March 16, 2010

The Watchers - Talk and Book signing
by Shane Harris

Despite billions of dollars spent on this electronic since the Reagan era, we still can’t discern future threats in the vast data cloud that surrounds us all. But the government can now spy on its citizens with an ease that was impossible-and illegal-just a few years ago. Drawing on unprecedented access to the people who pioneered this high-tech spycraft, Harris shows how it has moved from the province of right-wing technocrats into the mainstream, becoming a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s war on terror.

Harris puts us behind the scenes where twenty-first-century spycraft was born. We witness Poindexter quietly working from the private sector to get government to buy in to his programs in the early nineties. We see an Army major agonize as he carries out an order to delete the vast database he’s gathered on possible terror cellsand on thousands of innocent Americans-months before 9/11. We follow National Security Agency Director Mike Hayden as he persuades the Bush administration to secretly monitor Americans based on a flawed interpretation of the law. And we see Poindexter return to government with a seemingly implausible idea: that the authorities can collect data about citizens and at the same time protect their privacy. After Congress publicly bans the Total Information Awareness program in 2003, we watch as it secretly becomes a “black program” at the NSA, then engaged in a massive surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails. 

Shane Harris

Shane Harris writes feature and investigative stories about intelligence, homeland security, and counterterrorism. He is a staff correspondent for National Journal, and writes for other national publications and frequently speaks to the public and the news media. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Watchers, a narrative about the rise of terrorism surveillance in the United States, told through the stories of five men who’ve played instrumental roles in some of the most important and controversial intelligence programs of the past quarter century. It will be published February 18, 2010, by The Penguin Press.

March 16, 2010 6:30 PM

George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW
Room B149 (One floor below lobby)
Washington, DC 20052
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