One of America’s largest tech giants has hired a new general counsel who was responsible for “helping craft” the most powerful law ever enacted to spy on American citizens.
“Facebook announced today that Jennifer Newstead will join the company as General Counsel, overseeing the company’s global legal functions,” said a company statement.
The Verge did a deep dive into Newstead’s history, and it turns out that Newstead was an architect of the Patriot Act, implemented by President George W. Bush after 9/11, which allowed the government broadly-defined power to spy on Americans.
“Her enhanced leadership duties and her excellent service on a range of issues — including helping craft the new U.S.A. Patriot Act to protect the United States against terror — have earned her this important distinction. She is first among equals,” Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh said in a 2002 Department of Justice press release.
A 2017 BuzzFeed article described Newstead as the “day-to-day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress.”
“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer in the statement.
The Patriot Act has been the subject of a great deal of controversy by Americans who value privacy. President Barack H. Obama originally campaigned on modifying, if not ending the law completely. He proceeded to renew it. It’s critics say that it is a serious invasion of privacy.
Detractors counter that the Patriot Act represents a loss of individual liberty and a naked grasp for power by the executive branch of government, particularly over the judicial branch. Robert Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, has written that the Patriot Act represents “the looming sacrifice of civil liberties at the altar of national security.”
The law permits roving wiretaps and so-called “sneak and peek” warrants, adds new terrorist crimes, knocks down the wall between foreign and domestic intelligence, amends the definition of domestic terrorism and makes many other changes too numerous to catalog.
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