The National Security Agency Essay

1687 words - 7 pages

America’s international supremacy originates from the hard work of her agencies at home which provide a strong foundation for security and international diplomacy. One of these security agencies is the National Security Agency, or NSA. “By 2008, the NSA had become the largest, most costly, and most technologically sophisticated spy organization the world has ever known” (Bamford 1). The National Security Agency is a beneficial government program and a core component of protecting America from terrorist attacks.
The National Security Agency has a relatively short history compared to many other government agencies. Years before the creation of the NSA, the first security services in the world were established in various departments of the U.S. military (“Pre-1952 Historical Timeline”). The first establishment was the U.S. Navy Code and Signal Section beginning in 1916 (“Pre-1952 Historical Timeline”). These began during World War I in order to assist with code-breaking and intelligence. The Army established its own intelligence section called the U.S. Army Code and Cipher Section in 1917 (Pre-1952 Historical Timeline”). As communication means advanced and the need for intelligence increased, the Navy created the Radio Intelligence Office in 1924 (Pre-1952 Historical Timeline”). The first direct predecessor of the NSA was the Signal Intelligence Service, formed in 1929 (Pre-1952 Historical Timeline”). In 1943, the Signal Intelligence Service was renamed the Signal Intelligence Agency (“A History of the NSA”). The Signal Intelligence Service formed the Army Security Agency in 1945 which President Truman made into the National Security Agency in 1952 (“A History of the NSA”).
The modern National Security Agency, post 9/11, has many responsibilities to the United States. The NSA “leads the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies” (“Mission”). The Signals Intelligence section “collects, processes, and disseminates” information from foreign sources for intelligence, counterintelligence, and military support purposes (“Mission”). Information Assurance services at the NSA protect U.S. classified information from being viewed by enemies of the U.S. (“Mission”). Additionally, the NSA allows Network Warfare against terrorists abroad, and all of the NSA activities are careful to stay within the laws of the U.S. and the rights and liberties of the American people (“Mission”). The five goals of the NSA are to succeed in operations, prepare for the future, improve and lead an expert workforce, implement best business practices, and manifest principled performance (“NSA/CSS Strategy”).
Contrary to popular belief, the President did and continues to have authority to authorize the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program (United States, U.S. Department of Justice...

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