We all know there is no shortage of bad guys in the world who would do us harm and destroy our country’s way of life. There are a number of people and reasons why the United States has not been significantly attacked again at home since 9/11, but the NSA deserves a significant share of the credit for our safety. 

Make no mistake, we have spent billions of tax dollars building up the technical capabilities the agency has at its disposal, but it is the human factor that is truly remarkable. These folks are impressive. From the support staff who met me at the gates, to the Deputy Director who briefed me (he reminded me of the TV character Leroy Gibbs of the show NCIS), NSA is staffed with the crème de la crème of what our country has to offer. They need to be. Tthe judgments they make are often real time and critically important.

As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that governs how these agencies work in the shadows on our behalf, let’s remember the following: with great power comes great responsibility. Everyone must follow the rules, and no one is above the law. The NSA has built a culture of compliance and the folks I met with struck me as patriots who believe in and are committed to upholding the Constitution and protecting our rights as Americans. However, any organization is only as strong as its weakest link. We must support them in their effort to keep us safe, but at the same time, be vigilant to protect our privacy and our Constitution. 

The team I met at NSA Fort Mead is up to the task.