Talk:National Security Agency

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edit ·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for National Security Agency:
  • make sure redirect thing is working or the notice is changed. (see discussion below)


AQUAINT/ Perfect Citizen[edit]

Has anybody heard of this?


It's basically is a datamining system that basically uses artificial intelligence capability to gather information and organize data into dossiers on everybody, then uses inferential reasoning capability to use the information available to determine additional data of extreme detail, ideally to the point that the system could automatically gain insights into the personalities of the people they're looking at, and even be able to determine how their thought processes work, what they would do, what they wouldn't do and so on. It's designed to be able to answer questions in essay form. This system would effectively allow the NSA to gather every single knowable facet of data on everybody. The more data gathered, the more accurate the profile is so they'd have a great reason to collect as much as they could on as many as they could.

This system would be a privacy nightmare the likes the world has never seen, one researcher actually quit, and the guy who created the program did express some concern that this system could be dangerous when made operational.

This may be pretty soon as the NSA is creating a program called "Perfect Citizen" which they are developing alongside Raytheon. The system is allegedly designed to protect computer networks and such, but an internal memo circulated referred to the system as being "Big Brother", and is suspected of being designed for being able to perform massive automatic surveillance and datamining on American Corporations and Citizens. Perfect Citizen may be an active version of AQUAINT


AVKent882 (talk) 06:12, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Include SE-Linux ?[edit]

The NSA does have a secondary mission, which is to secure the american government computer systems. This is not mentioned in the article. To accomplish that mission, research is performed. One interesting research project was the implementation of Mandatory Access Controls in the Linux kernel. This research project was done to show that such a thing is possible, but also possible for internal use by the NSA, since linux is free and they own lots of computers. I recommend this project be mentioned. You can read about it at [ ]. Also, does the article mention that the NSA improved the security of the DES encryption algorithm? Or that it invented the SHA and SHA-1 hash? I'm not sure because I didn't read it all.

Aaaand I recommend not mentioning this project suggested by the anonymous user in order to avoid polluting the page with even more useless fluff. If this article included every toy that the NSA had ever implemented, it would run for miles. That trivia belongs on the algorithms' specific pages, and perhaps the general page on encryption algos, both with links back to this article, which is about the NSA, not "stuff the NSA made." That is far too much of a niche topic to justify a mention -- perhaps under a broader paragraph tying together NSA work and cryptography in general? Even then I'd be reluctant. And: "Also, does the article mention ... I'm not sure because I didn't read it all." ...noted without further comment.
All in favor of deleting this graf and freeing up some space at the top of our page?--GodelMetric 07:48, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
The proper procedure for a Talk page is to archive the "long stable" inactive discussion at the time of the "deletion". Having just added to this topic, however, you must leave it in place for a while so other interested parties get a chance to see the addition. — DAGwyn 17:19, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
It's an anonymous comment that's been here for at least 6 months. (Could be longer -- I didn't look back further than that.) What qualifies as "a while"? --GodelMetric 23:01, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Style:"NSA" vs "the NSA"[edit]

Moved from Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Cryptography/WikiProject Notice.:...On another nit altogether, it feels better (in AE perhaps) to say '...that NSA has taken this position...' than '...that the NSA has taken...'. In parallel usage, I think, with NASA which is almost always used without 'the'. It's been a jarring note for me as folks add 'the' before NSA. I've usually let it slide, but sometimes removed 'the'. Don't have any good ideas on how to handle this nit, however. A note at NSA? Too nitty? Frankly, I've contracted a bit of an obsession about it. Perhaps it will be resolved by Valentine's Day? ww 14:45, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I have, I must confess, added a couple of "the"s in front of "NSA"s, which I'll stop. Both styles are probably OK, though...Usage research: Bruce Schneier's section in Applied Cryptography on (the) NSA switches between adding a "the" and omitting it. The web pages at favour omitting the "the" most of the time. — Matt 08:39, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)
In the American English I'm familiar with, typically NSA is written as "the NSA", whereas NASA is written simply as NASA. This is somewhat inconsistent of course, but it's how heard it almost exclusively. As in "I went to work for the NSA" (substitute: "the CIA", "the FBI"—but not "the NASA"). --Delirium 08:48, Apr 28, 2004 (UTC)
I've been pondering this since I posted that nit. Perhaps the distinction (again, it may be an AE thing) is that 'the' is used when contrasting the agency (NSA) to others in the American pantheon of alphabet soup. For instance, "...the NSA, a division of the DoD, competes with the CIA and with the DIA for funds...". DIA, by the way has the same ambivalence about the 'the' as with NSA, but CIA does not. "CIA has infiltrated..." sounds just as acceptable as "the CIA has infiltrated.." though the factual status of any such claim however worded seems in recent years to have been a little dicey.
Anyway, NSA sounds best with the 'the' dropped in circumstances in which there is no possibility of confusion with others of its soup fellows. As in, "NSA announced today that ww will be charged with munitions trafficing..." or "..Berstein was very incensed at NSA's action yesterday...". But, like most less than blatantly obvious langauge usage points, I (or my ear) may feel differently tomorrow about all this.
ww 15:06, 1 May 2004 (UTC)
I think a reason for people's variant usage on this depends on whether they are mentally expanding "NSA" into "National Security Agency" or not; if you are, it can be jarring to read without a "the" prelude. I guess that sometimes the acronym takes on a life of its own and becomes a proper noun in its own right, e.g. NASA or DES (though very rarely you will see "the DES", which is quite odd to read!). I'm guessing that "NSA" is used in both ways. — Matt 09:21, 3 May 2004 (UTC)
Matt, Indeed, that sounds reasonable. I'll ponder on it. I've thought of another illuminating, I think, example. DEC (of fond memory alas) was never used with 'the'. Perhaps that, along with the NASA case (<--- NB, not even relevant -- different thing altogether!) is what has shifted the ear to NSA being correct w/o the. ww 15:40, 3 May 2004 (UTC)
I think Matt's explanation sums up why the NSA sounds right to me, but not the NASA. To use other examples from the U.S. governmental agencies, the IRS and DEA articles prefix their respective acronyms with the, whereas the FEMA and OSHA pages sensibly omit the definite article. The ATF and TSA articles have both usages. Wmahan. 22:30, 2004 May 3 (UTC)

<== left shift, saves us all from squinting at ':' for a while

Having pondered this for some days, I feel queasy. NSA sounds right (no 'the') when the image in my mind's eye (now there's a shaken, not merely stirred, grammatical virtual metaphor!) is of the crypto org. When I'm thinking about its existence as one among many government agencies (the image here is of a herd of large behemouths -- imagine bronto sized mastodons from here to the horizon), then 'the NSA' feels right. The key (hah, good one that!) seems to be that it be used in accord with the general use of 'the' in English. It notifies the listener the speaker is now / was just / will be shortly talking about one particular thing out of a herd of possible things that might have been meant. When 'the' doesn't sound right, there was only one possible thing, namely that large crypto behemouth in Ft Meade; there "aren't any others" possible at this point in the discussion. Thus, among us cryptiacs (or cryptonauts?), and in articles on same, it should be NSA, no 'the'. When discussing non crypto things, it should take the 'the' there. That's the best I'm been able to do whilst hanging over the rail. Still seasick. Any comments? ww 16:54, 10 May 2004 (UTC)

