Mini-Me: Cognitive Dissonance at NSA + NSA High Crimes RECAP + Integrity Remediation

07 Other Atrocities, 09 Justice, 11 Society, Corruption, Government, Idiocy, Ineptitude, IO Impotency, Military
Who?  Mini-Me?
Who? Mini-Me?

Huh?

Do You Trust the Washington Post‘s Sources on Morale at the NSA?

Former officials insist that employees are upset because President Obama hasn’t visited to show his support.

Reuters via The Atlantic,

A strange Washington Post story gives readers the impression that morale is low at the NSA because President Obama hasn’t visited to signal his support for the intelligence agency, even as Edward Snowden’s leaks are causing many to criticize it.

The headline: “NSA morale down after Edward Snowden revelations, former U.S. officials say.”

The lead:

Morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency’s surveillance activities, according to former officials who say they are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support.

What these “dismayed” sources told the newspaper:

Supporters of the NSA say staffers are not feeling the love.

“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.”

A former U.S. official—who like several other former officials interviewed for this story requested anonymity because he still has dealings with the agency—said: “The president has multiple constituencies—I get it. But he must agree that the signals intelligence NSA is providing is one of the most important sources of intelligence today. So if that’s the case, why isn’t the president taking care of one of the most important elements of the national security apparatus?”

Is this just an attempt to exert pressure on the president and stave off even the mildest criticism of the NSA? The sourcing here seems awfully shoddy. Is a former NSA inspector general who hasn’t worked for the agency in seven years really qualified to pronounce upon the current feelings of every employee? Is the proposition that NSA staffers are all of one mind about recent controversies something we’d credit even if a current NSA employee said it? Did the anonymous “former U.S. official” ever work for the NSA? What “dealings” does he or she presently have with the agency, and how remunerative are those dealings?

After reading what these former officials had to say, Marcy Wheeler points out that NSA employees have a reason for low morale that has nothing to do with Obama’s support:

Most of the NSA’s employees have not been read into many of these programs … That raises the distinct possibility that NSA morale is low not because the President hasn’t given them a pep talk, but because they’re uncomfortable working for an Agency that violates its own claimed rules so often. Most of the men and women at NSA have been led to believe they don’t spy on their fellow citizens. Those claims are crumbling, now matter how often the NSA repeats the word “target.” [PBI: Emphasis added.]

Skipping all the way to the end of the Post story, there is a bit of supporting evidence for that thesis:

Morale is “bad overall,” a third former official said. “The news—the Snowden disclosures—it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “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.”

Set beside one another, “discomfort with what the NSA is doing” and “hearing their employer criticized” both seem like a lot better explanations for low morale than an inchoate, unfulfilled yearning for that cruelly withheld visit from the president. His charm and charisma may make him adept at obscuring what the NSA is doing when he speaks to a general audience. NSA employees aren’t so easily fooled. In fact, they are perfectly positioned to see the full extent of any mendacity.

The disconnect between my take and the Washington Post’s treatment of the story is doubtless due in part to the different ways we respond to a certain title: former NSA official. Given that the NSA carried out a massive, secret, illegal program of warrantless wiretapping in the era just previous to this one, along with more recent violations of the Fourth Amendment and FISA court orders, I see “former NSA official” as a warning that the source may not have scruples about misleading the American people in order to strengthen the surveillance state.

In contrast, the Washington Post, like most newspapers, sees “former NSA official” as a title that bestows more credibility, and that usually justifies an extension of anonymity permitting the source to speak through the press for his or her own ends.

What I wonder is what the impact on the NSA would be if morale really is falling, something that wasn’t established to my satisfaction. It would arguably be heartening if surveillance-state employees are upset at the revelation that their employer has been doing wrong. But if NSA employees who have some discomfort with mass surveillance start to quit, who will replace them, and how much less trustworthy would that agency be?

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Phi Beta Iota: Jim Clapper has never been willing to “hear” the frequently articulated concerns about “cognitive dissonance” within the US secret world. The above article offers a useful insight whose unstated premise we accept: the vast majority of those employed by the US secret world are good people trapped in a bad system. Under General Keith Alexander, with a very bad change in direction under his predecessor General Mike Hayden, NSA has become a very expensive rogue elephant in constant violation of just about every law, regulation, and moral principle that most US citizens expect to be honored. Jim Bamford, the sole authoritative open source historian for the NSA, long their greatest champion, turned away from them after 9/11 and after he saw the changes in direction and the lack of morality among the most senior NSA leaders. When your best people are marginalized, or questioning their profession, that profession has imploded. Good people. Bad system. Anyone ready to listen? Create the Open Source Agency (OSA) as the benchmark for all of the classified disciplines, and let’s get on with our long-needed reconstitution of the ability to produce intelligence (decision-support) with integrity (holistic coherence)! NSA can and should be the bill-payer for counterintelligence, clandestine HUMINT, OSINT, and the creation of theater MISTF and multinational “by with and through” all-source intelligence networks.  This is not rocket science.  Embrace one word: INTEGRITY.

