Calling treason by its name: A conversation with Liam Fox
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Event Summary

Security threats have metamorphosed and multiplied in recent decades, and industrial espionage is endemic. For US security and intelligence services to protect Americans from emerging threats, the services must be able to do things in secret. Liam Fox, former British minister of defense, sat down with AEI's Marc Thiessen on Wednesday to discuss the ramifications of Edward Snowden's leaking of thousands of classified National Security Agency documents. Fox argued that Snowden did not have sufficient understanding of the work of the US security and intelligence agencies to be able to make a reliable judgment about what information might, if put into the public domain, damage US national security.

Fox stressed that to ensure operational success, it is necessary that terrorists who are targeted by US agencies are either unaware of US activities or uncertain of their success. As a result of Snowden's activities and the information that has now become available to America's enemies, certain terrorist groups are discussing how to avoid what they now perceive to be vulnerable communications methods and how to select communications that they perceive to be not exploitable.

Fox concluded that contrary to the critical view that the work of the security and intelligence services compromises freedom, liberty, and democracy, the converse is actually the case. They engage those whose sole aim is to threaten America, the freedom and security of its people, and its democratic way of life.
--Alex Della Rocchetta


Edward Snowden’s betrayal shattered the bond of trust he owed the United States, its people, and its allies. His leaking of thousands of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents was the most serious hemorrhaging of American secrets in the history of American espionage. Three related issues dominate the Snowden disclosures: the extent, legality, and proportionality of NSA surveillance; the impact of disclosing US security services’ methods of surveillance; and the effect of disclosing the names of operatives and agents.

Join us at AEI as the Right Honorable Liam Fox sits down with Marc Thiessen to discuss and debate whether America’s intelligence agencies have infringed on the personal privacy of US citizens.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:45 AM

10:00 AM
Liam Fox, Member of Parliament and Former British Minister of Defense
Marc A. Thiessen, AEI

11:00 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at [email protected], 202.862.7152.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Liam Fox is the member of Parliament for North Somerset and former British minister of defense. He was elected as a member of Parliament in 1992. After holding several ministerial roles in John Major's Conservative Party government, Fox served as constitutional affairs spokesman (1998–99), shadow health secretary (1999–2003), Conservative Party chairman (2003–05), shadow foreign secretary (2005), and shadow defense secretary (2005–10). In 2010, he was appointed secretary of state for defense. He resigned from this position in October 2011 and returned to the back benches of the House of Commons. Since then, Fox has focused on the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union, options for reducing the budget deficit, and stimulating economic growth, and has kept a close interest in national security.

Marc A. Thiessen is an AEI scholar and former member of the White House senior staff under President George W. Bush. As an official in the Bush administration, Thiessen served as chief speechwriter to the president and to former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld. Before joining the Bush administration, Thiessen spent more than six years as spokesman and senior policy adviser to former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC). He is a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, and appears regularly on Fox News and other news networks. His book on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program, titled “Courting Disaster” (Regnery Press, 2010), was a New York Times bestseller. He is the coauthor, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, of "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge" (Sentinel, November 2013). At AEI, Thiessen writes about US foreign and defense policy issues and national politics for and the AEIdeas blog.

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