Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the bestselling books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. In 2004, her reporting from Iraq for Harper’s Magazine won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Naomi is a frequent contributor to The Nation.
Statement from Naomi Klein:
As a journalist, I’m very concerned about the normalization of surveillance. We have grown accustomed to the idea that the United States government is monitoring our communications without burden of proof. We don’t often think about how government surveillance violates our right to privacy, or the dangerous threat it poses to candid, open conversation. But that threat is very real.
My work requires frequent communication with sources all over the world. Conversations with Coalition Provisional Authority officials in Iraq, advocates for indigenous rights in Argentina, and activists in Colombia are indispensible to my reporting. Much of the substance of those conversations is published in the pages of The Nation, The Guardian, and other newspapers. But every source asks that some information they share with me remain off the record, and with good reason. Sensitive details are omitted, often because their disclosure would put my sources in great danger. Not because these sources are terrorists, but because even something like nonviolent activism scares a paranoid government.
It’s not just my professional contacts that are in danger. I frequently send emails and call to foreign countries, simply staying in touch with friends whom I have met in my travels. For example, I email an Iraqi woman who served as one of my translators. At one point her brother had been detained because of his political activity in Iraq. Her brother is a member of a Sunni political group and at one point he had been detained. She and I corresponded about her brother, why he was being held and what to do about it. I worried that these conversations might also put her at risk if U.S. surveillance continues to be conducted without meaningful oversight.
Unchecked surveillance is extremely vulnerable to abuse. That abuse can put almost anyone in great jeopardy. I cannot in good conscience accept that my conversations with foreign nationals will put them at such risk. I have an expectation of privacy in my communications, and I have a right to it.