NSA Spying Has Led Writers To Self-Censor

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A new survey conducted by a leading literary organization finds that the recent revelations of pervasive spying on American citizens have had a chilling effect on the intellectual freedom, creativity and social discourse of American writers.

The PEN American Center, a nonprofit literary group, partnered with the FDR Group to produce the report titled “Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor,” which notes that 85 percent of writers expressed worries about the government’s ongoing surveillance of American citizens. Seventy-three percent of respondents said that they “have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today.”

The report also notes:

–28% have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so;

–24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it;

–16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it;

–16% have refrained from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspicious, and another 12% have seriously considered it;

–13% have taken extra steps to disguise or cover their digital footprints, and another 11% have seriously considered it;

–3% have declined opportunities to meet (in person, or electronically) people who might be deemed security threats by the government, and another 4% have seriously considered it.

Writer comments on the matter included statements like: “I assume everything I do electronically is subject to monitoring.”

And: “I feel that increased government surveillance has had a chilling effect on my research, most of which I do on the Internet. This includes research on issues such as the drug wars and mass incarceration, which people don’t think about as much as they think about foreign terrorism, but is just as pertinent.”

A similar chilling of creative expression and research by U.S. writers and journalists occurred after the passage of the  2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which included provisions allowing the Federal government to detain indefinitely any citizen suspected of aiding foreign terrorist organizations. The Act sparked a lawsuit by activists and reporters — including such notable names as Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf and Daniel Ellsberg — who claimed a section of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama in December, could give the Federal government legal powers to detain any dissident voices.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

    And under the Regime of the “Little Boy Dictator” this will only get worse….

    • Chester

      And WHO pushed all the buttons and flipped all the switches to GIVE the NSA all this power? It certainly couldn’t have been George Jr. who did that, with the help of a bunch of Republicans AND Democrats in a congress that was scared to death of another 9/11 falling on their heads.

      • vicki

        Just can’t resist blaming President Bush.

        Well how about you ask the democrats who had full control of the House, Senate, Presidency for 2+ years why they didn’t fix this well known problem?

        • Chester

          Go back and take a GOOD look, and Democrats only had FULL control of the Senate for about six months of that two years, and no one was SCREAMING about the patriot act then. For Waves of grain, again, who wrote those expansions? Obama can’t even write a bill to be passed, but has to ask someone in the house or senate to write it up and present it. Again, Republicans seem to be the ones who are all for the expanded security, until it starts biting them, then it becomes the Democrats’ fault they got bit.

        • Chester

          Go back and take a GOOD look, and Democrats only had FULL control of the Senate for about six months of that two years, and no one was SCREAMING about the patriot act then. For Waves of grain, again, who wrote those expansions? Obama can’t even write a bill to be passed, but has to ask someone in the house or senate to write it up and present it. Again, Republicans seem to be the ones who are all for the expanded security, until it starts biting them, then it becomes the Democrats’ fault they got bit.

          • squeeze127

            The original intent was a knee jerk reaction. Facing facts, it’s been many moons since we were hammered on our soil by foreigners. Bush wasn’t about to spy this heavily, especially with the American Pravda against him. It was also time limited in scope. This administration has taken that Act to all time high level rarely seen by an administration. The POTUS has violated most all of the Constitution he has pledged to defend! The time has come to call a Spade a a Spade. America is slowly awakening. Just hope it’s not too late.

          • Robert Messmer

            However, while we are taking a GOOD look, without the Democrats voting in Favor it wouldn’t have passed. Senate voted 98 For, 1 Against (Feingold), 1 No Vote (Landrieu), House was 357 For, 66 Against and 9 No Vote. It wouldn’t have taken even half of the Democrats who voted for it in the House to have stopped it simply by saying No.

          • Chester

            Again, trying to lay a Republican, by your own admission, deal off on the Democrats who probably voted for it for the same reason the Republicans did, pressure from home. It SOUNDED good until people actually got to see it at work.

          • Robert Messmer

            Not at all, but after 5 years it is a little lame to try to keep blaming President Bush for everything. Everything that Obama and his apologists blame Bush for–guess what?? Yep the Democrats voted in favor ot it then and only complained later. Unlike with ACA that was passed all by the Democrats–they own the whole disaster. It wasn’t until Obama took office that the President decided he didn’t have to have Congress for anything……the President Obama doesn’t need Congress to authorize war, the President Obama just waives US law so he can arm international terrorists. President Bush was too stupid to rule by fiat, he always went to Congress for them to approve.

      • wavesofgrain

        It is THIS admin who decided to expand those powers without warrants. After we were attacked in 2001, Bush was encouraged to devise something to protect the citizens. But, it was supposed to expire…therefore, we have this admin entering the picture. This admin found, by buying Union Votes, he was handed a mafia type army, many of them PUBLIC UNIONS. Of course, NSA, DHS, IRS…all heavy union. This admin expanded spying for his own personal benefit. The Unions carried out any underhanded, corrupt means possible to ensure Dem wins. They gathered info on their opponents,…using this to essentially blackmail them. Public Unions should be abolished. They are an egregious conflict of interest to taxpayers.

