To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the public knows that the ultra-secret National Security Agency manages the nations spy satellites, but few know exactly why the NSA is the most powerful U.S. intelligence agencyor its roles in the Cold War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and Echelon, the worldwide NSA spying operation that, many charge, is illegally monitoring innocent citizens. No outsider knows more about the NSA than investigative journalist James Bamford, who began to research it before most members of Congress had even heard of it. In this talk, Mr. Bamford explained why he believes the NSA is a dangerous, two-edged sword.
Many people have wondered how technological progress will affect political, economic, and civil freedoms. With the rise of encryption software, the National Security Agency's Echelon worldwide surveillance system, and the FBI's Carnivore e-mail snooping program, this subject is no longer the exclusive domain of speculative thinkers or futurists, it is the subject of intense public-policy debate. Will privacy-enhancing technology improve faster than privacy-threatening technology? Should the government mandate privacy standards? Should it enforce contracts in cyberspace, or would private law do a better job? Economist, physicist, and legal scholar David Friedman discussed these and related questions about technological change and the case for and against government involvement.
Begun in the 1960s, government affirmative action policies are now in retreat in California, Washington, Florida, and many other states and localities in the U.S. Will such changes end America's racial divide or merely intensify it? Can the American Dream be colorblind or are racial preferences necessary to right the wrongs of past discrimination? Is affirmative action a force for fairness and justice or instead merely a "feel good" policy that cloaks the real barriers to social and economic advancement for the most disadvantaged? Ward Connerly and William Bagley, two distinguished members of the Board of Regents at the University of California, will debate this very timely and crucial issue.