James Bamford

Everyone’s a Target: How America Lost Control of the National Security Agency, and Can It Be Reined In?

James Bamford is an author and investigative journalist best known for his writing about U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the National Security Agency (NSA). He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Wired. Bamford was an intelligence analyst during the Vietnam War, and earned a J.D. degree from Suffolk University Law School. In 1982, he released The Puzzle Palace, the first major book on the NSA. The Shadow Factory, published in 2008, was a New York Times best-seller. The book chronicles the NSA’s new role in post-9/11 America.

Bamford has been a distinguished visiting professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, and was recently awarded a Poyner Fellowship at Yale Law School. He is currently working on a new documentary for PBS and BBC.

About this Lecture

Now as new and astonishing revelations about NSA continue to appear almost daily, Bamford takes a close look at the agency— an agency created in absolute secrecy with even Congress kept in the dark—and how it went out of control. From secretly collecting everyone’s telephone data (and storing it for five years) on the theory that everyone who can pick up a phone is a possible criminal, to bugging the personal cell phones of friendly allied leaders, to keeping track of visits to porn sites of innocent Americans to secretly destroy their reputations, the NSA has gone far beyond what anyone could have imagined. Fresh back from visits to Glenn Greenwald in Rio and Laura Poitras in Berlin, the only two people in control of Edward Snowden’s complete set of documents— estimated by the NSA to be up to 1.7 million pages—Bamford offers his thoughts on Snowden, privacy, and whether the agency can ever be reigned back in.



This summer, Bamford visited Russia for several weeks to intervew Edward Snowden. During this time, Bamford had unprecedented access to Snowden, spending three days with him—the most time anyone was had with Snowden since he has been a fugitive in Moscow. Bamford&’s interviews with Snowden form the basis for the September 2014 cover story in Wired magazine. He was interviewed on the PBS News Hour and The Today Show upon his return.

Featured Books


Helpful Links

Charlie Rose Special
James Bamford on NSA spying and Edward Snowden
12 June 2014

The Spy Factory
PBS Nova special on the NSA written and directed by Bamford
03 February 2009

They Know More Than You Think
Bamford’s article on NSA surveillance in The New York Review of Books
15 August 2014

Connecting the Dots on PRISM
Bamford’s article on NSA cellular surveillance published in Wired
06 June 2013

The Secret War
Bamford’s article in Wired detailing NSA cyberwarfare and former chief Alexander’s power
12 June 2013

The Country’s Biggest Spy Center
Bamford’s article in Wired on the NSA’s new data center in Utah
15 March 2012