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After Snowden -- Spies, Lies and Secrets in a Transparent World

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

Everyone does it " but no one talks about it " until now. The Snowden revelations of extensive American surveillance operations has upset the world of international relations in a dramatic fashion, yet the United States is not the only country that spies. Is spying allowed under international law? Can surveillance and spying be reconciled with democratic values of privacy, civil liberties and transparency? Are surveillance operations effective, and how do we measure success? What reforms should the world demand to restrain surveillance? If we go too far in shackling intelligence agencies, do we risk another 9/11? This course will examine the special problems of surveillance and spying for democratic societies, with a particular focus on the United States and its experience as the world’s oldest constitutional democracy administering the world’s most pervasive intelligence apparatus.

This course will begin with the origins of American spying, the creation of the intelligence community during the Cold War and the reforms of the 1970's. We then turn to the post-September 11 era, focusing on surveillance, interrogation, and covert operations. You will play a role as spy, human rights activist, or political leader in hands-on simulations. On a lighter note, we will look at spies in the movies and popular culture.

Students will gain an in depth knowledge of the history and current controversies involving the American intelligence community; engage in analytical thinking about controversial topics from both sides of the issue; and have the opportunity to improve their persuasive writing and oral communications skills.

A basic high school course in American history and/or contemporary issues would be helpful preparation.

Note: Mr. Edgar is a visiting fellow at Brown University's Watson Center. From 2009 to 2011 he served under President Obama as the first-ever director of privacy and civil liberties for the White House National Security Staff, focusing on cybersecurity, open government, and data privacy initiatives. Under President Bush, from 2006 to 2009, he was the first deputy for civil liberties for the director of national intelligence, reviewing new surveillance authorities, the terrorist watchlist, and other sensitive programs. He has also been counsel for the information sharing environment, which facilitates the secure sharing of terrorism-related information. Prior to his government service, Mr. Edgar was the national security and immigration counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, where he spearheaded the organization's innovative left- right coalition advocating for safeguards for a number of post-9/11 counterterrorism initiatives, including the USA Patriot Act. He testifies before Congress and appears in major television, radio, and print media.