As with previous sets of talking points prepared for top intelligence officials, this latest document isn't afraid to invoke 9/11. It also cites a common statistic about the effectiveness of NSA surveillance, claiming that it contributed to the disruption of 54 terrorist plots since 2001. Critics challenge this figure, saying that less than a handful of those cases can be realistically connected to the snooping.
Another part of the talking points takes a thinly veiled shot at China.
"NSA does not and will not steal industry secrets in order to give U.S. companies a competitive advantage," it reads. Beijing has, on occasion, been accused of conducting economic espionage as a way to advance its political interests.
At other times, the talking points take a sloganeering turn.
"NSA performs its mission exceptionally well," it reads (its emphasis). "We strive to be the best we can be, because that's what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world."
The memo wraps with a bid for closure, pledging support for transparency and a willingness to make whatever reforms the White House sees fit. But at the dinner table, closure was probably elusive.
Hat tip: Christopher Soghoian