recommended reading

NSA Chief Delivers Pep Talk to Spy Staff

Gen. Keith Alexander testified earlier in the month on the NSA scandal.

Gen. Keith Alexander testified earlier in the month on the NSA scandal. // Charles Dharapak/AP

With shadows cast over the National Security Agency workforce in light of allegations about pervasive domestic surveillance, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander sent his staff a message of comfort and encouragement.

"The ongoing national dialogue is not about your performance," he wrote, referring to employees as "extraordinary people" and "real heroes." 

The agency is under fire for tapping the private call records of millions of U.S. residents and the social network activities of foreigners to catch terrorists.

NSA senior leadership will "take the heat" for the ongoing situation, Alexander stated in a June 25 statement to code-breakers, intelligence analysts and all other agency employees. He assured staff that their actions were approved by all three branches of government. 

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor fired from Booz Allen Hamilton after disclosing the surveillance programs, has said he will release more documents detailing the agency's monitoring of personal data. Snowden is currently at the Moscow airport, allegedly seeking asylum in Ecuador while U.S. officials seek his extradition on charges of espionage. 

Alexander asserted that the debate has been "partly fueled by the sensational nature of the leaks and the way their timing has been carefully orchestrated to inflame and embarrass."  

Personnel should not let the controversy distract them "or cause you to worry that your work is not valuable, valued, and honorable," he wrote. "We need you to focus on our primary mission of defending our nation and our allies [emphasis included]. Thank you for all you do to support our mission every day of the year." 

NSA, a Pentagon intelligence agency, consists of more than 30,000 uniformed military members, civilian federal employees and contractors. 

Channeling Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Alexander said NSA staff embody the World War II general's definition of "Duty, Honor, Country," which involves acting "not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm."

Workforce counterterrorism programs contributed to "more than 50 disruptions with zero willful failures in the protection of civil liberties -- that's an incredible record and is a testament to NSA's staunch commitment to protecting and upholding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people," Alexander wrote, reiterating recent congressional testimony.

Snowden apparently is attempting to evade international laws by remaining in an airport transit zone that Russian leaders purport is not inside the country's border. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.