NSA Official: Reform the First Amendment, Not the NSA

What’s it like inside the
National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters? One journalist
recently got access to the shadowy and controversy-laden agency for
a day. He discovered a range of issues within the NSA’s walls, from
their own hurdles to the ominous desires of some officials.

As part of an effort to improve its public relations, the NSA
allowed Foreign Policy contributing editor and
international politics professor Daniel Drezner to tour the Fort
Meade, Maryland compound. Drezner at times paints an almost
sympathetic account of some of the agency’s graceless
, explaining that the NSA seems unaware that the
immediate post-9/11 willingness to compromise personal freedom for
national security has worn away. As if the briefing room were the
stage for some kind of tragicomedy, Drezner highlights “faded
banners” that hang on the walls, proclaiming the NSA’s ostensible
mission to “protect privacy rights.”

He also
the problems the NSA has encountered since its former
Edward Snowden
revealed how massive their meta-data collection
program is:

For one thing, they were upfront in acknowledging the damage
that Snowden had wreaked on agency morale and recruitment.
Applications to work at the NSA are down by more than one third,
and retention rates have also declined… Traditionally, when
analysts joined the NSA, they joined for life. This is changing,
and not for the better from the NSA’s perspective.

Apparently, the post-Snowden era also comes with more rigorous
internal checks. The NSA used to subject its employees to lie
detector tests once every five years. Now, they plan to issue
several tests per year.

In some aspects, the agency is far from sympathetic and outright
alarming. “I have some reforms for the First Amendment,” an unnamed
official told Drezner, confiding his wish that the Obama
administration would reprimand journalists who he believes have
wrongly portrayed the agency.

Whether or not the official spoke in jest when he suggested the
NSA more robustly trample on citizens’ rights, Drezner says he does
not know. “Either way,” he asserts, “it’s not funny.”

Mike Masnick of TechDirt offers his opinion on the cringe-worthy
statement about repressing free speech. “Given everything that’s
going on,” pointing broadly toward the seemingly endless
stream of controversy
that the agency has found itself paddling
up this year, he
“that seems like something you should
 joke about if you’re an NSA person.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/18/nsa-official-reform-the-first-amendment

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