The National Security Agency at the Crossroads

April 3, 2014  |  8:30AM
AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center

As part of a larger effort to improve public understanding of last year’s events surrounding the National Security Agency, from April 3rd through 4th the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and the William P. Clements Jr. Center for National Security hosted a major interdisciplinary conference focused on the NSA. It covered topics including the history of the NSA, the role of the media in revealing classified information about its activities, the legal architecture in which it operates, the compliance and oversight mechanisms associated with the NSA, the diplomatic fallout from the recent revelations, and the prospects for reform.

Audio and video from the conference can be found below. In-depth bios of all speakers can be found here.

Evening Address
Speaker: Chris Inglis (NSA Deputy Director, 2006-Jan. 2014) [Click for audio]

Opening Address
Introduction: Bobby Chesney (UT)
Speaker: Admiral Bobby R. Inman (USN, Ret.; NSA Director, 1977-1981)

Session 1: The Role of Media
Moderator: Benjamin Wittes (Brookings Institution)
Participants: Siobhan Gorman (Wall Street Journal)
                     Shane Harris (Foreign Policy)
                     Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post)

Session 2: NSA in Historical and Diplomatic Perspective
Moderator: Jeremi Suri (UT)
Participants: Susan Landau (Author, Surveillance or Security? and Privacy on the Line)
                     Kristen Silverberg (Former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union)
                     James Simon (Former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Administration)

Lunchtime Address
Speaker: Bruce Schneier (Berkman Center, Harvard Law School) [Click for audio]

Session 3: The 21st Century Fourth Amendment
Moderator: Ahmed Ghappour (UT)
Participants: Hanni Fakhoury (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
                     Benjamin Powell (Fmr. General Counsel, Office of the Dir. of National Intelligence)

Session 4: The Metadata Debate
Moderator: Bobby Chesney (UT)
Participants: Steven Bradbury (Fmr. Acting Asst. Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel)
                     Jennifer Daskal (American University)

Session 5: The Content Collection Controversy
Moderator: Bobby Chesney (UT)
Participants: Timothy Edgar (Brown University)
                     Jennifer Granick (Stanford University)

Session 6: A Roundtable Discussion on the Compliance Program and Oversight Framework
Moderator: Ahmed Ghappour (UT)
Participants: John DeLong (NSA, Director of Compliance)
                    Alexander Joel (Civil Liberties Protection Officer, Office of the DNI)
                    Margo Schlanger (University of Michigan)

Session 7: The Prospects for Reform
Moderator: Bobby Chesney (UT)
Participants: Carrie Cordero (Georgetown)
                     Julian Sanchez (Cato)


The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin was founded to fulfill the legacy of its remarkable namesake by bridging the divides between academia, government, and the private sector and by integrating an array of disciplines, including law, history, political science, technology, and economics. It does so in service of its mission to develop non-partisan, policy-relevant insights and solutions for the most pressing international security challenges of the 21st century.

The William P. Clements Jr. Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin seeks to bring the insights of the past to national security policy through teaching and research at the intersection of history, strategy, and statecraft. It is a non-partisan center whose primary focus is on the uses of history by national security leaders and scholars, and its larger hope is to produce insights and habits that can help other leaders in the private sector, and help strengthen citizenship more broadly. It is committed to policy-relevant scholarship that addresses the most important strategic issues facing our nation today and in the coming decades. The Clements Center will honor the legacy of its namesake and bequeath it to the next generation of leaders.

This conference is part of the Intelligence Studies Project, a joint initiative of the Clements and Strauss Centers that seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Government’s Intelligence Community and similar institutions in service of other states—and, in some instances, in service of no state at all.