U.S. Reportedly Bars Entry To Leading Critic Of NSA Surveillance Programs

220px-Ilija_trojanow_by_thomas_dorn_232_KBWhile there has been little media attention in the United States, European press is reporting how German-Bulgarian writer and activist Ilija Trojanow was barred from entering the United States this week. A critic of NSA spying programs and professor at The European Graduate School, Trojanow was invited to speak at a literary conference and is well-known for his criticism of the surveillance state. He said that he was given no explanation for being barred from entry.

Trojanow was left stranded at an airport in Brazil.

In a public article, Trojanow denounced his treatment and added in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free.’” He may have a point.

Germans are outraged and I do not understand why this is not a bigger story in the United States. This is a leading civil libertarian critic of our spy agencies. His being barred entry raises a serious question of retaliation against the critics of our government. He has invited the government to explain his being barred entry. I, for one, would like to hear it. If he is a secret spy, drug dealer or terrorist, it will come as a great surprise. Indeed, we generally arrest such people, not send them on their way. The burden is on the Administration to explain such an action taken against one of its most prominent critics. I cannot find any response from the Administration, which has not been shy in the past to release information defending itself in such stories either directly or through leaks. Of course, this is not a story that seems to register with our mainstream media even though tens of thousands of Germans have signed a letter calling on their government to take action.

It is a highly damaging story to our already tarnished image abroad. If the story is untrue, we should hear about it. If the story is true (and the government barred a critic), someone needs to be held accountable for an attack on free speech.

64 thoughts on “U.S. Reportedly Bars Entry To Leading Critic Of NSA Surveillance Programs”

  1. Prairie Rose: “….what other important articles might be buried in the Classifieds. Hmmm..maybe our Constitution since it seems our elected representatives think it’s up for sale.”

    Well done. And true.

  2. Jill, you’re right about Clapper, LoL, trust but verify eh? A good approach. I suspect that no figures anyone would ever see, including the relevant Congresscritters, are correct and that would be by design. How much money comes out of the black budget now goes to the intelligence community will never be known.

  3. Lottakatz replied that:

    Karl Friedrich: ” “Outrageous. We have become so like the old Soviet Union.”

    Except they had free health care for all, free education through college, and zero unemployment.”

    There are some historical problems with your retort but in general touche’.


    Appreciate the “general touche” but in fact the only “historical problems” you note are the fact that as most honest historians agree that the “Soviet” revolution (the word translates to “Workers’ Council”) wasn’t the problem so much as the REACTION by the US & the West to the notion of a TOILERS’ REPUBLIC, which, as Chomsky suggests, was a “rotten apple that threatened to spoil the whole barrell” and therefore needed to be isolated through blockade and strangled economically to such an extend that they turned inwards on themselves.

    So for example say a bunch of dedicated & idealistic University students organized to take over, say, the Berkeley campus and actually did so. The next step is the campus would be isolated & cut off & blockaded by police armed to the teeth. Solidarity amonst the student cadre would hold sway for so long but eventually there would be defectors. The stalwarts would then have to protect against defectors and tighten civil liberties for sheer security reasons. This process would go on & on until the University rebellion looked exactly like a Stalinist state. But only a naive fool would blame the revolutionaries for such an outcome. The fact is if you had an new born infant with an 800lb gorilla throttling your throat the grimace of the the baby would naturally look ugly.

    These are the “historical problems” you don’t quite seem to grasp.

  4. anonymously posted–

    Not only did that very short article in the Entertainment section have only 3 comments, the three comments were all by the same guy!

    Makes me wonder what other important articles might be buried in the Classifieds. Hmmm..maybe our Constitution since it seems our elected representatives think it’s up for sale.

  5. L.K., Clapper is a known liar. His 70% figures would need to be independently verified. We also need to know who is left, doing what. Also, I want to see the payments to NSA contractors. USGinc. hides a lot of dirty laundry by using contractors and working with the “private” sector such as google, telecoms, etc.

    For you enjoyment, I found this yesterday: The cat video festival!


  6. lottakatz
    Congress managed to SHUTDOWN the Government…
    … But they couldn’t be bothered to SHUTDOWN the NSA.

  7. AP, regarding the list of furloughed employees in the surveillance agencies:

    I’m wondering if that is a bad thing. I would think that the essential personnel left would be those that have as their core function actually looking for bad guys. One HOPES the essential personnel have as their mission looking for bad guys and any plots they are hatching, it certainly should be. These are grossly bloated agencies to begin with.

  8. OS: “The NSA and TSA knee jerk reactions to criticism makes me wonder if some of us are on that list and just don’t know it”

    the group of people most at risk from the domestic spying is not the 80% of us that spend time on the Internet kitty sites, social media, or venting on blawgs. The group most vulnerable are the professional or prominent activists, NGO leaders, workers and leaders for social justice, journalists and lawyers that are advocates for the Constitution. If you know enough about them or what they are doing you have leverage. I don’t have much to worry about but the Professor does as does many of the players he competes against every year in the ABA poll. Maybe some of the posters or readers here also. Probably some good number of businesspersons and researchers do also. Anybody that is in a legitimate position to rock the boat. The status quo is one of the most valuable commodities in the world.

