About Hina Shamsi

Hina Shamsi is the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. She previously served as Senior Advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions. She is the author of Command's Responsibility: Detainee Deaths In U.S. Custody In Iraq And Afghanistan (Human Rights First, 2006).

Mike German, Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, interviewed Shamsi on June 27, 2014. Read an edited transcript of the full interview here.

Part 1: Intel Agencies Straying from Mission

Hina Shamsi discusses how the CIA and FBI have overstepped their missions and abused their authority since 9/11. She details how oversight mechanisms like agency Inspectors General have been uneven, and how congressional oversight committees have been particularly weak in checking executive abuse.

Part 2: Role of Civil Society in Checking Abuse

Shamsi discusses the tools civil society organizations like the ACLU use to expose government wrongdoing, particularly the Freedom of Information Act. She describes successful litigation such as a recent challenge to the government’s no fly list.

Part 3: Impediments to Oversight

Shamsi argues that the government has been using unwarranted secrecy demands to avoid accountability for illegal activities by the intelligence agencies, including abuse of the state secrets privilege to prevent courts from hearing constitutional challenges. She describes the harm excessive government secrecy imposes on democratic values.

Part 4: Impact on Minority Communities

Shamsi discusses abusive domestic intelligence practices and the impact these secretive practices have, particularly on minority communities. She describes the particular chilling effects on American Muslim communities.

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