The National Security Agency is a branch of the Department of Defense dedicated to cryptography and communications intelligence. It was created by an executive order under President Harry S. Truman. According to President Truman, the mission of the NSA was “to provide an effective, unified organization and control of the communications intelligence activities of the United States conducted against foreign governments, to provide for integrated operational policies and procedures pertaining thereto.” Shortly after, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act restricted the NSA’s jurisdiction to purely foreign communications and allowed the NSA to act only when there is direct suspicion of a citizen working for an alternate foreign power.
According to the FBI website, cryptanalysis and racketeering is the examination and decoding of records from illicit businesses, such as drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, and human trafficking. Examinations may reveal the type of operation, dates of activity, gross profits, number and roles of participants, and accounting methods. This is becoming increasingly important in a society where cryptocurrency is becoming prevalent. BitCoin is built with a blockchain structure. Each blockchain is made of the data and the hash. As there are more and more transactions, the chain becomes harder to hack. The hacker must adjust all the hashes to be able to successfully hack the chain. However, it is still possible and its implications mean that cryptanalysis is becoming much more important, especially to surveillance agencies like the NSA. The NSA was launched into the spotlight in 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked thousands of private government documents in two projects to WikiLeaks. Snowden eventually fled to Russia, where he stayed in the airport while seeking asylum. By this time, the United States government had already revoked Snowden’s passport. Fortunately for Snowden, Russian President Vladimir Putin granted him temporary asylum. Currently, his asylum grant was extended to 2020. This leak caused a massive public outbreak and the controversial debate between the public and the government began. The public began to be more aware that this mysterious organization named the NSA is watching them. To this day, the NSA is still one of the most controversial agencies of the government.
The charter for the NSA is outlined in the National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 6, which has been effective since February 17, 1972. The directive, released to the public in 2015, is 7 pages long and explains the role of the agency and the Director of the NSA. Furthermore, the document also inadvertently shows the standing of the NSA within government agencies. Clause 6 on page 7 states that none of the responsibilities of the NSA “shall be construed to encroach upon or interfere with the unique responsibilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the field of internal security.” This sentence clearly shows that the NSA was originally meant to be a foreign intelligence monitor. However, the roles of the NSA have changed over time. The operations of the NSA are a strictly private matters, but several things are clear to the public. The main duty of the NSA is to monitor all foreign communication. There are several examples of this throughout history. During the 1965 Suez crisis, the NSA intercepted British messages. Additionally, the NSA picked up messages from Iraq officials to their Japanese embassy. As of 2018, the NSA is legally obligated to monitor phone calls. In 2013, a legal document, released through Verizon Wireless, showed that Verizon was ordered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to hand over telephone data. This surveillance period only lasted 3 weeks, until July 19, 2013, but this classified document shows the changing role of the NSA. As members of this committee, your goal is to conduct your respective duties while juggling the problems you face as a committee.
A: Addressing Government Leaks Background
Under President Trump, an unprecedented amount of leaks have occured right under the government’s nose. Often going to the media regarding sensitive matters, leaks have endangered the office that this organization is dedicated to defend and protect. Yet such minor leaks to the media are not the only leaks we have faced. As previously mentioned, an NSA programmer named Edward Snowden leaked thousands of files to Wikileaks in 2013. This began the worldwide controversy about the role of government agencies versus privacy. The underlying question of this growing movement is “Should the public be allowed to see all government files?” On one hand, many Americans will not read the disclosed files, let alone understand the significance behind them. On the other hand, every document affects the American public and therefore, the public should have a right to know. In theory, the clash between idealisms should be strictly party-based. However, the largest problem with undisclosed documents is the disclosure date. Many, if not all, undisclosed government documents have a disclosure date stamped on. For example, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruling on Verizon telephone data had a disclosure data of April 12, 2038.
Public vs. Private: National Security
Under a strictly conservative government, it seems only logical to disclose all data to the public. The problem is national security. The more information that is exposed the public, there is more information exposed to foreign countries. It is very possible that these documents are used by hostile foreign nations or even terrorist organizations to exploit American weaknesses. A website titled “IC off the record” keeps track of all leaked government files since 2013. Such files on the website include “The 8 NSA Spy Hubs in major American Cities” and “Source Code for CIA software.” These leaks are potentially dangerous to the American security system and may provide valuable insight into the structures of multiple encryption softwares. While the public protests for disclosure of secret documents, the safety of the public may be threatened with the revelation of these documents. Concerning this issue, the committee should be able to find a balance between national security and public privacy.
Questions to Consider:
What pieces of technology can we utilize to stop the leakage of important government files?
Should the NSA make the application process harder to discourage rogue NSA officials?
