No U.S. intelligence agency has ever been under the kind of pressure being faced by the National Security Agency after details of some of its most secret programs were leaked by contractor Edward Snowden. Perhaps because of that pressure the agency gave 60 Minutes unprecedented access to NSA headquarters where we were able to speak to employees who have never spoken publicly before.
Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates. It is often said NSA stands for "never say anything," but tonight the agency breaks with that tradition to address serious questions about whether the NSA delves too far into the lives of Americans.
This whole article is a Catch-22. The whole organization is a Catch-22. Total transparency is the only thing that will make America trust the NSA, but transparency is the most harmful thing for them. What you're left with is selective transparency; in practice this means that Congress, who doesn't know a damn thing, chooses what's transparent and what's not, and then both the public (Snowden, journalists) and the NSA work their way around the laws for different reasons. It's a self-destructive system.
In the quote above, they say "look we're stopping attacks daily, so we hired thousands more people, spent more money, gathered metadata on more phone calls." Fine. If it's true, their actions (bar a few outliers that have come to light) are reasonable. If it's not, then they're running a pyramid scheme from inside the government. Only way to tell is to open the box and kill the cat.
In all seriousness I do not see a solution to this other than to allow the NSA to hold their course, make sure we never hire another man like J. Edgar Hoover and duck for cover next time someone tries to blow up a subway system. In all this Snowden mess I simply have not seen anyone -- not Greenwald, no one -- offering up an actual solution. There's no way out of this Catch-22 other than to severely limit the NSA's power in future and ... hope they were fucking lying about all the threats they deal with daily and good luck, America.