Jameel Jaffer

Jameel Jaffer

Founding Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

Jameel Jaffer is the founding director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which works to protect and expand the freedoms of speech and the press through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Until recently, Jaffer was deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, in which role he oversaw the ACLU’s work relating to free speech, privacy, technology, national security, and international human rights. 

Jaffer has litigated some of the most significant post-9/11 cases relating to national security and civil liberties, including cases concerning detention, interrogation, surveillance, targeted killing, and government secrecy. He co-led the litigation that resulted in the publication of the Bush administration’s “torture memos”—a lawsuit the New York Times described as “among the most successful in the history of public disclosure.” More recently, he led the ACLU’s litigation that resulted in the publication of the Obama administration’s “drone memos.”