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Overview:

Part of the American Intelligence Community, the National Security Agency (NSA) has long been one of the federal government’s most secretive spy operations. Created during the Cold War, the agency spent its first four decades trying to intercept the communications of Soviet spies, officials and allies in an attempt to learn of their plans and operations. This work required agency officials to develop sophisticated eavesdropping technology that could be employed from almost anywhere in the world, from land to sea to space. By the end of the 1990s, however, the NSA was struggling to keep up with the Internet and wireless age and still successfully monitor America’s new enemy: terrorists. Attempts to upgrade the agency’s capabilities have not been successful this decade, and its spying on Americans by order of President George W. Bush thrust the NSA into one of the most heated controversies in U.S. politics today.

 
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History:

The United States first began to experiment with electronic intelligence gathering during World War I when the U.S. Army created the Cipher Bureau (MI-8) within the Military Intelligence Division (MID) under Herbert Yardley. MID assisted the radio intelligence units in the American Expeditionary Forces and in 1918 created the Radio Intelligence Service for operations along the Mexican border. Yardley’s shop became known as the “Black Chamber” because of its secretive work, which continued after the war ended until 1929 when the Army and State Department terminated the program.

 

The Army continued some of Yardley’s work through the Signal Intelligence Service of the Army Signal Corps under the direction of William F. Friedman. Meanwhile, the Navy established a cryptanalytic function in 1924 in the “Research Desk” under Commander Laurance F. Safford in the Code and Signal Section within the Office of Naval Communications. While emphasis was on the security of American military communications, both the Army and Navy developed radio intercept, radio direction finding, and processing capabilities prior to World War II.

 

The U.S. military achieved particular successes against Japanese diplomatic communications during World War II as code breakers managed to decipher Japan’s system. As the war progressed, military leaders realized the value of this intelligence work and gradually devoted more men and resources to these operations. However, the most important achievement in electronic spy warfare came in 1943 in a Bell Telephone laboratory. There, an unnamed engineer was working on one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive Teletype machines used by the Army and Navy to transmit wartime communications that could defy German and Japanese cryptanalysis. The engineer inadvertently noticed that in another part of the lab an oscilloscope was registering spikes each time the teletype stamped out an encrypted letter. The discovery meant that Teletypes—and all other information processing machines—sent out energy signals that could be captured, thus revealing the information being transmitted, even if coded. This scientific breakthrough had enormous ramifications for electronic spying after the war, although for the time being, the Bell lab discovery was forgotten.

 

Toward the end of WWII, the American military services created a coordinating body to facilitate communications intelligence (COMINT) cooperation—the Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (ANCIB). In late 1945, the State Department was added to the board, changing it to the State-Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (STANCIB). STANCIB evolved in 1946 into the United States Communications Intelligence Board (USCIB), which added the FBI as a member.

 

In 1947, Congress and President Harry Truman passed the National Security Act of 1947, a landmark piece of legislation that created the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. The CIA became a member of USCIB, which received a new charter as the highest national COMINT authority in the federal government. In the meantime, the armed services continued to work on their own cryptologic operations, including the newly established U.S. Air Force. Some military commanders discussed the possibility of merging all military intelligence and communications (COMSEC) efforts to avoid duplication and wasting of resources.

 

In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson liked the idea of combining COMINT and COMSEC and subsequently ordered the issuance of JCS Directive 2010, which established the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA). The new agency was charged with running COMINT and COMSEC operations, excluding only those that were delegated individually to the Army, Navy and Air Force. The JCS directive also established an advisory council within AFSA known as the Armed Forces Security Agency Council (AFSAC). The organization became the mechanism through which AFSA reported to the JCS.

 

This operational structure had its problems, however, as military and civilian leaders realized that having AFSA report through the Joint Chiefs encumbered the new agency’s duties. On December 13, 1951, President Truman selected a special committee, the Brownell Committee, to study the problem and come up with a solution. The conclusion was that the communications intelligence body should have more than a military chain-of-command structure. On October 24, 1952, President Truman signed a secret memo that transformed the AFSA into the National Security Agency (NSA) and removed the JCS as the authority over it. Instead, NSA’s director reported to the Secretary of Defense, who served on a special committee of the National Security Council that included the Secretary of State and the Director of Central Intelligence.

 

The CIA told officials at the new NSA that they had been playing with the Bell Teletype machines and found they could pick up the invisible signals given off from a quarter mile away. This led NSA researchers to begin studying “compromising emanations” as part of the ultra-secret Tempest program to find ways of intercepting Soviet communications.

 

In 1972, the NSA was given the added authority over all cryptology efforts employed by the armed services. As a result, the agency’s name was officially enlarged to the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS), however most government officials continued to refer to the agency as simply NSA.

 

From the 1950s onward, the NSA helped develop advanced communications technology that could steal communications from offshore (on listening ships) or high above in the atmosphere (using spy satellites). As the means for accumulating information grew, the agency needed greater capacity for storing and analyzing secret data. This led its researchers to conduct pioneering work that led to the development of the first supercomputers. NSA experts also became skilled cyber warriors as the Internet age unfolded with the forming of elite teams of computer hackers capable of testing any corporate or government web site’s firewall protections.

 

Despite its many successes on the high-tech frontier, the NSA found itself by the turn of the 21st century falling behind the technology curve. In 1999, Air Force General Michael Hayden took command of the agency and set out to modernize the agency’s technological capabilities. Hayden implemented a modernization program called Trailblazer designed to upgrade NSA computer systems and other equipment and improve the agency’s ability to intercept and sort cell phone, email and other communications. Trailblazer, however, experienced cost overruns and other problems, and was canceled (see Controversies). It was replaced a year later by another data-mining program called Turbulence. The NSA also became mired in one of the biggest scandals of the Bush administration when it was revealed that the White House had ordered the agency to conduct domestic eavesdropping without warrants or authorization from Congress.

NSA History Archive by George Washington University

Declassified NSA Document Reveals the Secret History of TEMPEST (by Ryan Singel, Wired)

Inside NSA Red Team Secret Ops With Government's Top Hackers (by Glenn Derene, Wired)

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What it Does:

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA) specializes in cryptology, the science of coding and decoding information. The agency conducts highly specialized intelligence gathering activities to locate threats to U.S. government information systems and other American vital interests. A high technology organization, the NSA develops cutting-edge communications and data processing capability and performs foreign language analysis and research.

 

Most NSA/CSS employees, both civilian and military, are headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, and perform work as analysts, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, linguists, computer scientists, researchers, security officers and data flow experts. The NSA employs the country’s premier cryptologists, many of whom are mathematicians. In fact, the agency is the largest employer of mathematicians in the United States. These number crunchers design cipher systems to protect U.S. information systems from being compromised and search for weaknesses in the systems and codes of American enemies.

 

NSA’s work is divided into two main divisions: Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA). SIGINT uses sophisticated eavesdropping technology to spy on foreign powers, organizations or persons and international terrorists. Information gathered by SIGINT is delivered to military leaders and policy makers.

 

The IA detects and responds to cyber threats; makes encryption codes to securely pass information between systems; and embeds IA measures directly into the emerging Global Information Grid. It includes building secure audio and video communications equipment, making tamper protection products and providing trusted microelectronics solutions. It tests the security of IT systems of government agencies and other partners and evaluates commercial software and hardware against nationally set standards.

 

The IA also includes the National Information Assurance Research Laboratory, the federal government’s premier information assurance research and design center. The lab's extensive in-house research program covers cryptographic algorithms, photonics, operating systems like SELinux and advanced intrusion detection tools.

 

The NSA runs the National Cryptologic School, one of six Cryptologic Training Schools within the United States Cryptologic System (USCS). The school consists of three teaching departments that offer instruction in Cryptology, Information Assurance, Language and Leadership.

