The scale of national security secrecy and surveillance has surpassed all previous boundaries—especially in the national security arena, where the budgets, size and scope of intelligence agencies have ballooned since 9/11. Unprecedented secrecy is largely evading traditional oversight mechanisms, leaving policy makers, the media, and the public in the dark. What impact are secret governmental operations having on our democratic processes, and are the decisions that are being made behind closed doors helping or harming our national security? What tools are available to penetrate this secrecy, foster a new culture of government accountability, and impose enforceable constraints on intrusive surveillance of innocent Americans? These questions will be explored by a distinguished panel consisting of high-profile government whistleblowers, key plaintiffs and litigators from headline Freedom of Information Act cases, and expert journalists who have followed the evolution of the national security state for years. Each will offer insights informed by their own direct encounters with national security secrecy and surveillance."
Director, Project on Government Secrecy
Nancy Chang is the manager for the Open Society Institute National Security and Human Rights Campaign, which supports initiatives to restore human rights and promote a progressive national security policy. Between 2005 and 2008, Chang served as the program officer for OSI U.S. Programs' Gideon Project, which supports the fair administration of criminal justice, including repeal and reform of the death penalty, indigent defense reform for adults and juveniles, and measures to end racial profiling in law enforcement.
Before joining the Open Society Institute, Chang was the senior litigation attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. While at the center, her docket focused on the protection of First Amendment rights for political activists, due process rights of non-citizens held in immigration detention, and institutional reforms to end racial profiling by the New York City Police Department. In January 2004, Chang successfully represented the Humanitarian Law Project in obtaining the first court ruling to find a portion of the USA PATRIOT Act unconstitutional.
Previously, Chang was a supervising attorney at South Brooklyn Legal Services, where she engaged in both direct representation and impact litigation on behalf of low-income Brooklyn residents. She is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and the author of Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten our Civil Liberties (Seven Stories Press 2002); "How Democracy Dies: The War on Our Civil Liberties," published in Lost Liberties: Ashcroft and the Assault on Personal Freedom (New Press 2003); and "The War on Dissent," published in The Nation (September 13, 2004).
Thomas Andrews Drake is a former senior official of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran, computer software expert, linguist, management and leadership specialist, and whistleblower. In 2010 the government alleged that he 'mishandled' documents, one of the few such Espionage Act cases in U.S. history. His defenders claim that he was instead being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling and co-recipient of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.
On June 9, 2011, all 10 original charges against him were dropped. He rejected several deals because he refused to "plea bargain with the truth". He eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer; Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who helped represent him, called it an act of "Civil Disobedience".
Jameel Jaffer is Deputy Legal Director at the ACLU and Director of the ACLU's Center for Democracy, which houses the ACLU's work on national security; human rights; and speech, privacy, and technology. Among the cases he is currently litigating are Amnesty v. Holder, a challenge to warrantless wiretapping under the FISA Amendments Act; ACLU v. CIA, a suit under the Freedom of Information Act suit records about the â€œtargeted killingâ€ program; and ACLU v. Department of Defense, a FOIA lawsuit seeking records relating to the Bush administration's torture program. The last of these cases has resulted in the disclosure of thousands of government records, including the "torture memos" written by lawyers in the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel.
Jesselyn Radack is a former ethics adviser to the United States Department of Justice who came to prominence as a whistleblower after she disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) committed an ethics violation in their interrogation of John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban" captured during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan) without an attorney present, and that the Department of Justice attempted to suppress that information. The Lindh case was the first major terrorism prosecution after 9/11.
She is currently the homeland security director of the Government Accountability Project, a leading whistleblower organization.
Tim Shorrock is an independent journalist who has been writing about corporate globalization, labor, and U.S. foreign policy for more than 25 years. He grew up in Japan and South Korea during the height of the Cold War, and he returned to the United States in 1969. After attending Earlham College - a Quaker school in Richmond, Indiana - he worked in a succession of blue-collar jobs before going back to school, in Asian Studies, at the University of Oregon, where he received a master's degree in 1980. Since then, he has worked as a journalist and a corporate researcher for labor unions. During the 1990s, he was a correspondent in the Washington bureau of the Journal of Commerce, a daily transportation newspaper published first by Knight-Ridder and later by The Economist. At the Journal of Commerce he covered the global maritime industry, international trade, and Congress. Shorrock's articles have appeared in many publications at home and abroad, including Salon, The Progressive, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Harper's Weekly. He now lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with his wife, Kathy McGregor, a nurse, storyteller and union organizer.
He is the author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence.
Thomas Drake, a former National Security Agency senior officer who blew the whistle on the NSA "Trailblazer" surveillance program, talks about NSA's commitment to national security profit-making after 9/11. Stating that "9/11 became a profit center", Drake warns that the NSA has become a "jobs program", in line with the military industrial complex.