May 28, 2015
The Brennan Center for Justice and NYU Washington, DC co-hosted a for a day-long symposium dedicated to examining these critical and timely issues, where experts, advocates, and former Church Committee members and staff who discussed existing oversight mechanisms and explore possible paths for reform.
Forty years ago, disclosures of illicit government surveillance of American citizens led the U.S. Senate to establish the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, known as the Church Committee after its chairman, Sen. Frank Church. These efforts culminated in the release of 14 reports in 1975 and 1976 detailing government secrecy and abuse, and making recommendations for the creation of new oversight mechanisms.
Recent disclosures of intelligence activities, including torture and NSA surveillance, challenge whether these mechanisms are still working. This is a critical time to evaluate whether current forms of executive, judicial, and congressional oversight are effective in efficiently allocating intelligence resources; checking agency abuses; and adequately informing all members of Congress and the American public about the scope, necessity, and effectiveness of intelligence activities, to the greatest extent possible.
Walter Mondale is a politician who was a U.S. senator, vice president under President Jimmy Carter and presidential candidate.
Walter Mondale joined the U.S. Senate in 1966 and won again in 1972. As vice president under Jimmy Carter, he was a key participant in the Camp David Accords. The Carter-Mondale ticket was defeated for reelection in 1980 by Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Mondale captured the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, but they lost to Reagan-Bush.
Presidential-hopeful Gary Hart withdrew from the 1988 campaign after rumors of an affair surfaced. He served in the Senate from 1974 to 1986.
Gary Hart was born on November 28, 1936, in Ottowa, Kansas. A Yale law graduate, he helped George McGovern with his presidential campaign from 1970 to 1972. Hart entered the Senate in 1974, but retired in 1986 to focus on his own presidential bid. Rumors of an affair with model Donna Rice ultimately ended his campaign. He retired from politics, but still speaks publicly on issues.
Gary Hart was born in Ottawa, Kansas, on November 28, 1936, later studying at Yale, and establishing a law practice in Denver, Colorado. After managing George McGovern's presidential campaign in the early 1970s, Hart entered the United States Senate in 1974.
A "neo-liberal" seeking to combine social and environmental reform with enhanced economic efficiency, Hart ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 in a close race with Walter Mondale. He retired from the Senate in 1986 to concentrate on a bid for the presidency, which proved unsuccessful following media allegations about his personal life, particularly about an affair with Donna Rice. Upon his retirement from office, Hart consults and speaks on a number issues including homeland security and the environment.
Hart had contemplated running for the 2004 presidential Democratic primaries, but opted not to. He is the author of several books, including Russia Shakes the World: The Second Russian Revolution (1991), The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats (2006) and The Republic of Conscience (2015).
Mr. Schwarz is Chief Counsel of the Brennan Center, which he joined full time in 2002. Since graduation from law school in 1960, Mr. Schwarz has had an uncommon career, mixing the highest level of private practice with a series of critically important public service assignments.
Mr. Schwarz’s private practice was all at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he was a litigation partner with a broad and varied practice.
In government: from 1975-76 Mr. Schwarz was Chief Counsel to the Church Committee (or as it was formally known, the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Activities with Respect to Intelligence Activities). He was New York City Corporation Counsel under Mayor Edward I. Koch (1982-86). Then in 1989, he chaired the Commission that extensively revised New York City’s Charter. And from 2003-08 he chaired the New York City Campaign Finance Board.
Mr. Schwarz received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1957 and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1960, where he was an editor of the Law Review. After a year’s clerkship with Chief Judge J. Lumbard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, he worked one year for the government of Northern Nigeria as Assistant Commissioner for Law Revision under a Ford Foundation grant, then in 1963, he started at Cravath where he became a partner in 1969.
Mr. Schwarz has written three books. The latest, Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy (The New Press, April 7, 2015), illuminates one central question: How much secrecy does good governance require? His prior book, also written at the Brennan Center (with Aziz Huq), is Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror (The New Press, 2007; paperback 2008). The earlier book was Nigeria: The Tribes, the Nation, or the Race – The Politics of Independence (The MIT Press, 1965). He has also written numerous op-ed and magazine articles, the earliest being a 1966 article on “The United States and South Africa: American Investments Support and Profit from Human Degradation.”
Mr. Schwarz has long been involved in the nonprofit sector. Among many other things, for almost twenty years, he served as Chair of the boards of both NRDC and the Vera Institute of Justice, on whose boards he continues to serve. He also chaired the board of Atlantic Philanthropies and the Fund for the City of New York.
At the Brennan Center, Mr. Schwarz has tried three cases, testified frequently before Congress, edited various reports, and written substantially. While at the Brennan Center, he was awarded the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal for distinguished service in the law, and the Ridenhouse Courage Prize “in recognition of his life-long commitment to strengthening democracy and the rule of law.”
With panel discussions on contemporary intelligence oversight issues that followed.