As deputy chief of the National Security Agency’s Media Leaks Task Force, I was disheartened by the April 2 issue’s negative responses to the previous issue’s letters from my former colleague, Bob Deitz *72, and from Michael Mantyla ’93. The responses indicated a lack of faith in all three branches of our government.
I take the opposite view. If President James Madison 1771 came back to Earth today, I think that he would be proud of how our democracy has evolved, including our contentious Congress. He also would appreciate how our government, on the whole, continues to learn from past lessons and improve its obligation to self-regulate. As for PAW’s Jan. 8 special issue on privacy, the tone about government overreach shocked me the most, perhaps because I have been cloistered in the intelligence community for the past 38 years. I, too, am highly concerned about how the advances in information technology and the proliferation of publicly available personal information can permit intrusion by the government — the government of Russia or China, that is.
When it comes to our intelligence community and the NSA in particular, we fully support the president’s Jan. 17 decision on privacy. I am pleased to cite the comments about the NSA’s workforce by constitutional law professor Geoffrey Stone, an ACLU adviser and a member of the Presidential Review Group. In an April 1 Huffington Post article, he stated that the NSA is “an organization that operates with a high degree of integrity and a deep commitment to the rule of law.”
Many alumni probably are tired of the media leaks and privacy subject. But for those who remain interested and concerned, I am willing to engage in a dialogue at Princeton forums on the issue and clarify how the NSA really operates. Perhaps this year’s Reunions would be a good start.