My guess is that part of the explanation is much simpler. American English tends to "NASA" and "DEC" because these acronyms are pronounced as words. When pronounced as a word, "the" never sounds right. Compare also "FEMA" and "OSHA" which are pronounced. With an initialism like "CIA" or "NSA", saying "the cee-eye-ay" or "the en-ess-ay" seems more natural, and the same with "IRS" and "DEA".
Unfortunately this isn't an absolute rule for initialisms, since "HP" and "IBM" are never prefixed with "the". Also, this applies only to common usage. I think that insiders of some organizations like the CIA (but not others like the IRS) always omit the "the", so a spook would probably say simply "CIA". -- 21:52, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think with IBM and HP, it's probably because you'd expand it to "the International Business Machines" and "the Hewlett-Packard", which is clearly not right. Things like NSA and CIA, standing for "Foo Agency", can accomodate a "the" more naturally. — Matt Crypto 00:12, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Having been at NSA headquarters, I can inform you that NSA personnel simply use "NSA" and not "the NSA". (talk) 16:16, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

dubious claim about electricity usage[edit]

Surely the claim here about NSA HQ drawing 4x the power of an Earth simulator is bogus? I cannot believe that an entire building (including coffee makers, microwaves, lots of PCs, lighting, heating, pumps, etc etc) draws only 4x this amount. Just doesn't pass the mental back of the envelope plausibility test/ There's something odd about this sentence if it's not merely OTL. Can anyone make sense of this? If not, I think it should be rubbed out. Call Edward G Robinson! ww 15:38, 24 May 2004 (UTC)

The amount of electricity is derived from NSA themselves:

The only online reference to a comparison with Earth Simulators appears to be: — Matt 08:28, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

Matt, I'm still dubious. BGE is said (by NSA site noted above) to sell $21 x 10^6 of electricity to NSA/year. Earth Simlulator is said (in a PR leaflet on their Web site) to use 6MW of electricity, meaning 24 MW for four of them. At an assumed $.10/kwh, $21 million is 21 x 10^5 MW if I haven't dropped some decimals. This is just a tad larger than 24MW for 4 of those Earth Simulators. Anyway it's not quite what was implied as the, as nearly as I can figure from the leaflet, the 6MW figure includes the entire building, the 5120 NEC vector processors, and all the AC and lighting too. So it's not just the Earth Simulator, it's a lot of auxillary stuff too. On the other hand, NSA's bill is for the entire facility including the fab plant and the incinerators for secret stuff and the cafeteria(s) and so on for several 10's of thousands of folks. Sure sounded impressive didn't it?
I'm removing the comparison forthwith. ww 18:53, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Good idea, it seems to not be a verifiable fact. — Matt 22:26, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Not to mention an irrelevant comparison... Adraeus 00:53, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Is it possible that power generation is done on site? (Solar/Garbage disposal (see White elephant) As such, Adraeus is on point, a irreleavent comparison etc. --ORBIT 00:13, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)


In the Puzzle Palace, does it not say that NSA has no budget?

I haven't read Bamford's book, but I can't imagine that those supercomputers were donated out of the goodness of Seymour Cray's heart...he may have meant the NSA's budget was classified. See: [1] — Matt 07:19, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I seem to recall that Bamford's Body of Secrets places the NSA budget at ~$13B and the CIA at ~$3-4B. That figure is clearly out-of-date, but it does give some sense of scale. (I believe it's in the "Heart" chapter near the end.) --A, 8 August 2007

They have no published budget. Even something as simple as how much toilet paper they want to order could give enemies information (how many people use the building, and therefor an estimate of staff). It's all classified. [[User:GregNorc|GregNorc|Talk]]

Their budget is classfied, they do not have to get approval for the money they spend, they just request a large amount of money and hope 90%+ gets approved. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk • contribs)

The secret space program, which I believe stemmed from the NSA / CSS now has developed into many avenues... I don't know how much NSA is involved with the trillions+ of $ covertly being used for these private interests and agendas. We need disclosure and truth! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:51, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Another budget comment -- it says the NSA is an agency "having a budget much larger than that of the CIA," but doing some Googling makes this claim seem doubtful. says the NSA has 3.6 billion and says the CIA had nearly 30 billion just a few years ago, so I doubt that the NSA's budget is much larger

The first link places the CIA budget at $3.1-$3.2 billion with the NSA budget at $3.6 billion. The second link makes no mention of either specific agency's budget, but merely states that the overall budget for all intelligence was $26.7 billion for FY 1998. Based on that, NSA's budget was bigger than CIA's, and it can be assumed that with its increase in personnel and increased activity in domestic and foreign spying that its budget has increased moreso than CIA's. --Rodzilla (talk) 13:49, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
The FAS estimates come up at the top of Google searches, but these are all just estimates. The numbers for the NSA seem to fall between $3B and $15B, and even the FAS estimates leave the bulk of the US intel budget unidentified. An article on the FAS website suggests $5B. (cite) places the number at $7.5B , and the CIA budget at $5B. (cite) Regardless, the figures are all over the place -- there doesn't seem to be any immediately apparent reason why the FAS figures are better estimates. --A, 8 August 2007

I removed the 11 billion figure and replaced it with classified sine we have no way of knowing the true budget —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:49, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Ok someone reversed my edit, there is no reference for this 11 billion dollar figure anywhere to be seen. Having unreferenced information on a critical question of an intelligence agency's budget is unacceptable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:15, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Strategy for the NSA[edit]

Hayden and the NSA have a strategy to shift greater reliance on American industry for the purposes of domestic spying (see Gen. Hayden Statement to Congress - see section 27), EFF class action suit Although Gen. Hayden said at the National Press Club that "As the director, I was the one responsible to ensure that this program was limited in its scope and disciplined in its application" [2], his testimony that, "One senior executive confided that the data management needs we outlined to him were larger than any he had previously seen" Gen. Hayden Statement to Congress - see section 27 before the Joint Inquiry of the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence) indicates that NSA's database was projected to be considerably larger than AT&T's 300 terabyte "Daytona" database of caller information. The NarusInsight is one type of spying hardware, capable of monitoring of an OC-192 network line in realtime (39,000 DSL lines) or give AT&T the power to monitor all 7,432,000 DSL lines it owns. After data capture, according to Narus, its software can replay, "streaming media (for example, VoIP), rendering of Web pages, examination of e-mails and the ability to analyze the payload/attachments of e-mail or file transfer protocols" (see [3]). China Telecom uses this same type of technology to spy and censor its people in a more primitive way. China telecom has started the process to acquire this technology logistically and financially. Shanghai Telecom seeks system AbrahamLincoln24 05:58, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

The NSA has a strategy to shift greater reliance on American industry for the purposes of domestic spying. The NSA strategy is called project GROUNDBREAKER (see section 27 [4]). (aww somebody didn't like Mr. Haydens transcript its ok I'll fix it)Moreover this strategy is linked to the DOD doctrines called "Fight the net" and "Information Operations Roadmap" ( see [5]). Although eX-director Gen Hayden has said "As the director, I was the one responsible to ensure that this program was limited in its scope and disciplined in its application" (see [6]). Two examples of relying on American industry for the purposes of domestic spying is the use of CALEA (see SEC.103 [7]) (see SEC.106 [8]) on US telecommunication companies and NarusInsight. Under the CALEA Act all US telecommunication companies are forced install hardware capable of monitoring data and voice by May 14 2007. CALEA Act also forces US telecommunication companies to build national technology standards to support CALEA. NarusInsight is one type of spying hardware, capable of monitoring of an OC-192 network line in real-time (39,000 DSL lines) or give AT&T the power to monitor all 7,432,000 DSL lines it owns. After data capture, according to Narus (see [9]), its software can replay, "streaming media (for example, VoIP), rendering of Web pages, examination of e-mails and the ability to analyze the payload/attachments of e-mail or file transfer protocols". China Telecom uses this same type of technology to spy and censor its people in a more primitive way. China telecom has started the process to acquire this technology logistically and financially. Shanghai Telecom seeks system AbrahamLincoln24 01:06, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