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See Also:

1989 Al Gray (US) on Global Intelligence Challenges

1990 Intelligence in the 1990′s – Six Challenges

2009 Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else

2009 Fixing the White House & National Intelligence

2009 Perhaps We Should Have Shouted: A Twenty-Year Retrospective

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Click on Image to Enlarge

2009 Robert Steele: Politics & Intelligence–Partners Only When Integrity is Central to Both

2010 Robert Steele: Reflections on Integrity UPDATED + Integrity RECAP

2012 Reality Sandwich: The Battle for the Soul of the Republic

2012 Robert Steele: Reflections on Inspectors General

2013 Robert Steele in HighGainBlog on Open and Secret Intelligence

2013: The Evolving Craft of Intelligence 3.6 As Published

Berto Jongman: 20 Years Late, Council on Foreign Relations Has a Stab at Thinking About Cyber + Cyber Meta-RECAP

Berto Jongman: Humans, Data, & Spies — What Manner, What Value, Integrity?

Berto Jongman: John McAfee Vows to Make Internet “Impossible to Hack” + Internet/Human Intelligence Meta-RECAP [Bottom Line Up Front: Internet without Intelligence and Integrity is Noise]

Berto Jongman: NSA “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO) — Focus on the 2% at Great Expense While Ignoring the 98% Open Access World 2.0 Refs Added

Berto Jongman: NSA Utah Suffers Ten Meltdowns — Cost Plus Gov Spec + NSA Meta-RECAP

Berto Jongman: YouTube (48:52) Definitive Trial and Virtual Conviction of NSA

Berto Jongman: YouTube (11:49) NSA Whistleblower Russ Tice on Russia Today Detailng NSA Targeting Supreme Court, Flag Officers, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Many Members of Congress, Barack Obama BEFORE He Won Senate Election, Etc. — at Direction of Vice President Dick Cheney

Bruce Schneier: How Advanced Is the NSA’s Cryptanalysis — And Can We Resist It?

Chuck Spinney: Sy Hersh Channels John Boyd, Chuck Highlights Hersh

David Isenberg: NSA Ubber Alles, Drones in the Toilet

Eagle: NSA Reason for Existence — Is It To Snoop? Or Is It to Waste Tens of Billions of Dollars without Accountability?

Graphic: Integrity in All Respects

Graphic: Jim Bamford on the Human Brain

Graphic: Tony Zinni on 4% “At Best”

INTERVIEW: Open Everything – with Robert David STEELE Vivas UPDATED to Add Parts V and VI

Jim Bamford: Elergy on Keith Alexander Pseudo-Geek

Jim Bamford: How 9/11 Fearmongering Grew NSA Into a Very Expensive Domestic Surveillance Monster

John Steiner: From Sanity Central on NSA and the Surveillance State

Jon Rappoport: NSA as Front for Two Israeli Companies, Narus and Verint, Specializing in Mass Surveillance & Getting Zionist Copy of Everything

Marcus Aurelius: Jim Bamford on Five Myths About NSA

Marcus Aurelius: NSA’s Creeping Cloud

Mini-Me: Former NSA PM – U.S. Is Turning Into East Germany

Reference: Human Intelligence (HUMINT) – All Humans, All Minds, All the Time [Full Text Online for Google Translate]

Review: Body of Secrets–Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency

Review: The Puzzle Palace–Inside the National Security Agency, America’s Most Secret Intelligence Organization

Review: The Secret Sentry–The Untold History of the National Security Agency

Review: The Shadow Factory–The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America

Richard Wright: It’s Only Money – Why the IC Continues to Fail & Robert Steele: 10% Grade – A Dishonorable Discharge Needed

Rickard Falkvinge: NSA is Stasi Scaled Global + Naked NSA RECAP

SchwartzReport: NSA Has Not Foiled a SINGLE Terrorist Plot + NSA Meta-RECAP

Stephen E. Arnold: Search Hits the “Big O” – Robert Steele Comments on IT’s Three Sucking Chest Wounds

Tom Atlee: Surveillance and parasitism harm society’s collective intelligence

Tony Zinni: Background & Confirmation of the 4% “At Best” Quote on Secret versus Open Sources

Xi to Obama: This Is Me Being Inscrutable — LOL! + Snowden RECAP + US Cyber-Idiocy RECAP