The Surveillance State and Domestic Spying in the Obama Era

Dandelion Salad

November 05, 2009

The Surveillance State and Domestic Spying in the Obama Era: Tactics to End the Bush Legacy – Panel discussion held October 16, 2009 at the National Lawyers Guild Law for the People 2009 Convention in Seattle.

With no criminal predicate, millions of people have been swept into federal and local law enforcement databases. Many are targeted because of their political beliefs and activities, their religious beliefs, their race or ethnicity, or because they inadvertently fell into one of the many broad categories used to justify the sweeping data collection program. This panel will provide specific tactics and knowledge that practitioners can use in progressive litigation to fight back and expose domestic spying from different angles ranging from first amendment litigation to FOIA litigation. The panel includes experts on NSA wiretapping, fusion centers, data mining, JTTFs, HIDTA databases, N-DEx, IDW and other data collection, access and storage mechanisms. It will also include political activists and community groups who have been targeted by government domestic spying operations.

Moderator: MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD & CARL MESSINEO, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

Speakers: IMAM MAHDI BRAY is a long time civil and human rights activist currently serving as the Executive Director of MAS Freedom (MASF), the Washington, D.C.-based civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS). Bray also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and is a national board member of Religions for Peace USA. He has formerly served as both President of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO) and as a board member of the Interfaith Alliance. He has been an outspoken advocate against racial and religious profiling by law enforcement opposing unconstitutional efforts to target, surveille and disrupt lawful political and religious activities.

STEVEN GOLDBERG is a civil rights lawyer in Portland, Oregon, where he has been practicing law for 34 years. Currently, he is a member of the legal team on Al-Haramain v. Obama, challenging the Bush administrations now the Obama administrations national surveillance program. Goldberg is a former co-chair of the NLG International Committee, a member of board of the Portland Chapter of the NLG, and the Northwest Workers Justice Project.

EILEEN CLANCY is a researcher and media archivist who has worked principally in the U.S. and Northern Ireland. She directs the I-Witness Video project ( which documents the policing of political demonstrations so that the public can receive a more accurate picture of these often contentious events. In 2008, I-Witness Video was raided by the FBI and St. Paul police in relation to the Republican National Convention. Clancy believes lawyers need more training in incorporating the use of video in their litigation strategies. She writes an occasional blog on the policing of protest at