The NSA Report in the New York Review of Books

k10296[1]In the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books, David Cole writes a thoughtful article about two important public documents on government surveillance and the use of technology by the NSA: “Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” and the “Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court” by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

For those unfamiliar with the scope of the report Liberty and Security in a Changing World, here is Cole’s quick history of the report and the resulting policy changes:

Once American citizens learned that the NSA was collecting and searching records of every phone call they made, what had previously gone unquestioned suddenly prompted substantial soul-searching.

In December, a special panel of constitutional scholars and former national security officials appointed by President Obama issued a 303-page report asserting that the NSA’s surveillance, including but not limited to its metadata program, raised serious legal and policy concerns, and proposing forty-six reforms.

Among other things, the expert panel recommended that the NSA no longer house the phone metadata, but that it be left in private hands, and that the NSA be permitted to access the data only upon specific court orders approving specific searches. On January 17, President Obama gave a major national speech on the subject. While he acknowledged the serious privacy concerns that the NSA’s activities raise, Obama adopted only a few of his expert panel’s recommendations, including the two noted above.


But is it enough? Unfortunately, Cole’s article makes clear there is more to be done and failure to address these issues could be catastrophic. He concludes, “as both reports eloquently attest, unless we adapt our laws to address the ever-advancing technology that increasingly consumes us, it will consume our privacy, too.”

Princeton University Press is proud to announce that we will publish a paperback edition of “Liberty and Security in a Changing World” in April. Our edition will be the definitive historical document for personal, professional, and library use. The text will be lightly edited for typographical errors but will substantively be completely unchanged. Our hope is that in publishing this report in a traditional book form, we are creating an artifact that is useful and expands the readership of this important document beyond the boundaries of the internet.

For more information about our new book, please click here: