Facebook taps lawyer who helped write Patriot Act as new general counsel

Facebook has tapped a top State Department lawyer who was credited with helping to write the controversial 2001 Patriot Act as its new general counsel, beefing up its legal team as the company faces increasing regulatory and political pressure in the U.S. and around the world.

Facebook announced in a press release on Monday that Jennifer Newstead, currently the legal adviser to the State Department, will be taking over for the departing Colin Stretch.

“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement. “We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years. He has played a crucial role in some of our most important projects and has created a strong foundation for Jennifer to build upon.”

{mosads}Newstead was nominated to the State Department position by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2017.

BuzzFeed reported that year that while serving in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, Newstead had been credited with helping to craft and pass the Patriot Act, which gave the government broad surveillance and detention authorities in the wake of 9/11.

In a press release from 2002, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh said of Newstead, “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.”

And according to BuzzFeed, former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo called her the “day-to-day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress.”

“I’m excited to be joining Facebook at an important time and working with such a fantastic team,” Newstead said in a statement Monday. “Facebook’s products play an important role in societies around the world. I am looking forward to working with the team and outside experts and regulators on a range of legal issues as we seek to uphold our responsibilities and shared values.”

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