12:30 - 13:30
Why Democracies Need Transparency and Accountability: The Global Consequences of the Obama Administration’s War on Whistleblowers in a Trump Administration.

Short thesis

This panel will discuss the global consequences of empowering the Executive with unprecedented ability to spy and kill while prosecuting whistleblowers and granting immunity to officers acting on the Executive orders.


When President Obama took power in January 2009, he said he would “look forward, not back,” in confronting the CIA’s torture and detention program, the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, and the many abuses of power of the George W. Bush administration. Obama’s “look forward” policy gave immunity to the CIA officers who tortured detainees, the officials who ordered torture, and the lawyers to wrongly wrote that torture was “legal.” The NSA was able to “bring under law” its illegal mass surveillance apparatus, with no accountability for the architects of the warrantless wiretapping program.

What resulted is a national security state kept secret by a broken classification system and empowered by nearly 15 years of unprecedented unilateral Executive power with global consequences. The expanded U.S. drone operations are made possible by Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Drones target and kill people around the world. NSA’s mass surveillance apparatus targets hundreds of millions of innocent people with close cooperation from allied spy agencies. Meanwhile, the war on whistleblowers is used as a backdoor way of stifling investigative journalism and crippling national security reporting by silencing dissent.  

These policies will embolden the next U.S. President, Donald Trump, to put in place abusive national security policies without fear of transparency, accountability, or prosecution. Trump has suggested barring Muslims from entering the U.S. based solely on their religion, using Nuclear weapons, and reinvigorating the CIA’s torture program.