How should the government deal with the problem of WikiLeaks and currently existing sites to help stop the unhealthy flow of government documents?
How should the government address these leaks in the future?
How should the NSA deal with rogue NSA officials? Should they be addressed differently than in the past?
In the modern world, computers and information technologies are crucial to almost all facets of life for both normal citizens and complex governments. Economies, militaries, governments, and organizations are made more efficient by the Internet and computational technologies. Yet, with the great expansion of information technology comes great risk, which is the very reason the NSA exists. From the beginning, the NSA was created with the purpose of international surveillance. In the mid-1900s to the end of the 1900s, the NSA was able to effectively collect data, being able to monitor international crises such as the Suez crisis. However, now, according to a whistleblower, the NSA is too overwhelmed with information to be effective. According to William Binney, a former NSA official with 3 decades of experience, says “the US government's mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.” This has become a big problem, and much of the public now wonders if a surveillance agency is necessary in the first place. According to Binney, a daily influx of data every day is what hindered the NSA from stopping the Boston Bombing of 2013, or the Paris shooting of 2015. The efficiency of the NSA is deteriorating and as members of this committee, we must be able to project to the public that the NSA is a necessary organization.
Wholly aside from the issue of efficiency is the influence of non-state actors. Non-state actors are organizations with large political influence but are not affiliated with any one government. Non-state actors and foreign governments and their influence are becoming one of the most controversial topics. The 2016 presidential election was strewn with rumors about the Russian government hacking the ballots. Initially, this seemed to have stemmed from the Democrats and their perpetual scorn of the Republican candidate; however, upon further review, the Washington Post stated boldly that “without the Russians, Trump wouldn’t have won.” While White House Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims that intelligence agencies have concluded that there was no Russian rigging, several non-government affiliated organizations are conducting their own investigations. Despite no clear proof that the Russians hacked the election, the Washington Post article asserts that the Russians used “race and religion” to guide Trump into the high chair. With the pressure of non-state actors, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the NSA do perform their daily duties objectively. This committee should be able to decide on the appropriate path for the agency to take concerning Questions to Consider
The public will not be appeased by one press release. How can the NSA use the public media to further the idea that a national surveillance agency is necessary?
What kind of image must the NSA present to the people to sway public opinion?
For the future, how can the NSA organize information to avoid future crises such as the Boston Bombing?
In its fundamental nature, the NSA’s purpose is to collect intelligence based on foreign communications? How can this committee realign the original mission of the NSA to effectively protect the US?
Delegate Profiles Paul M. Nakasone: Director of the NSA-
Before his promotion to Commanding Director of the US Cyber Command, General Nakasone served as staff under then-director, Keith Alexander. In 2018, General Nakasone was approved by the Senate to become the director of the NSA. He was also promoted to a full 4-star general.
Ken Barnes: Deputy Director of the NSA-
Director Barnes joined the National Security Agency in 1987 and has held several significant technical and operational leadership roles. He was appointed following the resignation of former deputy director Richard Ledgett in 2017.
Captain Velasco-Lynd was born and raised in San Diego, California. She was assigned to the USS Blue Ridge after completing the Surface Warfare Officer School Division Officer Course. In August 2015, she returned to the Chief of Naval Operations Staff as the C4ISR Program Analyst in N80's Programing and Requirements Division.
Harry Coker, Jr: Executive Director of the National Security Agency:
Mr. Coker first joined the civilian federal service as a program manager and systems engineer. He rose through the ranks to hold positions such as Director of Open Source Enterprises and Deputy Director of Office of Public Affairs.
Earnest Green: Chief of Staff of the National Security Agency:
Mr. Green was a graduate of the Air Force Academy. He entered the civilian federal service in 2002 as a data analyst in the National Security Agency. Mr. Green is a highly respected individual within the NSA as a leader.
James Davis: Head of Security- Captain Davis is a retired Army Veteran. He was accepted into West Point in 1986 and remained in the Army for 2 decades. Afterward, he entered the civilian federal service as an operations manager for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Captain Davis has been a member of the NSA since 2013.
Charles James: Intelligence Analyst-
Charles James holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a masters degree in cybersecurity from University of California, Berkeley. Mr. James first joined the civilian federal service in 2008 after working as a consultant in the private sector.
David Lee: Intelligence Analyst-
Mr. Lee is holds an undergraduate degree from William and Mary in International Relations and Economics. He worked as a senior consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton for 12 years before attending Purdue University, earning a masters in cybersecurity.
