The summer’s headlines—from how to verify the Iran deal to combatting the self-declared Islamic State to, most recently, new revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the telecom giant AT&T—all have something in common: the role of intelligence in keeping the United States safe. For better or worse, since the release of diplomatic cables from Wikileaks and classified NSA documents from former government contractor Edward Snowden, the American public has a deeper understanding of at least some of the ways that intelligence contributes to U.S. national security. The NSA documents were the source of The New York Times’ recent story about AT&T helping the NSA spy on a huge amount of U.S. Internet traffic. A mostly healthy debate about how to balance security and privacy has become a standard part of public discourse, and intelligence professionals are contributing usefully to the conversation. In the process, intelligence, and its relationship to policymaking, has evolved.
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