To strengthen national security in the climate of fear after the September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress rushed to pass the U.S. Patriot Act, which George W. Bush signed into law on October 26, 2001. This law gave law enforcement agencies unprecedented powers to gain access to the telephone, e-mail and other records of U.S. citizens and to secretly search homes and offices through "national security letters" rather than regular court warrants. In December 2005, the New York Times revealed that President Bush had also secretly authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the international telephone and electronic communications of Americans without the court-approved warrants required for domestic spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Most recently, Edward Snowden's 2013 revelations about the National Security Agency's global mass surveillance have sparked controversy and demonstrated that totalitarian regimes are not the only ones that regularly invade citizens' privacy both at home and abroad.
The German Historical Institute's Spring Lecture Series 2015, "Intelligence Services and Civil Liberties: Security and Privacy in Historical Perspective," organized in cooperation with the National History Center, seeks to explore these issues in a comparative and historical perspective. Our speakers will examine how democratic governments in Germany, the United States, and Switzerland have grappled with balancing the need for security and citizens' rights.
- Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence: The German Experience
April 2, 2015
Speaker: Wolfgang Krieger (University of Marburg)
- The History of the Fourth Amendment
April 23, 2015
Speaker: Laura K. Donahue (Georgetown University)
- Freedom against Freedom: Swiss State Security in the Cold War Era-and Beyond
May 14, 2015
Speaker: Georg Kreis (University of Basel)
- Security, Privacy, and the German-American Relationship
June 4, 2015
Speaker: Loch K. Johnson (University of Georgia)