The Center for National Security Studies is a civil liberties think-tank and advocacy organization that serves as a watchdog in defense of civil liberties, human rights and constitutional limits on government power. 

Our Vision

The Center believes in the United States as a democratic society that, in the face of national security threats, respects the rule of law and protects the individual rights and liberties of all.  We envision a growing public understanding that doing so is essential to our national security and a growing public demand that national security claims not be used to undermine and destroy the constitutional protections that define us as a nation.

The Center works to:

  • Prevent illegal or unconstitutional government surveillance
  • Enforce constitutional limits on the government's exercise of war powers
  • Combat excessive government secrecy and strengthen public access to information
  • Protect the right to dissent
  • Protect the due process rights of people detained or jailed in the name of national security
  • Challenge discriminatory law enforcement policies justified on national security grounds
  • Assure more effective oversight of intelligence agencies

A central challenge for democratic societies is to maintain national security while protecting individual liberties.  Since 9/11, the Center has helped spearhead the fight to preserve civil liberties.  The Center was the first organization invited to testify before the Senate about civil liberties violations after 9/11.  On behalf of more than 20 organizations, the Center also brought the first post 9/11 lawsuit, which challenged the secret detention of Muslim and Arab residents in America. 

The Center’s expertise on both substantive and strategic issues is sought regularly by policymakers, opinion leaders and journalists.  Kate Martin, CNSS' Director, was described by The New York Times as "an expert on surveillance and detention, and a leading advocate for the rule of law in the so-called 'war on terror.'” The Center’s principals have appeared scores of times in leading news media, including The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and NPR, and have been quoted frequently in the New York Times, the Washington Post and key blogs. 


 "Years of Working to Protect Open Government"

In 2005, the Society for Professional Journalists awarded the Center and its Director, Kate Martin, the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment award for "years of working to protect open government and freedoms of speech and the press in the face of adversity in the name of national security."