The NSA comes home for Thanksgiving

nsa_thanksgiving-smallThis holiday season, are you wondering how to justify the NSA's illegal surveillance and civil liberties violations to your family? Don't worry, the NSA has a secret document for that!

Earlier this week, Firedoglake reported on an internal NSA document circulated on November 22 that provides talking points for employees to defend the NSA to their friends and family. The two-page document includes five main points and a bulleted list of evidence to support each point.

  1. NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation.
  2. NSA performs its mission the right way—lawful, compliant and in a way that protects civil liberties and privacy.
  3. NSA performs its mission exceptionally well. We strive to be the best that we can be, because that’s what America requires as part of its defense in a dangerous world.
  4. The people who work for NSA are loyal Americans with expert skills who make sacrifices to help protect the freedoms we all cherish
  5. NSA is committed to increased transparency, public dialog and faithful implementation of any changes required by our overseers.

(Underlines are in the original document.)

Ironically, given that much of the public's outrage stems from the NSA's secrecy and deception, the talking points are full of false and distorted information. For example, one comment under the first talking point states that the NSA's programs have stopped 54 terrorist plots since 9/11. ProPublica points out that there is no evidence to support this claim as it remains unclear whether those were actual terrorist plots and if NSA surveillance played any significant role in thwarting them.

The document goes on to erroneously claim that the NSA conducts its work lawfully and with a commitment to transparency. In reality, FISA Court documents indicate that the NSA violated the court's orders and knowingly conducted “unauthorized electronic surveillance." Moreover, the NSA has hardly been a beacon of transparency. The agency only recently started releasing some redacted FISA court opinions and President Obama's NSA review panel is controlled by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who blatantly lied to Congress about the NSA's activities.

It is unsurprising that the NSA relies on false and misleading information in its holiday talking points guide. The real significance of this document and its hollow attempts to rationalize unconstitutional programs is that the NSA is on the defensive. The Snowden revelations and subsequent organizing against civil liberties violations have shifted the public discourse around privacy, surveillance, and counterterrorism. The NSA can no longer depend on the public's ignorance and de facto acquiescence. So while the NSA continues to perpetuate lies, the agency also knows that it's dealing with an informed and galvanized public. This document is proof that the cracks are widening  in the armor the surveillance state. If you do happen to find yourself on the receiving end of these talking points, check out this guide to busting common excuses for NSA surveillance.

Add comment

Log in to post comments


I know all about the NSA dirt work because i was subjected to their games for very long time in the US.

As increasing infringements on our Email and online privacy rises, we see great demand for a solution. The threats against your personal Internet privacy is increasing everyday as "free" Email providers, hackers, NSA's PRISM program, and the amended US Patriot Act are just a few of a growing list that are compromising our freedoms. As we stand at a crossroads, it may appear hopeless to protect our God given rights to privacy but rest assured, there are real solutions to this serious problem! offers 100% guaranteed online privacy because our servers are located in Switzerland, a safehaven for secure digital communications. As a law abiding citizen, you can be sure your digital data is safe from any agency, business, or anyone at all wanting to retrieve your information. Access to your online data communications by any authority requires an official warrant issued by a federal judge of Switzerland while most countries surrender your data without consent.

We are dedicated to protecting your online privacy while restoring your Fourth Amendment rights. Integrity is our highest priority and we will not succumb to those people wishing to abuse this undeniable right. What sets us apart is not only our unique services but a reseller opportunity for others to share these essential solutions to a vast marketplace. We are committed to helping people take control of their Internet privacy and rewarding them in the process. Don't wait to be a victim, regain your online Privacy.