 

Although its operations are top secret, NSA does provide some information for public consumption, including the following areas on its Web site:

Academia

Business Opportunities

Career Opportunities

Central Security Service

Contact Information

Cryptologic Heritage

Declassification Initiatives

FAQs

Information Assurance Guide (pdf)

News

NSA Job Information

Press Releases

Research

Speeches and Congressional Testimony

 

From non-NSA sites:

NSA Watch

The Evolution of Intrusion Detection Systems (by Paul Innella, SecurityFocus)

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Where Does the Money Go:

Until this decade, officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) relied almost exclusively on its in-house experts to develop new technology that the agency required. But under the leadership of Director Michael Hayden (1999-2005), the NSA for the first time began handing out multimillion-dollar contracts to companies to acquire high-tech equipment and services.

 

One of the largest initiatives launched by Hayden was Trailblazer, a multi-company program designed to upgrade NSA’s ability to intercept cell phone calls, emails and other electronic communications. Initially, the agency awarded three prime contracts in 2001 for concept studies that would define the shape and cost of Trailblazer. The prime contracts were awarded to Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and TRW, which were expected to hire more than 30 subcontractors to complete the work. The value of the contracts was not released.

 

The NSA decided in 2002 to make Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) the main contractor on the project, awarding a $280 million contract to a team of businesses led by SAIC for development of the Technology Demonstration Platform (TDP) project in support of Trailblazer. Other companies on SAIC’s team included Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Northrop Grumman.

 

Conquest, Inc., which first was given a five-year, $57 million contract to provide systems engineering and support to help NSA modernize its signals intelligence computer programs, was later awarded another deal worth $140 million for work on Trailblazer.

 

In addition to Trailblazer, almost 40 companies received contracts to support NSA’s Groundbreaker initiative to improve the agency’s IT infrastructure, with Computer Sciences Corporation being the biggest winner with a 10-year deal worth $5 billion.

 

In 2007, the NSA was awarded contracts to General Dynamics and L-3 Communications for delivery of mobile, handheld devices intended for unclassified and classified voice and data traffic as part of the Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME PED) program. The device, which was in development since 2005, has become standard equipment for certain federal government employees and, in 2011, was issued to top brass in the U.S. Air Force. General Dynamics received $300 million over five years for its work developing the device. Financial details were not provided for L-3 Communications.

 

Raba Technologies landed two $100 million contracts with the NSA, one of which was for engineering and software services. The company specializes in systems integration and software development and counts Sun Microsystems and the Pentagon among its customers.

 

In 2010, the NSA awarded a $10-million contract to ViaSat, a satellite equipment manufacturer, to enhance the agency’s network encryption technology; and a $1.5 billion contract to DPR Construction for the building of a new NSA data center at Camp Williams, Utah.

 

NSA awards $140 million systems contract (by Dawn S. Onley, Government Computer News)

CSC Snags Share of NSA Contract: With competition for government IT services contracts expected to heat up, Computer Sciences grabs a five-year deal with the National Security Agency. (InternetNews)

Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say (by Andrew Harris, Bloomberg)

CSC, NSA get down to business (by George I. Seffers, Federal Computer Week)

NSA to award contracts for secure mobile devices by month's end (by Sebastian Sprenger, Federal Computer Week)

General Dynamics Awarded NSA Contract for Warfighters and Government Personnel to Order 'All-in-One' Secure Smartphone (Military Embedded Systems)

Raba secures second $100M NSA contract (by Robert J. Terry, Baltimore Business Journal)

Utah's $1.5 billion cyber-security center under way (by Steve Fidel, Deseret News)

ViaSat awarded $10M NSA contract for encryption (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Controversies:

Civil Rights Advocates Alarmed Over Google/NSA Partnership

Infiltrated by hackers allegedly from China, Google reached out to the National Security Agency (NSA) for help in 2010, and in the process alarmed privacy advocates.

 

Industry experts said the cyberattack targeted Google’s source code in an effort to learn the programming language behind the company’s applications. Gmail accounts of human rights activists in Europe, China, and the United States were also compromised.

 

Following the infiltration, Google reached an agreement with the NSA, which was asked to help prevent future attacks. Company officials insisted the arrangement would not compromise the privacy of users’ Internet searches or email communications

 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NSA to learn more information about the partnership.

 

EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg suspected the agreement involved more than the cyberattack, and that Google and the spy agency were in talks prior to infiltration.

 

Writer Matthew Aid, who has chronicled the history of the NSA and authored The Secret Sentry, told The Washington Post: “I’m a little uncomfortable with Google cooperating this closely with the nation’s largest intelligence agency, even if it’s strictly for defensive purposes.”

Google To Enlist NSA To Help It Ward Off Cyberattacks (by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post)

Google Asks NSA to Help Secure Its Network (by Kim Zetter, Threat Level)

Google Asks Spy Agency for Help With Inquiry Into Cyberattacks (by John Markoff, New York Times)

EPIC v. NSA - Cybersecurity Authority (Electronic Privacy Information Center)

 

 

Trailblazer Burned Up the Dollars

The NSA’s seven-year effort to upgrade its eavesdropping capabilities had done little more than eat up more than a billion dollars in costs by 2006. Launched by former NSA Director Michael Hayden in 1999, Trailblazer was an ambitious effort to design new analytical tools that could sift through enormous amounts of data collected from cell phones, pagers, text messages, and emails to locate potential threats against the U.S. Even before the intelligence failure that helped allow the 9/11 attacks to take place, NSA officials knew they were at risk of becoming overwhelmed by the new era of wireless communication that produces millions of bits of data captured each day by NSA listening technology. The problem wasn’t gaining access to communications, but how to go through it quickly and efficiently to find tips of a terrorist’s plans.

 

But after years of dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars to technology and defense contractors, the NSA had little to show for its spending. A 2003 audit by the NSA’s Inspector General found “inadequate management and oversight” of private contractors and overpayment for the work that had been done. After a $1.2 billion investment, Trailblazer was canceled in 2006 before ever being put to use.

 

In 2005, Hayden testified before Congress, saying of Trailblazer, “The cost was greater than anticipated in the tune, I would say, in hundreds of millions….When we actually encountered doing this, it was just far more difficult than anyone anticipated.”

 

The problems with Trailblazer were compounded by difficulties with another NSA program, Groundbreaker, a $2 billion effort to modernize and outsource the agency’s electronics infrastructure, including computers, software and networks. A Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)-led team in 2001 won the Groundbreaker contract. As part of the contract, about 1,000 NSA employees became employees of CSC or one of its subcontractors.

 

Despite the problems, it seemed that the NSA was unlikely to pull the plug on Trailblazer due to the agency’s necessity to solve its data-combing weakness. “If you kill Trailblazer, you might as well kill NSA,” said James Bamford, a national security author.

 

A group of NSA employees, several of whom had quit the agency over its alleged domestic spying, reported the project’s cost overruns and technical failures to other government agencies and officials, including the House Intelligence Committee and the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office. NSA’s then-director Michael Hayden accused the whistleblowers of taking actions that would “adversely affect” the NSA, “and I cannot tolerate them.” One of the whistleblowers, NSA’s Thomas Drake, provided information on the matter to the Baltimore Sun, which produced a series of articles, in 2006 and 2007, disclosing details of the Trailblazer fiasco. President Bush ordered the FBI to track down the source of the NSA articles and, in 2007, federal agents raided the homes of four whistleblowers. Former NSA employee Bill Binney reported that agents pulled him naked out of the shower, and that he and his wife had guns pointed at their heads, prompting him to say the experience reminded him of the Soviet Union.

