NSA Feeling "Beaten Down" After Surveillance Program Criticism, Wants Support from Obama
December 10, 2013 6:31 PM
Obama is trying to protect himself from criticism from allies abroad and civil-liberties advocates on U.S. soil
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been attacked all year for its
, which were revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden -- and the agency could use some love from President Barack Obama.
The Washington Post
, the NSA's morale has taken a beating ever since the Snowden revelations, and many former officials say that current NSA employees are disappointed that Obama hasn't stopped by to provide some encouragement.
“The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it’s been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,” said Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. “They feel they’ve been hung out to dry, and they’re right.”
Other former NSA officials, who have asked to remain anonymous, said morale is "bad overall" and that many employees are asking to have their résumés wiped of any surveillance programs in order to gain employment elsewhere.
“The news — the Snowden disclosures — it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” said a former NSA official who chose to remain anonymous. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.”
Some former officials have even mentioned that former President George W. Bush visited the NSA in January 2006 after the New York Times reported that the agency engaged in a counterterrorism program of warrantless surveillance in the U.S.
Obama has sent top White House officials to the NSA to speak for him in an effort to offer encouragement. But many believe he hasn't made the trip himself because he needs to protect himself from criticism from allies abroad and civil-liberties advocates on U.S. soil. In addition, internal and external reviews of surveillance activities have not yet been completed.
Obama has said that the NSA’s surveillance is lawful in June of this year, and showed interest in preserving the intelligence programs. However, he's also mentioned making some changes so that there's greater transparency.
Snowden blew the cover on the NSA's surveillance programs earlier this year, which consisted of bulk data collection from sources like phone records, where the government took on a "collect now, filter later" approach. The agency has said that the bulk data collection was meant to
identify terrorist threats
, but it's been discovered that the data of Americans has been collected without any clear evidence of terrorist links.
In August, reports said that the NSA admitted to
touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic
. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to
give him their login credentials and passwords
while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
Many top tech leaders, like
CEO Mark Zuckerberg and
Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, have spoken out against the NSA's programs along with civil-liberties advocates, U.S. citizens and even
that had the NSA peeping in their window.
Just yesterday, it was revealed that the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ sent agents into the
of the Xbox Live network, World of Warcraft, and Second Life to find acts of terrorism.
The Washington Post
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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