By Emma Leeds Armstrong and Quito Tsui
By Emma Leeds Armstrong, ’18, and Quito Tsui, ’18
In November, Stanford in Government members attended a lecture by National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers. Rogers, who had been director of the agency for only eight months at the time of the event, fielded questions from faculty, students, and the press for nearly an hour.
First, Rogers described the importance of working with Silicon Valley to engage technology workers in a discussion about “what the NSA is and what it is not.” Rogers said that the NSA competes with Silicon Valley companies for the same workers. Appealing to potential tech employees, Rogers said, “We’ll give you an opportunity to dedicate yourself to something that is bigger than you: service to the nation.” Rogers also expressed a desire to work with Silicon Valley to combat cyber attacks.
Many later questions referred to the summer 2013 incident involving Edward Snowden, the intelligence contractor for the NSA who leaked information about the agency’s efforts to collect phone and email data. Addressing this incident, Rogers said, “A fundamentally strong internet is in the best interest of the United States.” He went on to say that the increasingly encrypted products of technology companies pose a challenge to the NSA’s efforts to ensure America’s security on the internet. But, he said, the agency is prepared to deal with that challenge.
Rogers’ conciliatory tone provided an interesting contrast to another speaker SIG welcomed to campus this year. Former NSA and CIA Director General Michael Hayden was unapologetic about the agency’s surveillance programs. However, neither director minced words when describing their agency’s mission to protect the American people.