George W. Croner, a Senior Fellow at FPRI, is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (with distinction) and a 1980 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (with honors).
From 1984 through 1988, while holding the highest security clearance authorized by the U.S. government (TS/SCI), Mr. Croner served in the Operations Division of the Office of General Counsel at the National Security Agency (NSA) which had legal oversight responsibility for NSA’s signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations, including compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). During this same period, Mr. Croner also was NSA’s principal litigation counsel and, in that capacity, represented NSA’s interests in a variety of litigation matters implicating the security interests of NSA’s SIGINT operations including: Westmoreland v. CBS (the defamation lawsuit brought by General William Westmoreland that raised issues concerning the intelligence information used to assess North Vietnamese troop strength during the Vietnam War); U.S. v. John Walker (espionage prosecution); U.S. v. Jerry Whitworth (espionage prosecution); U.S. v. Wu-tai Chin (espionage prosecution); and U.S. v. Ronald Pelton (espionage prosecution). The Pelton case, in particular, involved some of NSA’s then-most sensitive SIGINT collection programs. Mr. Croner was awarded a Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) for his work in connection with these espi-onage prosecutions.
In addition to these litigation matters, Mr. Croner also served as the NSA representative to the White House interagency group assembled to review and, where possible, declassify intelligence information associated with the Iran-Contra investigation. In this capacity he assisted the Tower Commission, congressional intelligence committees, and the Independent Counsel regarding security matters related to the use and understanding of NSA intelligence product.
For his efforts with the interagency group, Mr. Croner received a letter of appreciation from President Ronald Reagan, and was awarded a second DMSM.
Following his service with NSA, Mr. Croner spent 28 years in the private practice of law but, after leaving NSA, he maintained his interest in NSA and inelectronic surveillance as it relates to the collection of foreign intelligence information.
His work and publications regarding FISA, signals intelligence and foreign intelligence collection have appeared on multiple media platforms, and he is a member of the The Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
Electronic surveillance represents the most important foreign intelligence collection tool available to the U.S. government. Correspondingly, the ability to surveil constitutes one of those activities most susceptible to abuse by a government against...