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Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the turn-that-frown-upside-down dept.

Privacy 841

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Ellen Nakashima reports at the Washington Post that morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency's surveillance activities and officials are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support. 'It is not clear whether or when Obama might travel the 23 miles up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to visit Fort Meade, the NSA's headquarters in Maryland,' writes Nakashima, 'but agency employees are privately voicing frustration at what they perceive as White House ambivalence amid the pounding the agency has taken from critics.' Though Obama has asserted that the NSA's collection of virtually all Americans' phone records is lawful and has saved lives, the administration has not endorsed legislation that would codify it. And his recent statements suggest Obama thinks some of the NSA's activities should be constrained. 'The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it's been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,' says Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006. 'They feel they've been hung out to dry, and they're right.' Former officials note how President George W. Bush paid a visit to the NSA in January 2006, in the wake of revelations by the New York Times that the agency engaged in a counterterrorism program of warrantless surveillance on U.S. soil beginning after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 'Bush came out and spoke to the workforce, and the effect on morale was tremendous,' Brenner said. 'There's been nothing like that from this White House.' Morale is 'bad overall' says another former NSA official. 'It's become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, 'Why are you spying on Grandma?'"

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The workers are upset (4, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#45635017)

That Snowden got all the attention, maybe others were planing on blowing some whistles

Re:The workers are upset (5, Interesting)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year ago | (#45635105)

That Snowden got all the attention, maybe others were planing on blowing some whistles

They've been upset for a long time, about doing secret, unapproved missions. It's a snowden LEAK that make their discontent ... public knowledge.

At least, that had better be the story. Because anything else is just a bunch of rich kids whining that they've been outed (and treated poorly). They weren't slaves, prisoners or compelled to remain.

Why are you spying on your ex-girlfriend? (5, Interesting)

careysb (566113) | about a year ago | (#45635109)

Washington Post:
"Last month, we reported on LOVEINT, the facetious term used to describe NSA analysts who misuse their surveillance powers to spy on romantic interests instead of terrorists. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the NSA to get more specific about the misconduct the NSA had uncovered. So the NSA sent Grassley a letter with details of the 12 LOVEINT incidents it has uncovered since 2003.

The incidents have a number of things in common. Almost all of them involved spying on foreigners outside of the United States (one man targeted his American girlfriend, and a few others spied on communications involving both Americans and foreigners). In seven of the 12 cases, the misbehaving employee resigned while the disciplinary process was ongoing. The rest received letters of reprimand, got demoted, lost pay, were denied security clearances or faced other punishments. None of the individuals were prosecuted for their actions."

"Not prosecuted"? No wonder they're not getting any support. (amongst many, many, many other reasons)

Re:The workers are upset (5, Insightful)

npridgeon (784063) | about a year ago | (#45635317)

Don't do bad shit, so you don't have to feel bad about it.

Re:The workers are upset (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635335)

The problem is that Secret Santa is impossible during the holidays there.

All Feds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635019)

Morale is shit throughout the federal government. It is a combination of the shutdown, constant anxiety about budget cuts, vilification in the media and by politicians (on both sides, sadly), and the fact that many agencies offer little discretion or authority to even professional (ie legal, medical) employees but rather chose to micromanage every aspect of their employees workload.

Re:All Feds. (1, Troll)

fche (36607) | about a year ago | (#45635037)

That's OK too. Shrink 'em down to the constitutional essentials.

Re:All Feds. (0)

pete6677 (681676) | about a year ago | (#45635113)

Aww, too bad so sad. Did they think the days of virtually unlimited budgets could go on forever?

Re:All Feds. (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#45635305)

1) There was never any day of "virtually unlimited budgets."

2) Do you assert that the United States currently faces specific real resources shortfalls, even given the current large output gap? If not, can you propose a specific, realistic mechanism why the United States would currently face fiscal constraints, even given persistently low inflation?

