Joel Brenner

Joel F. Brenner specializes in cyber and physical security, data protection and privacy, intelligence law, the administration of classified information and facilities, and the regulation of sensitive cross-border transactions. He was Senior Counsel at the National Security Agency, advising Agency leadership on the public-private effort to create better security for the Internet. From 2006 until mid-2009, he was the head of U.S. counterintelligence under the Director of National Intelligence and was responsible for integrating the counterintelligence activities of the 17 departments and agencies with intelligence authorities, including the FBI and CIA and elements of the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security. From 2002 – 2006, Mr. Brenner was NSA’s Inspector General, responsible for that agency’s top-secret internal audits and investigations. He is the author of America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare.

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Snowden: What's the Harm?

What harm has Edward Snowden done to his country?

When Snowden asserts that the National Security Agency listens to encrypted Russian diplomatic traffic, it takes the Russians about twenty minutes to shut it down.  An operation like that can take many years to put in place.  When he explains exactly how NSA can implant devices that make it possible to extract information even from isolated networks of hostile governments, those operations will die on the vine.  When he identifies specific networks of adversaries that we have penetrated and the exact locations from which we have done it, he ef

Internet Metadata Collection

President Obama's Speech and PPD-28

I had two reactions to President Obama's address,  one general and another specific. First the general.  President Obama made a good speech today, both for what he said and what he didn't say.  He has already made clear, through his policies and practices, what he wants the Executive Branch to do.  If the Congress wants to impose new rules on an Agency that hasn't pursued programs that violate the existing rules, Congress must do it.  Pushing certain details to Congress was the right thing to do.  Now it's up to them to put up or shut up.

A Fruitcake of a Report

The Report of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is, like many such reports, a fruitcake. It’s chock full of tasty cherries---and other bits that are nuts. You have to pick out what’s what. Asking for an overall assessment is a disservice to the possibility of intelligent conversation. But this week, after futile attempts at subtlety with CNN and The Washington Post, my only comment that made the final cut was the overall assessment: If adopted in bulk, these recommendations would put us back to pre-9/11.


The Data on FISA Warrants

Now we know:  the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court bounces a quarter of the government’s applications for surveillance orders.  This according to statistics released this week by the court’s chief judge, Reggie Walton, in a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.