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"Something to Hide" a the Miami Book Fair International

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November 17, 2008

Author Carl Hiaasen read excerpts from FBI files of artists like Abbott and Costello, The Kingsmen and Rowan and Martin.

This weekend, we teamed up with PEN American Center once again to host “Something to Hide: Writers and Artists Against the Surveillance State,” a special event designed to provoke reflection on controversial post-9/11 government surveillance programs in the U.S. The event took place at the Miami Book Fair International for a sold-out crowd of 700 (in fact, the event was projected on the side of a building for those who didn’t fit inside the venue!).

The event, which aired live on C-Span’s Book TV, featured dramatic readings from Annie Sundberg, Art Spiegelman, Billy Collins, Carl Hiaasen, Esmerelda Santiago, Francine Prose, Jonathan Mahler, Nikki Giovanni, and Mitchell Kaplan; a special performance by Steve Connell and Sekou (tha Misfit); and closing remarks by ACLU attorney Melissa Goodman.

One of the most moving moments of the afternoon came when poet Nikki Giovanni was opening her reading of Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again,” and remarked that the poem read differently today than it did one week ago before Election Day.

You can learn more about the series of events by visiting (check back soon for video footage from the Miami event, as well as previous “Something to Hide” events in New York and L.A. and a toolkit on hosting a similar event in your own community!) Be sure to check out our new fact sheet — “America’s Surveillance Society” (PDF) — which sheds light on the some of the policies and programs that enable the government to conduct mass, dragnet surveillance of innocent Americans.

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