The NSA Under Pressure

And now, the battle for public opinion

As a rule, America's snoops and spooks don't like to talk about their work. But in recent days, National Security Agency director Keith Alexander has given one of the nation's largest intelligence outfits a different set of marching orders. "We need to help the American people understand what we're doing and why we're doing it," he told CBS's 60 Minutes on Dec. 15.

The reason for the urgency is that change is approaching. The leak of classified documents by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has prompted President Obama, the federal courts and Congress to reconsider some of the NSA's most...

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