As a matter of course, the U.S. government withholds information from the public. It’s been this way way since the beginning, and there’s little likelihood that it will ever change. Accordingly, the public seeks to learn that information both directly (through such mechanisms as the Freedom of Information Act) and indirectly (by purchasing newspapers with sensationalized details). The resulting tension is healthy and is essential to keeping the government honest in its classification authority. For example, in the 1940s, the United States began research into a “silent flashless weapon”. When this research began, someone recognized the danger of it falling into enemy hands, and classifying the material made it a criminal act to reveal any details. Today we know the truth. But if not for the continuing struggle between those who create secrets and those who expose them, we might never have learned about the “silent flashless weapon of World War II – the “bow and arrow”.
Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady (via Dead Drop)
Big data is transforming the world in which NSA carries out its mission, but NSA is constantly evolving in terms of the mix of technology, resources, skills, and authorities necessary to take advantage of its opportunities and meet its challenges. What remains constant is NSA’s commitment to the law; to the notion that how the Agency conducts its activities is just as important as whether it is authorized to conduct them. Although much of the detail by necessity must remain secret, a great deal gets lost in the public discourse about the legal framework within which NSA conducts its mission, its requirement for specifically tailored and externally approved minimization procedures, and the robust oversight structures in place across all three branches of government. These features are as much a part of the reality in which NSA operates today as is the reality of big data.
Rajesh De, General Counsel, National Security Agency (via Lawfare)
Remember, trust your father, God, and NSA! Daddy DIRNSA is always watching over you, and you’ll never know it!