The Brookings Essay


The Big Snoop: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorists

April 29, 2014, Stuart S. Taylor, Jr.

Last year, Edward Snowden's revelations about the massive scope of the National Security Agency's monitoring of phone records and online communications created a firestorm of controversy. The extent to which the NSA had intruded into the privacy of Americans and some foreign officials ​in its effort to protect national security—with the then-secret approval of Presidents Obama and Bush, a special surveillance court, and the congressional intelligence committees—brought the tension between liberty and security to the forefront. In this Brookings Essay, Stuart Taylor, Jr. collects the divergent views of four prominent experts to help understand what happened and to frame the debate over the future of the NSA in the post-Snowden era.