Liberty & National Security
Our nation and its people must be kept safe from terrorism. At the same time, policies to protect safety are strongest when they honor core constitutional values. All systems — no matter how necessary — improve when they are held accountable. Unfortunately, in the years since 9/11, too often our national security system has tilted away from that critical balance.
The Brennan Center seeks effective national security policies that respect constitutional values and the rule of law while protecting our people. The Brennan Center works to:
- Restore the Proper Flow of Information Between the Government and the People
In a free democracy, information about governmental actions should be presumptively available to the people, while personal information about law-abiding Americans and U.S. residents should be presumptively off-limits to the government. Increasingly, this principle is upended. The Brennan Center works to restore the proper balance by securing increased public access to government information and sensible limits on the government’s access to citizen information.
- Ensure that Policies Effectively Target the Terrorist Threat
Many recent domestic policies are too broad in scope, focusing law enforcement resources and scrutiny on people whose connection to terrorism is tenuous or even non-existent. The failure to properly target counterterrorism efforts not only intrudes on individual liberties — it opens the door to ethnic and religious profiling, and makes us less safe by diverting focus from more productive paths. The Brennan Center works to recalibrate domestic counterterrorism policies so that they properly target the threat we face.
- Secure Appropriate Mechanisms for Oversight and Accountability
A lack of institutional oversight mechanisms has left the government’s exercise of its post-9/11 powers largely unsupervised — enabling abuses and leading to less effective counterterrorism policies. The Brennan Center is pursuing innovative institutional solutions to this oversight gap.