This is a companion post to the more extensive version on MyHillTop (an intranet platform at Worcester Academy). Students should consult the videos on MyHillTop detailing the history of Assange and Snowden, including interviews with both of these controversial figures.
This post is meant to facilitate the flow of discussion across classes and involving other faculty members (for example, Mr. Jason Epstein, the Academy’s CIO, visited my American Government class today and help lead us through an interesting discussion of the issues involved). In other words, I want to open it up by inviting students and faculty to discuss this topic here. This post is for a wider audience.
We are looking at the controversy re: national security versus the 1st and 4th Amendments. Are men like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden “whistle blowers”, “patriots,” “traitors”? Do the issues they raise about the power of agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) point to problems so far from the world of the founders that they relegate the constitutional safeguards re: the abuse of power, obsolete? Or is the Constitution a “living document” that can and should be adapted to the realities of the digital age and post-9-11 America?
Essential Question: Do the constitutional safeguards still work in the digital age?
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Click here for Assange’s reaction to the movie the 5th Estate
There is another Hollywood moive coming out on this topic December, 2015:
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Alexander Hamilton founded the newspaper the New York Evening Post in 1801– he saw the role of the press as a form of checks and balances. Here is a quote from the article linked below on the role of the press:
The central role of information in American society harks back to a fundamental belief held by the framers of the U.S. Constitution: that a well-informed people is the strongest guardian of its own liberties. The framers embodied that assumption in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which provides in part that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” A corollary to this clause is that the press functions as a watchdog over government actions and calls attention to official misdeeds and violations of individual rights.
See full article at: http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/factover/ch12.htm
The 5th Estate? Julian Assange – Edward Snowden – James Risen; they claim that, in a digital age, tech savvy citizen-activists need to play the role that the press once did. The 4th Estate–a la Hamilton–cannot keep up; we need a 5th Estate!
What do folks think? What do you think of the ideas and actions of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden?
And, then ultimately, what do you think about our essential question:
Do the constitutional safeguards still work in the digital age?