Event Reports

American Policy Perspectives

by Justin Lakamper

A Workshop with Dr. Charles Ludolph and Barton Forsyth

On July 20th, 2015 the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation hosted a workshop to discuss the current topics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the USA Freedom Act. Experts, Dr. Charles Ludolph, the President and CEO of Transnational Analytics LLC, and Bart Forsyth, Chief-of-Staff to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), gave illuminating presentations with regard to U.S. trade and intelligence policy. German participants were part of a multi-day exchange program between the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the American Jewish Committee.

For 35 years the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the American Jewish Committee have engaged in a reciprocal exchange program bringing young staffers, policy experts, and transatlanticists to the United States and Germany to foster the exchange of ideas, policy, and faith. This longstanding program highlights the cooperation between the two organizations in a continued effort to promote a positive relationship. This year’s participants ranged from German federal parliamentary and ministerial staffers and advisors, to Think Tank policy experts and graduate students.

The workshop started with an in depth review of the ongoing TTIP negotiations between the United States and the European Union by Dr. Charles Ludolph. Based on his 30 + years of experience working in international trade, Dr. Ludolph presented the foreign policy and economic implications of TTIP. This free trade agreement is between two of the largest and most advanced trading blocks in the world and is viewed as a highly modern trade agreement. Since the passing of Trade Promotion Authority in June 2015, negotiations can now enter the critical phase. According to Dr. Ludolph, the negotiations have established all the “redlines” for both sides, are beyond the point of no return, and will ultimately lead to a deal being presented to Congress for an up or down vote by the end of 2017. The participants were also offered Dr. Ludolph’s estimation that the deal would result in enhanced growth in both the U.S. and the EU; even slightly favoring the EU.

USA Freedom Act

The second speaker to engage with the exchange participants was Mr. Bart Forsyth, who presented the current landscape of legislation regarding intelligence collection in the United States. In his position as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Mr. Forsyth took a leading role in drafting the recently passed USA Freedom Act which amended key provisions of the Patriot Act. The new legislation specifically addresses the bulk data collection practices of the National Security Agency (NSA) under section 215. The USA Freedom Act now requires the NSA to obtain permission from the Foreign Intelligence Security Act Court in order to review historic phone data from private phone companies on a case by case basis. This now prevents the continuous bulk phone data collection by the U.S. government with regard to U.S. citizens.

The practices of the U.S. and German intelligence authorities has spurred extensive public debate in Germany centering on questions of personal privacy, liberty, and freedom. Privacy protections remain very important to the majority of Germans, given their experiences with surveillance regimes. In this context some participants expressed disillusionment with a United States intelligence collection. Others brought up the more pragmatic view that Germany had not experienced a major terror attack similar to those that led not only America, but Great Britain, France, and Canada, to empower their governments with greater surveillance capabilities. Some posited, were such an event to happen in Germany, they could respond similarly, and in some ways already do. The observations fueled an insightful discussion on security and individual liberties in the modern era. Mr. Forsyth filled the participants in on the technical and legal aspects of this balancing act within the U.S. Congress. The workshop embodied a central tenet of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s mission, transatlantic dialogue.