The NSA’s Job Appeal. . .


I may get the full page scanned later, but the JOBS page (Section K, page 1) of the Washington Post had me choking on and spitting up my coffee this morning.
The above-the-fold page has multi-colored job ads from the FBI and the National Security Agency. Below-the-fold ads are from the City of Alexandria, PostNewsweek Tech Media, Koons Auto Dealership, and GEICO (with that odd little Gecko pointing at the reader).
Interestingly, the CIA has its quarter page ad on the back page (page K20) of the section.
Just for the record, I’m not against people working for the CIA, FBI, and NSA. I happen to think that we need to get very smart people — who also demonstrate rock solid committment to our sort of government and democracy — into these jobs.
But there’s just something bizarrely and inappropriately bold about this ad.
In the (temporary) absence of a scan, let me capture some elements of the NSA ad for you. It’s colored in yellow, blue, read, brown, black and white.

national security agency NSA

It’s about solving the toughest challenges. Taking the path never traveled. Using your intelligence and imagination to impact the world.
NSA is looking for intelligent and imaginative people to produce foreign intelligence information and protect U.S. information systems.
If you’re ready to give your intelligence some competition, join NSA, where the top intelligence really matters.


— Computer/Eletrical Engineering
— Computer Science
— Mathematics
— Foreign Language
— Intelligence Analysis
— Cryptanalysis
— Signals Analysis

For other career opportunities, more information, and to apply online, visit our Web site,
U.S. citizenship is required for all applicants. NSA is an equal opportunity employer and abides by all applicable employmnent laws and regulations.

Too bad the NSA doesn’t abide by ALL American laws and regulations.
The non-partisan Congressional Research Service has determined that the administration was “probably” out of line in authorizing the NSA to engage in non-court approved wiretaps:

The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.
The report also concluded that Bush’s assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force.
“It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here,” the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration’s legal justification “does not seem to be . . . well-grounded,” they said.

The NSA is currently embroiled in one of America’s most serious and potentially convulsive battles over Executive Power, our system of checks and balances, and individual liberty.
And without flinching even a bit, the NSA runs a multi-colored JOBS ad with a line: “Taking the path never traveled.”
Let me give the human resources team at NSA some advice. If you continue to run ads like the one you ran today in the Washington Post and that you are no doubt running elsewhere in the nation, they better start exhibiting some respect for American democracy and what it means.
I’m all for national security — but not won at the expense of this country’s democratic norms.
Rather than saying that you are looking for “intelligent and imaginative people” to “protect U.S. information systems”, the line should be that you are looking for such people to protect the Constitution and Democratic government as well as the general welfare and liberty of the American people.
There are lots of ways to improve what I just wrote, but there are not enough “embedded reminders” in our national security bureaucratese to remind American civil servants that they have a duty to uphold the democratic governance norms of the United States.
Fix it.
— Steve Clemons
P.S. Please note that if you visit the National Security Agency website, the NSA has been known to install hidden cookies on your computer to track other websites that you might visit. The NSA now reports that it is “abandoning” that practice.
However, TWN assumes that it is constantly tracked by these folks. SCC