NSA agents are normal people. They celebrate the holidays with loved ones and close friends and have political arguments after too much wine and turkey. But unlike you and me, they come well prepared: Late last month, the NSA distributed a set of holiday talking points so agents could pour praise on their employers over desert.
If you spend a meal with an NSA employee this month, here’s a rundown of what you might hear:
1. The NSA’s mission is of great value to the nation.
2. The NSA performs its missions “the right way”—lawful, compliant, and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy.
3. NSA performs its mission exceptionally well. We strive to be the best that we can be, because that’s what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world.
4. The people who work for NSA are loyal Americans with expert skills who make sacrifices to help protect the freedoms we all cherish.
5. NSA is committed to increased transparency, public dialog and faithful implementation of any changes required by our overseers.
As you might imagine, this document has attracted serious scorn from the first to last items because, well, much of it is false.
First, the NSA wants family members to know that it works alongside soldiers to stop 54 terrorist attacks abroad and at home. The “54” number has been under attack for some time now for a fairly simple reason: There’s no evidence that it’s true.
Next, the Agency insists it operates according to the law. As Gosztola notes, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge recently pointed out the NSA’s “longstanding and pervasive violations” of court orders.
If you run into an agent and need your own verbal ammunition, Kevin Gosztola’s report thoroughly debunks what desperately needs debunking.