Ex-NSA GC on Snowden, Security, and Privacy

, Corporate Counsel


Stewart Baker, who served as National Security Agency general counsel from 1992 to 1994, discusses former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks earlier this year about the U.S. government's surveillance activities.

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What's being said

  • wgalison

    Baker speaks as if he is unaware of the corruption in the US government, and the myriad opportunities for unchecked abuses by the NSA and other intelligence agencies.

    The CIA gave the NYPD technology and training to spy on Ne Yorkers.

    As a result, my friend, anti corruption whistleblower Sunny Sheu was surveilled, tracked, kidnapped and murdered, his death subsequently covered up by the NYPD.


    Wherever there is corruption, there is an effort to keep it secret. The intelligence is certainly no more immune to corruption than any other aspect of government. The difference is that they can read your email, track your movements, and moreover, THEY OPERATE WITHOUT OVERSIGHT OR RESTRAINT.

    Baker is either utterly naive, or evil, and in either case he is a menace to American society.

  • American Patriot

    Mr. Baker's spin-control type comments reflect exactly what the NSA is currently trying to do, however there are a number of unanswered questions:

    1) What protections do US Citizens have against improper use of massive data obtained without meaningful Congressional oversight? In other words, in a Nixon-like rogue administration, what is to stop the NSA from using the massive amounts of collected information, which is power, to promote the executive branch's goals rather than those of the citizens?

    2) While your comment that "There are very few countries that do not engage in espionage, and very few countries that do not feel that they can tell people within their boundaries to cooperate in that intelligence gathering." may be true, it fails completely to address the fact that the concept of American freedom has never been be based on follow-the-leader to British or European democracies, much less China or other Asian countries. To model our behavior after them would be tantamount to admitting that democracy does not work

    3) Mr. Baker's comments do not address constitutional issues designed to protect citizens from an abusive monarch or executive branch. The complete failure of the NSA to responsibly understand what it was doing yet alone report to the proper congressional committees is appalling and argues for possible dismissal of current NSA chief Clapper.

    4) Executive branch IS fallable, and should be accountable to congress, who in turn are accountable to the citizens. If the NSA can prove that they have averted a significant amount of terrorism by their current methods, this should be discussed openly. So far they have not. Only two cases of possible interception have been raised to my knowledge, and one of them was to intercept a $8500 transfer of funds. The Boston Marathon bombers were not intercepted. There is no such thing as perfect safety, and to give up the freedom that makes America special is not something that should be done unilaterally by the executive branch.

    5) Lastly, US technological industry has been dealt a huge blow, not by Snowden, but by the NSA. I know if I were a citizen of another country I certainly would not willingly trust data or services provided by the U.S.

    6) None of this is 'fear of technology'. In my experience, those who are best informed about technology are the ones raising the most alarm bells. The average citizen in the street does not even understand the level of privacy invasion that has been perpetrated on them, and continues to post willy-nilly every detail of their life on FaceBook. So the fact that the NSA can search massive (Zetabyte) datastores using Email address, phone number, or other unique identifiers to build a case AFTER THE FACT and forward this to FBI or others without the citizen being able to have access to the same data is a miscarriage of justice and inherently tends towards an oppressive regime with a chilling effect on freedom of speech. Once lost, it is almost impossible to get freedom back.

    Bottom line, there may be some tradeoff between absolute security (impossible) and Total Information Awareness. Watch the film "Brazil" if you have doubts about where the wrong balance can lead.

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