FULTON, Mo., April 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A greater level of "conversation" regarding privacy and national security must be undertaken between the American people and Congress before the expiration of key provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) next year.
Richard Ledgett, deputy director and senior civilian leader of the National Security Agency (NSA), made the remarks while addressing several hundred students at Westminster College here today as part of Westminster College's "Year of Churchill," which celebrates the 70th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's immortal "Iron Curtain" speech on the campus.
Ledgett – who led the investigation against NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaking key government data -- said while the NSA is authorized to monitor communications for anyone believed to be engaged in terrorism, the NSA also is hunting for criminals engaged in underworld activities using the Internet.
"On the dark or hidden web, for example, you can buy drugs, weapons, or private data, or you can hire hit men or prostitutes," he said. "It is rich ground for criminals."
Ledgett said the public and Congress must "have an honest and open discussion and arrive at a consensus" about where Americans' individual privacy and security interests intersect because key intelligence programs will be up for reauthorization in December 2017.
He added the American public will soon begin "hearing more about this" later in the year as the reauthorization deadlines begin to approach. At the same time, he said, terror groups continue to be more and more decentralized, making America's intelligence efforts even more critical.
Introducing Ledgett, Westminster College President Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande said, "Sir Winston Churchill believed British military intelligence was the secret weapon that won World War II. Today, communications among terror groups has become very sophisticated and intercepting and interpreting this information is more vital than it was in Churchill's day."
Founded in 1851, Westminster College in Fulton, MO is one of the top liberal arts colleges in America, according to major educational ranking firms, including U.S.News & World Report, Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review and Washington Monthly.
The U.S. Department of Education, Niche.com, and SmartAsset.com have recently placed Westminster among the top five Missouri colleges and universities and, in the top five in the state for high-starting salaries for college graduates.
SOURCE Westminster College