2019 Cato Institute Surveillance Conference

December 6, 2019 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM EST

F.A. Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

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Not since the 1970s have intelligence activities — and intelligence oversight — been as central to America’s domestic political discourse as they are today. From presidential impeachment to election security, from explosive allegations of political wiretapping to debates over the regulation of social media platforms, U.S. spy agencies — as well as the myriad overseers tasked with checking their power — seem to play central roles in the most contentious issues of the day. The common thread is the tension always inherent to intelligence in a democratic society: the need to make necessarily secretive spy agencies accountable to the political branches of government but independent of politics. Yet even as intelligence agencies face unprecedented public scrutiny — and seek to meet unprecedented demands for transparency — the scale and complexity of their work has left many wondering whether meaningful control is possible.

The 2019 Cato Institute Surveillance Conference will explore that question with a special focus on the people and institutions tasked with watching the watchers, including congressional committees, inspectors general, independent privacy boards, and courts.



Julian Sanchez, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

9:10 — 10:15AM PANEL – “Watching the Detectives: Improving Intelligence Oversight”

Liz Hempowicz, Moderator, Public Policy Director, Project on Government Oversight
Genevieve Lester, De Serio Chair of Strategic Intelligence, U.S. Army War College
Daniel Schuman, Policy Director. Demand Progress
David M. Barrett, Professor of Political Science, Villanova University
Margo Schlanger, McCree Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Download a podcast of the Welcome Remarks and Panel 1

10:15 — 10:30AM MORNING BREAK

10:30 — 11:30AM PANEL – “Overseeing Programmatic Surveillance: FISA §702 and §215”

Charlie Savage, Moderator, Washington Correspondent, New York Times
Carrie Cordero, Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
Elizabeth Goitein, Director, Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice
Neema Singh Guliani, Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
Ben Huebner, Chief, Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, & Transparency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

Download a podcast of Panel 2


“How Often Do Prosecutors Get Location Surveillance Orders? The DOJ Has No Idea…”
Alan Butler, Senior Counsel, Electronic Privacy Information Center

“Stop Snitching: The New Landscape of Media Leak Prosecutions”
Gabe Rottman, Director, Technology and Press Freedom Project, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Download a podcast of the Morning Flash Talks

12:00 — 1:00PM LUNCH


“Global Implications of an ‘America First’ Surveillance Policy”
Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director, Freedom, Technology, and Security Project, Center for Democracy and Technology

“Surveillance Sprawl: Tracking the Expansion of Countering Violent Extremism Programs”
Nabihah Maqbool, Legal Fellow, Muslim Advocates

“Spying on Dissent: The Enduring Problem of FBI First‐​Amendment Abuse”
Chip Gibbons, Policy and Legislative Counsel, Defending Rights and Dissent

“Satellites and Smart Devices: Data Surprises and Security, Privacy, and Regulatory Challenge”
Anne Toomey McKenna, Distinguished Scholar of Cyberlaw and Policy, Penn State Dickinson Law and Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences

“Investigating the Use of Facial Recognition in Your Own Backyard: A Citizen’s Guide”
Freddy Martinez, Policy Analyst, Open the Government

Download a podcast of the Afternoon Flash Talks


3:00 — 4:00PM PANEL – “A Conversation with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board”

Jennifer Daskal, Professor of Law & Faculty Director of Tech, Law, & Security Program, Washington College of Law at American University
Adam Klein, Chair, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Jane Nitze, Board Member, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Aditya Bamzai, Board Member, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Download a podcast of the Panel 3

4:15 — 5:20PM PANEL – “Return of the Crypto Wars”

Sean Gallagher, Moderator, IT Editor and National Security Editor, Ars Technica
Robyn Greene, Privacy Policy Manager, Facebook
Jim Baker, Director of National Security and Cybersecurity, R Street Institute
Brad Wiegmann, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice

Download a podcast of the Panel 4


Julian Sanchez, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute