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The Daily Tar Heel

NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers pushes for transparency

He warned the audience to use caution when sharing information online.

“We need to know that someone out there has an interest in you,” he said. “You need to sit down and think about what we are comfortable with.”

Admiral Michael S. Rogers, director of the NSA and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, visited Chapel Hill as part of a speaker series co-sponsored by UNC’s Department of Peace, War and Defense and the Triangle Institute for Security Studies.

He added that he wants the NSA to prioritize conversations with citizens as the agency looks to combat national cybersecurity problems.

“A world of great security but limited freedom, I have zero interest in the U.S. being a part of. But a world of limited security but great freedom, with my two sons, I have no desire in the U.S. being a part of. We need a balance between freedom and security,” he said.

He said the NSA treats cyberwarfare like nuclear warfare.

Rogers then defined the job of the NSA, saying it collects foreign intelligence and defends U.S. information.

“We are a foreign intelligence agency,” he said. “We do not collect information from U.S. citizens. I must get that authority from a judge. We do not violate the law.”

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said in 2013 that the organization collected metadata from phone calls of U.S. citizens. The NSA is required to seek approval from a special judge before it can collect a citizen’s data, but the court has received criticism for rarely turning away the organization’s requests.

Rogers said the court oversight was added after the agency overstepped its boundaries in the 1960s and 1970s.

“It saddens me as an intelligence official that those in my job before me would do that,” he said. “How do we do the things we think we need to do while creating a trust in what we’re doing? My argument would be that being completely open to telling everything that happens.”

When prompted about steps the NSA is taking regarding the Islamic State group, he said that part of the agency’s job is to find out how the terrorist group is making money and try to stop these inputs.

Ted Moore, a Chapel Hill resident, was appreciative of Rogers’ remarks.

“It’s very refreshing to see these men mix it up at ground level with folks like us,” he said.

Jason Welsh, who lives in Fearrington Village, added that he was glad Rogers encouraged dialogue between the NSA and the public.

“There’s an understanding, there’s an accountability, and they’re working on our behalf,” he said.

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