The Lawfare Podcast

Lawfare Podcast Episode #56: Inside NSA, Part V--An Interview with Fran Fleisch, the Agency's Acting Deputy Director

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, December 20, 2013, 7:00 AM

It’s the final episode of “Inside NSA: We Brought in a Recording Device So You Don’t Have To”—our special series of podcast interviews we've been running this week with senior NSA officials.

In the fifth and last installment, I speak with Fran Fleisch, the agency's executive director and---since Chris Inglis stepped down a few days before this interview took place---its acting deputy director. Since the Snowden leaks began, managing the agency's external relations has kept both General Keith Alexander and Inglis fully occupied, and Fleisch has basically functioned as the agency's front-line manager. As Shane Harris of Foreign Policy magazine put it in a recent profile, "on a day-to-day basis, Fleisch, who has spent her entire career at the NSA, is the person who's actually running the place." We talked about public perceptions of the agency, and the role---and limits---of transparency in changing them. We also talked about the agency's culture and how it would react to major changes from Congress.

The complete series, in addition to today’s episode, includes five interviews: Monday: Rajesh De, NSA’s general counsel Tuesday: John DeLong, the agency’s chief compliance officer Wednesday: Lonny Anderson, the head of the agency’s Technology Directorate Thursday: Anne Neuberger, Director of NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center. If you’ve enjoying this series, please subscribe to the Lawfare Podcast on iTunes or on whatever service you use to listen to podcasts.