© 2013 Diana

Being Safe – NSA Letter to its “extended” family

Source: dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/09/19/nsa-sends-letter-to-its-extended-family-to-reassure-them-that-they-will-weather-this-storm/

National Security Agency
Central Security Service
Fort George G. Meade, Maryland 20755-6000

13 September 2013


Dear NSA/CSS family:


We are writing to you, our extended NSA/CSS family, in light of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by a former contractor employee. We want to put the information you are reading and hearing about in the press into context and reassure you that this Agency and its workforce are deserving and appreciative of your support. As a family member of an NSA/CSS employee, whether civilian or military, you are an essential element in the successful conduct of our job of protecting and defending our country. Your support helps each of us dedicate ourselves to our mission, encouraging us to do our best on behalf of the Nations. We, along with the rest of the NSA/CSS workforce, greatly value that support.

Some media outlets have sensationalized the leaks to the press in a way that has called into question our motives and wrongly cast doubt on the integrity and commitment of the extraordinary people who work here at NSA/CSS – your loved one(s). It has been discouraging to see how our Agency frequently has been portrayed in the news as more of a rogue element than a national treasure. You’ve seen the dedication, skill and integrity that those employees bring to their job each and every workday, contributing to the accomplishments of this Agency over the past 61 years.

For more than 6 decades, NSA/CSS has been responsible for protecting the United States and its allies through its information assurance and signals intelligence mission. All of the things we do to conduct our mission are lawful. Our activities are overseen, as appropriate, by the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. Senate, the US. House of Representatives, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – that represents all three branches of the government.

In concert with our mission, NSA/CSS employees are trained from the first day on the job, regularly thereafter, to respect the privacy and civil liberties of U.S. citizens. We go to great lengths to achieve our goal of no mistakes. However, we are human and become the environment of law and technology within which we operate is so complex and dynamic, mistakes sometimes do occur. That’s where the unique aspect of our culture comes into play. We self-report those mistakes, analyze them, and take action to correct the root causes. Our mistakes are reported to our oversight bodies in the Congress, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court , and the Executive Branch, as appropriate. Some of the those reports have been leaked to the press, and have been mischaracterized to portray us as irresponsible and careless; nothing could be further from the truth. Our accuracy rates in what we do are phenomenal. It is also important to understand these errors in context. Each error does not mean we have gathered a U.S. citizen’s email or listened to their phone call; the overwhelming majority are errors of failure to comply with internal procedures. Those procedures are designed to detect mistakes early enough in our processes to prevent or minimize the inadvertent exposure of information about the people in the U.S.

There are some in the media who are taking the time to actually study the leaked material, and they have drawn conclusions that are very different from those who are are in it for a quick headline. One such legal scholar wrote that we should made our case more forcefully by responding, “Shameful as it is that these documents were leaked, they actually should give the public great confidence both in NSA’s internal oversight mechanisms and in the executive and judicial oversight mechanisms outside the agency They show no evidence of my intentional spying on Americans or abuse of civil liberties. They show a low rate of the sort of errors any complex system of technical collection will inevitably yield. They show robust compliance procedures on the part of the NSA”|1|. We couldn’t agree more.

The other big story being missed by many in the media is how effective NSA/CSS is in accomplishing its mission. In open hearings earlier this year, we spoke to Congress about how NSA/CSS actions contributed to keeping the Nation and its allies safe from 54 different terrorist plots. That’s just part of the great work that your family members are doing every day. Regardless of position, every employee has contributed to the important work of securing networks, supporting our warfighters, and providing unique insights into foreign intelligence targets. Together we have saved the lives of countless American service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, stopped terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad, and provided the President, his Cabinet, and military commanders with the information they needed to make critical decisions to protect this nation. And this has not been without risk. The NSA/CSS Memorial Wall lists the names of 171 cryptologists who have died in the line of duty since the Agency’s inception in 1952.

Over the coming weeks and months, more stories will appear. To help separate fact from fiction, we will continue to make available to your family member materials they can bring home to help you understand that our activities are lawful, appropriate, and effective. There are materials available now on our public website, nsa.gov. In addition, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence hosts a website of declassified document at icontherecord.tumblr.com.

Let us again, say how much your continued encouragement and support mean to us and your family member(s) here at the Agency. We have weathered storms before and we will weather this one together, as well. You are an integral part of NSA/CSS’ success in defending America and its allies. Like you, we are incredibly proud of the people of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service and are honored to be part of their team. Thank you for all that you do to help us succeed.

John C. Inglish
Deputy Director, NSA

Keith B. Alexander
General, U.S. Army
Director, NSA/Chief, CSS

|1| Lawfare: The NSA, the Washington Post, and the Administration. Benjamin Wittes, 18 August 2013

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