Austin (KXAN)- All of the foreign bands at South By Southwest are a feather in the cap for American diplomacy overseas.
Congressman Michael McCaul says South By’s teleconference with Edward Snowden, notorious leaker of state secrets, was a slap in the face of national security.
McCaul made himself clear Saturday at a South By music industry conference. Several foreign bands have played during the festival.
McCaul said bands from oppressed lands playing their music in the freedom of America sends a powerful message back home. He wants to speed up the Visa process so more bands can get here.
“Music can really make a difference in changing the attitude and governance in some of these countries and really have a positive impact,” said McCaul. “What better place to do it than South By Southwest where we have bands from all over the world coming here.”
McCaul chairs the House’s Homeland Security Committee. He believes South By shot itself in the foot with last Monday’s teleconference with Edward Snowden.
“Mr. Snowden did a tremendous amount of damage to the security of the United States,” he said. “He turned over the keys to our national security to Russia. This impacts our fighting forces, our troops on the ground, our navy, our submarines. He’s done an extensive amount of damage that will take a long time to undo and will cost this nation billions of dollars.”
MaCaul also addressed recent concerns with data theft. He believes foreign powers like Iran are hacking our financial institutions and he is working on legislation to fend off those cyber threats.
“Most of the threat we see is in the private sector itself, the only way to protect our infrastructure like power grids, water and energy is to share information across the private sector to protect them.”
McCaul says the U.S. has hard power, like the military, and soft power, like music and speech.
He touted the importance of festivals like SXSW suggesting drone strikes will never kill off an oppressive foreign ideology but that music, the arts and freedom of expression can changes peoples hearts and minds.