 

In 2010, as part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers, the Department of Justice indicted Drake on 10 charges of lying, obstruction of justice, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917. In June 2011, after considering the risk of exposing classified information in a trial, the government dropped the charges and Drake agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for exceeding authorized use of a computer. He was sentenced to a year’s probation and 240 hours of community service. The judge called the government’s prosecution of the case “unconscionable,” saying that it had put Drake through “four years of hell.” He refused the government’s request to fine Drake. In a July 2011 interview, Drake claimed that mismanagement at the NSA continues, calling the spy agency “the Enron of the U.S. intelligence community.”

 

Spy data system a 'boondoggle': After 6 years and $1.2 billion, NSA still hasn't set up Trailblazer (by Siobhan Gorman, San Francisco Chronicle)

Trailblazer loses its way: NSA modernization effort suffers cost overruns, delays (by Alice Lipowicz, Washington Technology)

Analysis: NSA Intel System Over Budget (by Pamela Hess, UPI)

Ex-NSA official gets probation in leak case (by Douglas Birch, Associated Press)

Obama Anti-Whistleblower Case Collapses (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Judge Slams Government Lawyers in Failed Whistleblower Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff,

AllGov)

 

Defense Contractor Known as “NSA West”

When Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) became the lead contractor for NSA’s Trailblazer project, those who know the agency were not at all surprised. Not only is SAIC one of the biggest government contractors working in Washington, but it also enjoys very close connections to the spy agency.

 

SAIC has hired so many NSA employees that insiders call it “NSA West,” because the company’s base is in San Diego, California. Among those who have gone through the “revolving door” between the agency and business is William Black, a decorated NSA manager who spent almost 40 years at the agency, retired and became a vice president at SAIC in the late 1990s. The company hired Black “for the sole purpose of soliciting NSA business,” said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian who is writing a three-volume history of the agency.

 

Then, when NSA Director Michael Hayden took over the agency and wanted to launch Trailblazer, he brought Black back in 2000 to serve as his No. 2. Two years later, SAIC won the Trailblazer contract, and Black was put in charge of managing the program.

 

Almost 90% of SAIC’s revenue comes from the US government, with NSA being the company’s single biggest customer. NSA paid SAIC more than $1 billion for the Trailblazer project.

Contractor's rise shows blurred government, industry lines (by Shane Harris, National Journal)

 

Scuttled NSA Program Could Have Avoided Wiretapping Controversy

In the late 1990s, the NSA developed a pilot program that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But agency heads dropped the project after 9/11 because of bureaucratic infighting and pressure from the White House to expand the agency’s surveillance powers.

 

The program that NSA rejected, called ThinThread, was developed to handle greater volumes of information, partly in expectation of threats surrounding the millennium celebrations. It was thoroughly tested in 1998 and passed with flying colors, demonstrating an ability to sort through massive amounts of data to find threat-related communications while encrypting U.S.-related communications to ensure privacy.

 

But NSA Director Michael Hayden opted against developing ThinThread. The decision was attributed to “turf protection and empire building.” In the wake of revelations about the agency’s wide gathering of U.S. phone records, some officials contend that ThinThread could have provided a simple solution to privacy concerns.

 

NSA Killed System That Sifted Phone Data Legally: Sources say project was shelved in part because of bureaucratic infighting (by Siobhan Gorman, Baltimore Sun)

NSA Watch on NSA Controversies

NSA Managers Modified or Supressed Studies on ThinThread and Trailblazer

            (emptywheel)

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Suggested Reforms:

Congress Pushes for Contract Reform

Following the revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) billion-dollar attempts to develop new technology by using private contractors, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill attempted in 2003 to limit the agency’s future spending on outside companies. Both the House and Senate adopted language as part of a defense authorization bill that would have taken away the agency’s unregulated power to sign multimillion-dollar deals with contractors and instead give that authority to the Pentagon. NSA would still be able to hire outside firms to perform work, but the deals would be subject to Defense accounting procedures.

 

NSA officials were not happy with the plan, saying the new procedures would make things difficult for the agency. “When you're dealing with information technology, you’ve got to be able to buy stuff very quickly,” said a former senior acquisition executive at NSA. At the Pentagon, the bureaucratic process can take 15 years to develop a new program—time that the NSA doesn’t have. 

Congress curbs NSA's power to contract with suppliers: Lawmakers frustrated by bookkeeping problems at the intelligence agency (by Ariel Sabar, Baltimore Sun)

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Debate:

Do Cyber-attacks Constitute an Act of War?

 

The U.S. military brain trust decided in 2011 that it will not fight fire with fire when it comes to foreign-based cyberattacks on vital civilian or military computer systems. No, it will fight fire with bombs, aircraft, and missiles.

 

In developing its first defense strategy for combating computer infiltrations, the Department of Defense developed a new doctrine that states an assault by hackers could constitute an act of war that deserves a conventional military response. Or as one military official told The Wall Street Journal: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

 

Pro

Supporters of the new doctrine cite the notion of “equivalence.” If a cyberattack results in the deaths, damage or destruction that a traditional military attack could cause, then why not treat it the same as foreign army bombing an American target? The fact is today’s rules of engagement need to be updated so foreign enemies know if they mess with the U.S. in cyberspace, the response could be lethal.

 

Another point in this argument assumes that any kind of significant cyberattack on the U.S. would likely involve the help of a foreign government, given the size and technological resources involved. This only lends more weight to the idea of responding with force, supporters say, because it will deter foreign leaders from carrying out more sophisticated infiltrations of American systems.

Cyber Combat: Act of War (by Siobhan Gorman and Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal)

 

Con

The Pentagon is grossly overreacting to today’s cyber threats, critics contend. The military, which has a history of using hysteria to justify its strategies and arms buildups, has made cyber security the new bogeyman. These kinds of threats need to be put in a proper context so the public is not alarmed and the military does not box itself into a corner when it comes time to respond to an attack. The proper way to thwart hackers is with “better passwords, IT professionals and policing, not aircraft carriers,” write Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher Preble. “We do not threaten to bomb countries caught spying on us in traditional ways and should not do so just because the prefix ‘cyber’ applies.”

A Military Response To Cyberattacks Is Preposterous (by Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher Preble, Reuters)

 

Additional links:

A Discussion on Cybersecurity Legislation (by Arnold Bogis, Homeland Security Watch)

 

NSA Warrantless Surveillance Controversy

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to begin collecting communications data from sources in touch with U.S.-based individuals. Such domestic eavesdropping is illegal under federal law unless authorized by special warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. When word of the domestic snooping on Americans became public, President Bush insisted that he had the legal authority to order NSA to intercept phone calls, emails and text messages from those outside the U.S. communicating with others within American borders. Democrats in Congress vehemently disagreed and began their own investigations into the matter.

 

To pursue the program, the Bush administration approached the CEOs of five U.S. phone companies: C. Michael Armstrong of AT & T, Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon, F. Duane Ackerman of BellSouth, Ed Whitacre of SBC, and Joseph Nacchio of Qwest. Of the five, only Nacchio refused to cooperate, stating that he would do so only if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court gave its approval. Nacchio was also the only one of the five to be hit with criminal prosecution…for insider trading. (Although he was originally convicted in 2007 and sentenced to six years in prison, on March 18, 2008, the verdict was thrown out and a retrial ordered.)

 

In April 2009, The New York Times learned from intelligence officials that the NSA was again engaged, that year, in “significant and systemic” unauthorized interception of Americans’ phone conversations and emails. The Justice Department acknowledged that surveillance activity—with one official describing it as “unintentional”—and insisted the “problems had been resolved.”