This may be an inappropriately judgmental comment, but this section is really, really horrible. It's totally out-of-place, it's not relevant to the overall discussion, it's badly composed, it lacks citation, and it's totally devoid of context. Interpreted liberally, it seems to be a current-events comment about NSA wiretapping activities, which makes it especially inappropriate. Should be yanked; it's astonishing that it's remained this long. --A, 8 August 2007
As I noted when I reverted this paragraph in the main page - Hayden is not the head any more, so why copy a paragraph from his article over to here? — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib 03:13, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Todays NSA strtegy was conceived and implemented by Gen Hayden. It does not matter that he is an ex-head of the NSA today. This is because future NSA directors will have to foallow his stradegy. AbrahamLincoln24 07:22, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

The paragraph on strategy needs work. CALEA - the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, give the FBI new authorities, not NSA. FBI can require equipment providers to build in tap capabilities, but CALEA doesn't do anything for NSA, which uses other means to access communications. You might want to note that all big EU countries have authorities similar to CALEA, along with Russia, China, India and Japan. The statement that Hayden is the architect of NSA's strategy - do they even they have a strategy? - needs some explanation. Does it mean a strategy to adjust from collecting on public switch networks to collecting on the internet. It's not a domesitc intelligence strategy. The quote from an unnamed executive about data management doesn't refer to domestic spying, but to the problems NSA has coping with the floods of traffic - voice, email, sms, etc - billions of messages a day (the article could cite the recent Baltimore Sun articles on "Turbulence"). The reference to NarusInsight is puzzling - it's just one technology among many - why is it special? If the article is going to refer to China, it might help to include a link to "Golden Shield," the Chinese domestic surveillance program.

Thank you for helping me make this wiki better. My statement CALEA is not wrong. I think you should read the CALEA law. CALEA law SEC. 102 part (5) "The term `government' means the government of the United States and any agency or instrumentality thereof, the District of Columbia, any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States, and any State or political subdivision thereof authorized by law to conduct electronic surveillance." This means any US government agency from the NSA, CIA to believe it or not US Fish and Wildlife Service can conduct electronic surveillance. The law is very wide here. Another point you make is that I do not note other big countries that use a form of CALEA, I did look at the history of this discussion CHINA. That part was removed. The statement that Hayden is the architect of NSA's strategy is true because he said so in US testimony to congress. Please read his testimony pdfs. Lastly you are confused what domestic spying is, I should have been more clear. Using laws to put always on backdoors in software and hardware in all tecom industries on US soil is by definition domestic spying. I will rewrite it make this section more clear. Also I will add more info on the strategy of Gen Hayden from banking to telcoms. I will reference everything I talk about to make this section more clear.

I assume that this is still AbrahamLincoln24; these are not NSA "strategies." They're specific NSA programs that have been implemented under Hayden. You are correct that CALEA is an NSA program, but you seem to be using this notion that it's a "strategy" to shoehorn an extraneous discussion of a controversial NSA program into the article. -- GodelMetric 23:07, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Employer of mathematicians[edit]

Despite being the world's largest single employer of Ph.D. mathematicians,

Hem. I strongly doubt this. In many countries, the university and research system is government-run, and thus the largest single employer of PhD mathematicians is probably the government of any of those countries. David.Monniaux 20:46, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps, although I'd think it reasonable to class these mathematicians as being employed by whatever institution they work at for this kind of thing. But at the least, I'd like to see a half-decent source for the claim. (With an agency as secretive as the NSA, it's quite difficult to get solid fact, rather than mere speculation. Particularly on this topic, I think we need to be quite careful about citing sources.)
Having done some digging, I've found that NSA themselves claim, "It [NSA] is said to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the United States and perhaps the world." [10] and "Currently, we are the largest employer of mathematicians in the country." [11] (Conspicuous lack of "Ph.D.", though.); also "In 1996 we hired 60 mathematicians, 40 with PhD's. In 1997 we made 50 hires, 30 with PhD's, and we expect this trend of aggressive pace of hiring [to continue]. Let me stress that hiring at a pace of 50-60 mathematicians per year (equivalent to a good-sized math department) is a good measure of our commitment to math in an era of declining resources.". [12]. — Matt Crypto 23:12, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
As you said, it of course depends how you define "employer".
I think that we should be very prudent with those claims; everything surrounding NSA seems to be based on hearsay. Once, at a conference, I met a NSA researcher in cryptography and I asked him whether they did a lot of fundamental research, like what he was presenting (as opposed to more applied activities); he said that they actually did not. While of course the guy probably could not say anything precise without stumbling into "classified" areas, this, to me, indicates that there are conflicting reports about the real size of the NSA research departments.
Heck the NSA even classified an elliptic curve. Universities are the employeers not the governments themselves. Paychecks ome from the universities themselves. A research grant from the NSF does not mean you are an NSF employee. Timothy Clemans 20:49, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Furthermore, the NSA probably has an interest in having such rumors etc. floated around, to increase the aura of power that it has. The mere fact that its budget is classified is of the same tendency. David.Monniaux 07:16, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Actually there really are a large number of professional mathematicians at NSA HQ, and the Research & Engineering building is one of the largest at NSA HQ. Of course much of the work is mission-inspired rather than "of purely academic interest". — DAGwyn 05:39, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

I'd love to know how many steaganographers they have Sea level 01:43, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Several years ago, there was at least one stego group. Presumably it was able to justify its existence. — DAGwyn 05:39, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

James Bond-style espionage[edit]

Several bits of spy fiction (notably the Bond film Die Another Day and the thriller Enemy of the State) have portrayed the NSA as directly involved in the more, well, movie-like side of intelligence. The NSA are exclusively restricted to nerdy stuff, aren't they? They leave the violent derring-do (and more generally, any actual legwork) to the CIA and the armed forces, right? If so, we should probably make that point in the article. --Robert Merkel 14:02, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I believe you're right, but it'd be great to have a source saying so explicitly. — Matt Crypto 14:06, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
There was an article in the New York Times a couple of years ago describing black bag jobs to steal codes from foreign consulates. I beleve the article said the operatives worked directly for NSA, but I'm not sure. Also NSA intercept operators sometimes work under dangerous conditions, see, e.g. USS Liberty incident. --agr 15:44, 24 August 2005 (UTC)
MI5 or MI6 (I forget which) has a webpage dedicated to debunking Hollywood's portrayal (especially James Bond) of espionage. I think it was the FAQ section of the Career/Recruitment page. 02:33, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Well I can't say NSA does do "super secret" missions. Normally NSA only does regular computer work (not regular, but you get the point). Most NSA missions aren't entirly let of the country (as far as the public knows), It's usually CIA's job to do the "black ops" and "007" things. — Preceding unsigned comment added by The Goiter*Guru (talkcontribs) 22:48, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Be more specific[edit]

