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National Security Agency

Law implementation is an ancient practice. Any organization or country that has laws has at least some form of bringing them in force in order to ensure that every member or citizen conforms to the norms. Laws refer to a collection of rules that a certain country, group, or community acknowledges while regulating the actions of members. The inherent characteristic of laws is regulation. In the event that the law loses this characteristic, it is said to have been broken or violated. Law enforcement is concerned with ensuring that the laws are not violated and those violating the laws are punished. In simple terms, a law enforcement agency refers to an organization that prevents the violation of laws and ensures that culprits are punished. There are various law enforcement agencies in the US: Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), United States Army Military Police Corps, and Air Force Security Forces among others. This paper discusses the NSA, with respect to the following areas: history, organizational structure, strategy and mission, and core values.

 

History

The NSA refers to a national intelligence organization that monitors, collects, interprets, and evaluates information and data for both oversea intelligence and counterintelligence purposes (Zurcher 1). NSA headquarters are at Fort Meade, Maryland, which is approximately 32 km south of Baltimore and north of Washington, DC. The agency has been recognized for its computing facilities and contribution to the technological world, particularly computer security (National Security Agency 5). During the mid-1990s, the agency was stated to be among the owners of the largest collections of supercomputers (Zurcher 3). The agency is responsible for safeguarding the communication of the US government and information systems against intruders and network warfare. Consequently, it has a legal mandate to use covert ways, such as sabotaging via subversive software and bugging electronic systems.

The existence of NSA dates back to April 28, 1917, a few weeks after the US declared war on Germany during the World War I. According to the National Security Agency (2), it began as a code and cipher decryption unit that acted as a part of the war initiative under the executive branch devoid of the authorization of the Congress. In the middle of 1918, the organization undertook the cryptanalysis responsibilities of the US Navy (Zurcher 2). During this time, majority of Americans did not know anything about the NSA. President Truman officially established the agency in memorandum on October 24, 1952. Since the memo was a classified document, the agency’s actuality was still unknown to the public. It was commonly referred to as “No Such Agency” in order to preserve the secrecy of its formulation (National Security Agency 4).

During the 1960s, the agency participated in the Vietnam War by offering necessary proof of attack on American destroyer (National Security Agency 8). The agency also established an operation to oversee the communications of activists who opposed the Vietnam War (Zurcher 4). Since the Vietnam War, the NSA has intercepted communications and contributed significantly to War on Terror. There are claims that the NSA was capable of monitoring Bin Laden’s communications after he moved to Afghanistan during the 1980s. It played a crucial role in the capture of Bin Laden (Zurcher 2).

Presently, the NSA has international stations in the United Kingdom. The signing of the UKUSA agreement between the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia allowed NSA to construct stations in some of these nations (National Security Agency 4). NSA’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC) had approximately 240 employees in 2011, and its headquarters are in Griesheim, Frankfurt, Germany. The ECC is in charge of the analysis and productivity in Europe. It also focuses on different priorities in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East counterterrorism.

NSA Strategy and Mission Statement

NSA’s vision is to establish a universal cryptologic domination via receptive presence and unique network capacity. The agency’s mission is make the US government a leader in cryptology that integrates both Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and to enable Computer Network Operations (CNO) to gain decision advantage for the US and its friends in all situations (National Security Agency 1).

In order to achieve the mission and vision statement, the agency has established five important goals (National Security Agency 1). The first goal is to succeed in modern operation. With respect to this aim, the agency enables wise policymaking, effective security action, and freedom of action in cyberspace by exploiting oversea electronic signals and systems used by the US government and its friends while safeguarding civil liberties and privacy (National Security Agency 1). Some of the operations linked to this goal include offering intelligence that assists in uncovering, averting, or mitigating threats that compromise critical technology to national interests (National Security Agency 2).

The second goal is a strategic future preparation. The organization provides solutions for the forthcoming generation in order to deal with tomorrow’s challenges and find resolutions in innovation (National Security Agency 1). In order to achieve this, the NSA foresees future needs, encourages research developments, improves emergent technologies, and strengthens security of software and hardware components of government information systems (National Security Agency 1).

The third goal is improving and leading an expert workforce. This goal involves attracting, developing, and engaging an exceptional and diverse workforce that is prepared for addressing cryptographic challenges. Some of the operations linked to this aim include acceleration of learning, achievement of missions, and modernization of facilities supporting the pliability of workforce (National Security Agency 1).

The fourth goal is the implementation of best business practices. It involves offering of timely information in order to leverage strategic decisions while guaranteeing organizational accountability for their execution (National Security Agency 1). Some of the operations linked to this goal include sustenance of responsive business operation, achieving of auditability, implementation of business automation and integration, and improvement of performance-based budget (National Security Agency).

The fifth one is the manifestation of principled performance. It involves the mission accomplishment with dedication to an unfaltering performance through lawfulness, adherence, and protection of public trust (National Security Agency 1). The crucial operations that enable the achievement of this goal include demonstration of stewardship, exercising of integrity, advancement of transparency, and guaranteeing of accountability (National Security Agency 1).

Core Values of NSA

The NSA hopes to safeguard federal security interests by complying with the highest behavioral standards (National Security Agency 3). Its first core value is lawfulness (National Security Agency 2). With respect to this value, the agency complies with the spirit and requirements of the Constitution and laws. The second core value of the NSA is honesty. In order to enforce law, the agency emphasizes truthfulness and openness to the public (National Security Agency 1). Thirdly, the NSA values integrity. In this regard, the NSA applies appropriate judgment as it would if its activities were under extreme scrutiny. The fourth core value is fairness (National Security Agency 2). Promoting fairness, the agency ensures equality in agency policies, practices, and programs. The fifth core value is accountability, under which the agency claims to be responsible for its decisions. The sixth core value is loyalty to the United States and its citizens. Collaboration is the seventh value (National Security Agency 1).

Organizational Structure

The Director of the NSA (DIRNSA) heads the organization. The director acts as the chief of Central Security Service (CCS) and the commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) (Zurcher 1). The director has a deputy who is also the highest ranking representative of the NSA/CSS. The Inspector General heads the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

As oppose to other agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the NSA has frequently been uncommunicative about its internal organizational structure (National Security Agency 1). The five directorates of the NSA as of mid-1990s include the Operations Directorate; Technology and System Directorate; Information Systems Security Directorate; Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate; and Support Services Directorate (National Security Agency 2). Every directorate comprises various elements or groups labeled by a letter. The public recognizes approximately 12 directorates designated by a letter as of 2013. These directorates comprise other subdivisions (National Security Agency 2).

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Conclusions

This paper has discussed the National Security Agency with respect to its history, organizational structure, strategy and mission, and core values. President Truman officially created the agency on October 24, 1952, through a memorandum, and some of its achievements include contributing to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Its mission is to retain the leading role of the government in cryptology in order to gain decision advantage for the US and its friends under all circumstances. The five goals that assist in the achievement of the agency’s mission and vision include succeeding in modern operations, preparation for the future, improving and managing expert workforce, implementation of best business practice, and manifestation of principled performance. The core values of the agency include lawfulness, honesty, integrity, fairness, accountability, loyalty, and collaboration among others.

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