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The NSA Has an Advice Columnist 77

Posted by timothy
from the dan-savage-was-busy dept.
First time accepted submitter DTentilhao writes "On Friday, Glenn Greenwald's new website The Intercept published a number of internal NSA documents that didn't necessarily reveal any great state secrets, but instead cast some light on the NSA's office culture. Those documents, leaked by former security contractor Edward Snowden, were actually from an advice column series, written by a 20-year veteran of NSA management under the pen name 'Zelda.'" Here's the Intercept report.
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The NSA Has an Advice Columnist

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  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @12:49PM (#46440185)

    They're paid for by your taxes. I'd say you have a right to see whether they're doing their job or whether your money is being squandered on frivolous crap like an "advice column".

    But if you don't care, hey, it ain't my money!

  • Re:in related news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @12:52PM (#46440201) Homepage Journal

    selling US government secrets to the remnants of the old Soviet Union is now called 'free market capitalism'

    Yes. Yes, it is.

    What, you were expecting something more idealistic? Sorry, sucker, welcome to the real world.

  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:09PM (#46440275) Homepage Journal

    They're paid for by your taxes. I'd say you have a right to see whether they're doing their job or whether your money is being squandered on frivolous crap like an "advice column".

    Managing employees is hard. If you just crack the whip and make them do nothing but focus non-stop on the task at hand, they're going to be much less productive and waste much more of your money than if you actually invest a bit of money on keeping morale high and put out the small fires in human interaction that happens when not everyone in your team is socially compatible.

    The NSA would be no different in this than a private company. You take a tremendously successful company like Google, and they're spending money on play rooms and free food for their employees. If that makes them more productive by causing some of them to not have a problem staying in the office longer to work on a problem and others to get a burst of creativity that you only get when you quit thinking about the problem for a bit and free your mind, then that investment is worth every penny. If that advice column is helping your team deal with problems they encounter in an effective way and thus making them able to work together more effectively, it's far from "frivolous crap."

    If, on the other hand, it was a leak about the NSA giving every project manager a free Ferrari, you'd have a point.

  • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:19PM (#46440319) Homepage Journal

    I feel I have every right to know what my lovely little government thugs are doing.

    Is your point of view that there should be no such thing as classified information, and that every single thing the government does and knows should be public domain and easily accessible to everyone?

    If so I disagree with you, but find your position internally consistent and wouldn't argue with it. It's just a matter of opinion, and I don't share yours as I find that secrets are sometimes necessary and unavoidable. If, however, you see the benefit in the government keeping some secrets, then you must expect people who are in position to have access to these secrets to exercise a high level of caution and discreteness when they find it necessary to overrule the system in place that decides what is classified and what is public. When necessary to stop illegal behavior, you disclose what it is absolutely necessary and not a single thing more.

  • Nazis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etherwalk (681268) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @02:49PM (#46440705)

    "just doing a job" is no excuse.

    This. A huge number of corporations and firms, generally because it happens do be profitable rather than out of malice, do *really* bad things. It's not like the guy whose job it is to deny insurance claims or the insurance "adjuster" is somehow insulated from moral culpability because it's his job to basically commit fraud. Excuse me, minimize claims.

    "Just following orders" is a highly relevant phrase here. If freedom from government surveillance is a basic right, then people who are "just following orders" to abridge that right are culpable for having done so, even though they were following orders.

  • by gIobaljustin (3526197) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @03:08PM (#46440781) Homepage

    The question is what individual NSA workers know about what they are doing in general.

    At this point, how could they not? Even if they didn't know before, they definitely do now; there's no avoiding it.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.