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The NSA and the problem of poor PR

Richard Ledgett, the deputy director of the National Security Administration, NSA, spoke via teleconference at the TED conference in Vancouver today, reports Forbes.

Keith Alexander Testifies at House Armed Services Hearing
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

He spoke out about ‘Privacy' noting that ‘PR’ the latter, not the former was handled badly and worsened by the lack of transparency from the NSA. He admitted that the NSA deservedly earned the hailstorm of criticism and contempt that followed once Edward Snowden stole and released those documents world-wide via the press, handpicked by him.

Although Ledgett did acknowledge the problem lay in the lack of transparency in the program which caused public and world outrage upon the revelations from Snowden, he also supported the programs as necessary in themselves and do perform with proper control from within the NSA.

Ledgett contended that if the proper oversight had been in place with transparency to the NSA actions, then the issue would not have become out of control in a massive division of public opinion and world-wide criticism.

‘I think there’s an amazing arrogance to the idea that [Snowden] knows better than the framers of the Constitution how the government should be designed to work in terms of separation of powers,’ he said. ‘That’s extremely arrogant on his part.’

Ledgett considered Snowden a peddler of ‘half-truths’ and the safeguards that he said were in place to filter the files released to the journalists failed. To make an assumption that the journalists would screen out the documents for any information that could hurt people was obviously a failure on Snowden’s part.

‘The actions that he took were inappropriate because of the fact that he put people’s lives at risk in the long run,’ in Ledgett’s judgment. ‘The capabilities [of the NSA] are applied in very discreet, measured, controlled ways. Unconstrained disclosure of those capabilities means that as adversaries see them, they move away and say, ‘Hey, I might be vulnerable to that.’ We’ve seen that. The net effect is our people who are overseas…are at greater risk because we don’t see the threats that are coming their way.’ These are the gaps in Snowden’s judgment which Ledgett pointed out.

Ledgett made a clear point about the meta-data gathering in that the average citizen was not encroached in rights but if there was an attachment to intelligence targets, then the data was reviewed.

The sensitive subject of the social media companies was touched upon by Ledgett who defended the NSA’s interest in their data because terrorists use the same source for information. Larry Page, CEO of Google, made a point yesterday in his time on the stage to express his upset over the NSA. Page complained that the NSA’s programs put his company in the position of having to protect users from the U.S. government. ‘It’s tremendously disappointing that the government secretly did all this stuff and didn’t tell us.’

Larry Page was on stage with Charlie Rose and made a penetrating comment about privacy, ‘Tremendous good can come from people sharing the right information with the right people in the right way.’

To find more about the the NSA, Snowden and social media companies and the issue of privacy see the list below in Author's suggestions and view the video atop this article.

Twitter: Victoria Wagner@victoriaross888

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