Re: All Feds. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635327)

The difference here is that the fuckers who work at the NSA spy on their fellow citizens.

It is true that other federal employees and contractors have legitimate jobs that serve the public. IMHO the workers at the NSA work against the public.

Good. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635021)

The scum should be made to squirm even more.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635129)

Agreed. They took a job where they had to swear an oath to the Constitution. Then they decided to shit on that document. I have no pity for the slime at the NSA. Fuck them, their ends justify the means methods, the invented terror scares to justify their existence, and their morale. If they all committed mass suicide, would any decent person grieve?

"Why are you spying on grandma?" (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about a year ago | (#45635023)

I would say these are exactly the sorts of questions we should be asking, and they should be able to answer.

Re:"Why are you spying on grandma?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635147)

"Because my boss got an order to do so by our fascist government."

Re:"Why are you spying on grandma?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635199)

"Because we havn't confirmed yet that she curretly isn't a terrorist."

Re:"Why are you spying on grandma?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635231)

And the link goes to a cartoon with no relevance to the quote..

Re:"Why are you spying on grandma?" (3, Informative)

Pherdnut (969927) | about a year ago | (#45635293)

Oh they answered. It's just not a very satisfying answer:

"We don't WANT to spy on Grandma, we just want to be able too without any of that legal stuff getting in the way and slowing things down. Don't worry, there will oversight by a select few who don't have to tell you anything about it."

Cue the world's smallest violin (4, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#45635025)

n/t

Re:Cue the world's smallest violin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635173)

I'll bring them the world's smallest bow.

NSA cocksuckers, when you read this as it transmits to /., just know FUCK YOU you worthless pieces of shit.

one could wish (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#45635027)

That Obama would condemn and stop being ambivalent, but I suppose letting them stew is enough.

Re:one could wish (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45635093)

That Obama would condemn and stop being ambivalent

Obama is not being ambivalent at all, he approves the NSA program. You could know this before he was elected the first time, because he went out of his way to vote in favor of the program.

The reason he sounds 'ambivalent' is because, like all politicians, he tries to confuse the gullible by saying things to appease both sides on an issue.

Re:one could wish (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635127)

You're really that blind to what kind of sociopath is in the White House today, aren't you? Funny, Slashdotters are so fast to call CEOs sociopaths at the drop of a hat and yet the most powerful man in the world is looked on with sympathy as if he was an unwitting victim of the very system he helped establish and personally has near total control over.
 
I guess you really can get drunk off of Kool-Aid.

Re:one could wish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635299)

Funny, Slashdotters are so fast to call CEOs sociopaths at the drop of a hat and yet the most powerful man in the world is looked on with sympathy as if he was an unwitting victim of the very system he helped establish and personally has near total control over.

Obama is a piece of trash, much like Bush was. But you do realize you're on Slashdot too, right? Perhaps many of the ones who call CEOs sociopaths aren't entirely the same as the fools who look upon Obama with sympathy. Not everyone on Slashdot thinks the same thing. Just a thought.

Re:one could wish (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635409)

Yes, this is Slashdot - the place where, when Obama first ran for President, you would be unanimously downvoted if you didn't get on your knees and start sucking. Yeah, keep talking about how "we don't all think the same thing". Now you're reaping the rewards.

...publicly approved intelligence missions (4, Insightful)

willoughby (1367773) | about a year ago | (#45635045)

Well, I sure missed *that* call.

Well, why are you spying on Grandma? (5, Insightful)

chihowa (366380) | about a year ago | (#45635049)

Literally, neighbors are asking people, 'Why are you spying on Grandma?'

So, they're hoping that the public approval of the president will keep them from having to come up with an answer to that question?

I guess nothing alleviates the need for thoughtful introspection like a big pat on the head from the master.

problem is (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45635053)

The problem is, no one has a clue what the NSA is doing. Even if they are the kind of people who would normally support spying for defense purposes, it's not even clear what defensive purposes the NSA is serving.

