Interview with NSA expert James Bamford


No one, it can be argued, knows more about the history of the National Security Agency than James Bamford. The investigative journalist, who served in the Navy and attended law school in his native Boston, has the distinction of having written the first book about the NSA: “The Puzzle Palace: A Report on NSA, America’s Most Secret Agency.”

Since that 1982 best seller, Bamford has written three more books that delve into the NSA: “Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency” (2001); “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies” (2004); and “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret N.S.A. From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” (2008).

A former distinguished visiting professor at the Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, Bamford now lives in Washington, D.C., and London.

He answered questions by email about the NSA in light of the recent case of Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the agency who leaked details of classified mass surveillance programs, including PRISM, which collects metadata from Internet sites.

Q: What do you make of Edward Snowden’s actions?

A: With regard to the information he released on domestic surveillance, I consider him a whistleblower. He revealed details of massive violations by the NSA of the privacy rights..

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