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Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA 841

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Ellen Nakashima reports at the Washington Post that morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency's surveillance activities and officials are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support. 'It is not clear whether or when Obama might travel the 23 miles up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to visit Fort Meade, the NSA's headquarters in Maryland,' writes Nakashima, 'but agency employees are privately voicing frustration at what they perceive as White House ambivalence amid the pounding the agency has taken from critics.' Though Obama has asserted that the NSA's collection of virtually all Americans' phone records is lawful and has saved lives, the administration has not endorsed legislation that would codify it. And his recent statements suggest Obama thinks some of the NSA's activities should be constrained. 'The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it's been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,' says Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. 'They feel they've been hung out to dry, and they're right.' Former officials note how President George W. Bush paid a visit to the NSA in January 2006, in the wake of revelations by the New York Times that the agency engaged in a counterterrorism program of warrantless surveillance on U.S. soil beginning after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 'Bush came out and spoke to the workforce, and the effect on morale was tremendous,' Brenner said. 'There's been nothing like that from this White House.' Morale is 'bad overall' says another former NSA official. 'It's become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, 'Why are you spying on Grandma?'"
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Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA

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  • Re:one could wish (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @07:44PM (#45635093) Journal

    That Obama would condemn and stop being ambivalent

    Obama is not being ambivalent at all, he approves the NSA program. You could know this before he was elected the first time, because he went out of his way to vote in favor of the program.

    The reason he sounds 'ambivalent' is because, like all politicians, he tries to confuse the gullible by saying things to appease both sides on an issue.

  • by Pherdnut ( 969927 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:13PM (#45635293)

    Oh they answered. It's just not a very satisfying answer:

    "We don't WANT to spy on Grandma, we just want to be able too without any of that legal stuff getting in the way and slowing things down. Don't worry, there will oversight by a select few who don't have to tell you anything about it."

  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @08:22PM (#45635371)

    I took an english class in college on the "rhetoric of intimidation". that is, how to write in order to intimidate. Not surprisingly, example #1 was the IRS. the professor had spent years studying with them and working with them. One of her favorite stories was when she learned that the majority of the time, an audit occurred because the IRS's records on you didn't match, and rather than figure it out they audit you to make you figure it out.

    My best friend works with a lot of self-employed people. One of them had several (3 or 4) years in a row where his tax refund would have been miniscule, something like $10 or $20 in the black, so he didn't even bother sending in the forms. He figured he'd just let the government keep the money. The IRS responded by sending him a bill for roughly $10,000 owed, because they figured that was a nice round number to make up.

    I'm sure everybody here has anecdotes like this. That "1%" of bad eggs you talk about must have been terribly terribly busy.

  • In related news (Score:4, Informative)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:10PM (#45635703) Homepage Journal

    Some doctors are upset for not getting support after they helped torturing detained suspects [vice.com].

    In both cases, that maybe shows that very deep inside them, there is still a human being trying to confess the crimes that even they realize that are doing. "I was just following orders" don't cut the pain anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2013 @09:57PM (#45636003)

    Most likely he thought the IRS would somehow magically figure out all the same deductions and credits he thought he qualified for. If you don't claim it, it doesn't apply, and you'll end up owing. Self employed people usually have a long list of things like home office, the self employment tax (soc sec and medicare employer portion), insurance premiums, telecom, wining and dining, etc.. that they must file to take care of. Missing out on the benefits negates them, and you'll be paying what your original liability would have been plus penalties and interest.

  • by vovin ( 12759 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:16PM (#45636129)

    Before 1913 the Federal government collected duties on good entering the country and tariffs on certain goods. However the amount of collected is very small and easily avoided by any person choosing to vote against Federal policies by not buying dutiable goods.

    The nation had few taxes in its early history. From 1791 to 1802, the United States government was supported by internal taxes on distilled spirits, carriages, refined sugar, tobacco and snuff, property sold at auction, corporate bonds, and slaves. The high cost of the War of 1812 brought about the nation's first sales taxes on gold, silverware, jewelry, and watches. In 1817, however, Congress did away with all internal taxes, relying on tariffs on imported goods to provide sufficient funds for running the government.

    Read more: History of the Income Tax in the United States | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html#ixzz2mwDj6t23 [infoplease.com]

    Under some circumstances the Federal income was collected from the individual States, such as:

    The direct tax of 1798 imposed taxes on “lands, houses and slaves” totaling $2 million over the next two years, apportioned to states in amounts according to representation (as measured in the U.S. census).

