Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, writing in the New Republic, strongly defends the NSA surveillance program. He has read through the documents and argues that the two August 15 recent Washington Post stories have drawn the wrong inferences from the facts. He criticizes the Obama administration for not forthrightly defending the program and provides his own ringing defense, which I find convincing:

“Shameful as it is that these documents were leaked, they actually should give the public great confidence both in NSA’s internal oversight mechanisms and in the executive and judicial oversight mechanisms outside the agency. They show no evidence of any intentional spying on Americans or abuse of civil liberties. They show a low rate of the sort of errors any complex system of technical collection will inevitably yield. They show robust compliance procedures on the part of the NSA. And they show an earnest, ongoing dialog with the FISA Court over the parameters of the agency’s legal authority and a commitment both to keeping the court informed of activities and to complying with its judgments on their legality. While it took a criminal act to make this record public, we are deeply proud of this record and make no apologies for it.”