 

Background

Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say (by Andrew Harris, Bloomberg)

Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts (by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times)

Warrantless Wiretaps: A Guide to the Debate (NPR)

NSA Wiretapping: The Legal Debate (by Maria Godoy, NPR)

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (FindLaw)

Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law (by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, New York Times)

 

Pro:

The most visible spokesmen on behalf of the wiretapping operation were President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Both Bush and Cheney argued that the highly classified wiretapping program was crucial to American national security, designed to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies. They insisted that the media behaved improperly by exposing the existence of the program because it allowed terrorists to know of U.S. plans to intercept their dangerous communiqués. “Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country,” remarked the President in one of his radio addresses.

 

Vice President Cheney insisted that the war on terror required the U.S. to “use whatever means that are appropriate to try to find out the intentions of the enemy.” He also warned that complacency towards further attacks was dangerous, and that the lack of another major attack since 2001 was due to the tireless efforts of American officials carrying out decisive policies.

 

President Bush has argued that the communications that were intercepted by the NSA were “foreign intelligence,” not domestic in nature. Furthermore, Congress gave the President implicit authorization to order surveillance without warrants by passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF). Attorney General Gonzales stated that the Bush administration chose not to ask Congress to authorize such wiretaps explicitly because it would have been difficult to get such an amendment without compromising classified information relating to operational details.

Justice Dept Memo Justifying Warrantless Wiretaps (pdf)

Vice President's Remarks on Iraq and the War on Terror at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (White House)

 

Con:

Democrats, some Republicans, and civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, have expressed outrage at the attempts by the Bush administration to spy on American communications without legal authority. In spite of the events of 9/11, Democrats argued that war is not a blank check for the President to whatever he pleases in the name of national security. The Department of Justice’s legal rationale for the wiretapping represented a manipulation of the law that was “overreaching” and a twisting of interpretations.

 

Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy (Vermont) and Ted Kennedy (Massachusetts) asserted that Attorney General Gonzales was being disingenuous when he said the administration didn’t ask Congress out of fear of exposing classified information. The reality was that Congress simply would have never granted such an extreme act of spying on Americans and others in the U.S.

 

A group of constitutional scholars and former government officials wrote a letter to Congress outlining their concerns over the administration’s justification for the NSA surveillance program. They insisted that AUMF does not grant, either implicitly or explicitly, the authority that President Bush claims, and they pointed out that under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the President was allowed to authorize warrantless wiretaps during the first 15 days of a war.

ACLU lawsuit against NSA over telephone and Internet intercepts (January 17, 2006)

Letter by Constitutional Scholars Refuting Administration’s Case (pdf)

Democrats call for investigation of NSA wiretaps (CNN)

Democrats.com Wiretapping Page

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Former Directors:

Michael Hayden (1999–2005)

Kenneth Minihan (1996–1999)

John M. McConnell (1992–1996)

William Studeman (1988–1992)

William Odom (1985–1988)

Lincoln Faurer (1981–1985)

Bobby Ray Inman (1977–1981)

Lew Allen (1973–1977)

Samuel C. Phillips (1972–1973)

Noel Gayler (1969–1972)

Marshall Carter (1965–1969)

Gordon Blake (1962–1965)

Laurence Frost (1960–1962)

John Samford (1956–1960)

Ralph Canine (1952–1956)

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Comments

Patricia Ellen Raynard 8 months ago
I got an e-mail yesterday and it was not very nice supposedly from The F.B.I. and The U.S. Treasury Department in Washington D.C. saying I inherited 145 million dollars from a Joan C. Bailey they said my millions was waiting for me to sign the paperwork and they wanted all my personal information I believe the F.b.I. needs to check in on this our country is in enough problems as it is without people using Pennslyvania Avenue at The treasury department in Washington D.C. I fear their trying to use the public to sabotage I believe you need to really tighten up on Security fast My inner self believes they be trying to rob Washington D.C. from within with cyber technology I am no investigator or Security officer but this is ridiculous their crazy and their driving people like me crazy too my husband deleted the message which is worse so the next time this appears I am taking my computer to the local police and they can go on from there I am so sorry for this kind of interference they need caught before its to late..Their not going to get our identity if we can help it I know good and well that no one is giving me 145 million dollars because no one in my family has ever had that kind of money at all we are either middle class or poor on all sides If you need any assistance let me know because I will help in anyway I can to convict and jail these crooks..Thank-You Mrs. Patricia E. Raynard besides that I just got out of the hospital with a stroke and am not out of the woodwork yet either..Godsped be with you..
Glenn Fannin 1 year ago
Wild! Crazy! Absolutely INSANE people in charge of our national security in the Vietnam War! A story of Army Security Agency agents in the Vietnam War in 1968. From the draft, basic training and spy training to the war. Their lives and loves are exposed and the characters come together to accomplish their missions on the ground, air and water. The outcome of the war may depend on what may be described as "M*A*S*H" meets "Catch 22" in this action packed adventure. Includes shocking new theory on the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo! Action packed chapter on using Swift Boats as spy platforms. The first novel in a quatrain. Watch for the next in the series "The Men Behind The Iron Curtain." It is about the Army Security Agency in Europe during the Cold War. To be released later this year. "The Dragon Hunters," a story about the ASA in Asia, will be released next year. The fourth novel has been started but has not yet been named. The writing of the screenplay for "We Served In Silence" is in production. Buy your collector's copy today of this first issue of a story which can not be told in one book. Publisher and editor Mrs. Glenn Fannin (E. Jo Fannin). http://www.amazon.com/dp/1480239666
Steve Denton 3 years ago
i need to get someone from nsa or secret service to track a scam from england. who can help me?

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Founded: 1952
Annual Budget: Classified (GlobalSecurity.org guesstimates the FY 2010 budget to be $15 billion)
Employees: 30,000 (estimated)
Official Website: http://www.nsa.gov/
National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA)
Alexander, Keith
Director
A native of Syracuse, NY, Army Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander has served as the director of the National Security Agency since August 2005. In this role, Alexander also serves as chief of the Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) and commander of the Joint Functional Component Command - Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. As the director of NSA and chief of CSS, he is responsible for a Department of Defense agency with national foreign intelligence and combat support responsibilities. As commander of JFCC-NW, he is responsible for planning, executing and managing forces for coordinating DoD computer network defense as directed by US Strategic Command.
 
Alexander holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Military Academy and a Master of Science degree in business administration from Boston University. He holds a Master of Science degree in systems technology (electronic warfare) and a Master of Science degree in physics from the Naval Post Graduate School. He also holds a Master of Science degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University.
Alexander’s military education includes the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, the US Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.
 
Alexander’s military commands include serving as G-2 for the 1st Armored Division both in Germany and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia; S-3 and executive officer for the 522nd MI Battalion, 2nd Armored Division; and as deputy director and operations officer for the Army Intelligence Master Plan for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.
 
His command assignments include tours in Germany and the US as commander of the Border Field Office for the 511th MI (Military Intelligence) Battalion in the 66th MI Group; the 336th Army Security Agency Company in the 525th MI Group; the 204th MI Battalion; and the 525th MI Brigade.
 
In 1997-1998, Alexander served as deputy director for intelligence (J2) for the Joint Staff. From 1998 to 2001, he served as director for intelligence (J2) for the United States Central Command. From 2001 to 2003, he held the US Army Intelligence and Security Command and, most recently, he served as deputy chief of staff (G2) for the US Army from 2003 until assuming command of the NSA.
 
Alexander has been described as a “cerebral and personable man who has occasionally clashed with other officials in pursuing projects that they saw as trespassing on their turf.”
 
