Bill Scher: The Liberal Case for the NSA
A great read by Bill Scher in Politico’s magazine section: The Liberal Case for the NSA.
Edward Snowden raised some eyebrows when he told NBC News, “people have unfairly demonized the NSA to a point that is too extreme.” The remarks that followed made clear he was only defending the National Security Agency’s working stiffs, not its leadership, mission or past history. But we should take that comment to heart and reflect on what the NSA has accomplished. During pivotal moments in history, America’s clandestine surveillance on its allies played a hidden role in dramatically advancing the cause of peace and freedom over the past half-century of international diplomatic relations.
The most significant and best-chronicled example is from mid-1945, when Secretary of State Edward Stettinius heavily relied on the NSA—technically, its precursor, the U.S. Army’s Signal Security Agency, or SSA—to successfully make various deals with other countries at the San Francisco Conference, which culminated in the drafting and signing of the United Nations Charter.
As detailed by the writer Stephen Schlesinger in his 2004 book Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations, Stettinius used the SSA to break the codes of intercepted diplomatic cables and learn the private views of nearly all the attending delegations before and during the April-to-June conference, informing the secretary’s negotiating strategy on a series of conflicts that threatened to derail the process.
The SSA helped Stettinius navigate the controversy over the admission of the once Nazi-friendly government of Argentina….