Professors question U.S. intelligence system lack of transparency

Seriatim inaugural speaker event leads American security debate, considers American privacy boundaries

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The recently launched Seriatim, a journal of American politics at the University, hosted its inaugural speaker event Tuesday evening to discuss American security and the boundaries of privacy in America.

History Prof. Philip Zelikow, the associate dean for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, began by describing the sheer size of the national security apparatus, which is often described as including the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency.

“Think about one of the larger public enterprises of the government, bigger than [the Department of Homeland Security] but not as big as the Department of Defense or Department of Health and Human Services,” he said. “It spends a total of $70 billion a year and employs somewhere 150,000–200,000 people more or less directly.”

When considering the structure of the intelligence system, both Zelikow and Law Prof. Frederick Hitz were quick to point out that not everyone is a spy. The professors said much of the work involves technical intelligence collection.

“It has been contractor help that has done a lot of the work,” Hitz said. “You wonder who really at the end of the day is in charge of managing this.”

The professors also discussed whether or not the United States has gone too far by wire tapping phones, specifically those of allied leaders abroad.

“Maybe I wouldn’t say gone too far as much as gone on too long,” Hitz said. “Technologically we were able to do more and more as each year passed and cover more territory without fully thinking through ‘Is this wise if it comes out, will we have complications with allies, is this necessary?’”

Seriatim is a journal of American Politics founded and edited by second-year College student Russell Bogue, second-year College student Ian Robertson and third-year College student William Cadigan. The journal consists of an online forum titled “Marketplace” with articles and papers on politics, as well as a blog written by editors called “Publius.” The group also publishes a semi-annual “best of” print journal and hosts speakers and event series called “Speaker’s Corner.”

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