Eavesdropping Isn't Easy, the Master at It Says (by Scott Shane, New York Times)
 
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Overview:

Part of the American Intelligence Community, the National Security Agency (NSA) has long been one of the federal government’s most secretive spy operations. Created during the Cold War, the agency spent its first four decades trying to intercept the communications of Soviet spies, officials and allies in an attempt to learn of their plans and operations. This work required agency officials to develop sophisticated eavesdropping technology that could be employed from almost anywhere in the world, from land to sea to space. By the end of the 1990s, however, the NSA was struggling to keep up with the Internet and wireless age and still successfully monitor America’s new enemy: terrorists. Attempts to upgrade the agency’s capabilities have not been successful this decade, and its spying on Americans by order of President George W. Bush thrust the NSA into one of the most heated controversies in U.S. politics today.

 
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History:

The United States first began to experiment with electronic intelligence gathering during World War I when the U.S. Army created the Cipher Bureau (MI-8) within the Military Intelligence Division (MID) under Herbert Yardley. MID assisted the radio intelligence units in the American Expeditionary Forces and in 1918 created the Radio Intelligence Service for operations along the Mexican border. Yardley’s shop became known as the “Black Chamber” because of its secretive work, which continued after the war ended until 1929 when the Army and State Department terminated the program.

 

The Army continued some of Yardley’s work through the Signal Intelligence Service of the Army Signal Corps under the direction of William F. Friedman. Meanwhile, the Navy established a cryptanalytic function in 1924 in the “Research Desk” under Commander Laurance F. Safford in the Code and Signal Section within the Office of Naval Communications. While emphasis was on the security of American military communications, both the Army and Navy developed radio intercept, radio direction finding, and processing capabilities prior to World War II.

 

The U.S. military achieved particular successes against Japanese diplomatic communications during World War II as code breakers managed to decipher Japan’s system. As the war progressed, military leaders realized the value of this intelligence work and gradually devoted more men and resources to these operations. However, the most important achievement in electronic spy warfare came in 1943 in a Bell Telephone laboratory. There, an unnamed engineer was working on one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive Teletype machines used by the Army and Navy to transmit wartime communications that could defy German and Japanese cryptanalysis. The engineer inadvertently noticed that in another part of the lab an oscilloscope was registering spikes each time the teletype stamped out an encrypted letter. The discovery meant that Teletypes—and all other information processing machines—sent out energy signals that could be captured, thus revealing the information being transmitted, even if coded. This scientific breakthrough had enormous ramifications for electronic spying after the war, although for the time being, the Bell lab discovery was forgotten.

 

Toward the end of WWII, the American military services created a coordinating body to facilitate communications intelligence (COMINT) cooperation—the Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (ANCIB). In late 1945, the State Department was added to the board, changing it to the State-Army-Navy Communications Intelligence Board (STANCIB). STANCIB evolved in 1946 into the United States Communications Intelligence Board (USCIB), which added the FBI as a member.

 

In 1947, Congress and President Harry Truman passed the National Security Act of 1947, a landmark piece of legislation that created the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. The CIA became a member of USCIB, which received a new charter as the highest national COMINT authority in the federal government. In the meantime, the armed services continued to work on their own cryptologic operations, including the newly established U.S. Air Force. Some military commanders discussed the possibility of merging all military intelligence and communications (COMSEC) efforts to avoid duplication and wasting of resources.

 

In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson liked the idea of combining COMINT and COMSEC and subsequently ordered the issuance of JCS Directive 2010, which established the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA). The new agency was charged with running COMINT and COMSEC operations, excluding only those that were delegated individually to the Army, Navy and Air Force. The JCS directive also established an advisory council within AFSA known as the Armed Forces Security Agency Council (AFSAC). The organization became the mechanism through which AFSA reported to the JCS.

 

This operational structure had its problems, however, as military and civilian leaders realized that having AFSA report through the Joint Chiefs encumbered the new agency’s duties. On December 13, 1951, President Truman selected a special committee, the Brownell Committee, to study the problem and come up with a solution. The conclusion was that the communications intelligence body should have more than a military chain-of-command structure. On October 24, 1952, President Truman signed a secret memo that transformed the AFSA into the National Security Agency (NSA) and removed the JCS as the authority over it. Instead, NSA’s director reported to the Secretary of Defense, who served on a special committee of the National Security Council that included the Secretary of State and the Director of Central Intelligence.

 

The CIA told officials at the new NSA that they had been playing with the Bell Teletype machines and found they could pick up the invisible signals given off from a quarter mile away. This led NSA researchers to begin studying “compromising emanations” as part of the ultra-secret Tempest program to find ways of intercepting Soviet communications.

 

In 1972, the NSA was given the added authority over all cryptology efforts employed by the armed services. As a result, the agency’s name was officially enlarged to the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS), however most government officials continued to refer to the agency as simply NSA.

 

From the 1950s onward, the NSA helped develop advanced communications technology that could steal communications from offshore (on listening ships) or high above in the atmosphere (using spy satellites). As the means for accumulating information grew, the agency needed greater capacity for storing and analyzing secret data. This led its researchers to conduct pioneering work that led to the development of the first supercomputers. NSA experts also became skilled cyber warriors as the Internet age unfolded with the forming of elite teams of computer hackers capable of testing any corporate or government web site’s firewall protections.

 

Despite its many successes on the high-tech frontier, the NSA found itself by the turn of the 21st century falling behind the technology curve. In 1999, Air Force General Michael Hayden took command of the agency and set out to modernize the agency’s technological capabilities. Hayden implemented a modernization program called Trailblazer designed to upgrade NSA computer systems and other equipment and improve the agency’s ability to intercept and sort cell phone, email and other communications. Trailblazer, however, experienced cost overruns and other problems, and was canceled (see Controversies). It was replaced a year later by another data-mining program called Turbulence. The NSA also became mired in one of the biggest scandals of the Bush administration when it was revealed that the White House had ordered the agency to conduct domestic eavesdropping without warrants or authorization from Congress.

NSA History Archive by George Washington University

Declassified NSA Document Reveals the Secret History of TEMPEST (by Ryan Singel, Wired)

Inside NSA Red Team Secret Ops With Government's Top Hackers (by Glenn Derene, Wired)

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What it Does:

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA) specializes in cryptology, the science of coding and decoding information. The agency conducts highly specialized intelligence gathering activities to locate threats to U.S. government information systems and other American vital interests. A high technology organization, the NSA develops cutting-edge communications and data processing capability and performs foreign language analysis and research.

 

Most NSA/CSS employees, both civilian and military, are headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, and perform work as analysts, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, linguists, computer scientists, researchers, security officers and data flow experts. The NSA employs the country’s premier cryptologists, many of whom are mathematicians. In fact, the agency is the largest employer of mathematicians in the United States. These number crunchers design cipher systems to protect U.S. information systems from being compromised and search for weaknesses in the systems and codes of American enemies.

 

NSA’s work is divided into two main divisions: Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA). SIGINT uses sophisticated eavesdropping technology to spy on foreign powers, organizations or persons and international terrorists. Information gathered by SIGINT is delivered to military leaders and policy makers.

 

The IA detects and responds to cyber threats; makes encryption codes to securely pass information between systems; and embeds IA measures directly into the emerging Global Information Grid. It includes building secure audio and video communications equipment, making tamper protection products and providing trusted microelectronics solutions. It tests the security of IT systems of government agencies and other partners and evaluates commercial software and hardware against nationally set standards.

 

The IA also includes the National Information Assurance Research Laboratory, the federal government’s premier information assurance research and design center. The lab's extensive in-house research program covers cryptographic algorithms, photonics, operating systems like SELinux and advanced intrusion detection tools.

 

The NSA runs the National Cryptologic School, one of six Cryptologic Training Schools within the United States Cryptologic System (USCS). The school consists of three teaching departments that offer instruction in Cryptology, Information Assurance, Language and Leadership.

