Julia Laurence joined Stanford in Government this fall.
Last Wednesday I frantically pulled on a dress and heels after class and pedaled over to Cemex Auditorium for my first event as a new member of Stanford in Government. I arrived early to help usher in guests and hand out question cards for the SIG Special Events Committee’s first big gig of the academic year: an conversation with former National Security Administration and Central Intelligence Agency director General Michael Hayden led by Amy Zegart, a Stanford professor. In partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Center for International Security and Cooperation, SIG welcomed guests of all ages, including students, faculty, alumni, and community members.
After an introduction by Phil Taubman, a consulting professor at CISAC, General Hayden spoke with Amy Zegart about the government’s collection of telephone metadata. “To listen to these calls would not just violate the laws of the United States. It would violate the laws of physics,” Hayden said.
Hayden was witty and spoke with candor—that is, with as much candor as a man who knows the world’s secrets can speak. One of the most enthralling portions of the interview was General Hayden’s description of his morning on September 11, 2001. He described a moment that evening when he visited the translators working in a room at the NSA headquarters, complete with blackout curtains. With emotions running high, he said that he could not say much; instead, he patted them on the shoulder and thanked them for their work. General Hayden emphasized that after 9/11, keeping America free required making Americans feel safe again. Hayden’s interview was welcomed by enthusiastic applause from the audience and a softball-question-free Q&A session.
Afterward, members of SIG met with General Hayden and other distinguished guests for a reception at the GSB Library. I look forward to working with my teammates on the Special Events Committee and other SIG members to plan other events for the Stanford community this year!