People gathered from across the globe to discuss practical ways to expand social and economic liberties. The conference also provided an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the Free Stater community in New Hampshire, where 20,000 libertarians are now moving.
Nick Gillespie of Reason TV interviewed Snowden live via Google Hangouts. Snowden was greeted by audience members holding masks bearing his likeness – this homage was received with a wide smile from Snowden in Russia.
During the 50 minute talk, Snowden covered several topics, including the recent revelations by Apple that the FBI has requested a “back door” to enable law enforcement authorities to access encrypted data on endpoint devices. Snowden also addressed a question submitted by Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who has been sentenced to double life in prison without the possibility of parole. The question was: “Do you think the NSA could have been involved with the Silk Road investigation?” Watch the interview to hear Snowden’s stunning answer.
Liberty Forum has become a place where whistleblowers can tell their stories. In 2014, Thomas Drake, former senior executive of the NSA and decorated U.S. Air Force and Navy veteran, spoke out about being accused under the Espionage Act of mishandling government documents. Although Drake eventually plead guilty to one misdemeanor count for exceeding “authorized use of a computer,” all ten original charges were dropped. In his defense, Drake stated he refused to “plea bargain with the truth.” Jesselyn Radack, who has served as Edward Snowden’s attorney, called Drake’s actions “civil disobedience.” You can watch the panel discussion, “The Social and Civic Importance of Whistleblowing,” with Thomas Drake, national security and human rights lawyer Jesselyn Radack, now of Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts, Trevor Timm of Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Devon Chaffee, executive director of New Hampshire’s Civil Liberties Union.
This year, in addition to the historic talk by Edward Snowden, drone technician Cian Westmoreland was Liberty Forum’s closing speaker. Westmoreland is one of 4 former U.S. Air Force service members to claim targeted drone killings and remote-control bombings fuel the very terrorism the government says it is trying to destroy. In a 2015 interview with Democracy Now, Westmoreland said: “I’m saying it wasn’t all enemies. It was civilians, as well.” Westmoreland’s talk on Sunday was an emotional appeal to seek better solutions to indiscriminate drone bombings. When an audience member called out: “Skynet is coming!” Westmoreland replied: “Skynet is here.”
The Free State Project is a 501c3 nonprofit that educates people about the advantages of smaller government and the advantages of moving to New Hampshire as part of the FSP, where, according to the Statement of Intent, movers will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of individuals’ rights to life, liberty and property. The work of creating and sustaining such a society in New Hampshire is the job of residents, including project participants, not the Free State Project itself.
The FSP does not endorse any specific changes to government or strategies to achieve them. The FSP does not take positions on issues, candidates, legislation, places to move within New Hampshire, tactics or methods of action. The one stipulation the FSP does make is that people who promote violence, racial hatred, or bigotry are not welcome.
Carla Gericke (JD, MFA) is an advocate of liberty specializing in localized voluntarism, internet freedom, self-determination, and how responsible human action can lead to peace and prosperity. She is president emeritus of the Free State Project, and lives in New Hampshire with tens of thousands of fellow Ron Paul supporters. In 2014, Carla won a landmark case affirming the 1st Amendment right to film police encounters. She now serves as president of the Foundation for NH Independence, a 501c3 nonprofit that educates Granite Staters on the advantages of peacefully separating from the federal government. Carla is currently running as a Republican candidate for NH State Senate in the Queen City and Goffstown (District 20).