National Security Agency

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Group.png National Security Agency  
(Intelligence agencyPowerbase Sourcewatch
NSA HQ.jpg
Fort Meade, Maryland USA
NSA logo.svg
Motto "Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future."
Predecessor Armed Forces Security Agency
Formation November 4, 1952
Parent organization United States Department of Defense
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland
Leader Director of the National Security Agency
Incumbent: Michael S. Rogers
Since 3 April 2014
Staff ?
Interest of James Bamford
Exposed by James Bamford

The National Security Agency is the US intelligence agency responsible for signals intelligence and information assurance. Previously so secret as to be almost unknown, it became infamous in 2013 after the commercially-controlled media gave prominence to Edward Snowden's revelations about its mass data collection programs.[1]

Official Narrative

The NSA promises on its website to "protect national security interests by adhering to the highest standards of behavior".[2]


The NSA is so shrouded in secrecy - casting doubt on its claim to "adhere to the highest standards of behavior". For example, in 1964 the US Congress passed by a great majority a bill giving the Director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee without due cause - leading the Washington Post to write: "This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself."[3]

The NSA appears to be completely controlled by deep state interests. Rather than defending US citizens' data by publicising flaws found in computer code, for example, it has long been using zero day exploits for its own purposes and in 2014 was specifically authorised to do to by Barack Obama.[4] The NSA has denied that it was aware of the Heartbleed bug, but other sources report that the agency used it regularly for years, and decided not to warn anyone else that their data was at risk.[5]


Full article: “Cyberterrorism”
Tha NSA has contradictory goals - to maximise cyber security and to itself to carry out attacks against cyber security. It has claimed not to be hoarding zero day exploits, but this is belied by the evidence,

The NSA is probably the most advanced and active group worldwide in the area of cyberterrorism. Bruce Schneier observes that "The National Security Agency is lying to us. We know that because data stolen from an NSA server was dumped on the Internet. The agency is hoarding information about security vulnerabilities in the products you use, because it wants to use it to hack others' computers."[6]

Stuxnet was the first piece of malware proven to be an NSA production. The 2016 film Zero Days quotes an anonymous source that this was developed in concert with Unit 8200 and that if it had not been modified by Unit 8200 and released into Iran in this form, it might have never been detected.[7]


Full article: Stub class article Cyberespionage

The NSA (or perhaps Unit 8200)[8] is reckoned to be the world's leading developer of cyberespionage tools, a realisation which has gained traction particularly since the Edward Snowden Affair. Documents released by Snowden have pointed the NSA's close collaboration with GCHQ.

In 2015 multiple revelations gaveinsight on the NSA's cyberterrorism capabilities. In March 2015, Kaspersky Lab revealed details of the EquationDrug cyberespionage platform, which resembles a "mini operating system" due to the use of kernel-mode and user-mode components which interact with each other via a custom message-passing interface. Over 100 plugins are suspected and the existence of Windows 9X modules suggests that it may well date back to the 1990s. Its connection to the NSA is currently somewhat tenuous - resting on text strings, timezone and filestamp data, though considering the platform's sophistication, no alternative teams of developers have been suggested.


Full article: Mass Surveillance

During the cold war, the NSA watch list included anti-war activists and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King and Whitney Young, as well as Senator Frank Church.[9]


The NSA's mass surveillance is facilitated by decades of work for using a variety of techniques to insert backdoors and other weaknesses into security products and protocols.

I worked with the National Security Agency on the design of a secured version of the internet but we used classified security technology at the time and I couldn't share that with my colleagues. If I could start over again I would have introduced a lot more strong authentication and cryptography into the system.
Vint Cerf, internet engineer[10]

The NSA and the UK

Relationship with GCHQ

The NSA has long had particularly close links with its British counterpart, GCHQ. In the early 1980s it was suggested that "the relationship between NSA and GCHQ is stronger than any between the NSA and any other American intelligence agency."[11]

Collection in the UK

This relationship does not prevent the NSA spying on the UK. According to Howard Teicher, the former Middle East director of the US National Security Council, the NSA monitored Britain's Al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia from its base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire.[12]


In 1971, Perry Fellwock, the first NSA whistleblower stated that "there's a lot of corruption too. Quite a few people in NSA are into illegal activities of one kind or another. It's taken to be one of the fringe benefits of the job. You know, enhancing your pocketbook. Practically everybody is into some kind of smuggling".[13]


Edward Snowden Affair

Full article: Stub class article Edward Snowden Affair

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden collected a series of documents which revealed wholesale, illegal, data collection by the NSA. Shunning anonymity, stating that he had done nothing wrong, but was acting in the interests of the US people and the NSA, Snowden began to release a long series of tranches of the documents through the commercially-controlled media.

The NSA claimed on 2014-01-10 that they could not legally inform congress whether they were collecting data on them, since to do so would violate the law.[14] In February 2014, after legal challenges to their data collection program, the NSA suggested that it might be legally obligated to expand the data collection program to avoid potential charges of destroying evidence.[15]

Mass Surveillance

Full article: Mass surveillance
The 54 NSA events.png

Following James Clapper's flat out lie to the US Congress about data collection, key NSA personnel have repeatedly lied about its mass surveillance programmes, first by denying their existence and later by making wildly exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of such data collection in preventing terrorism.

In 2014, it was revealed that the NSA collects nearly all the telephone calls made in the Bahamas and Afghanistan.[16]

Brian Patrick O’Callaghan

On Feb 16, 2014, a 36 year old, Brian Patrick O'Callaghan, chief of the NSA's Korea division - whose attorney also said he was involved in the high profile rescue of US Army POW Jessica Lynch - was charged with first degree murder and child abuse.[17]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Electronic Espionage - A MemoirinterviewAugust 1972Perry Fellwock
Google and the NSAarticle24 August 2013Julian Assange
NSA GCHQ and the Death of Gareth Williamsarticle14 November 2011Trowbridge FordA speculative article connecting the NSA with the death of Gareth Williams
The Shadow FactoryBook2008James BamfordThe workings and scope of the US Military-Intelligence complex focussing particularly on the NSA.

A document sourced from National Security Agency

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TitleTypeSubject(s)Publication dateAuthor(s)
Bitter Roots - The Bases of Present Conflicts in the Middle EastspeechMiddle East
US/Israel lobby
1977J Rives Childs

See Also


  1. About NSA, Frequently Asked Questions, National Security Agency, accessed 1 September 2009.
  3. David Kahn, The Codebreakers, Scribner Press, 1967, chapter 19, pp. 672–733.
  7. Zero Days
  10. Vint Cerf wanted to make internet secure from the start, but secrecy prevented it, The Register, 7 Apr 2014
  11. Jonathan Bloch and Patrcik Fitzgerald, British Intelligence and Covert Action, Brandon, 1983, p.64.
  12. Michael Smith, The Spying Game, Politico's, 2003, p.429.
  13. Document:Electronic Espionage - A Memoir