Founded in 1974 to prevent violations of civil liberties in the United States and work for control of the FBI and CIA, the Center has a long record of success. Before the 9/11 attacks, the Center worked to secure and preserve critical civil liberties protections in landmark laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Intelligence Oversight Act, and the Privacy Act. Its many victories include winning the first public disclosure of the intelligence budget in 1996 and stopping the enactment of an Official Secrets Act in 2001.
In the 1990s, the Center also partnered with human rights organizations overseas to establish oversight and accountability of secret intelligence agencies in newly democratic countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
For decades, Center staff have been invited to testify before Congress, extensively quoted in the media and exercised significant influence in the debates on national security policies and individual rights.
After the terrible attacks of 9/11 the Center challenged the government policies initiated in the “war on terror” that abridged civil liberties and ignored constitutional requirements, without even contributing to security. More than a decade later, the worst of those has been ended and there is slow but steady progress in restoring lost liberties.