"We're undergoing a cultural change in this country, brought on by the communications revolution and the capabilities that we now have, and with the coming of the social media," Bob Schieffer of CBS News said recently at a high-powered forum on PRISM, the National Security Agency's program for monitoring telecommunications traffic in the United States.
"People of a younger generation than mine now put on Facebook things that people my age wouldn't have discussed in mixed company back then," he said. "I mean, people have a different idea of what privacy is now."
Whether 30-year-old NSA leaker Edward Snowden turns out to be a hero or a goat in the court of public opinion, he represents a fast-changing technoculture and a new generation of computer-friendly savants with access to vast digital databases of secret and sensitive information.
The millennials are moving from the shopping malls to info surveillance.
To Matthew Scott, also 30, the Snowden case — and others — should Taser-shock the U.S. intelligence network into rethinking its worldview. Scott, a Syracuse University graduate who served five years as a military intelligence officer, is now a management consultant in the intelligence community wing of a multinational corporation in Washington.
As a new wave of young Americans shift into key roles, Scott says that decision makers who want to craft a new "threat strategy" should:
1) Channel the strengths of the millennial generation instead of trying to force it to operate like the previous one.
2) Use the technological skills of young people — along with their sense of community and their global awareness — to self-police the workforce. That will help avoid leaks and avoid using the government's tremendous resources to do harm.
3) Create emergency release mechanisms to enable insiders to sound alarms if they are absolutely convinced something is going wrong.