Surveillance: Snowden NSA Controversy

CSIS Statement of Principles for Rebuilding Trust in Intelligence Activities

By Benjamin Wittes
Monday, May 19, 2014, 5:55 PM

A group convened by the Center for Strategic and International Studies has issued a Statement of Principles for rebuilding trust in intelligence activities. It is signed by the following people:

  • Charles Blanchard, Former General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, U.S. Air Force
  • Steven Bucci, Professor of Terrorism and Cyber Policy Studies, Homeland Security Management
  • Institute, Long Island University
  • James Carafano, Former Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council
  • Michael Chertoff, Former Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Charles Croom, Former Director, Defense Information Systems Agency
  • Joan Dempsey, Former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management
  • Jamie Gorelick, Former Deputy Attorney General
  • John Hamre, Former Deputy Secretary of Defense and President, CEO, and Pritzker Chair, CSIS
  • Michael Hayden, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
  • Jon Kyl, Former Senator, Arizona, and Senate Minority Whip
  • Ronald D. Lee, Former Associate Deputy Attorney General
  • James A. Lewis, Senior Fellow and Director, Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS
  • Joseph Lieberman, Former Senator, Connecticut, and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security
  • Committee
  • Michael McConnell, Former Director of National Intelligence
  • John McLaughlin, Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
  • International Studies, and Former Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency
  • John Poindexter, Ret. Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy, and Former Assistant to the President for National
  • Security Affairs
  • Jeffrey Smith, Former General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, and Former General Counsel,
  • Senate Armed Services Committee
  • Mary Sturtevant, Former Senior Director, National Security Staff
  • Lou Von Thaer, President, National Security Sector, Leidos

The document opens:

Since Edward Snowden fled to Russia, leaking sensitive information to selected press outlets, we have watched an uneven debate within the United States and in foreign countries about America’s intelligence programs. Snowden’s leaks undermine the safety of Americans and our allies. The perception that communications surveillance programs have not helped prevent terrorist attacks is wrong and reflects a profound misunderstanding of how intelligence is gathered and used.

Intelligence does not work as it is portrayed in films—a single agent does not make a startling discovery that leads to dramatic, last-minute success. Success is the product of the efforts of teams of dedicated individuals from many agencies, using many tools and techniques, and working together to assemble fragments of data from many sources into a coherent picture. This kind of analysis is not a retrospective investigation, nor can it be limited to “known terrorists” as some have suggested. The intent of intelligence is to illuminate the unknown and prevent surprise. Assertions that a collection program contributes nothing because it has not singlehandedly prevented an attack show a lack of understanding as to how the United States conducts intelligence activities and analysis to prevent harmful acts or attacks against the America and its allies.

The individuals below strongly believe that intelligence, guided by rule of law, plays an irreplaceable role in America’s security. While not all intelligence actions can be made public, all must be fully subject to oversight by Congress and, where appropriate, the courts, and the goals, principles, and responsibilities of the intelligence community should be debated publicly. This is essential for democracy and for maintaining the trust of the American people. To provide a meaningful framework for public debate on domestic surveillance and foreign intelligence, we offer the following principles, not to end discussion, but to structure a more thoughtful one.