Washington D.C. — Today, Access Now recognizes Marcy Wheeler among the annual Heroes and Villains award recipients for her tireless and consistent work to hold U.S. intelligence agencies accountable. Over many years Marcy has scoured countless documents from and about the U.S. government to reveal surveillance activities that exceeded the bounds of the law. In September 2017, Marcy authored a report (PDF) that highlighted unlawful practices by U.S. intelligence agencies in the lead-up to debates about whether or not to renew certain invasive statutes.
“Ms. Wheeler is an incredible researcher and journalist who has done so much to ensure that we can understand how surveillance works in the United States and around the world. She has worked to make sure that officials are accountable, that information is accurate, and the public is involved. We’re proud to honor Ms. Wheeler’s tireless work,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now.
“Because of the awesome powers of our intelligence agencies, Americans owe it to each other and the rest of the world to watch our spies as closely as possible,” said Wheeler.
Human rights are universal — including on the internet. To defend our privacy, in 2013 experts identified 13 principles governments must follow to ensure any electronic surveillance program fully respects human rights. They are known as the Necessary and Proportionate Principles. In celebration of those principles and the work of people around the world to protect digital rights, every year Access Now names “heroes” and “villains” who have either protected the principles of freedom online or worked to undermine them.
Previous heroes named by Access Now include U.N. Special Rapporteur David Kaye, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, and Edward Snowden. Read more about this year’s heroes and villains here.
About Ms. Wheeler
Marcy has been blogging full-time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.
Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Motherboard and The New Republic Slate, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is also the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation.
Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.