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Hanlon Was on NSA Board

Here’s something that I’d like to hear Phil Hanlon talk about at length in a Presidential lecture to the Dartmouth community: his thirteen years on the NSA Advisory Board. An excerpt of Phil’s 2009 CV:

Hanlon 2009 CV NSA.jpg

Phil’s involvement with the Board is no secret. He has already commented on its activities in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

One of the few academics to publicly acknowledge recent participation on the panel is Philip J. Hanlon, president of Dartmouth College.

He spent about 13 years on the board, until 2007, while a professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor…

Even universities and researchers that aren’t interested in dealing directly with the NSA or doing classified work may be helping out, Mr. Hanlon said. That’s because the NSA often will try to “extract the mathematical question out of their problem,” widening the pool of university researchers who could work on it without getting involved in classified details, he said.

Leading areas of research include number theory, which is a source for encryption protocols; the development of algorithms and processes to more efficiently map and sort large amounts of data; the development of faster computers and better storage systems; and the testing of computer vulnerabilities…

The NSA may have other ways of using universities to further its agenda. The Johns Hopkins University, a leading recipient of classified-research dollars, made headlines last year when it asked Matthew D. Green, an assistant research professor of computer
science, to remove a blog posting that referred to news articles about leaked NSA documents concerning encryption technologies.

Mr. Green, who was later allowed to repost the item, said he is among those waiting for university researchers to reassess their ties to the NSA. “I know a lot of computer scientists who are upset about the NSA revelations,” he said. “But I haven’t seen any of this break out into a more coherent national debate.”

Phil is a good listener, and he stays on message, but he could teach us all a great deal — and establish greater credibility as a thinker and a public intellectual — if he were to share his experiences and thoughts regarding the NSA and Edward Snowden’s revelations. Over to you, Phil.

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