April 8-9 Events to Cover Whistleblowing in the Age of Government Surveillance
(LOS ANGELES) On Tuesday, April 8, three prominent figures in the ongoing debate over constitutional privacy rights in the face of growing government surveillance will speak at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The event is co-sponsored by the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan whistleblower advocacy organization, as part of its American Whistleblower Tour, a series of events that brings whistleblowers to universities nationwide. The USC program, Patriot or Traitor? Whistleblowing and Journalism in the Age of Government Surveillance, will explore the critical balance between civil liberties and national security.
After journalists began publishing articles based on the disclosures of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden last June, an intense debate over the balance between civil liberties and national security has enveloped governments and civil society around the world. This Tour stop will feature a moderated panel of three whistleblowers, which will explore the challenges facing national security workers when they seek to expose wrongdoing and violations of law. The details of the panel are:
Whistleblowing and Journalism: The Role of Watchdogs in the National Security Era
Moderated by Annenberg Clinical Professor Robert Scheer
Tuesday, April 8
6:30 p.m. 8:15 p.m.
USC Annenberg Auditorium
The panel, along with two other events, features three opinion leaders and newsmakers that are regularly featured by major news outlets to advocate for the rights of whistleblowers. Panel participants include: Jesselyn Radack, former ethics advisor-turned-whistleblower at the U.S. Department of Justice, attorney for Edward Snowden, and GAP National Security & Human Rights Director; Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, the first whistleblower to be charged with violating the Espionage Act; and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, the first whistleblower charged by President Obama for violating the Espionage Act (the case against him dissolved days before trial). See below for more on each participant.
Other events complementing the main Tour stop include:
Government Surveillance and the Press: A moderated panel featuring Radack, Drake and veteran journalist, author and Annenberg professor Richard Reeves. Author and Annenberg journalism associate professor Sandy Tolan will moderate. Tuesday, April 8, 12:00 p.m. 1 p.m., Annenberg School, Room 207.
Students Talk Back: A lunchtime discussion series co-moderated by Institute of Politics Director Kerstyn Olson and a student journalist. Panelists will include: two USC student leaders, Ellsberg, and one additional professional panelist. The panel discussion will feature an analysis of whistleblowing both from a historical and modern day political perspective. Wednesday, April 9, 11:30 a.m. 1 p.m., USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Luncheon Institute of Politics, Ronald Tutor Campus Center Forum. Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information: please call 213.740.8964.
“Since Edward Snowden began disclosing the extent of the NSAs secret surveillance practices, discussions about whistleblowing and privacy rights have been more important than ever before,” said GAP Senior Fellow and American Whistleblower Tour Director Dana Gold. “This Tour stop provides an opportunity for the public to hear firsthand from employees who disclosed abuses of government power first through internal channels and then, when those channels failed to correct the wrongdoing, through the media. History shows that whistleblowers and their allies in investigative journalism are the best defense against corruption, illegality and abuses of power.”
Jesselyn Radack serves as counsel for three of the seven whistleblowers that the Obama administration has charged with violating the Espionage Act, including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. A whistleblower herself, Radack worked as an Ethics Advisor in the Department of Justice. In 2001, she learned that FBI agents sought to interrogate “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh. Because Lindh was represented by counsel, she advised the agents they could not conduct the interrogation without Lindhs attorney. They did so anyway. As a result, she correctly advised them that Lindhs testimony was inadmissible in a legal proceeding. When Attorney General John Ashcroft falsely stated in public that the seriously injured Lindh had waived his right to legal counsel before speaking with the FBI, Radacks advice was reported in the news media. Recognized as one of the top 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2013 in Foreign Policy Magazine, Radack is GAPs National Security & Human Rights Director and a recipient of the 2012 Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award.
Daniel Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst and government contractor who provided a voluminous classified government study about the Vietnam War (the Pentagon Papers) to the media. Ellsberg’s whistleblowing led to protests, contributed to forcing the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and emboldened the news media when the Supreme Court decided against prior restraint in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States. The Pentagon Papers demonstrated, among other things, that several presidential administrations had lied to Congress and the public about their intentions and actions in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg is the subject of the widely acclaimed documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.
Thomas Drake is a former senior executive with the NSA, an armed forces veteran, and served as a CIA analyst. While at the NSA, he blew the whistle on multi-billion dollar programmatic fraud, waste and abuse; the critical loss and cover-up of 9/11 intelligence; and a dragnet electronic mass surveillance and data-mining program conducted on a vast scale by the NSA (with the approval of the White House) after 9/11. Drake argued that this program violated the Constitution and eroded our civil liberties while weakening national security. In April 2010 he was charged by the Department of Justice with 10 felonies under the Espionage Act and faced 35 years in prison. All 10 original charges were dropped in July 2011 and Drake pled to a misdemeanor count of exceeding the authorized use of a government computer with no fine or prison time. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize, and with Jesselyn Radack the co-recipient of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner 1st Amendment Award.
Robert Scheer (moderator of Whistleblowing and Journalism) is a journalist, author, and frequent commentator on national security issues. A clinical professor of communications at USC Annenberg who co-hosts the weekly political radio program Left, Right & Center, Scheer is currently at work on a book about the international and civil liberties implications of the NSA revelations. Scheer is editor-in-chief for the Webby Award-winning online magazine Truthdig.
For more event details and to RSVP, contact USC Annenberg Media Representative Anne Bergman at 818.378.5417 or email@example.com. For more information about GAP’s American Whistleblower Tour, or to arrange an interview with a panelist, contact GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at 202.457.0034, ext. 137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Tour
GAP’s American Whistleblower Tour aims to educate the public particularly university students about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. The events are free to all, though RSVPs are required. A full description of the Tour can be found at www.WhistleblowerTour.org.
This Tour stop at USC is the eighth of several to be held this academic year. Previous 2013-14 stops have included Florida International University, American University, West Virginia, Auburn, Princeton, Syracuse and Temple. Future slated stops include Stanford and West Chester. GAP secures some of the most prominent whistleblowers in American history for its Tour. Previous whistleblower presenters have included Frank Serpico (NYPD) and Sherron Watkins (Enron).
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 137
Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.