 

Although its operations are top secret, NSA does provide some information for public consumption, including the following areas on its Web site:

Academia

Business Opportunities

Career Opportunities

Central Security Service

Contact Information

Cryptologic Heritage

Declassification Initiatives

FAQs

Information Assurance Guide (pdf)

News

NSA Job Information

Press Releases

Research

Speeches and Congressional Testimony

 

From non-NSA sites:

NSA Watch

The Evolution of Intrusion Detection Systems (by Paul Innella, SecurityFocus)

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Where Does the Money Go:

Until this decade, officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) relied almost exclusively on its in-house experts to develop new technology that the agency required. But under the leadership of Director Michael Hayden (1999-2005), the NSA for the first time began handing out multimillion-dollar contracts to companies to acquire high-tech equipment and services.

 

One of the largest initiatives launched by Hayden was Trailblazer, a multi-company program designed to upgrade NSA’s ability to intercept cell phone calls, emails and other electronic communications. Initially, the agency awarded three prime contracts in 2001 for concept studies that would define the shape and cost of Trailblazer. The prime contracts were awarded to Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and TRW, which were expected to hire more than 30 subcontractors to complete the work. The value of the contracts was not released.

 

The NSA decided in 2002 to make Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) the main contractor on the project, awarding a $280 million contract to a team of businesses led by SAIC for development of the Technology Demonstration Platform (TDP) project in support of Trailblazer. Other companies on SAIC’s team included Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Northrop Grumman.

 

Conquest, Inc., which first was given a five-year, $57 million contract to provide systems engineering and support to help NSA modernize its signals intelligence computer programs, was later awarded another deal worth $140 million for work on Trailblazer.

 

In addition to Trailblazer, almost 40 companies received contracts to support NSA’s Groundbreaker initiative to improve the agency’s IT infrastructure, with Computer Sciences Corporation being the biggest winner with a 10-year deal worth $5 billion.

 

In 2007, the NSA was awarded contracts to General Dynamics and L-3 Communications for delivery of mobile, handheld devices intended for unclassified and classified voice and data traffic as part of the Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME PED) program. The device, which was in development since 2005, has become standard equipment for certain federal government employees and, in 2011, was issued to top brass in the U.S. Air Force. General Dynamics received $300 million over five years for its work developing the device. Financial details were not provided for L-3 Communications.

 

Raba Technologies landed two $100 million contracts with the NSA, one of which was for engineering and software services. The company specializes in systems integration and software development and counts Sun Microsystems and the Pentagon among its customers.

 

In 2010, the NSA awarded a $10-million contract to ViaSat, a satellite equipment manufacturer, to enhance the agency’s network encryption technology; and a $1.5 billion contract to DPR Construction for the building of a new NSA data center at Camp Williams, Utah.

 

NSA awards $140 million systems contract (by Dawn S. Onley, Government Computer News)

CSC Snags Share of NSA Contract: With competition for government IT services contracts expected to heat up, Computer Sciences grabs a five-year deal with the National Security Agency. (InternetNews)

Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say (by Andrew Harris, Bloomberg)

CSC, NSA get down to business (by George I. Seffers, Federal Computer Week)

NSA to award contracts for secure mobile devices by month's end (by Sebastian Sprenger, Federal Computer Week)

General Dynamics Awarded NSA Contract for Warfighters and Government Personnel to Order 'All-in-One' Secure Smartphone (Military Embedded Systems)

Raba secures second $100M NSA contract (by Robert J. Terry, Baltimore Business Journal)

Utah's $1.5 billion cyber-security center under way (by Steve Fidel, Deseret News)

ViaSat awarded $10M NSA contract for encryption (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Controversies:

Civil Rights Advocates Alarmed Over Google/NSA Partnership

Infiltrated by hackers allegedly from China, Google reached out to the National Security Agency (NSA) for help in 2010, and in the process alarmed privacy advocates.

 

Industry experts said the cyberattack targeted Google’s source code in an effort to learn the programming language behind the company’s applications. Gmail accounts of human rights activists in Europe, China, and the United States were also compromised.

 

Following the infiltration, Google reached an agreement with the NSA, which was asked to help prevent future attacks. Company officials insisted the arrangement would not compromise the privacy of users’ Internet searches or email communications

 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NSA to learn more information about the partnership.

 

EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg suspected the agreement involved more than the cyberattack, and that Google and the spy agency were in talks prior to infiltration.

 

Writer Matthew Aid, who has chronicled the history of the NSA and authored The Secret Sentry, told The Washington Post: “I’m a little uncomfortable with Google cooperating this closely with the nation’s largest intelligence agency, even if it’s strictly for defensive purposes.”

Google To Enlist NSA To Help It Ward Off Cyberattacks (by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post)

Google Asks NSA to Help Secure Its Network (by Kim Zetter, Threat Level)

Google Asks Spy Agency for Help With Inquiry Into Cyberattacks (by John Markoff, New York Times)

EPIC v. NSA - Cybersecurity Authority (Electronic Privacy Information Center)

 

 

Trailblazer Burned Up the Dollars

The NSA’s seven-year effort to upgrade its eavesdropping capabilities had done little more than eat up more than a billion dollars in costs by 2006. Launched by former NSA Director Michael Hayden in 1999, Trailblazer was an ambitious effort to design new analytical tools that could sift through enormous amounts of data collected from cell phones, pagers, text messages, and emails to locate potential threats against the U.S. Even before the intelligence failure that helped allow the 9/11 attacks to take place, NSA officials knew they were at risk of becoming overwhelmed by the new era of wireless communication that produces millions of bits of data captured each day by NSA listening technology. The problem wasn’t gaining access to communications, but how to go through it quickly and efficiently to find tips of a terrorist’s plans.

 

But after years of dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars to technology and defense contractors, the NSA had little to show for its spending. A 2003 audit by the NSA’s Inspector General found “inadequate management and oversight” of private contractors and overpayment for the work that had been done. After a $1.2 billion investment, Trailblazer was canceled in 2006 before ever being put to use.

 

In 2005, Hayden testified before Congress, saying of Trailblazer, “The cost was greater than anticipated in the tune, I would say, in hundreds of millions….When we actually encountered doing this, it was just far more difficult than anyone anticipated.”

 

The problems with Trailblazer were compounded by difficulties with another NSA program, Groundbreaker, a $2 billion effort to modernize and outsource the agency’s electronics infrastructure, including computers, software and networks. A Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)-led team in 2001 won the Groundbreaker contract. As part of the contract, about 1,000 NSA employees became employees of CSC or one of its subcontractors.

 

Despite the problems, it seemed that the NSA was unlikely to pull the plug on Trailblazer due to the agency’s necessity to solve its data-combing weakness. “If you kill Trailblazer, you might as well kill NSA,” said James Bamford, a national security author.

 

A group of NSA employees, several of whom had quit the agency over its alleged domestic spying, reported the project’s cost overruns and technical failures to other government agencies and officials, including the House Intelligence Committee and the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office. NSA’s then-director Michael Hayden accused the whistleblowers of taking actions that would “adversely affect” the NSA, “and I cannot tolerate them.” One of the whistleblowers, NSA’s Thomas Drake, provided information on the matter to the Baltimore Sun, which produced a series of articles, in 2006 and 2007, disclosing details of the Trailblazer fiasco. President Bush ordered the FBI to track down the source of the NSA articles and, in 2007, federal agents raided the homes of four whistleblowers. Former NSA employee Bill Binney reported that agents pulled him naked out of the shower, and that he and his wife had guns pointed at their heads, prompting him to say the experience reminded him of the Soviet Union.

