National Security Agency
Since the 9/11 attacks in the United States’ renowned areas such as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the public and the media turned to the country’s intelligence community to understand how such attack befall on the country and how they could stop future attacks. The Bush Administration had immediately called for the reorganization of the intelligence community to improve its fight towards terrorism. One of the departments of the IC that came into focus is the National Security Agency, the country’s code-breaking and intelligence agency, which would have been able to notify the government for any coded or concealed attempt orchestrated through regular communication lines
The establishment of the National Security Agency, according to Bolton (2008) can be traced back after the Second World War, when the United States saw the potential threat posed by the Soviet Union to the country. According to Bullock, Haddow, and Coppola (2011) and Larsen and Smith (2005), the US government had established several small agencies to serve as intelligence bureaus for law enforcement. One of them was Armed Forces Security Agency (1949), which became the National Security Agency due to the lack of capacity held by the AFSA in terms of being the intelligence and communications unit that can reach out to agencies like the CIA and FBI. President Harry S. Truman decided to revise the AFSA due to its reported lapses. He then established the NSA under the October 24, 1952 memorandum “Communications and Intelligence Activities” that revised the National Security Council Intelligence Directive 9 and Directive 6 to move AFSA’s role to the NSA. According to the Office of the US Director of National Intelligence (2012), the NSA is also supported by laws like the National Security Agency Act of 1959 that amends the 1952 memorandum that created the NSA, outlining the NSA’s leadership clauses . The NSA’s role is also outlined in the Information Assurance Directorate and the Signals Intelligence Directorate, the former outlining the agency’s role for information security while the latter handles signals intelligence ..
Like the AFSA, the NSA handles intelligence gathering, mostly on signals intelligence and cryptography, and intelligence analysis for coded/encrypted or concealed information acquired. Signals intelligence is often done through normal communication channels (e-mail, telephone) or through electronic signals transmitted on non-communication channels (radio frequency transmissions) as encrypted data is often transmitted, concealing plots or intelligence. Since the agency deals with signals intelligence, the NSA is highly regarded as the country’s major code-breaking network due to their labor force comprising the top mathematicians and cryptographers that can crack any coded/concealed data transmitted throughout the country. It also handles the cipher systems used by the US to protect information systems and find the weakness of foreign systems and data coding . The NSA is also tasked to handle the country’s information system from any foreign or local attack; as well as handle information gathering, coordination and safeguarding for all members of the intelligence community. Smith (2003) and Knight (2003) added that the NSA also collects information for “foreign intelligence and counterintelligence” and do domestic surveillance, collecting data from electronic communications before analyzing the data acquired. The NSA also involves itself mostly on public policy as it provides information regarding key threats and even in data analysis due to its cryptography or code breaking bureau. The NSA also functions as a key source for technological improvement, thanks to its employ of mathematicians and expert, mostly in specialized communication systems and cryptography research .
Bolton, M. K. (2008). U.S. National Security and Foreign Policymaking After 9/11: Present at the Re-creation. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.
Bullock, J., Haddow, G., & Coppola, D. (2011). Introduction to Homeland Security: Principles of All-Hazards Risk Management. Burlington: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Knight, P. (2003). Conspiracy Theories in American History:. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
Larsen, J., & Smith, J. (2005). Historical Dictionary of Arms Control and Disarmament. Lanham: Scarecrow Press.
Office of the US Director of National Intelligence. (2012). Intelligence Community Legal Reference Book, Winter 2012. Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office.
Smith, W. T. (2003). Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Infobase Publishing.