Victor Kapoor: Digital Network Exploitation Analyst-
Dr. Kapoor holds a doctorate in computer science, specializing in Artificial Intelligence. He joined the civilian federal service immediately after the completion of his doctoral program. He initially joined the CIA, but was transferred to the NSA after the 2013 Snowden Crisis.
Thomas Johnson: Cyber Security Developer-
Mr. Johnson is the head of his department concerning cyber security development. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in computer science. He worked in the private sector as an independent security system designer. He joined the NSA in 2010 to find holes in the existing firewall.
Jonathan O’Brien: Cyber Security Developer-
Mr. O’Brien initially studied economics in college at Columbia University. He spent a brief amount of time at J.P. Morgan Chase where he had an epiphany. He decided to return to school and received a masters in computer science. He was subsequently recruited by the NSA. He is extremely close to Mr. Johnson and will work in conjunction with him.
Mr. Sagan studied mathematics in college with the intentions of being a lawyer. Instead, he decided to pursue a job in statistical analytics and found his niche in the NSA. He was been working as an operations research analyst since 1999 and has proven his abilities on more than one account.
Miguel Garcia-Rodriguez: Engineering Specialist/Technician-
Captain Garcia-Rodriguez is an engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After 9-11, he felt an obligation to serve for the country. He enlisted in the army, and with hard work and courage, was promoted to a captain in only 4 years. He returned afterwards and was hired as a technician for the NSA.
Joseph Chong: Cryptanalysis Computer Scientist-
Mr. Chong is the lead cryptanalysis computer scientist. He was considered one of the most foremost experts in his field of cybersecurity. He was hired by the NSA in 2000 and has served the agency well in protecting its assets. He holds a particularly hostile relationship with Mr. Johnson.
Debbie Brown: Cryptanalysis Computer Scientist-
Mrs. Brown graduated maxima cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in computer science. She joined the CIA as a cybersecurity analyst, but was subsequently transferred to the NSA after the Snowden crisis.
Amy Tran: Language Analyst-
Mrs. Tran graduated from University of Illinois with a degree in linguistics. Since then, she has mastered the languages of Spanish, Korean, Russian, and French. She is the main translator for the NSA in the case that the agency must reach out to the intelligence agencies of a foreign country.
Alexander Williams-Lopez: Budget Analyst-
Mr. Williams-Lopez graduated from William and Mary with a degree in economics. He returned to University of Indiana Business School to receive an MBA. He joined the federal civilian service in 2005, and has remained the budget analyst for the NSA ever since. He is the primary bridge between the agency and Congress, concerning budgetary issues.
Samantha Green: Counterintelligence Intern-
Ms. Green is attending University of Maryland studying cybersecurity. She has minimal experience in practical work, but is at the top of her class. While she does not have access to classified government documents, she is deeply connected with her professors at UMD, including John S. Baras.
Joseph D. Kernan: Director of Operations-
Mr. Kernan graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in sociology. He returned to school and received an MPA from the SIPA at Columbia University. He joined the NSA in 2003 and rose through the ranks due to his diligence and perseverance. As the Director of Operations, Mr. Kernan oversees the day-to-day operations that go on within the NSA.
Betty J. Sapp: Director of the National Reconnaissance Office-
Director Sapp entered the government as an Air Force officer, holding mainly financial management positions. In 1997, she joined the CIA, before being recommissioned to the NRO. In 2012, she was relocated to the NSA and holds the title of program manager.
Works Cited: Boot, Max. “Opinion | Without the Russians, Trump Wouldn't Have Won.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 July 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/without-the-russians-trump-wouldnt-have-won/2018/07/24/f4c87894-8f6b-11e8-bcd5-9d911c784c38_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b6ef7bb60d67.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “National Security Agency.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 7 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/National-Security-Agency.
Collman, Ashley. “Edward Snowden Gives First Interview since Seeking Asylum in Russia.” Daily Mail, Daily Mail, 24 Dec. 2013, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2528781/The-missions-accomplished-I-won-NSA-whistle-blower-Edward-Snowden-gives-interview-seeking-asylum-Russia.html.
Greenwald, Glenn. “NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 June 2013, www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order.
“National Security Agency.” Encyclopedia.com, Dictionary of American History, 25 July 2018, www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/political-science-and-government/us-government/national-security-agency.
Whittaker, Zack. “NSA Is so Overwhelmed with Data, It's No Longer Effective, Says Whistleblower.” ZDNet, ZDNet, 27 Apr. 2016, www.zdnet.com/article/nsa-whistleblower-overwhelmed-with-data-ineffective/.
“12 Facts About NSA Surveillance That'll Make Your Hair Stand on End.” IPVanish, 14 June 2017, blog.ipvanish.com/12-facts-nsa-surveillance-thatll-make-hair-stand-end/.