without a court order. The statute has been amended many times to ensure that our intelligence capabilities keep pace with advances in technology, but for three decades the core requirement that the government must get a warrant to spy on Americans in the United States remained intact. That abruptly changed on August 5, when the president signed legislation which permits the government to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant as long as the “target” of the surveillance is located outside the United States.

This and other sweeping changes to FISA were enacted with virtually no public debate as Congress prepared to leave for the August recess. The legislation is set to expire in six months, and congressional leaders have vowed to reconsider it once Congress reconvenes in September.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Program: 10:30am to 1:30pm
Admission is free.

Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

RSVP for this Event

For more information, please call 202.741.6246.


Spencer Ackerman is a Reporter/Blogger for, covering national security. He’s also a senior correspondent for The American Prospect and national security correspondent for the Washington Monthly.

Nita Chaudhary currently leads Political Action’s campaign to end the war in Iraq. She also leads Political Action’s work on civil liberties, censure, and other issues. Previously, she was the Director of Online Organizing for the Democratic National Committee. She has also worked for People for the American Way. At PFAW she held several positions, including Media Research Analyst, Online Editor, and Online Organizer. Nita was born and raised in New York City, and is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, with a degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Caroline Fredrickson is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office. She leads all federal lobbying for the national ACLU, the nation’s oldest and largest civil liberties organization. She is also the organization’s top lobbyist, and supervises the 50-person Washington legislative team. Prior to joining the ACLU, Fredrickson was the general counsel and legal director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. Fredrickson also has years of experience as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill, having served as Chief of Staff for Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Deputy Chief of Staff to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. In 1998 and 1999, she was a special assistant to the President for legislative affairs. Fredrickson graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and received the Emil Schlesinger Prize for her proficiency in labor law. At Columbia, she served on the Columbia Law Review and co-founded the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

Julian Sanchez is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and journalist, and a contributing editor for Reason magazine. He frequently writes on technology, privacy, and sexual politics. In the past, Julian has been a Reason assistant editor, a staff writer at the Cato Institute, and an associate editor at Laissez Faire Books. He studied philosophy and political science at New York University before moving to D.C. in 2002.

Faiz Shakir is the Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor of and The Progress Report. Faiz holds a B.A. degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. degree from the Georgetown Law Center. Faiz has previously worked as a Research Associate for the Democratic National Committee, as a Legislative Aide to Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and as a communications aide in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. His writings have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Florida Today, and Salon. Faiz has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and CNBC television, among other places, and has been a guest on many radio stations, including NPR and BBC radio.

Mary DeRosa has been Chief Counsel for National Security at the Senate Judiciary Committee since April, 2007. Before that, she was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she wrote and spoke on national security issues, including intelligence, national security legal issues, and information and privacy policy in the national security area. Prior to joining CSIS, DeRosa served as Special Assistant to the President and Legal Adviser and, earlier, Deputy Legal Adviser on the National Security Council staff (1997-January 2001). Previously, she served as Special Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Defense, as a lawyer on the staff of an Advisory Board on Investigations at the Department of Defense, and as a lawyer in private practice at the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles offices of Arnold & Porter.

Mickey Edwards was a member of Congress for sixteen years and a senior member of the House Republican leadership. He served as a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, and chairman of the Policy Committee. Edwards was one of the three founding trustees of the Heritage Foundation and national chairman of the American Conservative Union, and served for five years as chairman of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. After leaving the Congress, Edwards taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School and a visiting professor at Georgetown. He now teaches at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and directs a political leadership program for the Aspen Institute. He was an advisor to the State Department under Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Morton H. Halperin is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. He is also the Executive Director of the Open Society Policy Center and the Director of the U.S. Advocacy for the Open Society Institute. Halperin served in the federal government in the Clinton, Nixon, and Johnson administrations, most recently from December 1998 to January 2001 as Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State. In the Clinton administration, he was also Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy at the National Security Council, a consultant to the Secretary of Defense and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and was nominated by the president for the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Democracy and Peacekeeping. In 1969, he was a Senior Staff member of the National Security Council responsible for National Security Planning. From July 1966 to January 1969, he worked in the Department of Defense, where he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, responsible for political-military planning and arms control.

Kate Martin has been Director of the Center for National Security Studies, a non-profit human rights and civil liberties organization located in Washington, D.C, since 1992. Previously, she served as litigation director for the Center when it was a joint project of the ACLU and the Fund for Peace. From 1993 to 1999, Martin was also co-director of a project on Security Services in a Constitutional Democracy in 12 former communist countries in Europe. Martin has taught Strategic Intelligence and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law School and also served as general counsel to the National Security Archive, a research library located at George Washington University from 1995 to 2001. She has testified frequently before the United States Congress, including the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. She has also litigated cases involving the entire range of national security and civil liberties issues, including serving as lead counsel in the lawsuit brought by more than 20 organizations challenging the secret arrests of 1200 people in the wake of September 11. She participated in the drafting of the Johannesburg Principles on National Security and Freedom of Expression.

Mark Agrast is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on the Constitution, separation of powers, terrorism and civil liberties, and the rule of law. Prior to joining the Center for American Progress, Agrast was Counsel and Legislative Director to Congressman William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts (1997-2003). He previously served as a top aide to Massachusetts Congressman Gerry E. Studds (1992-97) and practiced international law with the Washington office of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (1985-91). During his years on Capitol Hill, Agrast played a prominent role in shaping laws on civil and constitutional rights, terrorism and civil liberties, criminal justice, patent and copyright law, antitrust, and other matters within the jurisdiction of the House Committee on the Judiciary. He was also responsible for legal issues within the jurisdiction of the House International Relations Committee, including the implementation of international agreements on human rights, intercountry adoption, and the protection of intellectual property rights.