In many cases, the NSA is simply implementing programs it was directed to carry out by the executive branch, lawmakers and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which authorized programs without always paying sufficient attention to privacy and civil rights implications. None of the programs the review board looked at were blatantly illegal or unconstitutional, according to Stone.
The NSA's willingness to engage with the Review Board to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of its various programs was refreshing, he said. NSA leaders were candid about their programs and open to incisive questioning. They were not, he said, "reflexively defensive."
Stone said there's little doubt that the NSA has thwarted numerous terrorist plots in recent years, and the agency "deserves the respect and appreciation of the American people."
Stone echoed recent remarks by NSA director General Keith Alexander and other officials responding to the Snowden leaks.
In a speech at the Black Hat security conference last year, Alexander contended that how assumptions about the NSA rampantly spying on people are wrong.
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