        • squeeze127

          Love that Avatar!!!

          • wavesofgrain

            Thanks! Too bad we could not mass produce flyers and mail to every home for awareness purposes. (as if the sheeple would understand…)

          • squeeze127

            Too bad 80%-90% have no idea who they were! Same with Saul Alinsky.

          • wavesofgrain

            EXACTLY, squeeze!! Too bad they were not as informed as you and I!!!

  • Patricia Diane Jamison

    People are reacting as though this issue is something new. Big Brother has been in existence for decades. I realize in our current situation that it is more serious a threat now then ever before. I am a law abiding citizen of the United States of America. I love my country, and my allegiance is to the Constitution and Bill of rights, and all that this country has ever stood for. I can’t help it, but I am a citizen and that is how I have been taught and raised to believe. I am also an author and I write what I feel as it is my right to do so. It is also our responsibility and duty as citizens to defend and uphold the Constitution of the united states. It is also our responsibility and duty as citizens to speak out and question those who are our representation. We mean no harm to anyone, but we should speak out when it is necessary. We all just need to take this information in memory when we go vote in the upcoming elections.

    • squeeze127

      Well Patricia, I’d say that if you priced pressure cookers on-line and another in your family checked out back packs at an outdoor site, and another did a book report by searching the Boston Bomber situation, be prepared for a SWAT Team to be at your door!

      • Patricia Diane Jamison

        During the Bush administration shortly after 9/11 and the Patriot act came into play. My now ex husband was in aviation and my home was intruded upon. I only mention that which I can prove. I have since then taken steps to protect myself, and that was over a decade ago. Since then, when I only spoke inside my home to family or friends, now I speak out even louder. I am here right now responding to you. Big brother already knows everything they need to know about me and you and everyone else, as well as, everything else that is going on in this country. There are much bigger fish to fry then I could ever become.

        • squeeze127

          If that was so, then how did those Boston Bombers evade the system when they would be prime suspects? For big brother to monitor everything that was sent, they would need as many people as are in the USA to listen in. What they are doing is using software where they plug in words that fit what they are looking for. If I were to give you an example, it would compare to what the search SPIDERS do while looking up what you plugged into a search engine. If you search with Google, notice it took .3 seconds to go through several hundred thousand results. That is why I used those words, because of that though, we are now being viewed!

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            That would be because they wanted them to. It fit into the agenda. The technology they have had for quite some time now says, there is nothing they do not know. That means no matter what happens anywhere they can’t say they didn’t know. That is how you reframe the situation and know it was allowed. Their own technology will tell on them as well. Yes, everything we do is monitored. Remember that when you go vote.

          • squeeze127

            I find it hard to believe they wanted to lose them in that clutter. What’s bothersome is that the Russians gave them a heads up on those brothers and they still let it go. Lets me believe that that decision came from very high up (WH). With letting our Ambassador in Libya and those SEALS die, this raises red flags from a very high source! The stench is getting very obtuse.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            No one could be sorrier than me to come to this realization or awakening. It is time to awake to the reality of our situation, and parts of the real world are a very ugly place if you dwell on it. Instead learn from it, and remember the faces and names of those involved and at the time to vote, vote them out. Right now that is our only recourse, peacefully.

          • squeeze127

            The real answer is term limits, there are too many career politicians and they end up on the take from the Lobbyists. Voting out works only for a short period of time as the lure of the big bucks eventually corrupts them. Notice how defeated pols end up as Lobbyists?

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            In all honesty, term limits can be determined by the voters. We don’t have to keep voting them in. Most however, are too busy with life, and life these days has become very hard for all of us. However, the public needs to be informed and they need to stop listening to the propaganda news machines. If we all do not like how things are we need to remember, and or have people remind everyone why we need to vote for something other than what we have, as business as usual has taken away our freedoms and made our Constitution obsolete. The awakening is happening and it is growing on a daily basis. Lets have some faith in each other and do our part to remind everyone so they don’t forget.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            Also, if we have our allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not an allegiance to a party or an elected person we stand better at choosing what is best for this country. Why should we the voters give them numbers of supporters they can use for their own agendas. Learn from this situation and make it more difficult for them in the future.

          • squeeze127

            One Party-Two card Monte is a very good description of what we have at present. Google “two card Monte” and watch the short 3 minute video. Then plug in the D’s and R’s as the two cards and you’ll see what I mean.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            I understand that and I will then again repeat my recent comment above. I will paste it here: Also, if we have our allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not an allegiance to a party or an elected person we stand better at choosing what is best for this country. Why should we the voters give them numbers of supporters they can use for their own agendas. Learn from this situation and make it more difficult for them in the future.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            I understand that and I will then again repeat my recent comment above. I will paste it here: Also, if we have our allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not an allegiance to a party or an elected person we stand better at choosing what is best for this country. Why should we the voters give them numbers of supporters they can use for their own agendas. Learn from this situation and make it more difficult for them in the future.

