James Bamford [Outlook, Nov. 14], in his expose of the National Security Agency's worldwide eavesdropping network, points out that he really doesn't believe the NSA is a bad guy. From his privileged demi-insider position, he can be "certain that the NSA is not overstepping its bounds." He just wants to protect us from what might happen if the NSA decides to break or evade laws. After all, back in the old days the agency had acted "as though the laws which applied to the rest of government did not apply to it."

As one who was involved during the Church-Pike episode in the '70s, I would point out that the NSA appeared both publicly and in closed session before Congress and demonstrated that it had every respect for the laws of this country. It took extraordinary internal measures to meet the requirements of Congress then and adopt a course of cooperation with the select committees on intelligence, which were created thereafter. Even as an outsider now, I cannot believe that the NSA would even tell Congress to "take a hike" or any like denial.

Mr. Bamford is correct in observing that our rights to privacy are at risk, but he is crying out at the wrong wolf.


New Carrollton

The writer was an NSA official from 1951 to 1980.