Monday, June 17, 2013

NSA, Surveillance, Secrets 2. Open Sources

A tremendous amount of information is in the public domain about the NSA and other intelligence agencies. It is true that you will not be told the details of specific programs, but you can get the general direction of most of what is going on, and rarely be completely surprised when the truth comes out. There are several reasons why this is true, e.g. that the information is public, but the major ones are: policy debate inside the government, competition for scarce resources, and various interested outside organizations that maintain archives of information and analysis in order to influence policy.

Here is a short list of my favorite sources in the areas of intelligence and national defense policy. There are many others.

1. George Washington University's National Security Archive

2. The Federation of American Sciences (

This pro-arms control group maintains an excellent collection of background material on matters related to defense and intelligence, in conjunction with

3. The CIA Online Library

4. The NSA Web Site

5. The Washington Post and the NY Times

Pretty much everything involving defense and intelligence is discussed in the Washington Post and the NY Times. The Post is better for details of Washington push and shove, both are good for broad strategy and policy issues. Any given article in the Washington Post is likely to have 100s if not 1000s of comments by crazed, angry partisans of one side of an issue or another.

6. Congressional Research Service

The CRS is a branch of Congress that prepares reports on various topics for the House and Senate.  I use the Open CRS archive and the FAS archive for the most part which can be found at:

For example, here is a report on "Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions".

Part 3:

No comments:

Post a Comment