NSA and the Murky Relationship Between Contractors, Government Secrets and Journalism
National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander this week defended the private sector's cooperation with the agency's electronic surveillance programs, telling Congress the companies involved are being punished in the media for meeting legal obligations under U.S. law and helping to save lives.
'We have compelled industry to help us…by court order,' said Alexander, during testimony Oct. 29 before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 'And what they're doing is saving lives' in the U.S. and around the world. 'And it's the right thing to do,' Alexander said.
But what if you're a chief technology officer employed by a global IT and telecommunications company that holds U.S. government contracts and you're also being paid by the Guardian newspaper in London to study the classified NSA documents? And what if you then write editorials for that same newspaper encouraging others with access to classified information to expose it to the public? Is that the right thing to do and, more important, does it raise legal or contractual questions for your employer?