| Temporary County Chair|
Oneida County Libertarian Party
|February 11, 2018—March 4, 2018|
Austen Givens, a Republican, was Temporary County Chair for the Oneida County Libertarian Party from February 11—March 4, 2018.
Political Views and History
Givens entered the political arena in 2003 when he was selected for an undergraduate fellowship at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neoconservative-aligned research institution in Washington, DC, while he was a student at the University of Virginia. At UVA he published columns in the student-run publications The Virginia Advocate and The Cavalier Daily pressing for hawkish U.S. foreign policy positions that vigorously pursued the elimination of terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was a public supporter of George W. Bush’s 2004 Presidential campaign and the U.S.-led war in Iraq. During the summer of 2003, he was an intern in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. In August 2003 he traveled to Israel for a series of seminars on counterterrorism conducted at Tel Aviv University.
After graduating from UVA, Givens served as an intern in the Capitol Hill offices of then-Representative John Boozman (R-AR) and the late Jo Ann Davis (R-VA). In December 2004 he left Capitol Hill to take an entry-level job in the international trade division of Wiley, Rein & Fielding LP, a law firm co-founded by Reagan White House Counsel Fred Fielding.
He published a letter to the editor of National Review in 2006 calling for Saddam Hussein to be tried in Iraq, rather than in an international tribunal, for crimes against the Iraqi people. While a graduate student, he penned an April 2008 column in The Richmond Times-Dispatch in which he advocated for U.S. nuclear sanctions against Iran to be linked to Tehran’s international support of terrorist organizations.
Criticism and Praise of GOP
He criticized Republican governors in a December 2015 column in the Utica Observer-Dispatch for attempting to unilaterally block the entry of refugees into the United States.
During a November 30, 2016 interview on WUTQ, Givens lamented what he saw as troubling early indications about the incoming Trump administration’s approach to immigration. He also disclosed on the air that he was a registered Republican.
In early 2017, he posed a hypothetical question during an interview on WUTQ insinuating that Trump might be working as an agent of the Russian government.
In March 2017, he praised the Trump administration during an interview on WUTQ for launching air strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad following its use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians.
In a May 2018 online column, he offered qualified support for Trump’s elimination of the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator position.
Concerns about Government Surveillance Powers
Givens has spoken out repeatedly about the potential abuse of government surveillance powers.
In a 2013 article for the Harvard National Security Journal he argued that laws like the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, which dramatically expanded government surveillance authorities, become “sticky” over time without the inclusion of so-called sunset provisions.
In 2014, he helped organize a roundtable discussion on data privacy issues in the post-Edward Snowden era.
In May 2017, he gave an interview on WIBX in which he mused about the growth of government and private sector surveillance.