CENS Seminar 2 by Professor Steve Flynn, CENS Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Balancing Security and Liberty in a Wikileaks Age: Some Personal Reflections
Every cadet who undergoes training to become a U.S. Coast Guard officer is schooled in a charge made to the first captains of the service by an important American Founding Father and the first U.S. Secretary of Treasury. Alexander Hamilton reminds his newly commissioned officers that they are in the service of free countrymen and thus they need to use “guarded circumspection” about exercising their authorities and to: “Always keep in mind that your countrymen are free men and, as such, are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit. Remain therefore with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness or insult.” Hamilton not only places special emphasis on the importance of exercising judgment and restraint when exercising authority in a democratic society, but reminds those who overstep those bounds, that that authority can be quickly taken away. The origins of Wikileaks and the Snowden Affair can be found in part to the “security-at-all-costs” mindset that became pervasive within the U.S. national security and intelligence communities in the aftermath of September 11. The presentation will outline why always being mindful of the need for balancing security with liberty is vital for both practical reasons and philosophical ones.
About the Speaker
Dr Stephen Flynn is Professor of Political Science and the Founding Director of the Center for Resilience Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Before arriving at Northeastern in the fall of 2011, he served as President of the Center for National Policy and spent a decade as Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2008, he served as the lead homeland security policy adviser for the Presidential Transition Team for President Barack Obama. Dr Flynn was an active duty commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for 20 years, including two tours as commanding officer at sea. He is the author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation (Random House, 2007), and America the Vulnerable (HarperCollins 2004). He is the principal for Stephen E. Flynn Associates LLC, which provides independent advisory services on improving enterprise resilience, critical infrastructure protection, and transportation and maritime security.