SAN FRANCISCO -- Hundreds of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs heard a rousing defense of the National Security Agency from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who on Wednesday vigorously worked to justify the security complex created during her tenure in the White House and lambasted recent whistle-blowing efforts to expose the agency's spying programs.

Rice, who also served as national security adviser during George W. Bush's first tenure and is now a professor at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, delivered the keynote address during the VentureScape conference in San Francisco. The conference, put on by the National Venture Capital Association, brings together venture firms, investment banks and entrepreneurs from across the country.

Rice spoke very little about venture or entrepreneurship, but did address two issues near and dear to the Silicon Valley tech community: privacy and security, and immigration.

On security, Rice staged a heated defense of the NSA, staking out a position sharply at odds with much of the tech community, whose leaders such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have called on President Barack Obama to end programs that have allowed intelligence officers to collect data from Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other tech companies to spy on American citizens.

Just before Rice took the stage, Aneel Bhusri, co-CEO of Pleasanton-based cloud software company Workday, said it was a priority to "get the NSA out of technology."


Advertisement

Rice also pulled no punches for whistle blower Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked information showing how the agency used spyware to collect data on U.S. citizens by monitoring their Internet activity and is currently living in Russia, where he has temporary asylum.

"Edward Snowden didn't go to work for Disney. What did he think the NSA did?" Rice said. "His shock to discover that the NSA was spying is a bit suspicious. It's also a bit suspicious that he ended up in Vladimir Putin's Russia."