US Counterintelligence Executive Says NSA Doesn’t Have Adequate Resource to Monitor All Communications

Montoya described the US surveillance initiatives as “robust” but insisted they are purposely so
Montoya described the US surveillance initiatives as “robust” but insisted they are purposely so

Montoya, who works at the counter intelligence branch, office of the director of national intelligence, declared the debate around the surveillance programs in the wake of the Snowden story as “silly”. The discussion happening, he said “is a distraction. A lot of the things reported in the press are untrue. When I turn on the news and see the reputation of true heroes being dragged through the mud based on things they are not doing, it’s hard.”

The public’s reaction has not been an appropriate response to “the government outreach and the efforts of the tens of thousands of Americans dedicating their lives to protecting the country.” The public’s response, Montoya declared, is a “huge challenge to our national security”.

Montoya described the US surveillance initiatives as “robust” but insisted they are purposely so. “This is not to spy on law-abiding citizens”, he said. “It’s about targeting, neutralising and destroying threats to our country.”

21st Century Security

The challenge that we face as a country and a government, Montoya said, is that the threat has changed and “counter intelligence is working hard to enter the 21st century. We’re doing supply chain security, cyber security and looking at the insider threat”.

Collaboration between industry, government and academia is key to strengthening defense, Montoya told the audience. “We have a common goal: to protect national security secrets, progress markets, protect our economy, and innovate. “There’s absolute brilliance within government, but there’s tenfold absolute brilliance outside of government. We can’t do it by ourselves – industry is the front line. We need to engage, engage, engage; it’s the only way to overcome our challenges.”

“We may be late to the game”, he said referring to cybersecurity and the counter intelligence department, “but that’s always the way with government. We’re reactive and we need to change that. We need your great ideas to come up with solutions.”

As an example, he referenced the Espionage Act of 1996 “to prosecute those who try to undermine our national security from a business perspective. We practice that aggressively and have put hundreds of people in jail through espionage-related laws.”

Despite this success story, Montoya admits that U.S laws have failed to keep up with technology evolution. “The law has to keep up with technology to be more effective. Our infrastructure hasn’t kept up with changes in technology. How can we share information effectively if we’re worried about liability or market share and shareholder satisfaction? This is a chill on the relationship building we should be doing.”

Finally, Montoya declared ‘youth’ as a “significant national security issue.” We need “homegrown talent to protect our technology and economy. They are our future”, he concluded.

What’s hot on Infosecurity Magazine?