If we are going to conduct espionage in the future, we are going to have to make some changes in the relationship between the intelligence community and the public it serves.

When I was at the CIA I asked my civilian advisory board to tackle some tough questions. Among the toughest: In a political culture that every day demands more transparency and more public accountability from every aspect of national life, could American intelligence continue to survive and succeed? That jury is still out.

Our nation counts on us to have the expertise and the insight to flag the risks and the opportunities that lie ahead, and to keep our eye on all the critical international concerns that face our nation right now.

Thoreau points out clearly that civil disobedience gets its moral authority by the willingness to suffer the penalties from disobeying a law, even if you think that law is unjust.

To be perfectly candid, we're better at stealing other people's secrets than anyone else in the world. But we self-limit. We steal secrets to keep our citizens free and safe.

One of the things that distinguishes the CIA from the State Department is that the CIA is both asked to, and authorized to, steal secrets. So if the question is whether the CIA steals secrets, the answer is yes.

We live inside a democracy, and you know, public will matters in a democracy. I just hope it's informed public will, and frankly, when the decisions are made, you understand the costs.

My experience has been that military assessments on 'how goes the war' are consistently more optimistic than those made by the CIA and other agencies.

If we don't get our relationship with the emerging People's Republic of China right, that is something that could lead to global catastrophe.

At the end of the 30 Years War then, Europe broadly decided to separate the sacred from the secular in its political culture. I know that is an oversimplification, but it is instructive, and it led to a growth in religious tolerance that has characterized the best of Western life since.

Access to the security clearance database would disgorge even more detailed personal information, including the foreign contacts of American officials.

ThinThread was not the program of record of my predecessor, Ken Minihan, OK. I did not make ThinThread the program of record while I was director. After I left in 2005, Keith Alexander also chose not to make ThinThread the program of record.

What Edward Snowden did amounted to the greatest hemorrhaging of legitimate American secrets in the history of my nation.

As director of CIA, I was responsible for everything done in the agency's name, and it didn't matter whether that was done by an agency employee, a government contractor, a liaison service on our behalf, or a source on our behalf.

When I was in government, what we would used to mystically call 'the kinetic option' was way down on our list. In my personal thinking - in my personal thinking, I need to emphasize that - I have begun to consider that that may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.

In the Cold War, a lot of Soviet actions could be explained as extensions of Czarist imperial ambitions, but that didn't stop us from studying Marxism in theory and Communism in practice to better understand that adversary.

The problem with cyber weapons for a country like ours is the ability to control them.

Once you're in a network, you can do a whole bunch of things to that network. It's just that NSA doesn't have the authority to do that.

My time in war zones have been fleeting and infrequent. I've been to Iraq. I've been to Afghanistan. I've been to other places where I've collected hazardous duty pay.

Global security can be formed or threatened by heads of state whose wisdom, folly and obsessions shape global events. But often it is the security practitioners, those rarely in the headlines but whose craft and energy quietly break new ground, who keep us safe or put us in peril.

It was a long, difficult summer of 2004. That was a leap year, so several things happened - the Olympics and presidential election. And right in the middle of the election campaign - and I don't think this was an accident - the 9/11 Commission delivers its report.

President Obama came to office with a strong belief that America had overreached, that we had become too involved. It matched the national mood, and indeed, there was some evidence that it was true.

One might oppose the CIA program, but Abu Ghraib it ain't.

I have spent my adult life working in American intelligence. It has been quite an honor. Generally well resourced. A global mission. No want of issues. And it was a hell of a ride.

In the great battle of Antietam, still the bloodiest day in American history, Union forces were led by Gen. George McClellan, an incredibly cautious man.

This program has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States.

Politicization - the shading of analysis to fit prevailing policy or politics - is the harshest criticism one can make of an intelligence organization. It strikes beyond questions of competence to the fundamental ethic of the enterprise, which is, or should be, truth telling.

NSA is a very conservative culture legally. Our lawyers at NSA were notorious for their conservatism up through the morning of September 11th, 2001. The single most consistent criticism of the NSA legal office by our congressional oversight committee was that our legal office was too conservative.

As much as we might look for opportunities to keep Iraq together, we need to be prepared for the reality that it's not going to stay together.

Intelligence collection is not confined to the communications of adversaries or of the guilty. Rather, it's about gaining information otherwise unavailable that would help keep Americans safe and free.

When I was director of the CIA, I knew that we had been - and I'm choosing my words very carefully here - effective in our expansion. We really had - expansion of government agencies and expansion of use of contractors. Effective, we were; efficient, we weren't. And so, as director of the CIA, I went after the inefficiencies part.

It's hard to brief in the Oval. You know, you can't - no visual aids, hard to roll out something in front of somebody.

I was an intelligence officer for what was then 8th Air Force, B-52 Air Force.

The point I wanted to make was, as we have moved forward on the war on terrorism, FISA has been increasingly effective in terms of results.

The first thing I did after getting a Master's degree - and the Air Force was very kind; they let me stay on at school to get a Master's - I went to Denver for the Armed Forces Air Intelligence School, six months. Fundamentally, we had a major effort on in Southeast Asia, and this was training folks to support that effort.

After the attacks on September 11th, we all learned lessons.

Americans are very practical folks. Accustomed to hard choices in their own lives, they are willing to give us in intelligence a lot of slack as we make the hard choices our profession demands.

American political elites feel very empowered to criticize the American intelligence community for not doing enough when they feel in danger, and as soon as we've made them feel safe again, they feel equally empowered to complain that we're doing too much.

Right after 9/11, I mean, every agency can give their own gradation, but a nice, popular rule of thumb is everybody doubled down. I ended up in the NSA with about twice as much money as I had prior to 9/11.

I don't know if the European Union contributes a great deal to espionage. At the union level, they talk about commerce and privacy. But to keep citizens safe, that remains a responsibility back in national capitals.

I don't want to be overly dramatic, but Iraq and Syria are gone, and they aren't coming back, at least not as centralized states.

Counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and counterintelligence are staples. The four countries of highest interest - Russia, China, Iran and North Korea - are constants.

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran had paused its nuclear weaponization work also reported with high confidence that such work had been going on through 2003. How far did they get? That's an important question, but I fear that the Iranians will never answer it, and we will not insist that they do.

Al Qaida changes; Al Qaida adapts. We have to adapt as well. We rely on resources to do that. Reducing resources beyond a certain point will make us less able to adapt as our enemy adapts.

The CIA held about a hundred detainees from 2002 to 2008; about a third of them underwent interrogations that have been variously described as enhanced, tough or torture. The toughest technique was water boarding, used on three detainees, the last in early 2003.

I used to have a little saying I used when people said, 'What are your priorities?' I'd give them a bit of government alphabet soup. I'd say 'CTCPROW: Counterterrorism, counterproliferation, rest of the world.'

The question is how much of your privacy and your convenience and your commerce do you want your nation's security apparatus to squeeze in order to keep you safe? And it is a choice that we have to make.

It's good to remind intelligence producers and consumers alike about the need to 'warn of emerging conditions, trends, threats and opportunities' and the potential for discontinuities.

National security looks different from the Oval Office than it does from a hotel room in Iowa.