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Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg Headlines Free Constitution Day Symposium, Sept. 17

Panel Discussion on Surveillance Technology and Privacy in Today’s Society Also Includes ACLU’s Kade Crockford and Artist Hasan Elahi

Posted 08.13.14 by MICA COMMUNICATIONS

Daniel Ellsberg.

BALTIMORE - Daniel Ellsberg, author, former U.S. military analyst and one of the most prominent political whistleblowers in U.S. history, will headline Constitution Day, a free annual symposium co-sponsored by MICA and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD). The panel, moderated by WYPR's The Signal producer and MICA faculty member Aaron Henkin, will also include Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty project at the ACLU of Massachusetts, and interdisciplinary artist Hasan Elahi, whose work has explored the implications and consequences of surveillance for more than a decade. The event, titled One Nation Under Watch: Surveillance, Privacy and National Security in America, will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 17 from 7-9 p.m. in Brown Center's Falvey Hall, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.

The 2014 symposium topic centers on the trade-off between government surveillance and civil liberties, considered one of the most complex and controversial issues facing society today. There have been numerous revelations of the extent of government oversight of domestic activities, and its assistance from the private sector, where technology companies complied with the government in its efforts. Through an enlightening discussion, a panel of experts, activists and artists will share their views on the issue of surveillance.

"Increasingly, to live in 21st-century America is to live your life in public," said Constitution Day organizer and MICA Humanistic Studies Department faculty member Firmin DeBrabander. "The private sphere is greatly diminished. Revelations about the NSA suggest it might be seriously endangered-if not extinguished soon." He noted the panelists will consider pressing and consequential questions, including: How are we going to adjust to this new reality? Have we already adjusted-and perhaps changed? Don't we, in our infatuation with digital media, facilitate the surveillance state? What are our prospects for retaining some of our privacy in the new digital world?

"Since 9/11, the ACLU has been fighting to end overreaching government surveillance that invades the lives of millions of Americans with virtually no oversight," said Susan Goering, executive director of ACLU-MD. "Last year Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agency's illegal spying program, which can, and does monitor whom you call, with whom you associate, what you read, what you buy, and where you go online and offline. Now, the nation and the world have the chance to hold the U.S. government accountable. Americans need not sacrifice our freedom for security."

Art has long been a method of expression, and artists throughout history have been instigators of change-engaging society in conversation about pressing issues. Established in 2005, Constitution Day continues the College's tradition of leadership in raising and exploring important political issues.

In addition to free tickets distributed in advance to the MICA and ACLU communities, a limited number of free tickets will be available to the general public starting at 3 p.m. on the day of the event.

About the Constitution Day participants:
Daniel Ellsberg was the first person in America to be arrested for leaking top-secret documents, which became known as "Pentagon Papers," released in 1971. His actions revealed how the U.S. public was misinformed about the Vietnam War, which impacted the war and then-President Richard Nixon's term. Ellsberg is the subject of the Academy Award nominated feature-length documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in the World, and author of three books. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Kade Crockford is the director of the Technology for Liberty project at the ACLU of Massachusetts, where she conducts research, writes, organizes and lobbies on matters at the intersection of technology and surveillance. Crockford blogs at Privacy Matters and has written for the Nation, the Guardian, Boston Globe and Truthout, among other publications on a range of topics related to technology, privacy and government.

Hasan Elahi is an artist whose work examines issues of surveillance, citizenship, migration, transport, and borders and frontiers. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at venues, such as SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Sundance Film Festival in Utah and the Venice Biennale. His work is frequently in the media and has appeared on Al Jazeera, Fox News and The Colbert Report. He is currently an associate professor of art at University of Maryland, College Park.

Moderator Aaron Henkin is co-creator and producer of the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, on Baltimore NPR-affiliate, WYPR Radio. His work has aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition & All Things Considered, PRI's Studio 360, The World, and Hearing Voices, and APM's The Story. Henkin is also creator, producer and host of the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings radio series, Tapestry of the Times. He is also an adjunct faculty member in MICA's M.B.A./M.A. in Design Leadership program.

Creative license is encouraged at MICA, though it is important to note that events and exhibitions developed by students, faculty members and independent artists do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the College.

Image caption: (top to bottom) Daniel Ellsberg; Kade Crockford; and Hasan Elahi (photo by Alison Harbaugh).

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.