The NSA and the tech industry, together in feeling misunderstood

Tech industry executives, many for the first time, talk in a new piece in Wired on their frustrations with the government’s national surveillance programs but also in getting their story out.

Face­book’s global communications head, Michael Buckley, told Wired’s Steven Levy that “we can put out any statement or statistics, but in the wake of what feels like weekly disclosures of other government activity, the question is, will anyone believe us?”

Levy notes that the tech industry’s concerns about not being understood are echoed among national security leaders about their own work.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the 7,000+ word article, which is mostly a rehash of the events of the past seven months, were interviews with National Security Agency leaders, including U.S. Army General Keith Alexander and Rick Ledgett, who heads the agency’s Media Leaks Task Force, a position was created last summer specifically for handling the NSA leak stories.

Some quotes from Ledgett:

No one knows how the NSA works…It’s always been a black box, Enemy of the State movies, stuff like that. People don’t understand the NSA’s checks and balances.

And on Americans now worried they are being spied on:

It’s almost delusional….I wish I could get to the high mountaintop to scream, ‘You’re not a target!’

Above: The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, MD. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


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  • Steve Hammill

    >>>‘You’re not a target!’

    That’s funny.

    For accuracy sake he should have said, “You’re not the intended target.”

    Once they have the data there is opportunity for abuse. The likelihood that you or me will have problems because of it is minutely small. But there will be hundreds or perhaps thousands of people currently living in obscurity for whom that won’t be the case. Everyone’s got to get a feather in their cap somehow and some people will be that feather.

    That sort of ruthless behavior is often seen in journalism with reporters shoving a microphone in the face of a person who just learned that their child or other loved one was just killed in some gruesome fashion. The reporter with the most cruel question wins!