NSA’s Christmas Eve Document Dump

on December 29 | in NSA, surveillance

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The National Security Agency (NSA) on Christmas Eve publicly released almost 50 redacted reports it had previously provided to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board. The reports catalog the cases in which the agency had inappropriately targeted or viewed the communications of United States Persons in violation of legal authorities.

The Hill characterized the document dump this way: “NSA reports detail decade’s worth of privacy violations.” This headline is technically accurate, in the sense that these document do in fact detail privacy violations and cover roughly a 13-year period. But it is also misleading and seems to imply the presence of widespread violations.

A fair reading of these documents actually reflects positively on NSA and supports the agency’s assertion that it “goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations.” These documents are extremely detailed and thorough. It is impressive and encouraging that NSA has the means to identify and log what amounts to a small number of violations relative to the entirety of its signals intelligence efforts.

This begs the question—why would NSA release these documents on Christmas Eve? Releasing information when the media is less likely to notice is a time tested communications tactic for those seeking to hide negative developments. Maybe that was the strategy here. Perhaps NSA was trying to prevent this release from contributing to the perception that the agency doesn’t care about privacy. Or perhaps the timing of this release was purely coincidental. Regardless, viagra the release on Christmas Eve seems foolish and actually contributes to the trust deficit between America’s intelligence agencies and the public.

When you don’t have anything to hide—and in this case NSA does not appear to have anything to hide—you shouldn’t act as though you have something to hide. That is what NSA did here by using a communications tactic that makes it appear less than truthful. The release demonstrates that the agency still has a lot to learn about how to communicate with the public.

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One Response to NSA’s Christmas Eve Document Dump

  1. […] intelligence officials are trying to rebuild trust with the public. Check out Marshall’s commentary about this very issue two weeks […]

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