Read Wikipedia:Avoid weasel terms. Thanks. --Eleassar my talk 13:42, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Famous people (non cryppies)[edit]

Not sure where to put that stuff... but people may be interested. RevRagnarok 00:40, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

Previous Directors[edit]

I just reverted a change on Hayden, who is now a General but when heading it up was a Lt. Gen. Should we have the position that the director help in the position, or the position upon that person's retirement/death? Seems to be a pain if you were to go make changes to all entries every time somebody gets promoted... RevRagnarok 23:11, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

The given rank should be what he was at the time of his directorship. If there is an article about the guy then that should explain that he was promoted after completing his directorship. --K. AKA Konrad West TALK 23:31, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
OK, then User:Caligatio needs to stop changing it back to General. RevRagnarok 23:09, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

My Page Reversion POV[edit]

User posted very slanted Point of View- not appropriate for Wikipedia--Adam (talk) 00:59, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

NPOV revert[edit]

Reverted the following, contacted author:

And what the mainstream media, and the Democratic Party would not like you to know, is that the President is authorized to order such activities, see Executive Order#12333, Signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981...see it here, and that this whole contraversy is just another attempt to smear the Bush administration!
Also this very same Executive Order was used by President Bill Clinton, and vetted by his the Deputy Attorney General, Jamie is her testimony,
"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."
"It is important to understand," , "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."
Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee
July 14, 1994

--KJK::Hyperion 02:03, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

It it just me, or is this just bizarro world? Even with the rewrite, the article implies the Office of the President has the authority to do something because it gave itself that authority via an executive order. It could be argued that the President has this authority via the Constitution, but not by granting that authority to himself. --User:Belltower 03:30 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Removed Text[edit]

I removed the text of Executive Order 12333. There's already a link in the main section (when it should likely be a reference). If it's something you really want around, start a new article and move it there. Especially since the person who added it never bothered to preview or wikify it, it looked horrible. -- RevRagnarok 23:30, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

I question wether the "phone taps" section should be included at all. There is a lot of information on it because it has happened since the creation of this site, however the agency has been involved in several controversies throughout its history none of which have their own section. If it is to be mentioned at all, the "phone taps" issue ought to be included under a "Controversies" section in which other issues such as the Iran-Contra affair are discussed. -Bunbury

I removed "they are also going to help us legalize marijuana for the common good." from the ROLE section for pretty obvious reasons. -GeorgeFromNY

Chantilly, Virginia[edit]

I live near Chantilly Virginia, where there is a large black building in the Westfield Business park. It is commonly understood to be a NSA building, but little more is known beyond that. I mistakenly belived it was the headquarters for the NSA. Anyone know anything about this? If so, can it be added as it is a NSA building, but is not mentioned in the article.

Zidel333 03:00, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

NSA has increased from 16,000 to 58,000 some odd employees worldwide since 2000. I don't think they all fit in one building. NMAP 4 just arrived from Fydor so have fun. Ask them at the Directors Service Program Department of Defense National Security Agency 9800 Savage Road Fort George G. Meade, MD 20755-6515 Attn: R1 (DSP), Suite 6515.

[ GTSI Chantilly, Va. (703) 502-2000]... agreement for a joint initiative with the US National Security Agency (NSA) to enhance and certify the security of VMware's virtual machine technology...My recollection is that 15,000 Chantilly Drive used to be Contel Federal Systems which put in all the fiber optic backbones, cell phone repeaters and satellites,but I think they were obsoleted by GTE back around ninety and seven and its now hyperdigm. ( ( Systems Inc. Attn: Network Information Center 14200 Park Meadow Dr.Suite 200 Chantilly, VA 2200,

As we head toward the year 2000, Control Concepts] has formed strong alliances with many leading manufacturers. These companies include American Megatrends, Inc. (AMI), RDI Computer Corp., Seagate and Western Digital (through DSS) and others that have led to our successful implementation of a General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedule. Initiated in the 1994/1995 Fiscal year, this GSA Schedule has provided a very successful vehicle to sell to the government on all levels. The GSA Schedule has also led to a major win in November of 1996 with the Naval Information Systems Management Center (NISMC). Sea level 01:41, 1 February 2006 (UTC)


Um... why do we need the geographical coordinates of the NSA Operations Building to the nearest, what, foot? - dcljr (talk) 03:41, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

When we want to dig safe it helps to know where the utilities are Sea level 00:52, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Having GPS coordinates on this page is un-necessary as nobody is going to be able to actually drive that close to the building anyway. So what is the point? -- 23:30, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Hasn't this user been disrupting the page elsewhere (discussed below)? The coordinates bit struck me as weird, too. Is that common practice on any other pages? --GodelMetric 07:24, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
To answer my own question, no, it's not. It's used for geographical locations alone, such as the locations of Fort Meade or Langley, but not for any of the other agencies. The coords on the NSA page proper merely point to Fort Meade, and are therefore redundant with that information -- and inaccurate as well with regard to the location of the NSA, which is just a bureaucratic organization, after all. Anyway, slight epistemological digression aside, I'm changing it.--GodelMetric 07:54, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I removed the coordinates when somebody added them on a previous occasion a few months ago. — DAGwyn 17:21, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Agreed; GPS coordinates let the terrorists win. Agalmic (talk) 13:08, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, largely I just think it's unnecessary to provide that information for nearly any Wikipedia site; also it's pretty much useless, since if you need to know where NSA HQ is, you will be told where to go and what to do when you get there. But I would agree that there is no point in making life even the least bit easier for terrorists. — DAGwyn (talk) 22:16, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
We should also include the coordinates to NSA's Friendship Annex (FANX) compound, as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:20, 21 July 2008 (UTC)
There are a lot of locations controlled by NSA, so why single out some of them and not others? Is there a good reason for giving GPS coordinates? — DAGwyn (talk) 21:06, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Sen. Leahy[edit]

Senator Leahy refused to comment when asked why the same foreign wiretapping measures were praised by democrats during
the Clinton administration in the previous decade.

Actually, Leahy disputed that the measures were the same. "Foreign Intelligence" was not interpreted by the Clinton administration to apply to every American citizen calling overseas, absent a warrant. Skyraider 00:53, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

There's some additional information here. Skyraider 01:19, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

In fiction[edit]

I'm afraid that with this article, we're looking increasingly like the encyclopedia that Slashdot built: specifically, the ballooning size of the "in fiction" section. I suggest we split out this information into a separate article like NSA in fiction, and in this article we write a paragraph or two on "popular understandings of the agency" which would include mentions (but not lists) of how the agency is treated in fiction. — Matt Crypto 08:57, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

I would add references to Enemy of the State, and to Sneakers, for getting way out ahead of the game and actually bringing some of the more intense parts of cryptography into the public consciousness. That said, I'd reject with prejudice any movie that plugs the NSA in as their evil villain of the month -- the two movies I cited are more topical as far as the political concerns that pervasive eavesdropping suggests. Even if have to keep our articles neutral, we can definitely cite those films. ;) --GodelMetric 08:16, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

I note that you have repeatedly deleted reference to official State Department intelligence policy, and wonder if you could explain why you consider this a fiction?Federal Street 12:14, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Erm, what are you talking about? — Matt Crypto 12:43, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
Your edits of 1-3 Feb, 2006Sea level 14:27, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
As to the general suggestion, please do so. It's one of my pet peeves with Wikipedia's articles on military and intelligence related topics. --Robert Merkel
I see you've got to it before me, thanks! — Matt Crypto 17:32, 6 February 2006 (UTC)