 

In 2010, as part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers, the Department of Justice indicted Drake on 10 charges of lying, obstruction of justice, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917. In June 2011, after considering the risk of exposing classified information in a trial, the government dropped the charges and Drake agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for exceeding authorized use of a computer. He was sentenced to a year’s probation and 240 hours of community service. The judge called the government’s prosecution of the case “unconscionable,” saying that it had put Drake through “four years of hell.” He refused the government’s request to fine Drake. In a July 2011 interview, Drake claimed that mismanagement at the NSA continues, calling the spy agency “the Enron of the U.S. intelligence community.”

 

Spy data system a 'boondoggle': After 6 years and $1.2 billion, NSA still hasn't set up Trailblazer (by Siobhan Gorman, San Francisco Chronicle)

Trailblazer loses its way: NSA modernization effort suffers cost overruns, delays (by Alice Lipowicz, Washington Technology)

Analysis: NSA Intel System Over Budget (by Pamela Hess, UPI)

Ex-NSA official gets probation in leak case (by Douglas Birch, Associated Press)

Obama Anti-Whistleblower Case Collapses (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Judge Slams Government Lawyers in Failed Whistleblower Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff,

AllGov)

 

Defense Contractor Known as “NSA West”

When Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) became the lead contractor for NSA’s Trailblazer project, those who know the agency were not at all surprised. Not only is SAIC one of the biggest government contractors working in Washington, but it also enjoys very close connections to the spy agency.

 

SAIC has hired so many NSA employees that insiders call it “NSA West,” because the company’s base is in San Diego, California. Among those who have gone through the “revolving door” between the agency and business is William Black, a decorated NSA manager who spent almost 40 years at the agency, retired and became a vice president at SAIC in the late 1990s. The company hired Black “for the sole purpose of soliciting NSA business,” said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian who is writing a three-volume history of the agency.

 

Then, when NSA Director Michael Hayden took over the agency and wanted to launch Trailblazer, he brought Black back in 2000 to serve as his No. 2. Two years later, SAIC won the Trailblazer contract, and Black was put in charge of managing the program.

 

Almost 90% of SAIC’s revenue comes from the US government, with NSA being the company’s single biggest customer. NSA paid SAIC more than $1 billion for the Trailblazer project.

Contractor's rise shows blurred government, industry lines (by Shane Harris, National Journal)

 

Scuttled NSA Program Could Have Avoided Wiretapping Controversy

In the late 1990s, the NSA developed a pilot program that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But agency heads dropped the project after 9/11 because of bureaucratic infighting and pressure from the White House to expand the agency’s surveillance powers.

 

The program that NSA rejected, called ThinThread, was developed to handle greater volumes of information, partly in expectation of threats surrounding the millennium celebrations. It was thoroughly tested in 1998 and passed with flying colors, demonstrating an ability to sort through massive amounts of data to find threat-related communications while encrypting U.S.-related communications to ensure privacy.

 

But NSA Director Michael Hayden opted against developing ThinThread. The decision was attributed to “turf protection and empire building.” In the wake of revelations about the agency’s wide gathering of U.S. phone records, some officials contend that ThinThread could have provided a simple solution to privacy concerns.

 

NSA Killed System That Sifted Phone Data Legally: Sources say project was shelved in part because of bureaucratic infighting (by Siobhan Gorman, Baltimore Sun)

NSA Watch on NSA Controversies

NSA Managers Modified or Supressed Studies on ThinThread and Trailblazer

            (emptywheel)

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Suggested Reforms:

Congress Pushes for Contract Reform

Following the revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) billion-dollar attempts to develop new technology by using private contractors, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill attempted in 2003 to limit the agency’s future spending on outside companies. Both the House and Senate adopted language as part of a defense authorization bill that would have taken away the agency’s unregulated power to sign multimillion-dollar deals with contractors and instead give that authority to the Pentagon. NSA would still be able to hire outside firms to perform work, but the deals would be subject to Defense accounting procedures.

 

NSA officials were not happy with the plan, saying the new procedures would make things difficult for the agency. “When you're dealing with information technology, you’ve got to be able to buy stuff very quickly,” said a former senior acquisition executive at NSA. At the Pentagon, the bureaucratic process can take 15 years to develop a new program—time that the NSA doesn’t have. 

Congress curbs NSA's power to contract with suppliers: Lawmakers frustrated by bookkeeping problems at the intelligence agency (by Ariel Sabar, Baltimore Sun)

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Debate:

Do Cyber-attacks Constitute an Act of War?

 

The U.S. military brain trust decided in 2011 that it will not fight fire with fire when it comes to foreign-based cyberattacks on vital civilian or military computer systems. No, it will fight fire with bombs, aircraft, and missiles.

 

In developing its first defense strategy for combating computer infiltrations, the Department of Defense developed a new doctrine that states an assault by hackers could constitute an act of war that deserves a conventional military response. Or as one military official told The Wall Street Journal: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

 

Pro

Supporters of the new doctrine cite the notion of “equivalence.” If a cyberattack results in the deaths, damage or destruction that a traditional military attack could cause, then why not treat it the same as foreign army bombing an American target? The fact is today’s rules of engagement need to be updated so foreign enemies know if they mess with the U.S. in cyberspace, the response could be lethal.

 

Another point in this argument assumes that any kind of significant cyberattack on the U.S. would likely involve the help of a foreign government, given the size and technological resources involved. This only lends more weight to the idea of responding with force, supporters say, because it will deter foreign leaders from carrying out more sophisticated infiltrations of American systems.

Cyber Combat: Act of War (by Siobhan Gorman and Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal)

 

Con

The Pentagon is grossly overreacting to today’s cyber threats, critics contend. The military, which has a history of using hysteria to justify its strategies and arms buildups, has made cyber security the new bogeyman. These kinds of threats need to be put in a proper context so the public is not alarmed and the military does not box itself into a corner when it comes time to respond to an attack. The proper way to thwart hackers is with “better passwords, IT professionals and policing, not aircraft carriers,” write Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher Preble. “We do not threaten to bomb countries caught spying on us in traditional ways and should not do so just because the prefix ‘cyber’ applies.”

A Military Response To Cyberattacks Is Preposterous (by Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher Preble, Reuters)

 

Additional links:

A Discussion on Cybersecurity Legislation (by Arnold Bogis, Homeland Security Watch)

 

NSA Warrantless Surveillance Controversy

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to begin collecting communications data from sources in touch with U.S.-based individuals. Such domestic eavesdropping is illegal under federal law unless authorized by special warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. When word of the domestic snooping on Americans became public, President Bush insisted that he had the legal authority to order NSA to intercept phone calls, emails and text messages from those outside the U.S. communicating with others within American borders. Democrats in Congress vehemently disagreed and began their own investigations into the matter.

 

To pursue the program, the Bush administration approached the CEOs of five U.S. phone companies: C. Michael Armstrong of AT & T, Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon, F. Duane Ackerman of BellSouth, Ed Whitacre of SBC, and Joseph Nacchio of Qwest. Of the five, only Nacchio refused to cooperate, stating that he would do so only if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court gave its approval. Nacchio was also the only one of the five to be hit with criminal prosecution…for insider trading. (Although he was originally convicted in 2007 and sentenced to six years in prison, on March 18, 2008, the verdict was thrown out and a retrial ordered.)

 

In April 2009, The New York Times learned from intelligence officials that the NSA was again engaged, that year, in “significant and systemic” unauthorized interception of Americans’ phone conversations and emails. The Justice Department acknowledged that surveillance activity—with one official describing it as “unintentional”—and insisted the “problems had been resolved.”