  9. Karl Friedrich: ” “Outrageous. We have become so like the old Soviet Union.”

    Except they had free health care for all, free education through college, and zero unemployment.”

    There are some historical problems with your retort but in general touche’. 🙂

  10. Greenwald:

    “The NSA debate is as much about journalism as surveillance

    A 14-minute interview on BBC highlights the debate over the proper relationship between journalists and government”



    In late June, the economist Dean Baker astutely observed that our NSA reporting was “doing as much to expose corrupt journalism as to expose government spying.” Indeed, from the earliest stages of this reporting, back in Hong Kong, we expected (and hoped) that the reporting we were about to do would expose conflicts in how journalism is understood and practiced as much as it would shine light on the NSA’s specific surveillance programs.

    That, I think, has clearly been the case. The debates over the proper relationship between journalists and governments have been as illuminating and significant as the debates over government spying and secrecy. Last night on BBC’s Newsnight, I was interviewed for 14 minutes by host Kirsty Wark. It was an adversarial interview, which is how interviews should be. But she chose to focus almost entirely on the process questions surrounding the reporting rather than the substance of the revelations, and in the process made some quite dubious claims that come straight from the mouths of government officials. Nonetheless, her choice of focus ended up highlighting many of the most important conflicts about how journalism is understood, and is worth watching for that reason:” (video posted by Elaine M.)

  11. More free speech!!!

    “The National Security Agency has made repeated attempts to develop attacks against people using Tor, a popular tool designed to protect online anonymity, despite the fact the software is primarily funded and promoted by the US government itself.

    Top-secret NSA documents, disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal that the agency’s current successes against Tor rely on identifying users and then attacking vulnerable software on their computers. One technique developed by the agency targeted the Firefox web browser used with Tor, giving the agency full control over targets’ computers, including access to files, all keystrokes and all online activity.”


  12. “You’ve probably never heard of Wheeler (Newsweek to the masses),…” doesn’t apply to most of the folks around here. (;

  13. “The Woman Who Knows The NSA’s Secrets”

    “Long before Edward Snowden leaked documents showing that the government was collecting every American’s phone records, Marcy Wheeler knew something fishy was going on. She was one of just a handful of people who in 2009 suspected that the government was using the USA Patriot Act to collect Americans’ personal records in bulk. On June 5, 2013, Snowden proved her right.”


    You’ve probably never heard of Wheeler, a Michigan blogger who plies her trade far away from the closed world of Washington, D.C., but her work enables journalists, lawyers, advocates and experts to unmask the government’s secret spying apparatus.

    “She’s really a wealth of knowledge,” said Amie Stepanovich, who does policy and litigation work on domestic surveillance for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy group. As a resource Wheeler’s blog is “just horribly helpful.”

    Wheeler, known to her Twitter followers and readers as emptywheel, pores over government memos, transcripts and court opinions in an upstairs room in her home in Grand Rapids. Bookshelves hold the thousands of pages she’s read over the years and often returns to when piecing together her investigations.

    The intelligence community’s work is shrouded in secrecy, an endless series of documents from legal memos to internal audits, all of them classified. From the outside, the only way to peer inside secret government is to find clues within the documents we do have and begin to connect the dots.

    Experts on domestic surveillance admire Wheeler’s ability to connect current revelations to past mysteries. “You’ll read through these dense documents, and it’s about one thing; but she’ll find a clue in there to something we’ve all wondered about on something else entirely, and the last citing of that issue was five years ago, and somehow she still remembered,” said Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter late of The Washington Post who has worked with Snowden to break stories on the NSA this summer. “She’s indispensable now with the NSA story, which is endlessly complex.”

    The all pervading secrecy of the surveillance state makes the work of outside investigators a guessing game – one that Wheeler has proved eminently good at. “When we go after a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] document, we have to have some proof that it exists,” said Stepanovich. “If we can use people like Marcy who have made the connection to establish that proof, then we can go after the document.”

    It’s like a neverending puzzle. “FOIA documents are these disembodied documents,” said Wheeler. “You have to put them into the timeline and see what they were responding to. Documents in bureaucracies are always response and counter-response.”

    And she would know. Before she took up blogging, Wheeler spent years as a consultant for corporations on how to decipher complex government documents. So when Wheeler looks at a document dump from the NSA, she’s reading them in a different way to lawyers and journalists, and that deeper understanding of what a bureaucratic document really means helps her find or infer information that others often miss.

    This is how Wheeler snagged her most famous scoop. When the George W. Bush administration’s secret torture memos were released in 2009, the press came at them from a political angle and they overlooked one important detail. “Everyone had been looking at those memos for an entire weekend, and I was the first and possibly only one to notice that they talked about the number of times that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded,” she said, referring to the al Qaeda operative who planned the 9/11 attacks. That number was a startling 183 times in a single month.