Would anyone care to comment on how recent revelations ....<snip>Sea level 14:27, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
No. As you've been told repeatedly, this is not an NSA discussion board. Please don't post off-topic here, otherwise I might have to start being more threatening, and I don't like doing that. By all means, give us feedback and suggestions on how we can improve this article, but please avoid off-topic comments on the NSA itself. — Matt Crypto 14:51, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
I hope I won't be blocked for this! But can Matt explain why writing...
"Keeping these things in mind, I would like to see some discussion in the article as to what sort of internal checks and balances exist to keep any rogue elements in check and whether that is possible, or desirable. The main question is just whether there is a way to address these concerns in the article?"Sea level 14:44, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
... is off-topic? To me, it seems like the basis of constitutional law, doesn't it? Tazmaniacs 23:29, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, that paragraph is quite reasonable and on-topic, and we certainly can discuss how to improve the article's treatment of this matter. My comments should be taken in the context of the history of Sea level's posts to this page, nearly all of which were off-topic. Eventually he started re-adding them with "is there a way to discuss this in an article" at the end, presumably hoping to keep his comments on-topic by a technicality, but by that point it was clear he wasn't really interested in improving the article, but just having a forum to air his views (and clutter up this page in the process). — Matt Crypto 23:38, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry Matt, but this article needs to start getting more encyclopedic. It should be dealing with the facts of what the NSA is, what it does, who it does it to, who it does it for and what the extent of its operations are. There are ongoing Congressional investigations and law suits, public policy statements, and disclosures almost every day so its properly considered a current event.

Please explain why its your opinion any of that should be considered off topic, it certainly wouldn't be Wikipedia policy for anything as contraversial as the NSA to be discussed on the discussion page. Sea level 15:27, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

If you don't comprehend why extended discussion about the NSA is off-topic on this talk page (as opposed to extended discussion about the encyclopedia article on the NSA) then I can not, and will not, waste my time explaining it to you any further. To put it baldly, if you persist in disrupting this talk page, then I will block you. (You are apparently a sockpuppet of User:Federal Street and User:rktect, to boot.) — Matt Crypto 15:39, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

As to the NSA's first appearance in fiction surely Sneakers predates the example given here.

"believed to be"?[edit]

why is the NSA "believed to be" the largest intellegence agency? dposse 02:59, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

I presume someone would write that when it's one of those facts that has never been officially confirmed (e.g. by release of employee numbers or budget), but is widely understood to be true. — Matt Crypto 08:52, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Ah, ok. thanks. dposse 01:12, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

san antonio nsa activities[edit]

It's interesting to note that no mention is made of NSA's extensive activities at Lackland AFB here in San Antonio (vis: Air Intelligence Agency; AKA: AIA). There was also a recent purchase of a fair amount of real estate in the area intended to house approx 1200 NSA employees initially with room for up to 3000 in total. Anyone interested can verify this with articles published in the San Antonio Express News (the local daily).

Cheers...—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 04:58, 5 May 2006 (UTC)


"For a long time its existence was not even acknowledged by the U.S. government." When did the government first publicly admit that the NSA exists? Jimpartame 03:23, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure that they have -- my impression is that it's merely an open secret at this point. this article explains that the NSA wasn't actually a statutory beast -- elsewhere in the article I recall discussion about Truman's 1952 memorandum (not Congressional Act!) establishing the NSA. But check out this weirdness:

Less well known than the Church Committee was its House counterpart, the Pike Committee. Chaired by Otis Pike (D-NY), it also operated from 1975 to 1976, and likewise focused on the NSA. When Pike demanded a copy of the 'charter' establishing NSA, he was rebuffed, as the so-called charter was actually Truman's secret memorandum. Although the committee subpoenaed the directive, the NSA, with help from the Justice Department and the Pentagon, successfully blocked them from seeing it. Aside from a very small portion (revealed only for the purpose of showing that NSA was exempt from certain legal restrictions on the use of communications intelligence), the NSA 'charter' remains one of the most deeply buried secrets of the federal government.

James Bamford also suggested in a talk that prior to The Puzzle Palace (1983) there really wasn't any public awareness of the NSA at all -- the book was the catalyst for that. He claims he went on a talk show with Sen. Bill Bradley, and mocked Bradley because the Senator didn't know about it... Regardless, everything I can find seems to indicate that there was never a "moment of disclosure."--GodelMetric 07:36, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
David Kahn's "The Codebreakers" contained a substantial amount of coverage of the NSA in general terms; it was a best seller (and Book of the Month club primary selection), so clearly it contributed to "public awareness" of the NSA, well before Bamford's "The Puzzle Palace". As to government "disclosure", there definitely have been changes along those lines; at one time the NSA was not shown in the US Govt. Organization Manual, and NSA employees were told to say that they worked for "the DoD". In recent times, road signs have appeared, maps now show the Agency HQ, many EO secrecy orders have been rescinded, etc., etc. So the "hide its very existence" policy has definitely been aupplanted. There is now even an NSA Web site. I no longer recall whether there was one single "coming out" event. — DAGwyn 17:37, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Industrial espionage[edit]

I think it should be mentioned in this article that the NSA has stolen technological knowledge from the german wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, which was used for a fake patent that later kept Enercon from selling its products in the US. -- Imladros

Source? -Harmil 15:13, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
see [13] (german article in Die Zeit), [14] as well as [15] for many other cases. -- Imladros

Call Connected Thru the NSA[edit]

Recently the rock band They Might Be Giants have created a ringtone for download called "Call Connected Thru the NSA" the lyrics consist of " Call connected thru the NSA, complete transmission thru the NSA, suspending your right for the duration of the permanent war." hope you guys can add it in here.

Grossly Exaggerated Claim With No Evidence[edit]

"Evidence strongly suggests[citation needed] that in practice, NSA/CSS implements an end run around legal restrictions on internal surveillance by having partner agencies in other countries spy on US citizens while the NSA returns the favor for these agencies, thereby avoiding illegal spying on their own citizens." This information is entirely wrong. There is a specific law that prvents EXACTLY this sort of behavoir. This section should be removed from the Wikipedia article. I came across a legal document on the Internet about this, a while back. Might have been on a site like forums. We should figure this out and fix this so we are not misleading people. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 05:24, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

OK, I've removed it from the article. At the very least, then, we would need to cite a source for this to remain in the article. — Matt Crypto 22:24, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
While Matt's reaction to's comment is certainly correct, as far as I know (though I have indeed come across this allegation), there is a nubbin of truth here. NSA has been confined to non-US intelligence from its establishment, but it has not always obeyed this stricture. In particular, the Church Committee brought to public knowledge that NSA had also been tapping targeted communications entirely within US communications for some time. Apparently in concert with assorted other outrageous acts (eg, by FBI, DoD branches, CIA, etc) over the preceeding two decades+ in continuation of the Cold War struggle, or with what could be construed to be such. I myself think the Houston Plan of Watergate fame was of a piece in this pattern, but I'm aware of no actual evidence for connections (eg, did Houston know about anything being done by the Agencies, outside frankly political bounds of the White House?). The revelations about NSA were a major scandal at the time, though only one among a great many and so less remembered than some, and is claimed to have resulted in a new committment by NSA to hew strictly to the terms of its charter. Since 9/11/01, it would appear that the old days have returned, though perhaps this time with a (secret) revision of its charter, again in service to the greater good of the war being waged. So perhaps something might be said on the Church committee and what it found under the secrecy rocks?
I have even heard testimony (or perhaps broadcast talking-head discussion) from NSA types explaining that the wholesale wiretapping isn't "a danger to privacy because a trained NSA suprevisor must approve anything beyond the mere automatic eavesdropping by pattern search algorithms". This may be evidence only of a terminally paranoid mind, but I am unable to stop myself from asking: how and where did so many NSA supervisors get such privacy protection training, and how many of them are there? But this is merely my own concern, as far as I know. Unless someone actually knows something? ww 20:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Patent Citation[edit]

