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Sounds of Silence: Intelligence and Digital Listening in the Information Age


Michael Wertheimer, Ph.D., Director of Research for NSA


Throughout America’s experience with
secret intelligence, sound was the chief medium in which information was
culled. Eavesdropping, wiretaps, SONAR, the deciphering of radio signals (open
air and encrypted), and the planting of “bugs” comprised the bulk of the
nation’s intelligence gathering effort. Yet in this information / cyber era, as
intelligence organs have vied to keep pace with breathtaking developments in
technology, the nature of collection has changed; no longer purely aural, the
“sounds” of intelligence are increasingly electronic.


Henceforth the metaphor “listening for
clues” has taken new meaning. Recent events including National Security Agency
revelations from disaffected contractor Edward Snowden and concomitant widespread
concern about corporate surveillance of consumer Internet activity have
triggered national debate about the efficacy of modern intelligence gathering.
From such controversy, a question arises: how has the apparent transformation
in intelligence collection affected the public’s understanding of the nation’s
intelligence activity? Join us as we welcome Michael Wertheimer, Ph.D.,
Director of Research of the National Security Agency, for an analysis of the
evolution of sound in the domain of intelligence collection–dissecting
consequences and assessing their implications from early 20th century to

Event Date: 


Event Time: 

5:00 pm


Stiteler B21