 

Background

Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say (by Andrew Harris, Bloomberg)

Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts (by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times)

Warrantless Wiretaps: A Guide to the Debate (NPR)

NSA Wiretapping: The Legal Debate (by Maria Godoy, NPR)

Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (FindLaw)

Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law (by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, New York Times)

 

Pro:

The most visible spokesmen on behalf of the wiretapping operation were President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Both Bush and Cheney argued that the highly classified wiretapping program was crucial to American national security, designed to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies. They insisted that the media behaved improperly by exposing the existence of the program because it allowed terrorists to know of U.S. plans to intercept their dangerous communiqués. “Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country,” remarked the President in one of his radio addresses.

 

Vice President Cheney insisted that the war on terror required the U.S. to “use whatever means that are appropriate to try to find out the intentions of the enemy.” He also warned that complacency towards further attacks was dangerous, and that the lack of another major attack since 2001 was due to the tireless efforts of American officials carrying out decisive policies.

 

President Bush has argued that the communications that were intercepted by the NSA were “foreign intelligence,” not domestic in nature. Furthermore, Congress gave the President implicit authorization to order surveillance without warrants by passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF). Attorney General Gonzales stated that the Bush administration chose not to ask Congress to authorize such wiretaps explicitly because it would have been difficult to get such an amendment without compromising classified information relating to operational details.

Justice Dept Memo Justifying Warrantless Wiretaps (pdf)

Vice President's Remarks on Iraq and the War on Terror at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (White House)

 

Con:

Democrats, some Republicans, and civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, have expressed outrage at the attempts by the Bush administration to spy on American communications without legal authority. In spite of the events of 9/11, Democrats argued that war is not a blank check for the President to whatever he pleases in the name of national security. The Department of Justice’s legal rationale for the wiretapping represented a manipulation of the law that was “overreaching” and a twisting of interpretations.

 

Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy (Vermont) and Ted Kennedy (Massachusetts) asserted that Attorney General Gonzales was being disingenuous when he said the administration didn’t ask Congress out of fear of exposing classified information. The reality was that Congress simply would have never granted such an extreme act of spying on Americans and others in the U.S.

 

A group of constitutional scholars and former government officials wrote a letter to Congress outlining their concerns over the administration’s justification for the NSA surveillance program. They insisted that AUMF does not grant, either implicitly or explicitly, the authority that President Bush claims, and they pointed out that under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the President was allowed to authorize warrantless wiretaps during the first 15 days of a war.

ACLU lawsuit against NSA over telephone and Internet intercepts (January 17, 2006)

Letter by Constitutional Scholars Refuting Administration’s Case (pdf)

Democrats call for investigation of NSA wiretaps (CNN)

Democrats.com Wiretapping Page

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Former Directors:

Michael Hayden (1999–2005)

Kenneth Minihan (1996–1999)

John M. McConnell (1992–1996)

William Studeman (1988–1992)

William Odom (1985–1988)

Lincoln Faurer (1981–1985)

Bobby Ray Inman (1977–1981)

Lew Allen (1973–1977)

Samuel C. Phillips (1972–1973)

Noel Gayler (1969–1972)

Marshall Carter (1965–1969)

Gordon Blake (1962–1965)

Laurence Frost (1960–1962)

John Samford (1956–1960)

Ralph Canine (1952–1956)

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Comments

Patricia Ellen Raynard 8 months ago
I got an e-mail yesterday and it was not very nice supposedly from The F.B.I. and The U.S. Treasury Department in Washington D.C. saying I inherited 145 million dollars from a Joan C. Bailey they said my millions was waiting for me to sign the paperwork and they wanted all my personal information I believe the F.b.I. needs to check in on this our country is in enough problems as it is without people using Pennslyvania Avenue at The treasury department in Washington D.C. I fear their trying to use the public to sabotage I believe you need to really tighten up on Security fast My inner self believes they be trying to rob Washington D.C. from within with cyber technology I am no investigator or Security officer but this is ridiculous their crazy and their driving people like me crazy too my husband deleted the message which is worse so the next time this appears I am taking my computer to the local police and they can go on from there I am so sorry for this kind of interference they need caught before its to late..Their not going to get our identity if we can help it I know good and well that no one is giving me 145 million dollars because no one in my family has ever had that kind of money at all we are either middle class or poor on all sides If you need any assistance let me know because I will help in anyway I can to convict and jail these crooks..Thank-You Mrs. Patricia E. Raynard besides that I just got out of the hospital with a stroke and am not out of the woodwork yet either..Godsped be with you..
Glenn Fannin 1 year ago
Wild! Crazy! Absolutely INSANE people in charge of our national security in the Vietnam War! A story of Army Security Agency agents in the Vietnam War in 1968. From the draft, basic training and spy training to the war. Their lives and loves are exposed and the characters come together to accomplish their missions on the ground, air and water. The outcome of the war may depend on what may be described as "M*A*S*H" meets "Catch 22" in this action packed adventure. Includes shocking new theory on the capture of the U.S.S. Pueblo! Action packed chapter on using Swift Boats as spy platforms. The first novel in a quatrain. Watch for the next in the series "The Men Behind The Iron Curtain." It is about the Army Security Agency in Europe during the Cold War. To be released later this year. "The Dragon Hunters," a story about the ASA in Asia, will be released next year. The fourth novel has been started but has not yet been named. The writing of the screenplay for "We Served In Silence" is in production. Buy your collector's copy today of this first issue of a story which can not be told in one book. Publisher and editor Mrs. Glenn Fannin (E. Jo Fannin). http://www.amazon.com/dp/1480239666
Steve Denton 3 years ago
i need to get someone from nsa or secret service to track a scam from england. who can help me?

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Founded: 1952
Annual Budget: Classified (GlobalSecurity.org guesstimates the FY 2010 budget to be $15 billion)
Employees: 30,000 (estimated)
Official Website: http://www.nsa.gov/
National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA)
Alexander, Keith
Director
A native of Syracuse, NY, Army Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander has served as the director of the National Security Agency since August 2005. In this role, Alexander also serves as chief of the Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) and commander of the Joint Functional Component Command - Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. As the director of NSA and chief of CSS, he is responsible for a Department of Defense agency with national foreign intelligence and combat support responsibilities. As commander of JFCC-NW, he is responsible for planning, executing and managing forces for coordinating DoD computer network defense as directed by US Strategic Command.
 
Alexander holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Military Academy and a Master of Science degree in business administration from Boston University. He holds a Master of Science degree in systems technology (electronic warfare) and a Master of Science degree in physics from the Naval Post Graduate School. He also holds a Master of Science degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University.
Alexander’s military education includes the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, the US Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.
 
Alexander’s military commands include serving as G-2 for the 1st Armored Division both in Germany and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia; S-3 and executive officer for the 522nd MI Battalion, 2nd Armored Division; and as deputy director and operations officer for the Army Intelligence Master Plan for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.
 
His command assignments include tours in Germany and the US as commander of the Border Field Office for the 511th MI (Military Intelligence) Battalion in the 66th MI Group; the 336th Army Security Agency Company in the 525th MI Group; the 204th MI Battalion; and the 525th MI Brigade.
 
In 1997-1998, Alexander served as deputy director for intelligence (J2) for the Joint Staff. From 1998 to 2001, he served as director for intelligence (J2) for the United States Central Command. From 2001 to 2003, he held the US Army Intelligence and Security Command and, most recently, he served as deputy chief of staff (G2) for the US Army from 2003 until assuming command of the NSA.
 
Alexander has been described as a “cerebral and personable man who has occasionally clashed with other officials in pursuing projects that they saw as trespassing on their turf.”
 
Eavesdropping Isn't Easy, the Master at It Says (by Scott Shane, New York Times)
 
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