Ok, I think I have found a source for the "Citation needed" bit in the patent section, see: [16], however, it seems to be a clone (or vice versa) of this page, your thoughts? Help plz 12:29, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

No, that's just a mirror (it even says it's taken from Wiki), so it can't be used as a source (it would literally be citing ourselves). Ddye 12:59, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

ECHELON and Domestic activities[edit]

What reason in ECHELON listed under domestic activities? Its my understanding that ECHELON is exclusively foreign. Torturous Devastating Cudgel 15:50, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Fixed, ECHELON section moved out of Domestic activities to it's own section. Sleigh 12:20, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

ECHELON at all[edit]

As far as I'm aware Echelon has never been admitted to by the NSA or the government at all, nor has anything on it been leaked, should we even include information of such dubious prominence without covering the substantial "echelon is nothing more than a conspiracy theory" side as well? Wintermut3 20:00, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Wintermut3 then retracted that comment, claiming to have seen EU documentation to the contrary. However, there are some issues here that deserve discussion: (1) The whole so-called "ECHELON" uproar was instigated and promoted by Duncan Campbell, who expanded a modicum of fact into a sea of speculation. The EU commission's report was pretty much just Campbell's claims. (2) There has long been a "special relationship" among the US and various British COmmonwealth nations to share intelligence monitoring work and results, and eavesdropping facilities around the world to achieve this. (3) That does not have a codename "ECHELON," however. An NSA document search turned up only two "hits" on "ECHELON", one of them clearly referring to "one of a series of levels or grades in an organization or field of activity" (from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary), and the other not comprehensible without looking up the full source context. (4) Data from such monitoring is obviously like "drinking from a fire hose;" it cannot feasibly all be forwarded or stored for use in snooping on random citizens, but must be prefiltered according to various criteria (perhaps for matches against a list of "phrases of interest"). (5) A secret operation is not necessarily a conspiracy. — DAGwyn 05:50, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

4 is not the case. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:36, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Specific Instances/Eras of Involvement[edit]

The CIA article includes brief summaries for different eras and specific instances of Agency involvement, and I think something similar should be included on this article. Too much of the article's focus is currently focused on domestic activity when that is not the Agency's primary role (or even technically its role at all). A good reference for pre-NSA intelligence (relevant, as it was performed by the AFSA and other precursors to the NSA) can be found here. At this point, I'm not sure yet where good summaries/lists of major NSA involvement in the last 40 years can be found. --Rodzilla 03:45, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Almost all of them are still classified, for a variety of reasons including political sensitivity and not wanting to disclose sources and methods lest they "dry up." — DAGwyn 07:35, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the specifics about a lot of them are, but there's a good number that at the very least, the existence of isn't classified. For example, the USS Liberty incident, the USS Pueblo incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc...I doubt Body of Secrets would have made it to 600 pages if everything NSA has done in the last 30 years was still classified. --Rodzilla 07:39, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
I was referring to a large number of intelligence successes that have not been disclosed to the public. — DAGwyn 07:20, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
RodZilla is answering you. Body of Secrets has detailed rundowns of major NSA involvement in a number of important international incidents throughout the Cold War. They're obviously not classified.--GodelMetric 07:38, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
No he wasn't. The numerous intelligence successes are rarely reported publicly (almost never). What "Body of Secrets" was able to report was pretty much limited to politically visible problems that had attracted public (news media) attention. It should be obvious that this presents a badly distorted view of the Agency's actual activities. — DAGwyn 17:26, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
I tend to disagree -- e.g., my recollection is that Bamford's chapter on the U.S.S. Liberty, for example, was something of a revelation at the time. Regardless, RodZilla is correct -- the book is a pretty good rundown of the NSA's involvement in a number of important events since its creation. The original question was where there were lists of NSA involvement in various events, and while Bamford's list obviously can't be comprehensive, it's clearly informative. I'm not sure why we'd want a comprehensive list anyway, even if it were available, which, as you point out, it's not. -- GodelMetric 23:19, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

There's a good list of various documents here as well. --Rodzilla 03:56, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Wasn't there a rather heavy-handed attempt by the NSA to suppress dissemination of the RSA algorithm in 1977? I remember following the controversy quite closely at the time, in Scientific American. Does that belong in the article? DavidCBryant 12:33, 26 August 2007 (UTC)


what state is the NSA in where's the nearest city?

The article says, "Headquarters for the National Security Agency is at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, approximately ten miles (16 km) northeast of Washington, D.C." — Matt Crypto 20:57, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Ft. Meade is adjacent to Bowie and Laurel, Maryland, and not far from Columbia. — DAGwyn 02:17, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
Oops, I meant Jessup, not Bowie (which is also very near). — DAGwyn 01:26, 5 March 2007 (UTC)


I wonder about the accuracy of the number 30,000 employees stated in the infobox. In my opinion, we should change it to "Classified", because no reliable documents confirm that NSA declares its real employees every year. Also,30,000 is just a temporary number in certain specific year, not an updated information. This case is similar to CIA's budget, which is usually kept in secret but was exceptionally made public in 1997 and 1998. Or else, we should make detailed clarification that in what year the number of employees is 30,000. Apple•w••o••r••m• 06:26, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Additional, see NGA, for example. The budget and employees are stated in concrete number with the specific years beside. Apple•w••o••r••m• 06:34, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
But the workforce number is not classified. It's about 30,000. That's from the horse's mouth. There's a big difference between classified and not (the biggest one I can think of offhand is jail time). The number changes daily (mostly Fridays at the end of a pay period or Mondays when they do the read-ins) so they just say "about 30,000" for simplicity. With satellite technology, you can count the cars I suppose... Obviously, I'm joking because that's only one building. — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib 11:56, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Besides, you can't count the supercars that are cloaked. BQZip01 15:08, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Assuming parkings around their building on that photograph in the article, they probably suffer from traffic jams -- A man without a country (talk) 16:54, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The very notion is problematic, because much of the infrastructure is now "outsourced", and there are many organizations (think tanks, steady contractors, etc.) and individuals (including many military personnel) who are strongly affiliated with NSA but who are not officially employess of NSA. — DAGwyn 00:48, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Which I believe is why the full budget is classified. But back to the point, it says approx so that should be fine. — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib 00:59, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
In 1997, the aggregate budget for the US intelligence was declared publicly for the first time [17]. It means that the budget for NSA must be included in the total of $26.6 billion. Apple•w••o••r••m• 14:41, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that was an anomaly. The best we could do with that is "<$26.6B (1997)" in the infobox which is probably useless today (late Clinton era and pre-9/11); the CIA says that includes them too, but does that include all of the IC? — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib 15:07, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Of course it's not certain that the 1997 statistic includes all of IC but there's highly chance that NSA's budget belonged to it, since it'll be ironical if one of the most important and prominent members of IC like NSA was left out. Apple•w••o••r••m• 15:40, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it's surely included but what can we now do with that information? There's no way to extrapolate the number of employees based on it, which is what this thread was originally about. The questionable part about the 30K is what DAGwyn brings up - is that a full count of govt' employees plus military plus contractors? Or gov't only? Or only civilians? However, going back to my first statement - just because it is not publicly available, doesn't mean it is classified. There is a difference between classification and distribution restrictions. — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib 16:24, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I believe that some number should be given, any way. We can't know the exact number, but it's explicitly stated it's estimate. To make a correct statement, one should also declare the accuracy of the estimate. Yet I believe, many readers would be interested to know the rough number. Few care if it's exactly 38,000 or 35,000 or 43,000; but it's sort of useful information that it's not 10,000 and not 100,000. ellol (talk) 20:34, 3 November 2008 (UTC)


