Freedom Versus Security

Fall 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 –
Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights: Why They are Important to Both the Guilty and the Innocent 

Without the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution, our worlds would be very different. There would be no assurances against police invading our homes and going through our belongings on a whim. We would have little or no protection against trickery and coercion during police questioning. But, while the rights guaranteed by these amendments help to secure our freedom from the State, do they also make us more susceptible to crime in our society? These two amendments represent a critical flashpoint in balancing the needs for both the freedom and security of US citizens.

What are our rights in situations such as traffic stops or police interrogations? When do we invoke them? When do we waive them? These are among the issues that will be explored within the context of recent Supreme Court decisions, and Professor Maclin will discuss their implications for both the guilty and the innocent.

Tracey Maclin is the Joseph Lipsitt Faculty Research Scholar and a professor of law at Boston University. He is the author of The Supreme Court and the Fourth Amendment’s Exclusionary Rule.

Monday, November 2, 2015 – Terrorism, Counterterrorism, National Security, and the Law

Communication, publicity, and propaganda are central to the calculus of non-state terrorism. From nineteenth-century anarchists to twenty-first-century jihadists, all terrorist groups and movements utilize mainstream and alternative media to publicize their grievances, imperatives, and appeals to potential followers. In this respect, nothing has changed in the last 150 years—except for the advances in communication technology.

Brigitte Nacos is a journalist, author, and adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University. She has published a number of books, including Terrorism and Counterterrorism as well as Mass-Mediated Terrorism.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 – Safe and Free? The Case Against a Civil Liberties Tradeoff

Commentators often refer to the need to balance our desire to live in a free society with our desire to be safe. In her lecture, Devon Chaffee will unpack the assumption that the goals of advancing civil liberties and protecting national security are necessarily counter-balanced. Focusing on US counterterrorism efforts in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Chaffee will address the costs and effectiveness of federal national security policies that implicate individual rights. Policies she will address include: the continued use of military commissions for trying terrorism suspects in Guantanamo Bay, the deployment of “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the military and CIA against individuals in US custody, the continued use of racial mapping in federal anti-radicalization efforts, and mass data collection practices in government surveillance.

Devon Chaffee is the executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union and is the former legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, DC. She serves as a member of the Board of the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and she is the former chair of the American Bar Association Subcommittee on National Security and Civil Liberties.

Spring 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 – The Government-Corporate Surveillance Complex

In the United States, we are witnessing the creeping entanglement of corporate wealth and government power beneath a thinning veneer of democracy.  The result is a snare that places policy-making in the hands of narrowly focused, profit-seeking private interests.  With their privileged access to the national treasury and government functions, influential forces are moving the United States to a permanent war footing through a series of decisions and actions that the public never considered, debated, or approved, even indirectly.

Beatrice Edwards is the executive director and international program director for the Government Accountability Project (GAP). She is the author of The Rise of the American Corporate Security State: Six Reasons to Be Afraid.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 – Civil Rights in an Era of High-Tech Racial Profiling

While big data can help address inequities, twenty-first-century digital technologies are instead being used to profile communities of color, monitor the poor, militarize the border, track students, and govern cities. When it comes to policing, body-worn cameras, drones, and other police technologies expedite the speed, expand the scope, and entrench the secrecy of policing, super-sizing the risk of discrimination. With little federal oversight or local community engagement, the technology is moving faster than the law. Yet, across the country, organizations like the Media Action Grassroots Network are organizing where they live to ensure civil, constitutional, and consumer protections for the era of big data. This talk will close the gap between the debate on digital privacy and high-tech policing, and highlight the stories of powerful organizing to confront a growing security state.

Malkia Amala Cyril is founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice and co-founder of the Media Action Grassroots Network, a national network of 175 organizations working to ensure media access, rights, and representation for marginalized communities. Her articles and quotes have appeared in the Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, and many other publications.

This lecture was cancelled.

Monday, April 18, 2016 – Our Culture of Surveillance and the Securitization of Everyday Life

Long before the National Security Agency took center stage, we were deploying ever more sophisticated ways of keeping a close watch on each other. Often enhanced by the use of new information technologies, these are the quiet, seemingly innocuous techniques—the “Tiny Brothers”—that appear in the workplace, the school, the community, and the home. Often justified in the name of safety and security, these are the strategies used by both public and private organizations and by the people who have authority over us to closely monitor our performance, keep us in line, and gather knowledge about us. It seems that there are compelling reasons why we should test employees for drugs, fingerprint welfare recipients, or put surveillance cameras on school buses. We desire to eliminate risk, but at what price? Unless we confront the pervasive and pernicious effects of the securitization of everyday life, we will continue to undermine our individual autonomy, privacy, and human dignity and further deepen our culture of surveillance.

William G. Staples is professor of sociology and director of the Surveillance Studies Research Center at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Everyday Surveillance: Vigilance and Visibility in Postmodern Life.

This lecture was cancelled.