The old line about the National Security Agency is that it’s so secretive, the FBI and the CIA don’t have high enough security clearance to find out what it does.
It is also said that the acronym, NSA, means “No Such Agency.”
The best book on it is James Bamford’s The Puzzle Palace.
The NSA spies on Americans. It spies on their telecommunications.
It has done this for decades. But now, because of anti-terrorism legislation, it has a blank check. It always did, but this has made it official.
You may be interested to know just how many Americans the NSA has files on. If so, you are not alone. Two U.S. Senators are also interested. So, they asked.
Can you imagine anything this silly?
The two Senators thought they had a “need to know.” After all, they are members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee. So, they asked the NSA a simple question last month: “Under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?”
The NSA did not answer. After all, it does not exist. Someone else answered for it: Charles McCullough, who holds the office of Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This is supposedly the head of all 16 of America’s spy agencies. Well, all 15 of them. NSA does not exist.
Answer: request denied. Such information “would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons,” McCullough wrote.
Besides, even if such an agency existed, it would be far beyond its capacity to find out that sort of information. It would have to have a computer and a data base program. So, McCulloch said, “I defer to [the non-existent NSA's non-existent inspector general's] conclusion that obtaining such an estimate was beyond the capacity of his office and dedicating sufficient additional resources would likely impede the NSA’s mission.”
A journalist at Wired, who actually thinks that the NSA exists, has written this:
The changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008 — which President Obama, then in the Senate, voted for — relaxed the standards under which communications with foreigners that passed through the United States could be collected by the spy agency. The NSA, for instance, no longer requires probable cause to intercept a person’s phone calls, text messages or emails within the United States as long as one party to the communications is “reasonably” believed to be outside the United States.
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, as it’s known, legalized an expansive effort under the Bush administration that authorized NSA surveillance on persons inside the United States without a warrant in cases of suspicion of connections to terrorism.
The 2008 law expires this year. If it is not renewed, the NSA would no longer be protected, if it existed, and people could sue it in court. Then the NSA would say that it would violate your privacy to respond.
(For more information about this fictitious agency, click the link.)