Tuesday, September 26 , 2017, 8:33 am | Fair 58º


Local News

Antioch University Trustee Forum Tackles National Security, Personal Privacy

The Antioch University Santa Barbara Trustee Forum hosted a discussion panel on Tuesday titled “How Can We Balance Homeland Security and Personal Privacy?”

The community event, moderated by journalist and AUSB Trustee Jerry Roberts, provided an opportunity for discussion on one of the hottest topics since the 9/11 attacks.

The forum was the latest in a series of community events presented by AUSB, and it aimed to address “complex issues raised by President Obama's proposed reforms of policies governing the National Security Agency's collection of the personal data of Americans.”

“Technology has made the massing of personal information astonishingly easy,” said Roberts, a former managing editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and a former editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Roberts is also the co-founder of Calbuzz.com, considered by the Washington Post to be California’s best nonpartisan website covering state politics, and provides political analysis for public radio stations such as KCRW-FM in Los Angeles, KCLU-FM in Ventura,and KGO-AM in San Francisco.

Experts Andrew Liepman and Brian Jenkins addressed Robert’s opening statement and attempted to answer three key questions: What is the current terrorist threat to the United States? Has the government over-reached? Have National Security Agency and anti-terrorism programs worked?

Liepman is a senior policy analyst for the RAND Corp., a nonprofit global policy think tank. He spent 30 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency and served in the Department of State.

Liepman generally applauded American anti-terrorism efforts.

“We have made progress. [Al-Qaeda] is not as capable today. The notion that the NSA is collecting all this information on us is a little misleading,” he continued, arguing that there are simply not enough people to consult every piece of data collected. “Is the NSA a rogue organization? It is not.” 

Jenkins is a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corp. and the author of numerous books, reports and articles on terrorism-related topics.

Jenkins was generally more skeptical of American anti-terrorism efforts.

“We can’t let our imagined fears drive security policy,” he said. “What they collect [daily] is equivalent to all holdings of the U.S. Library of Congress.” 

In addition, Jenkins provided insight into one of the United States’ greatest tragedies.

“In 25 minutes, 25,000 people got out. That’s a success story,” he said, referring to the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks and attributing the success to extensive, preventive emergency evacuations plans.

The panel included a heavy discussion of the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

Liepman addressed a shift in thinking since the immediate aftermath of 9/11. “It’s a whole lot different think about [the fourth amendment] today,” he said. “If I were to tell you on September 12th, [2001] that so few people would be killed by terrorists in the next 13 years, people who have laughed.

“People need to tell us if we are going to far [with security].”

In the end, both experts agreed that anti-terrorism programs are working; however, it remains unclear whether or not these successes are the result of the NSA's data collection programs.

Jenkins encouraged citizens to take this matter into their own hands.

“This is not a debate for lawyers or for courts,” he said. “This is a debate for us and what we are willing to risk.”

Noozhawk intern Allyson Werner can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >