Timothy Edgar is a civil liberties lawyer who has worked both for Mr. Clapper of the DNI and for the American Civil Liberties Union. He offers his thoughts on increasing transparency in an OpEd in the WSJ. Here’s an excerpt
President Obama should go further, wresting control from the leakers and restoring trust with the public. He should ask Mr. Clapper to look across the intelligence community and disclose to the public the types of large databases it collects in bulk, under what legal powers or interpretations, and pursuant to what safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy—while keeping necessary details secret.
Many aspects of surveillance must remain secret. For example, the government should never provide a list of companies from which it acquires big data sets. Despite what Americans see in the movies, the NSA doesn’t actually collect everything. Knowing which companies are included and which are not would tip off terrorists about how to avoid detection—telling them which providers to use and which to avoid. Likewise, the government will never be able to confirm or deny whether particular people are under surveillance, but it should avoid the temptation to use this necessary secrecy to avoid meeting legal challenges to its activities. The government has good arguments for why its programs are both vital for national security and perfectly constitutional. It should make them.
Read more of his OpEd on the Wall Street Journal.