Following the attacks of September 11, the U.S. government greatly expanded federal and local intelligence authority to collect data and conduct surveillance. These new powers, however, have gone largely unexamined. Restrictions have been relaxed on how the government gathers, shares, and uses information that is not related to any suspicion of criminal or terrorist activity. The few remaining curbs are inadequate to contain the rapid improvements in surveillance technology, which has spawned new ways to gather information on Americans.These lapses in accountability, oversight, and intelligence structure threaten to erode our safety and civil liberties.
The following essays — a product of thoughtful discussion among policymakers, government leaders, scholars, civil rights lawyers, and law enforcement officials — are crucial first steps in ensuring that our nation’s domestic intelligence infrastructure is true to our values.