The number has disappeared from the infobox. Some number or range should be given, based on the available estimates. All of this information is not confidential, see here:

Some estimates (with a dead link to a NSA FAQ):

How many people work for the NSA/CSS and what is its budget?
NSA/CSS employs approximately 30,000 people worldwide. The size of the Agency’s budget is not releasable to the public; however, if the NSA/CSS was considered a corporation in terms of dollars spent, floor space occupied, and personnel employed, it would rank in the top 10 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. It is far from true that NSA/CSS has an unlimited "black" budget, unknown by other government entities. While the budget and size of NSA/CSS are classified, these details are known by the Office of Management and Budget, by both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), by the Defense Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in both houses of Congress, and by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Resources allocated to NSA/CSS are subject to rigorous examination and approval processes.

-- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:50, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

Seems reasonable to me, BOLD 30,000. Sephiroth storm (talk) 01:06, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Most of the work may in fact be done by private contractors. The number 30 000 means thus nothing. I have heard the number 1 million mentioned recently. See Snowden leak shines light on US intelligence agencies' use of contractors, The Guardian, 10 June 2013 -- Petri Krohn (talk) 04:45, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Zero Hedge claims, that 483,000 private individual have "top secret" access to NSA PRISM data. I do not know where they got the number, but if true, all these should be listed as employees or whatever. (Source: From 9/11 To PRISMgate - How The Carlyle Group LBO'd The World's Secrets) Update: The source for the numbers may be this HuffPost story: NSA Leak Highlights Key Role Of Private Contractors -- Petri Krohn (talk) 08:46, 11 June 2013 (UTC)


NSA has two distinct missions. One is Information Assurance and the other is SIGINT. I can't find anything on IA on this page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk • contribs)

See STU-I, STU-II, STU-III, and NSA encryption systems along with others in Category:NSA encryption devices. — RevRagnarok Talk Contrib 01:24, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the IP. The SIGINT mission gets too slight stress in article. Maybe subsections should be created instead of listing main articles only. @pple 15:30, 8 August 2007 (UTC)


Why the head of the NSA is military generals ? its not part of the DoD --Jonybond 20:47, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

NSA/CSS is a component of the DoD. — DAGwyn 17:40, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

does not redirect[edit]

according to the article

"NSA" redirects here. For other uses, see NSA (disambiguation).

but it does not. check it if you don't believe me.

--Kushalt 01:12, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Page history shows that "NSA" redirected to this article until 24 October, 2007; "nsa" and "Nsa" still do. Given the quantity of other (wikilinked) uses of the acronym on the disambiguation page, I question its redirection to this article by default, and will add a different notice instead. —Adavidb 05:30, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
After finding that a far greater number of articles currently link to this article via "NSA", I've reconsidered and will restore the former redirection. —Adavidb 05:44, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Menwith Hill[edit]

Surely Menwith Hill should be mentioned as a major NSA station. It is huge underground. The surrounding area of North Yorkshire is populated with Americans. It may have as many staff as Fort Meade? I'm surprised the phrase 'Menwith Hill' does not appear in the article. It's mostly only pretending to be an RAF station. -- 00:45, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Is there something useful (and verifiable) that would be contributed by such a mention that isn't already covered by the reference in the ECHELON article? If there is no real purpose in it, then it would just be trivia. The NSA article mentions that there are many facilities; it only names one (and that one over some objections) on the basis of the need to have a link to another related article. — DAGwyn 05:35, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Very few Americans live around Menwith Hill. Most folks from the U.S. you will meet there are tourists who used to work there before automation took over practically everything.Johnwrd (talk) 02:10, 14 September 2010 (UTC)


The section Involvement with non-government cryptography appears to contradict articles Data Encryption Standard and differential cryptanalysis; both of these articles claim that the NSA did NOT design the S-boxes for DES, but IBM was already aware of the differential cryptanalysis.

So which is it? I remember that the DES article also used to say that NSA fixed DES's S-boxes. Were the S-boxes in DES changed in the first place, by IBM or NSA? -- intgr [talk] 18:10, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

I think the section in Data Encryption Standard covers the claims and counter claims.. While some have speculated (and Alan Konheim has claimed) that the NSA (re)wrote the DES S-boxes, there are others who deny it. I've edited the section to hopefully avoid making an assertion in one direction or the other. — Matt Crypto 19:13, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, details of NSA involvement in DES development remain classified (at least they were when I last checked a few years ago). I will say that NSA employees did not "design the S-boxes", but they did have some influence over their design. Also that the publicly known "differential cryptanalysis" methodology is but one form of a class of similar methods of attack, and that it is therefore misleading to apply the current usage of the term to the historical situation. I restored the original text, with a clarification, because it is needed to counter the accusation. — DAGwyn 21:16, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
I've tweaked it a bit further, simply because the extent of NSA's influence in the design of the S-boxes is not known, or even if there was any influence, because Tuchman has stated, "We developed the DES algorithm entirely within IBM using IBMers. The NSA did not dictate a single wire!" — Matt Crypto 21:41, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
But what you seem to infer from Tuchman's statement has been contradicted by other IBM DES developers. For example, the Data Encryption Standard article quotes Konheim as saying, "We sent the S-boxes off to Washington. They came back and were all different." Also, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence review reported that "NSA ... indirectly assisted in the development of the S-box structures". Keep in mind that (a) the right hand doesn't always know everything that the left hand is doing; (b) even though IBM staff did the work, they were influenced by NSA advice; and (c) often, public statements are misleadingly worded. The speaker can easily believe that there is a difference between "changing the design of the algorithm" and "suggesting changes to the S-box tables to work more effectively within the given design"; also between "dictate" and "suggest". You have to consider that to reconcile Tuchman's comments with the other sources. I'll look at your tweaks and if necessary further adjust them. — DAGwyn 22:55, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not saying that I believe the NSA had no involvement with the S-boxes (to me, it seems they must have had at least some role, and I don't disagree with your reconciliation of Tuchman's comments). It's just that I feel the sources are not clear enough for us to come down definitively one way or the other on Wikipedia. I think the current version is a reasonable take on it, as at DES. — Matt Crypto 19:26, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

What's the NSA been known to have done first?[edit]

What's the NSA been known to have done first? I believe I read an article a couple years ago about how the NSA had created something that was pretty much the same as PGP about 10 years before it was created publically. They were now declassifying that information and allowing the employee that had originally created it to say what he'd done (since he was retiring) -- the employee was hoping for some recognition for what he'd done. EDIT: found a CNN story that said that the UK said that they'd created public-key encryption first. I swear that I saw a bunch of news articles about the NSA creating it first, though. (talk) 09:14, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

Since GHQ and NSA have a close relationship, the development reached people in both organizations fairly quickly. For the most part, NSA's tasks did not benefit from public key encryption, so they didn't make much use of it. NSA has produced numerous innovations, including contributing to development of computing technology, but many developments remain classified, for fairly obvious reasons. — DAGwyn (talk) 22:44, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Alleged Illegal Activity of the NSA[edit]

Since the ACLU has been trying for ages to counter the violations of constitutional rights allegedly done by the NSA I have knowledge concerning this and would be happy to provide it. The following are examples that I know of and for your consideration. You can then determine whether there is any value for including what the ACLU considers an issue for our constitutional rights.