          • squeeze127

            We do what we must, but remember we are at a tipping point and my only prayer is that LIV is slowly waking up to the deception at hand. At the moment, the D’s are abandoning the sinking Titanic like rats. The GOP is in no shape to take advantage of that scenario.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            Here is a wonderful opportunity for the citizens/voters. How about we take control, no party affiliation, we all become independents and our allegiance is to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights no matter what they say or try to persuade to the contrary. It has already been proven the parties are corrupted, and it is now time for the voters to distance themselves from the parties and the elected persons and have a mind of their own that is in accordance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as to their allegiance. No ONE could argue with that. How about the site we are now speaking on makes that an issue. The table would turn very quickly to satisfy the voters. I don’t know about you but I will continue to send this message out wherever I can. It would be the best thing that could happen for all of us.

          • squeeze127

            You have some good points there. One must understand that Moderate Dems were purged from the Party in 1995. They became mostly Independents with a few becoming R’s. That made the D’s an extreme left wing philosophy and the R’s swung to the left of center, thus becoming Moderates. True Conservatives became ignited when Sarah Palin ran for VP. McCain was so “plain Jane” that it was in the toilet until he got her to run with him. That charged the Conservatives and the TEA Party took off. I have to take my dog for a walk to let him catch hold of himself, then we are turning in for the night. Good discussion Patricia, may we connect again in the future.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            Yes it has been a good discussion. By all means take that dog for a walk. What kind of dog? I have two German Shepherds I just let them out the back door into the yard. :) It will be difficult but I believe that enough people are awakening to the reality of our situation. In all of history of this nation when it was a serious situation we have always pulled together and took care of business. We the people will take care of business now as always. Rest assured I have faith in our people, not our government that is why we need to take back the control. The majority, and those who come here from afar come here for a reason and that is freedom. Freedom will prevail one way or another. goodnight and spread the message.

          • squeeze127

            It’s a Lab and Pit Bull mix, the most lovable dog I’ve owned, and I’ve had quite a few. I think we might have been together in a previous lifetime, LOL. Thanks for the discussion!

          • Robert Messmer

            The problem is too get 3rd candidate on ballots in all 50 states. It is a rigged game we have to play in.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            Indeed it is. The idea of a third party it is said doesn’t work, however, I think today it would, and if there were a fourth party that would give even more options. The Democrats and Republicans have established members of both parties that push the same agenda and it is those members that need be removed from office, as they have failed to uphold the Constitution. There are indicators as well on chosen candidates that would just be business as usual and the upcoming elections could get interesting. I don’t have answers I just have suggestions, and Candidates need to be put on record in key issues. The public needs to be educated, and whatever the mainstream propaganda machine says that is a clear indicator there that we would not want what they are selling. They have lost all credibility the same as our representation.

          • squeeze127

            You must take into consideration the LIV (Low Information Voter) and the American Pravda Machine (Main Stream Media) and you have a recipe for corruption and deception. Term limits will do away with that scenario. That is the creation of The Tea Party. Restore America to a right of center philosophy and smaller government.

          • Patricia Diane Jamison

            You are correct, I have no argument there, and the following comment I made below is a reasonable mindset.

          • wavesofgrain

            FBI was warned about the Boston Bombers by Russia, but they chose to ignore the warnings…maybe due to the radical PC enforced by this admin….., because they were Muslim?

          • squeeze127

            We will never know due to the transparency of this administration. The process of fondling granny and babies at the TSA is more important than following a hot lead on a known terrorist by this admin. PC must be eliminated before it destroys us from within. Don’t see it happening any time soon though.

  • Deerinwater

    Well? ~ You can say almost anything that you want to say, ~ if you know how.

    Telling people to go to hell and they looking forward to the trip ~ is an art form.

    It’s my personal opinion, we have far too many people abusing the liberty of “free speech”.

    Now, ~ I said it ~ that was me exercising my free speech. But ~ I remind myself, ~ anything someone says, ~ is a direct reflection on the person that said it and no one else.

    So if people want to be idiots and fools, ~ there should not be a law that prevents it. For how might we know who they are if they are not permitted to speak?

    So we are left with tolerance, ~ a little or a lot.

    But people do say some very dangerous and foolish things and forget, ~ that Free Speech has never been free. It’s Paid for. ` pay it now, pay it later ~ but you will be”rewarded” for the things that you say.

  • GQ4U

    Duh!!! Who wants to speak their mind in opposition to a government that can arrest you or kill you or worse — have you audited by the IRS.