One of the great services of the Cooperstown Library is the monthly Sunday afternoon program series sponsored by the Friends of the Village Library. The friends provide forums that enlighten and engage the community on a variety of subjects. They cover the gambit from fun to informational to serious. The friends just presented a program that was as interactive and eye-opening as I’ve ever seen.
The title was “Government Surveillance” and involved a panel discussion with three area residents who would know something about the subject: Adrian Kazminski, Emily Popek, and Sugwon Kang. Adrian is a scholar and local activist, Emily the assistant editor of the Daily Star, and Sugwon a retired political science professor at Hartwick. They presented different ways that government surveillance affects us.
Adrian brought up the Fourth Amendment and how it can be easily violated by today’s technology. Emily spoke about the daily intrusions on our lives such as surveillance cameras on Main Street in Oneonta looking at license plates, or the ads that appear on our computer screens that are associated with websites we have recently accessed. Sugwon discussed the history of surveillance and how it has advanced over the last century.
The discussion was then opened up to the audience for questions and comments. Not surprisingly there were references to the NSA’s tapping of phones and the CIA spying on the Senate committee that was supposed to be overseeing that federal agency. These observations certainly raised questions about abuse and overreach.
One local resident noted that government surveillance predates current technology. When he worked at a newspaper in Tennessee a generation ago they discovered a FBI agent working under cover. It reminded me of an episode of the old “Lou Grant” TV series where that newspaper found out a CIA agent was planted on staff and they never discovered who it was.