Today it seems that the role of the NSA and its intelligence gathering programs might not be as massively vital as some were saying. According to some reports as much as 70% of their civilian staff has been sent home due to the Government Shutdown. The furloughed employees were from almost every department including some that would seem critical to the operation of the NSA such as the Signals Intelligence Group, the Information Assurance and research divisions.
The Director National Intelligence office sent out statements to some members of the press saying that the NSA’s abilities are diminished and there has been a significant reduction in their intelligence gathering capabilities so only the most critical threats will be addressed. That is quite a public statement to make considering how hard some worked to show the NSA as the front line in protecting the US from all of the bad people out there.
Now, before you get all excited remember this is only the civilian staff that has been affected and although we do not know the exact number of employees at the NSA you can bet they are not running the place on a skeleton crew. The NSA apparently is still paying contractors and thanks to a recent provisional bill enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama the military is also being paid (as they should). It is highly unlikely that the US Government would truly allow the NSA to become diminished in their ability to conduct operations, but they might make a public statement saying this to remove (or create) concerns about the agency’s ability to spy on… well everyone.
We are betting that the recent press release was just that, a statement to show how bad things are while the core operations are still up and running just fine. PRISM, XKeyScore and other (domestic) surveillance programs are still in full swing meaning that your privacy and rights are still being violated.
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