    When Wheeler graduated from college, she set out to discover how businesses use language – a strange pursuit for any 22-year-old, but one she explains by the fact that both her parents worked at IBM. After five years consulting for corporations, teaching employees how to write large documents for business, she returned to school and earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature, where she studied a subversive writing form used in French, Czech and Argentine papers under authoritative regimes. Ultimately, her work lent itself more to blogging and close-readings of government memos than to teaching literature.

    Her return to the real world coincided with a breast cancer diagnosis in the fall of 2002. Needing a job, she returned to consulting, this time for the auto industry in Asia, and slowly fell into blogging. When the Scooter Libby trial over the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame came along in 2005, she got hooked. Her coverage of the trial became a book, Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy, and since then she’s written about the torture memos, the use of drones and now domestic spying by the NSA. It’s not a particularly lucrative line of work, but she says she makes enough that her husband, an engineer, “doesn’t kick me out.”

    Wheeler identifies with the civil liberties camp more than the NSA, and her work has appeared alongside progressive bloggers, including Jane Hamsher, whose website Firedoglake housed Wheeler’s blog until 2011. “I had this very weird moment where I realized I had covered all these people in Argentina who had been tortured,” she said, referring to her graduate school days. “I never imagined when I was in graduate school that I would one day be writing about our own country’s torture.” (Several experts who might be expected to have a more critical take on Wheeler’s work, or are generally supportive of the NSA’s programs, declined to comment for this story. “I don’t typically read her blog. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read mine,” one responded.)

    Part of what concerns Wheeler about the NSA’s bulk data collection is public safety. The NSA’s top brass assumes that if a threat does not show up in its databases, it doesn’t exist. The next terrorist attack will come from a group that stays offline, she said, “and we’re going to be hit bad by it because we have this hubris about the degree to which all people live online.”

    Wheeler’s work stands out because she works independently and is not beholden to an employer or constrained by Capitol Hill etiquette. “In D.C. culture, you’re not supposed to say, ‘Dianne Feinstein made a misstatement,’ ” she said, referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman whom Wheeler tore into on her blog after a September hearing on the NSA. This isn’t done much in D.C. because you risk losing access. Since then, Wheeler says, “Every time I’ve ever tried to call her office for comment, they don’t talk to me.”

    Wheeler’s maverick status is more of an asset rather than a liability, allowing her to make educated guesses and put them in the public domain, the kind of speculation and research that is vital to civil liberties groups but something a staff reporter couldn’t do without risking the credibility of their newspaper. Her close-reading skills have become even more valuable in the current political climate, in which the Obama administration is cracking down on leaks, making it harder for journalists to obtain information through traditional sources.

    Outside the D.C. bubble, Wheeler’s days start around 7 a.m. She checks Twitter, maybe writes a post, and then walks her dog, MilleniaLab, for an hour. The rest of the day she’s reading and blogging, sometimes late into the night. She’ll often cook throughout the day as well, something she does somewhat obsessively. She makes time to watch football, but not much else. There are still times she wishes she had a normal job and the salary that comes with it. “But I just feel like there’s this beat that is there that unless somebody else comes along and picks it up it won’t get done, and I think it’s really important,” she said. “I feel almost compelled to do it.”

  14. Did you know Edward Snowden is a traitor and a creep because he sought asylum in a nation who is against freedom of speech?

    During the war drumming against Syria, Obama couldn’t wait to get all the pictures out (no evidence of who did it, of course), but he wanted those dead people on full public display.

    For once, I did agree in part with Obama. The pictures should be on full public display. Of course, the pictures he barred were of USGinc.’
    s torture victims. Come to think of it, I don’t see any of the dead children, women and men who are killed by Mr. Drone himself. I wonder why not?

    As with all important intelligence, it is the American people who must be kept in the dark–exactly the opposite of what our system of govt. needs to function. We the people are the enemy of the surveillance state. We must be kept stupid, docile and under control. We must be forbidden actual information about what our govt./corporate deep state is up to.

    I had this question about Mr. Drone’s list. I didn’t know that members of Congress were supposed to be requesting kills. Not that it’s not offensive that Obama and friends think it should be there list, but didn’t Mr. Drone tell us it was only a small, hand selected group who put the names on that list?

  15. how many lies has Obama been caught in with regard to NSA spying? I am probably far from the mark but I can recall at least 2 and am pretty sure the number is 4. And this is Mr. O alone, his aids have at least matched his number of lies if not lied more times, including the infamous perjury in front of the senate (small s because of the small minds currently occupying the seats).

    So why does the news media let our President get away with lying to the American People? I think we have many a polysi doctorate degree in the making here for the next several years.

    Did anybody catch the film maker that was going to do the Hillary film talk about meeting Bill Clinton and having him tell a lie bold faced to the directory? Do these people actually believe their lies?

  16. Nothing new here. Anybody recall that Canadian author Farley Mowat was barred entrance to the US several decades ago.l

  17. And those who would gladly repose great power with the government trust them to use it only for beneficial purposes and never to abuse their power for their own private ends. So foolish!

Comments are closed.