United States

Foreign Affairs Article

Reforming the NSA

Authors: Daniel Byman and Benjamin Wittes

The long-running debate over the tradeoffs the United States should make between national security and civil liberties flared up spectacularly last summer, when Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, handed journalists a huge trove of heavily classified documents that exposed, in excruciating detail, electronic surveillance programs and other operations carried out by the NSA. Americans suddenly learned that in recent years, the NSA had been acquiring the phone and Internet communications of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens, as well as collecting massive volumes of bulk telephone records known as "metadata" -- phone numbers and the time and length of calls.

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Primary Sources

Remarks by Incoming SPFUSA Chairman Blair: Operational Impacts of Japan's New Security Policy and Capabilities on the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Admiral Dennis Blair spoke at Japan's New Security Policy and Capabilities: Domestic Politics, International Views and Practical Implications, a conference held April 30, 2014, at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA (SPFUSA). Admiral Blair was appointed SPFUSA chair on May 1, 2014.

See more in Japan; United States; Treaties and Agreements; Defense Strategy

Transcript

Bearing the Burden of Global Leadership

Speakers: Robert Kagan, Michael Mandelbaum, and Stephen Sestanovich
Presider: Gideon Rose

Weary from a decade-plus of foreign wars, the United States has pulled back from its traditional role of global leader and has pursued a less ambitious and more multilateral approach to addressing international crises. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins, and CFR's Stephen Sestanovich join Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose to discuss the prospects for renewed, more assertive U.S. leadership, or whether the current period of foreign policy retrenchment is likely to continue.

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Transcript

Guantanamo Bay Prison Likely to Remain Open for the Foreseeable Future

Speakers: Phillip Carter, Marc A. Thiessen, and Matthew C. Waxman
Presider: Richard N. Haass

Despite President Obama's stated goal of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, it continues to hold dozens of detainees. Phillip Carter of the Center for a New American Security, Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute, and CFR's Matthew Waxman join CFR President Richard N. Haass to discuss the costs, benefits, and risks of keeping Guantanamo open.

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Video

Bearing the Burden of Global Leadership

Speakers: Robert Kagan, Michael Mandelbaum, and Stephen Sestanovich
Presider: Gideon Rose

Weary from a decade-plus of foreign wars, the United States has pulled back from its traditional role of global leader and has pursued a less ambitious and more multilateral approach to addressing international crises. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins, and CFR's Stephen Sestanovich join Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose to discuss the prospects for renewed, more assertive U.S. leadership, or whether the current period of foreign policy retrenchment is likely to continue.

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Audio

Bearing the Burden of Global Leadership

Speakers: Robert Kagan, Michael Mandelbaum, and Stephen Sestanovich
Presider: Gideon Rose

Weary from a decade-plus of foreign wars, the United States has pulled back from its traditional role of global leader and has pursued a less ambitious and more multilateral approach to addressing international crises. Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins, and CFR's Stephen Sestanovich join Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose to discuss the prospects for renewed, more assertive U.S. leadership, or whether the current period of foreign policy retrenchment is likely to continue.

See more in United States; Politics and Strategy