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Ohio State professors discuss cyber security in light of National Security Agency program leaks


Dakota Rudesill, an assistant professor at the Moritz College of Law, speaks at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies Oct. 3.
Credit: Andrea Henderson / Asst. multimedia editor

Implications of the Edward Snowden-National Security Agency scandal are still being uncovered, and differing opinions of the long term consequences can cause enough debate to fill up two hours.

That’s what happened Oct. 3, as the Mershon Center for International Security Studies presented a panel comprised of four Ohio State professors to discuss cyber security and intelligence issues which appeared after developments in technology and changes in policy.

Peter Mansoor, Gen. Raymond E. Mason Jr. chair in military history, John Mueller, Ralph D. Mershon senior research scientist, Dakota Rudesill, an assistant professor of law at Moritz College of Law, and Peter Shane, Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Davis chair in law, were the panelists.

In June, Edward Snowden leaked confidential information he had collected as an employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden revealed the NSA was monitoring phone records of Verizon’s U.S. customers, as well as using Internet surveillance programs, such as Prism, that allowed government officials to access things like search history, emails and file transfers from systems including Google and Facebook. All of this intended to detect and prevent terrorism, according to The Guardian.

Each panelist came to the Snowden debate from different sides. While Mansoor was an assistant to Gen. David Howell Petraeus in Afghanistan, Mueller was a research scientist, Rudesill was a lawyer in Congress and Shane was a constitutional law specialist.

Mueller initiated with a discussion of the point of the NSA and its relationship with the FBI and the CIA. The NSA sends hundreds of leads a day to the FBI, which then has to track them down, Mueller said, who asked if this was truly an efficient use of time.

Rudesill pointed out the new occurrences of what he called “secret law,” warrants that have full arguments looking like Supreme Court documents given by the Foreign Surveillance Court, which has jurisdiction over the NSA. These papers stay private, though they affect everyday people.

He said the court only hears one side of the proceedings when deciding to grant the warrants, and typically that is only the side of the person who wants the warrant. He called for a group employed by the government who would argue the side against granting the warrant.

Shane said the difference between “voluntarily given” information, such as the difference between a sender and a receiver on a phone call and what the phone call contains, are two things that have been under hot debate lately.

Finally, Mansoor said he believes Snowden hurt foreign policy more than he exposed problems in the NSA. He added that he believes these government agencies are important to national security.

“We need to temper policy with our need to protect,” Mansoor said.

Afterward, first-year in international studies Robin Smith said she was amazed at the panel’s discussion.

“My mind is kind of blown. I didn’t know about any of this before,” Smith said.

Smith said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go into national security, but she was thinking about it. Her professor, Gerry Hudson, said he was impressed she came to the event.

“It’s great that first year students like Robin come to these. It’s an advantage of Ohio State,” Hudson, a professor emeritus of political science, said.

Some private sector workers and other university’s professors also attended the discussion. Columbus State University sociology professor Mary Reiter came to the meeting to hear more about the implications of the Internet.

“I like to think about how the NSA request for data from Facebook, Google, and Apple impact(s) our expectation of privacy,” Reiter said.

One comment

  1. If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth, right? the Democrats' great accomplishment is producing the political equivalent of a Rodney King video, clearly demonstrating the lies of the right, the right Hilary Clinton correctly identified as a vast conspiracy. Confirm by examining Central District of California Cases, 01-4340, 03-9097, 08-5515, 10-5193, US Tax Court 12000-07L –though I think you want to view my US Tax Court Appeal to the 9th Circuit for a good account of their day to day assaults, a few month time slice indicative of a decade of assault, and, when it's completed, 9th Circuit 11-56043.
    Typically operating through puppets–including puppets in the judiciary–the right wing has for decades been committing crimes and trying to classify them to cover them up, a move explicitly forbidden by the Code of Federal Regulations. With either the approval or the willful ignorance of the judiciary the right has e killed & stolen several of my pets and routinely shoot energy weaponry at me and my pets, despite my calls to the police, the FBI, Congress, and despite my petitions in court. They've been placing dead cats in my path at a rate of one every few weeks or one a month, and shot out the eye of another stray a day after I advised a few strangers it had a particularly nice disposition. They ran over another animal last night, bloody and in the road, I suppose their defiant response that they're not going to stop trying to intimidate. There is really only one solution, and that's to disempower them politically. They are beyond sick, and belong in prison.

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