The National Security Agency is a massive organization with more than 60,000 employees. According to the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the NSA is the largest spy organization in America and very likely the world.
Yet, it’s history is one fraught with inefficiency and technical problems.
Created in 1952, the NSA has grown steadily in power, influence and funding because despite the problems, the agency has been able to consistently provide massive quantities of reliable and useful intelligence.
In 2001, the NSA was responsible for 60 percent of the content that made up George W. Bush’s daily intelligence briefing. It was these briefings that helped Bush make his case for going to war in Iraq in 2003.
The Archive shows Bush and top-level government officials did indeed cherry-picked NSA intelligence from those briefings in order to strengthen the case for war through the manipulation of intelligence.
The tactic isn’t new. According to a book entitled “The Secret Sentry” by GWU fellow Matthew M. Aid, officials engaged in widespread manipulation of NSA intelligence during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, when Washington obtained – and ignored – intelligence about Chinese intervention in the Korean War.
The consequences were deadly indeed.
The NSA is Behind the Times
The Secret Sentry also details the NSA’s growing reliance on telecommunications and computer technology for gathering information. After World War II, the NSA was dependent on technology, but often found itself behind the times in terms of adapting to changes in technology.
It hasn’t gotten much better. In the 1980s, the NSA was able to process, analyze and report only 20 percent of intercepted communications traffic. By 2009 that number dropped to less than one percent, leaving a 99 percent backlog of unanalyzed data.
When the United States decided to go to war with Iraq, the NSA was unable to process 60 percent of intercepted Iraqi messages.
United States military SIGNET units processed less than two percent of intercepted Iraqi military communications. Such a delinquent ability to process intelligence doesn’t leave one with much confidence that U.S. Intelligence is fully aware of all potential threats.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com