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/history/item/14268-before-the-income-tax [thenewamerican.com]

    States placed taxes on real property some of this money was apportioned to the Federal government based on the population of State, hence the need for the census. Along with the money collected each State was represented by two seats in the US Senate. It is important to note that before 1913 these Senators were chosen by each States elected body not necessarily by general election. While congress has always been directly elected and always the origination of bills of appropriations.

    The people are taxed and in return the people ask for stuff. The State which took the money with difficulty attempts to limit spending via the Senate which can only approve or deny an appropriations bill. Hence money collected with difficultly and spent with difficultly designed to naturally limit unnecessary spending.

    Before 1913 taxes on Income (or any direct tax) was seen as unconstitutional because the Founders felt it was important for people to have a way to protest a government in the only meaningful way: deprive the government of income.

    In addition the Founders were distinctly against a privately held central bank such as the Federal Reserve which was also approved in 1913. This has additionally provided the Federal government an essentially unlimited supply of money with which it can enforce any position without any realistic opposition of the individual States.

    Post 1913 we can clearly see what happens in a democracy with the effective restraint on spending removed.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:31PM (#45636207)

    Maybe I can fill that question.

    It's a mix of patriotism and idealism at the start, and a mix of wanting job security and jadedness at the end. In between, there's a lot of conditioning. And I don't mean some kind of active and forceful indoctrination, but rather that subtle kind where you are constantly surrounded by the same people who give you resonating and reinforcing feedback. Groupthink isn't a phenomenon that's unique to Slashdot Doubts you might once in a while have when you're crossing your personal line between what you think is good for your country and what you may impose on your people are quickly dispelled by the people around you. Your premise is that you're doing the right thing and you want to listen to people telling you that you still do when doubts cross your mind.

    So Obama not showing up and telling them "good job" is probably a quite serious blow to their self-image.

  • by DMUTPeregrine ( 612791 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @10:32PM (#45636209) Journal
    "Today I mourn for two things: for the fate of those millions of people who were murdered by the National Socialists. And for the girl Traudl Humps who lacked the self-confidence and good sense to speak out against them at the right moment." -- Gertraud "Traudl Humps" Junge, Adolf Hitler's secretary.
    She was pardoned at the Nureberg trials. "She was young, she couldn't have known any better. She was only guilty of consistently going along with what her society demanded. She was not the one who had brought death to Europe and the East, and in fact was ignorant of the Nazi's crimes as they were being committed."

    Later in life, she said:
    "It was no excuse to be young. It would have been possible to find things out."


    Ignorance among the rank-and-file is not an excuse. Collaborating with evil is evil.
  • by tchdab1 ( 164848 ) on Sunday December 08, 2013 @11:38PM (#45636595) Homepage

    Thank you Matt Damon.

  • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:16AM (#45636993)

    It's part of the price you pay for a sweet government gig.

    The price I paid for my sweet government gig was being paid less than half what comparable private sector employees earned. I once consulted with a group of 16 employees who worked a project for 3 years that netted the government just over $16B.

    That's billion, with a "b".

    Their average pay was about $60K/year plus benefits. They got no bonus for bringing in that staggering sum. That sort of treatment was normal.

    My sweet gig will only pay off if I live for quite a while more, since the only advantage I have over the private sector is that I earned a small pension and decent health insurance, both of which are unlikely to be threatened because my employer goes into bankruptcy.

    I had to spend 30 years behind the earnings curve to get where I am now; I wouldn't call that a "sweet gig". It was a trade-off I made with my eyes open and if I live another 20 years, it'll turn out to have been the right choice, but please disabuse yourself of the notion that there are more than a small handful of federal jobs that can accurately be termed "sweet gigs." They just don't exist.

  • by yoshi_mon ( 172895 ) on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:41AM (#45637079)

    ...even though it's been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions...

    The "public approval" has come though a representative government that has single digit approval ratings. That were gerrymandered into being allowed to keep office. That most progressives have railed against the President for his failures to keep even some of his basic promises, even his 2nd term promises, about transparency and trying to respect civil liberties.

    Ok...deep breaths.

    If you continue to lie to us we will call you out on that. What you just said is a lie. It might be not a direct lie but it is a lie of omission. Stop fucking doing that. I could start talking about how your director should be in federal prison for doing exactly that but I'm going to stop right now.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.