Last week, Ben’s NSA Constitution Day speech emerged after a long “declassification” process.  One puzzle Ben grapples with in this speech is why reasonable, educated Americans have--and will continue to have--such a high level of discomfort with what the NSA and other intelligence agencies do. The types of activities NSA is asked to do and the secrecy with which NSA must do them both contribute to that discomfort, Ben argued, but they cannot fully explain it. After all, lots of what the U.S. Government does it does not do publicly. And that activity involves some of the most trusted institutions in the government: the military and the Supreme Court, for example. The types of activities don’t fully explain the mistrust either. Yes, some of what the intelligence community does is distasteful stuff. But FBI agents threaten to put people in small cells for the rest of their lives. The Bureau of Prisons has been known to execute people.

Ashley S. Deeks & Benjamin Wittes, The U.S. Intelligence Community and Non-Neutral Principles, Lawfare (February 26, 2015).