Skip Navigation
Expert Brief

U.S. Surveillance: Unchecked and Unsupervised

The Brennan Center submitted a shadow report advising the UN Human Rights Committee that the oversight failures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pose a serious threat to United States compliance with international law.

Published: November 6, 2013

The UN’s “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (ICCPR) treaty protects a wide arrange of civil liberties, including freedom of speech and privacy to the right to due process. The United States ratified the ICCPR in 1992 and undergoes periodic reviews by the UN Human Rights Committee to ensure compliance.

In anticipation of the a review in March 2014, the Brennan Center submitted the following shadow report which highlights flaws in government oversight of NSA surveillance programs — one area of concern for the UN Human Rights Committee. The report brings to light three primary deficiencies in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the judicial oversight body of the controversial NSA surveillance programs: 1) the NSA’s proceedings and legal frameworks are secret; 2) the NSA lacks the ability to effectively oversee the vast surveillance programs it authorizes; and 3) there is little opportunity for targets of surveillance to challenge these programs. The report also offers a series of recommendations to ensure the U.S.'s compliance with the ICCPRs guarantees of privacy of communication, freedom of speech, and the right to due process.

Download the Shadow Report

Read the Shadow Report: