James Bamford is the author of the classic The Puzzle Palace, the first book to open up the history of the National Security Agency (NSA) for all to see. It’s an amazing book, which the NSA attempted to squelch at the time of it’s publication, and is a must read if you’re at all interested in the history of this fascinating and secretive agency.

Since then, Bamford has continued to write on the intelligence services and especially the NSA, and Tuesday on Democracy Now he gave an hour-long interview the day that his newest book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America was released. The book comes out at an opportune time, as Congress is currently investigating allegations that the intelligence services spied on the personal, intimate conversations of US military personnel, non-governmental organizations, and journalists. Both of the whistleblowers currently speaking to Congress (Adrienne Kinne and David Murfee Faulk) were previously interviewed by Bamford for the book.

It’s a powerful interview, and I look forward to reading the book. Both Bamford and Amy Goodman realize the point that Bruce Schneier made today at his blog: Warrants are a security device. They protect us against government abuse of power.

Requiring a warrant is a protection for us, the people…not for the terrorists. The rule of law and the power of transparency (whenever possible, and as appropriate) are absolutely essential. Books like The Puzzle Palace and The Shadow Factory keep the sunlight shining into the dark cracks. Well worth reading, and the interview is astoundingly relevant to both the abuses of today, and to the electoral choices that we’re getting ready to make here in the US.

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