All of these examples concern my writing in on-line science sites that were concerning my writing of 14 science descriptions that proved evolution is scientifically impossible. Another writing of mine was in proving undeniably that Einstein's special relativity is false science. The point in mentioning this is to show the science had absolutely nothing to do with national security.

The first example was where I had found on a Hubble telescope image of Orion that there was a previously unknown planet in the zoomable image. I described this science point on a science site where I was being viciously countered by a leader having the name of WWSCD and six others under that leader. (I later found out WWSCD is World Wide Senior Catastrophe Director of the NSA)
The point is that within 24 hours of when I had written the planet's location the planet had been digitally erased from the picture. The hole was an irregular oval and they patched in a piece of background. You could even see the rough edges of the patch before they soon touched up the edge cut.
The second was another suppression of the science that occurred again within 24 hours. This one was on a Gould astronomy picture that was submitted in the American Astronomy meeting in June 2007.
The picture was described as capturing the light of never-getting-before far-distant stars that were at extreme distances. In other words the stars in the picture background were those supposedly distant stars. The problem in the thinking was that there was an eight-star special grouping of stars that was in a vertical, shriveled football-like shape that was shown on the right side in the foreground. The specific problem is that the same exact grouping of stars was also shown in a much smaller location in the right-side background. That back grouping was at the perfect perspective line location required for the size and back location. In other words the back group was an image of the same exact group of stars.
This picture had the back group digitally changed to no longer match at all.
A third attempt at suppression occurred several times over three years with one of those providing the proof. That was on a day when I was writing science descriptions and, like always, during especially interesting science my telephone would ring in mid-paragraph. On this particular time I noticed a message had been recorded on my answering machine and that call was the only one coming in for the morning.
My procedure when calls came in was that I would stop typing after the ring, then look at the caller ID, and then if the caller is unknown I would go back to typing. The recording was (from a person farther away from the phone) “He stopped typing”. After about three seconds (the same person) “He’s started again”. (A person at the phone) An exasperated sigh from my not answering any of their hundred or so calls.
I won't include the fourth provable proof of this, but in conclusion here I will share the following. Who could have enough ability and "pull" to get those pictures digitally altered in lying science within 24 hours? And, why would non-national security science be attacked?
So, if you are interested I would be glad to write these in a section concerning illegal activity of the NSA. — SteveCrum 17:00, 20 November 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
By the way, do I need to have the above published in the "NSA Gazette" first? And, I would like to mention that even when I sign in the red signed-in name, etc. at the top of the page disappears as soon as I go to any page after signing in. All later pages have a blue, sign in/create account wording shown. — SteveCrum 19:00, 20 November 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

HA! You realize that NSA can do whatever they want right? Technically while on that base you have NO rights AT ALL.:D (talk) 22:51, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

You would need Reliable Sources to confirm. Sephiroth storm (talk) 22:43, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

What do we exactly mean with the word foreign?[edit]

Hi there,
it appears that in this wikipedia article the word foreign has never been singularly hyperlinked.
What do you guys think about hyperlinking it with Alien (law)?
Thanks for your attention.
Maurice Carbonaro (talk) 09:40, 19 February 2009 (UTC)


Se-Linux should be mentioned. I saw the first argument for its removal, however, SE-Linux is not useless fluff, it is one of the few US Government technologies released into the open source community, and is now part of the Linux kernel. Sephiroth storm (talk) 01:54, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

I think there are sources online for example on the NSA site that you could use to add this. -SusanLesch (talk) 03:54, 2 July 2009 (UTC)


POL DIPLOMATIC DAI SU' QUA'N 107 POL POLITICAL COAST IVORY COATL FR A JUSTICE FR ALL IS A ATILA. ALEXANDER. vedette-ANDERSEN MB-Mo.o euro € MY TIME IS NOW ATTENTLY TO THE END FR ME... And I hope this last Num —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:05, 7 October 2009 (UTC)


Does reading the NSA article trigger the NSA to open a file on me? (If one isn't already open...) If so should a warning be given to people before they access the article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm afraid the NSA is busy with other things at the moment. Sephiroth storm (talk) 22:55, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

U.S.S. Liberty[edit]

One theory on the Mission of U.S.S. Liberty was that Liberty was monitoring the movements and locating Tank Squadron locations in the 6 Day War, (hence her dangerously close location to the War Zone). The Liberty was said to be a N.S.A./U.S.Navy Ship. Liberty could pick up Tank Radio Transmissions, and with other Stations could pin point their location using Radio Triangulation.Johnwrd (talk) 02:28, 14 September 2010 (UTC)


Only 1? Lol. Come on. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:27, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

NSA redirects here?[edit]

Looking at the disambig page there are 30 other uses for NSA, 2 of which are the same agency for different countries (U.S. and Norway), one of which is Poland's version of the supreme court, and one of which is a NATO agency. Why would it redirect here instead of being a disambig page? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:48, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

This NSA is the most commonly referred to NSA in the Anglosphere, by quite a large margin. I assume that is why NSA doesn't redirect to a disambiguation page. I'm not sure I agree that's right though. (talk) 11:58, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

I would tend to agree with the second IP editor. Sephiroth storm (talk) 12:51, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

June 24 Intro edits[edit]

Edited introduction. According the agency mission also includes information assurance and research. Also naming one type of intel (HUMINT) the NSA doesnt produce isn't useful (Why not say the NSA doesnt produce IMINT, etc.). The first paragraph clearly states the NSA produces SIGINT. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

"No Such Agency"[edit]

Would it be OK to insert and cite the old acronym "No Such Agency" in the heading area? Between the 70's and 90's it was a long-running sarcastic joke. Foxyshadis(talk) 09:56, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

It pulls up in Google Maps, so the joke is still going on to a certain degree. That said, find a reliable source. VernoWhitney (talk) 18:57, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
The New York Times is reliable so I added that. -SusanLesch (talk) 19:11, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. VernoWhitney (talk) 19:16, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I think it's even in David Kahn's book from 1967, so the joke is quite old. Need to check, though. Nageh (talk) 20:28, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

I checked in Kahn's book, he used the 'Never Say Anything' on page 690 but I didn't find a specific use of 'No Such Agency'. I suspect all the alternate names for the initials go back farther than any source we'd find anyways. Japenfold (talk) 01:30, 3 October 2011 (UTC)


The article states that the NSA is headed by a senior military officer. Are his subordinates also military personnel? As in, would the mathematicians have military ranks? (talk) 11:55, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

NSA is a DoD civilian agency. The Central Security Service staff's the NSA with military personnel. The civilians would not have military ranks. Sephiroth storm (talk) 12:56, 21 July 2012 (UTC)