2019 Cato Institute Surveillance Conference

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

F.A. Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute


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

9:30 - 10:30AM PANEL – "Watching the Detectives: Improving Intelligence 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

10:30 - 11:30AM PANEL – "Overseeing Programmatic Surveillance: FISA §702 and §215"

Charlie Savage, Charlie Savage, 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


"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

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

"Cutting to the Core: Unmediated Government Access to Data as a Surveillance Hack"
Jason Pielemeier, Policy Director, Global Network Initiative

"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


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 Boar
Aditya Bamzai, Board Member, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

4:00 - 5:00PM PANEL – "Return of the Crypto Wars"

Robyn Greene, Privacy Policy Manager, Facebook
Jim Baker, Director of National Security and Cybersecurity, R Street Institute
Matthew Blaze, Professor of Law and Chair of the Department of Computer Science, Georgetown University



To register to attend this event, click a button below and then submit the secure web form by 9:00AM EST on Thursday, December 5, 2019. If you have any questions pertaining to registration, you may e-mail events@cato.org.

(Reception to follow)

If you can't make it to the event, you can watch it live online at www.cato.org/live and join the conversation on Twitter using #CatoSpyCon. Follow @CatoEvents on Twitter to get future event updates, live streams, and videos from the Cato Institute.