News / USA

In 2014, NSA to Face Winds of Change

After Year of Turmoil, NSA Facing Change in 2014i
X
December 15, 2013 12:56 AM
The National Security Agency will have a new leader and possibly new procedures after a difficult year in which many secrets were leaked, leading to global criticism of its surveillance activities. VOA's Kent Klein has more.

VIDEO: The National Security Agency will have a new leader and possibly new procedures after a difficult year in which many secrets were leaked, sparking global criticism of its surveillance activities. VOA's Kent Klein has more.

Reuters
The U.S. National Security Agency has made dozens of changes in its operations and computer networks to prevent the emergence of another Edward Snowden, including potential disciplinary action, a top NSA official said on Friday, as a White House review panel recommended restraints on NSA spying.
 
Former NSA contractor Snowden's disclosures have been "cataclysmic" for the eavesdropping agency, Richard Ledgett, who leads a task force responding to the leaks, said in a rare interview at NSA's heavily guarded Fort Meade headquarters.
 
In the more than hour-long interview, Ledgett acknowledged the agency had done a poor job in its initial public response to revelations of vast NSA monitoring of phone and Internet data; pledged more transparency; and said he was deeply worried about highly classified documents not yet public that are among the 1.7 million Snowden is believed to have accessed.
 
He also stoutly defended the NSA's mission of tracking terrorist plots and other threats, and said its recruiting of young codebreakers, linguists and computer geeks has not been affected by the Snowden affair — even as internal morale has been.
 
"Any time you trust people, there is always a chance that someone will betray you," he said.
 
The NSA is taking 41 specific technical measures to control data by tagging and tracking it, to supervise agency networks with controls on activity, and to increase oversight of individuals. Measures include requiring two-person control of every place where someone could access data and enhancing the security process that people go through and requiring more frequent screenings of systems administrative access, Ledgett said.
 
After months of sometimes blistering criticism in the news media and by Congress and foreign governments, the publicity-averse NSA is now mounting an effort to tell its side of the Snowden story.
 
It granted access to NSA headquarters to a team from CBS' "60 Minutes" program, which is scheduled to broadcast a segment on the agency on Sunday.
 
Ledgett, a 36-year intelligence veteran who reportedly is in line to be the agency's deputy director, joked that doing media interviews was "a complete out-of-body experience for me."
 
He spoke to Reuters on the same day that the White House said it had decided to maintain the practice of having a single individual head both the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, which conducts cyberwarfare — an outcome the NSA leadership favored. Separately, news reports late Thursday said an outside review panel appointed by the White House has recommended changes in a program disclosed by Snowden that collects basic data on Americans' phone calls — known as metadata.
 
The panel reportedly said the data should be held by an organization other than the NSA and stricter rules should be enforced for searching the databanks.
 
Ledgett declined to discuss the panel's specific recommendations. But he seemed to acknowledge that tighter guidelines for NSA eavesdropping were in the offing, saying that what is technologically possible "has gotten ahead of policy."
 
Snowden, who is living under asylum in Russia, disclosed a vast U.S. eavesdropping apparatus that includes the phone metadata program; NSA querying of Internet communications via major companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.; and widespread tapping of international communication networks.
 
Ledgett made no apologies for what many see as overly aggressive NSA monitoring. He noted that the U.S. government's intelligence taskings to the agency run to 36,000 pages, and said its activities take place within a "box" of U.S. laws and policies.
 
"We'll color in every square millimeter of that box," he said, implying the NSA will use its legal authorities to the fullest extent possible.
 
The NSA's internal review has determined about 98 percent of the scope of the material that Snowden had accessed, and officials have found no evidence that he had help either within the NSA or from adversary spy agencies.
 
Ledgett said that when Snowden was downloading the documents, NSA was ahead of other intelligence agencies in installing "insider threat" software that President Barack Obama ordered in the wake of an earlier leak scandal involving the group WikiLeaks.
But installation of the software, which might have stopped Snowden, was not complete.
 
"Snowden hit at a really opportune time. For him — not for us," he said.
 
Ledgett said that most of the Snowden material released publicly so far has been about NSA programs and partnerships with foreign countries and companies, rather than intelligence reports and "requirements."
 
The latter refers to U.S. government taskings to the NSA to answer questions about specific targets. That last category is what keeps him up at night.
 
"Those make me nervous because they reveal what we know and what we don't know and they are almost a roadmap for adversaries."
 
No one at the NSA has yet lost their job over the Snowden crisis, including at the Hawaii site where he worked. Ledgett said three people are under review for potential disciplinary action, but declined further comment.
 
He challenged those who call Snowden a whistleblower, saying the former contractor did not use multiple channels available to vent his concerns.
 
"I actually think characterizing him as a whistleblower is a disservice to people who are whistleblowers."
 
Ledgett said he knew of no U.S. government move toward reaching any kind of a legal deal with Snowden, a decision that would be up to the Justice Department. But, he said, in his opinion, such a conversation would have to include concrete assurances that Snowden would secure any of the material he has that has not yet been made public.
 
In the aftermath of Snowden, the NSA is trying to be more open about what it does so the public can have more confidence in the agency's mission.
 
"We as an agency are a little naive, for a long time we were 'No Such Agency' or 'no comment' and were not adept at presenting our face to the public," he said.
 
"I think quite frankly had we done more of that over the last five or 10 years we might not be in the same place that we are vis-a-vis the public perception of who we are and what we do," he said.
 
"So too late to learn that lesson, so what you are seeing now is our new face."

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: vincent marcantelli from: NOLA
December 29, 2013 6:10 PM
Yes, what Mr. Snowden did was not a very good thing, to say the least, what he. did was point out what he thought was not such a nice thing either. Yes he broke some VERY serious laws, and he needs to pay for his actions, and so should others for there actions as well. The lies that were told to the Congress, which in and of itself is a crime, by the very people who now want him to face charges for his actions.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid