Repeal the Patriot Act

I have been writing for years about the dangers to human freedom that come from government mass surveillance. The United States was born in a defiant reaction to government surveillance. In the decade preceding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the villains were the Stamp Act and the Writs of Assistance Act. Today, the … Continue reading “Repeal the Patriot Act”

Punishing the Free Speech of Julian Assange

"Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech." ~ First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution In the oral argument of the famous US Supreme Court cases known collectively as the Pentagon Papers Case, the late Justice William O. Douglas asked a government lawyer if the Department of Justice views the "no law" language … Continue reading “Punishing the Free Speech of Julian Assange”

A Primer on Domestic Spying

"The Framers … conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone – the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men." – Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) While we were all consumed by impeachment, a pernicious piece of legislation was slowly and silently making its way through Congress. It … Continue reading “A Primer on Domestic Spying”

A Tangled Web of Deception

When witnesses testify in a courtroom and offer varying, contradictory or even unlawful explanations of the events under scrutiny, juries tend not to believe them. The same is now happening with the Trump administration’s defense of its killing Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the use of an unmanned drone while he was being driven … Continue reading “A Tangled Web of Deception”

A Lawless Political Assassination

"America … goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." ~ President John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) Last week, President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military to invade a then-friendly country without the knowledge or consent of its government and assassinate a visiting foreign government official. The victim was the head of Iran’s military and … Continue reading “A Lawless Political Assassination”

What’s Wrong With FISA?

Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 in response to the unlawful surveillance of Americans by the FBI and the CIA during the Watergate era. President Richard Nixon – who famously quipped after leaving office that "when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal" – used the FBI and … Continue reading “What’s Wrong With FISA?”

Don’t Smile for the Camera

A trial in Great Britain has just concluded with potentially dangerous implications for personal freedom here. Great Britain is currently the most watched country in the Western world – watched, that is, by its own police forces. In London alone, the police have erected more than 420,000 surveillance cameras in public places. That amounts to … Continue reading “Don’t Smile for the Camera”

Giving Government Permanent Authority To Spy on Everyone in America

While most of us have been thinking about the end of summer and while the political class frets over the Democratic presidential debates and the aborted visit of two members of Congress to Israel, the Trump administration has quietly moved to extend and make permanent the government’s authority to spy on all persons in America. … Continue reading “Giving Government Permanent Authority To Spy on Everyone in America”

In Defense of Trump With Putin

As a trial judge in New Jersey during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush years, I spent much of my time trying to settle cases. This process involved bringing into my chambers the lawyers for the disputants and asking them in the absence of their adversaries to lay their cards on the table. After … Continue reading “In Defense of Trump With Putin”

War and the Separation of Powers

A popular way to begin the first day of class in constitutional law in many American law schools is to ask the students what sets the U.S. Constitution apart from all others. Usually, they answer that it’s the clauses that guarantee the freedom of speech, privacy and due process. Yes, each of those guarantees – … Continue reading “War and the Separation of Powers”