Sen. Frank Church chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence back in the 1970s. During the Senate hearings, he became aware that the CIA had opened a letter he had written during a trip he made to the Soviet Union.
According to Garry V. Wenske, executive director of the Frank Church Institute, that act is trivial compared to the breaches of privacy intelligence agencies participate
“Now we understand that intelligence agencies are picking all or most communication and sifting through it for key words,” Wenske said. “This all came after 9/11 and we understand that security is an issue. But there are a lot of pros and cons of weighing security versus liberty. This is a balancing act we have to deal with.”
The Frank Church Institute is hosting its 30th annual conference, Watching the Watchers: Security -vs- Liberty. The conference will take place in the Student Union Building over the course of two days.
There will be a morning panel, moderated by David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy, beginning on Dec. 10 at 8:30 a.m. in the Simplot Ballroom.
The panel will include speakers from the National Security Agency, the Senate Intelligence Committee, Columbia University and a Fortune 500 defense contractor.
Wenske recognizes that the event will take place during dead week but urges students to make time for it.
“We encourage students to attend,” Wenske said. “Take a break from your studying and come listen. I think students will benefit from it.”
Jonathan Alter, well-known columnist for Newsweek, will make his keynote address on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jordan Ballroom.
Alter is the author of the new book, “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies.” Alter has covered at least eight presidential elections and is an MSNB and ABC contributor.
Wenske expressed why it is important to have conferences regarding serious topics at Boise State.
“Universities traditionally examine controversial subjects and where better to have a controversial subject than at Boise State?” Wenske asked.
Wenske believes the conferences put on by the Frank Church Institute serve an important purpose.
“The conferences help educate students and are a public service to the community,” Wenske said. “We try to pick subjects that are topical and would interest people, students and others, and having something this controversial to discuss is what we are all about.”