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Whistleblowers in an Era of Big Data

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  1. Whistleblowers in an Era of Big Data Historical Background: - Daniel Ellsberg, Vietnam, and “The Pentagon Papers” - COINTELPRO and Intelligence Reform in the 1970s Today’s Internet Age: - Julian Assange and WikiLeaks - Edward Snowden Exposes the National Security Agency

  2. Broad Questions for the Day • Do whistleblowers help or harm (or potentially both) international society? • What does the rise of Big Data mean for individual privacy and government transparency? -What role will investigative journalism play in the electronic age? • How do democracies handle the tension between SECURITY and LIBERTY?

  3. Daniel Ellsberg – The Disillusioned Insider • Excerpt from The Most Dangerous Man in America (2009) • Worked for Dept. of Defense on Vietnam in mid-1960s, initially supports the war • Begins doubting the war’s effectiveness and its morality while at RAND Corp.

  4. Ellsberg Takes Action • Has access to secret Pentagon report on history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam • Report portrays private U.S. pessimism about war in contrast to optimistic public statements • 1969: Ellsberg makes photocopies and seeks outlet to expose duplicity • Does not leak diplomatic vols.

  5. “The Pentagon Papers” Hit the Press • Congressmen largely uninterested -exception: Mike Gravel (D-AK) • Taken to New York Times; Concerns about prosecution by Espionage Act but still published in June 1971 • Nixon admin. stops NYT; Other newspapers print instead; Court rules against Nixon injunction • Exposes the “Credibility Gap”

  6. Ellsberg on Trial • Ellsberg and friend Anthony Russo put on trial for violating Espionage Act, theft, and conspiracy in summer of 1971 • Mistrial due to “improper government conduct” (illegal wire-tapping, tampering with judge)

  7. Unintended Result: The Watergate Scandal • Nixon admin. (not implicated in Pentagon Papers) use “Plumbers” to break into office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist • Wiretapping and break-ins precedent for Watergate that leads to Nixon’s resignation in 1974…and increases Credibility Gap further

  8. Exposure of FBI’s COINTELPRO Program • Also takes place in Vietnam War era • COunter INTELligence PROgram • J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, and domestic spying on “subversives” • On Hoover’s “Enemies” List: MLK and Civil Rights leaders, homosexuals, anti-war activists

  9. COINTELPRO Shut Down in 1971 • Impact of break-in of FBI office in PA in March 1971 • 1971 – new documentary by Laura Poitras, journalist in contact with Snowden • Surveillance and other intelligence issues taken up by the Church Committee in 1975 • post-VN, Watergate • Frank Church (D-Idaho)

  10. Church Committee: Review of U.S. Intelligence Agencies • Investigated CIA, FBI, NSA, IRS, others • Concern over opening citizens’ mail, intercepting telegrams • Exposed CIA support for assassination of foreign leaders • Substantial “mission creep” by agencies • Result: OVERSIGHT - Intell. Cmtes formed in both houses of Congress, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and FISA Court

  11. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the Hacker-Activist Established in 2006 by Australian Assange Role of Technology: layering/obscuring identity of leaker for protection WikiLeaks initially releases docs in full (no redactions)

  12. WikiLeaks’ Major Leaks (2010) • “Collateral Murder” video, Apr. • Afghan War Diary, 91k docs, July • Iraq War Logs, 400k docs, Oct. • State Dept. Cables, 250k docs, Nov. • “Cablegate” largest leak ever • Released in collaboration with NYT, The Guardian (UK), andDer Spiegel (Germany) • U.S. gov’t does not stop

  13. Source: Private Manning • How discovered? Bragging to hacker • Charged and Convicted in Aug. 2013 under Espionage Act – 35 years in prison, dishonorable discharge

  14. Diplomatic Fallout? • Tunisia and Arab Spring • U.S. Gov’t Concerned about: -Endangering assets/informants -Jeopardizing ongoing programs and negotiations -Embarrassing statements

  15. Snowden and NSA Context • Restructuring and Growth of Intelligence Agencies post-9/11 -Patriot Act -George W. Bush’s Warrantless Wiretapping • Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” series (2010): http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/

  16. Edward Snowden – The Contract (Worker) Assassin • Former CIA systems analyst and Booz Allen Hamilton employee contracted by NSA • Leaks NSA information to few journalists, esp. Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian • A Wanted Man: Hong Kong -> Russia • Snowden in his own words, June 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yB3n9fu-rM

  17. Revelations about the National Security Agency’s Mass Surveillance Brings Concerns about Privacy to the Forefront -spying on foreigners in U.S. PRISM – data mining Email, Social Media, and Cell Phones Justified targeting or pre-emptive dragnet? Gen. Keith Alexander, head of NSA -Snowden made U.S. less safe, helped terrorists -Lied to Congress about # of terrorist plots thwarted

  18. Impact: International and Domestic Heightened domestic scrutiny and discussion about surveillance -The Security vs. Liberty conundrum Listening in on foreign leaders’ private cell phones • Angela Merkel of Germany • U.S. refuses to release Merkel’s NSA file, April 2014 Future Reforms by Obama Administration • FISA Court • A New Church Cmte?

  19. More from Snowden’s Guardian • The Guardian and Washington Post win 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service • Glenn Greenwald, now part of First Look Media and editor of its online “The Intercept” (https://firstlook.org/theintercept/) • The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, who also wrote Inside WikiLeaks