Some say that mass collection of U.S. phone records is a gross invasion of privacy. Others say that it is necessary to keep us safe. But what does the U.S Constitution say? "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Is collection of phone records a "search" or "seizure"? If so, is it "unreasonable"? Does it require a particularized warrant and probable cause? These are among the most consequential-and controversial-constitutional questions of our time.
Alex Abdo is a staff attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. Currently, he is counsel in the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging the NSA’s phone-records program (ACLU v. Clapper). Abdo has been involved in the litigation of cases concerning the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the treatment of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Navy brig in South Carolina. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. Prior to working at the ACLU, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Barbara M.G. Lynn, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, and to the Hon. Rosemary Barkett, United States Circuit Judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Stewart Baker practices law at Steptoe & Johnson, covering homeland security, cybersecurity, data protection, encryption, lawful intercepts, intelligence and law enforcement issues, and foreign investment regulation. He is the author of Skating on Stilts – Why We Aren't Stopping Tomorrow's Terrorism, a book on the security challenges posed by technology, and he writes on cybersecurity and privacy law at www.skatingonstilts.com. From 2005 to 2009, Baker was the first assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security. During 2004 and 2005, Baker served as general counsel of the WMD Commission investigating intelligence failures prior to the Iraq war. From 1992 to 1994, he was general counsel of the National Security Agency, where he led NSA and inter-agency efforts to reform commercial encryption and computer security law and policy. His book on these topics, The Limits of Trust: Cryptography, Governments, and Electronic Commerce, analyzes encryption and authentication laws in dozens of countries.
John Donvan is the moderator for "Intelligence Squared U.S." He is an author and correspondent for ABC News. He has hosted "Nightline," "World News," "Good Morning America," and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” in addition to producing “My Generation” for PBS. He has also served as ABC’s Chief White House correspondent and held postings in London, Jerusalem, Moscow and Amman. Recognized by the National Magazine Awards for his 2011 Atlantic profile piece “Autism’s First Child,” he is currently writing a book on the history of autism to be published by Crown in 2013.
Elizabeth Wydra is Constitutional Accountability Center’s Chief Counsel. She frequently participates in Supreme Court litigation and has argued several important cases in the federal courts of appeals. She joined CAC from private practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges in San Francisco, where she was an attorney working with former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan in the firm’s Supreme Court/appellate practice. Previously, she was a supervising attorney and teaching fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center appellate litigation clinic, a law clerk for Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and a lawyer at Shaw Pittman, a D.C. law firm. As a legal expert, she has appeared on television and public radio, has written for various media outlets and blogs, and has been published in several law reviews.
John Yoo is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. He served from 2001 to 2003 as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security, and the separation of powers.
He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and the Free University of Amsterdam, and in 2006 he held the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Trento, Italy.
A visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, he is the author of War by Other Means and The Powers of War and Peace.