A former National Security Agency official says the decision to keep secret the collection of U.S. calling records was a strategic blunder that set the stage for Edward Snowden's unauthorized disclosures and ultimately harmed U.S. national security.

Joel Brenner was NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. He says NSA employees live in a glass house. Brenner gave a speech Friday marking the 40th anniversary of the congressional hearings into the intelligence scandals of the Watergate era. Brenner wonders how anyone could think the phone records collection program would remain secret?

Other officials have said they wished the government had been more transparent about the NSA domestic collection program, but none put it so starkly as Brenner did.