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www.wmfd.com - Edward Snowden's leaks have focused attention on one of the most secretive parts of the U.S. government, the National Security Agency, but CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence reports the NSA is so secretive, people have joked those initials actually stand for "no such agency." }}" />

   
 
 
A Look At The Very Secretive National Security Agency

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 6/16/2013 Edward Snowden's leaks have focused attention on one of the most secretive parts of the U.S. government, the National Security Agency. CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence reports the NSA is so secretive, people have joked those initials actually stand for "no such agency." Central Intelligence Agency spies have their secrets, so do the men in special ops, but they can't compare to the National Security Agency. "The NSA is the most secret agency in the country. It's far more secret than the CIA," says James Bamford, author of "The Shadow Factory." The NSA is headquartered in a highly-secure section of Fort Meade Army Base in Maryland, and it's building a new surveillance center in the middle of a Utah desert. There, spread out across a million square feet of cables and computers, the NSA will capture everything from emails to internet searches, phone calls and personal data. "And, it's designed to hold an enormous amount of communications," says Bamford. Bamford estimates the center will be able to store enough data to equal 500-quintillion pages. For the record, that's a 5 with 20 zeros behind it. And, if you printed those pages, stacked them one on top of the other, it'd be long enough to stretch all the way to the moon and back, 66-million times. A former official who spoke on background to CNN, described the NSA as "incredibly aggressive." But, he says "I can't emphasize how fanatical they are about Americans' privacy. There's a sign in the center of a room that reads, 'What constitutes a U.S. person?' And then lists a dozen points to consider." "I think it's absolutely important for people to understand we're not asking for content. We're asking for information about threats," said NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander on March 12. The NSA's 35,000 employees are an even mix of military and civilians. The former official says the troops are younger, and give the agency its energy. The civilians, mostly mathematicians, provide "adult supervision" and tend to be more socially introverted. The former official says an inside joke at the NSA goes something like, "How do you spot an extrovert at NSA? When he's talking to you, he looks down at your shoes instead of his own." The former official says it's not the CIA, where they're recruiting agents in coffee shops all over the world. He says the NSA is set up to be secretive. Its people rarely talk, they don't write books, and it has some protections that even other intelligence organizations don't have.
   
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