Jameel Jaffer

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Jameel Jaffer
Born 1971 (age 43–44)
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Lawyer
Known for Human rights work

Jameel Jaffer is a human rights and civil liberties attorney who is deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.[1][2][3][4] He is particularly notable for the role he played in litigating Freedom of Information Act requests that led to the U.S. government's release of over one hundred thousand pages of documents related to the torture of prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Among the documents released through that litigation were interrogation directives signed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, emails written by FBI agents who witnessed the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, legal memos in which the Office of Legal Counsel stated that U.S. law did not prohibit the President from authorizing torture, and autopsy reports relating to prisoners who were killed in U.S. custody.[5][6]


Jaffer grew up in Canada, and is a graduate of Upper Canada College, an exclusive private school in Toronto.[2] His university education was at Williams College, Cambridge University, and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the law review.[3] After law school, Jaffer was a law clerk to the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada.[6]

Legal career[edit]

Jaffer is currently the Director of the ACLU's Center for Democracy.

In 2004, Jaffer litigated the first successful constitutional challenge to the USA Patriot Act, obtaining a federal court ruling that invalidated the "national security letter" provision.[7] After Congress amended the law, the federal district court invalidated the provision again in 2007.[8]

In 2006, Jaffer filed a case challenging the Bush administration's refusal to issue a visa to Tariq Ramadan, a well-known Islamic thinker.[9] The case was brought on behalf of the American Association of Religion, the American Association of University Professors, and PEN American Center. A federal appeals court sided with Jaffer and his clients in 2009, finding that the exclusion of Professor Ramadan was unconstitutional.[9] After that ruling, the Obama administration reversed the exclusion of Dr. Ramadan and issued him a visa.[10]

Community Events[edit]

Jaffer was invited to celebrate Ramadan at the White House in 2009.[11]


  1. ^ "Jameel Jaffer". Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Iain Marlow (2009-08-30). "How Canadian lawyer unearthed U.S. torture documents". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. 
  3. ^ a b "Administration of torture". American Civil Liberties Union. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. 
  4. ^ Lindsay Fortado (2005-05-09). "Jameel Jaffer, 33: Watchdog leads charge over civil liberties". National Law Journal. Archived from the original on 2009-08-30. 
  5. ^ Scott Shane (2009-08-29). "A.C.L.U. Lawyers Mine Documents For Truth". New York Times
  6. ^ a b Colin Freeze (2010-04-19). "Canadian emerges as voice for detainees"
  7. ^ Nat Hentoff (2004-11-09). "Cuffing Bush and the FBI"
  8. ^ Mark Hamblett (2007-09-07). "Federal Judge Rules Unconstitutional Parts of the Patriot Act". [1]
  9. ^ a b Benjamin Weiser (2009-07-17). "Court Reverses Ruling Dealing With Visa of Muslim Scholar". [2]
  10. ^ Kirk Semple (2010-04-07). "At Last Allowed, Muslim Scholar Visits". >
  11. ^ Peter Baker(2009-09-01). "The White House Celebrates Ramadan"