From the AGI Bookshelf: After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age

Jackson Janes

President Emeritus of AGI

Jackson Janes is the President Emeritus of the American-German Institute at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, where he has been affiliated since 1989.

Dr. Janes has been engaged in German-American affairs in numerous capacities over many years. He has studied and taught in German universities in Freiburg, Giessen and Tübingen. He was the Director of the German-American Institute in Tübingen (1977-1980) and then directed the European office of The German Marshall Fund of the United States in Bonn (1980-1985). Before joining AICGS, he served as Director of Program Development at the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (1986-1988). He was also Chair of the German Speaking Areas in Europe Program at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, DC, from 1999-2000 and is Honorary President of the International Association for the Study of German Politics .

Dr. Janes is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Atlantic Council of the United States, and American Purpose. He serves on the advisory boards of the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee, and the Beirat der Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (ZfAS). He serves on the Selection Committee for the Bundeskanzler Fellowships for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Dr. Janes has lectured throughout Europe and the United States and has published extensively on issues dealing with Germany, German-American relations, and transatlantic affairs. In addition to regular commentary given to European and American news radio, he has appeared on CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, PBS, CBC, and is a frequent commentator on German television. Dr. Janes is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Education.

In 2005, Dr. Janes was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany’s highest civilian award.

Ph.D., International Relations, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, California
M.A., Divinity School, University of Chicago
B.A., Sociology, Colgate University

Transatlantic relations, German-American relations, domestic German politics, German-EU relations, transatlantic affairs.


Amid the continuing saga of the NSA affair—spanning from the German debate about privacy and security to the USA Freedom Act—there is now another set of perspectives on the impact of Edward Snowden’s revelations of surveillance activities by U.S. intelligence agencies. Ronald Goldfarb has delivered a set of essays in the edited volume After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), which raise some unanswered questions for both policymakers and the public at large.

Among these questions are: Was Edward Snowden a patriot or a traitor? Should we expect more people to follow in his footsteps? What should be done about leakers? How far do American privacy rights extend to U.S. citizens? What about those rights of non-Americans? When it comes to government secrecy, where are the parameters of oversight, accountability, and responsibility and where are the boundaries of checks and balances to be found?

Drawing on a range of individuals with government experience as well as scholarly experts, Goldfarb assembles insights into the role of the media, the courts, and Congress in reviewing the challenges of balancing privacy and national security.

The red line that runs through these essays is the critical look at how we should evaluate the intelligence capabilities that have emerged over the past nearly fourteen years since 9/11. We are left with more questions than answers.

How effective has the massive increase in surveillance in and outside the United States been in preventing another terrorist attack? How do we measure that against the need for protecting privacy? Have our policies that were designed to shape, regulate, and control those efforts been outpaced by both intelligence agencies and the technology available to them? How much secrecy can a democracy tolerate in the name of security?

The debate over getting that equation right continues on both sides of the Atlantic, but the U.S. debate has been on center stage after the Snowden revelations. These essays are succinct summaries of the challenges currently in the battle over the Patriot Act. They offer the reader an overview of the many different layers of the institutional web of intelligence policymaking and the increasing pace of advances in digital technology in both the public and private sectors, shaping the environment of both.

The bottom line is a call for more transparency to explain to a now deeply suspicious public why and what the government can do, should do, and should not do in securing national security. The American domestic debate is well reviewed.

The one drawback is that the essays say virtually nothing about how that debate should address non-Americans’ interests and the stakes in their own privacy as well as their security needs. Another volume might include a set of essays from that perspective, but directed at the same American audience to enlarge its framework when dealing with these challenges, which we all share.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.