When Obama defends the NSA spying programs, he says, "If we're gonna do a good job preventing a terrorist attack in this country, a weapon of mass destruction getting on the New York subway system, et cetera, we do want to keep eyes on some bad actors."

OK, but that's not very convincing, especially when a few months ago Obama was saying the war on terror is over [usnews.com] .

Re:problem is (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45635069)

In a way, I guess that's been the problem with all the US wars since Vietnam (with the exception of the Afghanistan war). It's not really clear why we are there. The reasoning behind Vietnam, Desert Storm, Kosovo, etc was complex, and not always very convincing.

America needs a better decision process for when to pursue war, and when to not pursue war.

Re:problem is (2)

Framboise (521772) | about a year ago | (#45635221)

The US spends almost as much money for defence (that is, attack) that the rest of the world. A few wars here and there are necessary to demonstrate the money has been well invested and the effort needs to be continued.

Re:problem is (5, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45635297)

you miss the obvious: if you have a war, you can 'use up' a lot of your war toys and get brand new shiny (more expensive) ones from your Uncle.

suppliers just LOVE that. and suppliers are the biggest supporters of elected officials.

Re:problem is (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#45635353)

"Almost as much" is putting it a bit strongly. In 2012, the US spent $682 billion on its military. The rest of the world combined spent $1071 billion (source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2013 Yearbook). Granted, that's still an oversized hunk of world military spending. The runner-up (China) spent only $166 billion.

Re:problem is (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#45635195)

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

People thinking they are so holy that their shit doesn't stink is the problem and always has been.

You realize the NSA could be controlling US politics right now like J Edgar Hoover and we'd have no clue?

I don't give a fuck "what type of people" they are. You shouldn't either.

Re:problem is (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#45635321)

Good point, however I believe OP was referring to members of the public who would otherwise support defensive spying but currently see a lack of evidence that the NSA's activities have legitimate defensive purpose.

Re:problem is (5, Insightful)

Exitar (809068) | about a year ago | (#45635275)

Especially since they were spying leaders all around the world, and that seems hardly related to terrorism prevention.
Or did they actually believe that Angela Merkel could have wanted to place a weapon of mass destruction in New York subway system?

Zero sympathy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635059)

to the employees who have worked there tens of year knowing what they are doing. Now one man opened his mouth, and the rest of the cattle is feeling bad.

Bou hou. Cry me a river.

Too bad, so sad. NOT! (1)

davebarnes (158106) | about a year ago | (#45635063)

wvmbe wbpzm mnwcz nqdma qfamd mvmqo pbvqv mbmvm tmdmv bemtd

Re:Too bad, so sad. NOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635103)

For the lazy:

"one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve" (shifted 8)

In order to provide support... (3, Insightful)

fred911 (83970) | about a year ago | (#45635067)

You must have a spine.

GOOD. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#45635073)

Violating the constitution SHOULD make you feel like shit.

Hint to NSA minions who want to redeem themselves: there is no apology more sincere than hara-kiri. Spill your guts, and we might forgive you.

-jcr

Re:GOOD. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635099)

Like they didn't know what they were doing.

Re:GOOD. (3, Insightful)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about a year ago | (#45635159)

Iagree that violating the Constitutionshould absolutely make somebody feel like shit -- but unless the person is an unrepentant killer, telling them to commit suicide isn't cool. Isay that not so much for them, but because I've known a few people that lost someone they cared about that way, and wouldn't wish the pain I saw on anyone unless they were genuinely horrible people themselves. Hell, one of my exes intermittently fought off suicidal depression, and Iwouldn't wish the terror it put me through on anyone remotely decent.

Re:GOOD. (1, Troll)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#45635213)

telling them to commit suicide isn't cool.

Your approval is neither sought nor required. The people I'm addressing belong to a criminal organization, and we'd be better off with them.

-jcr

Re:GOOD. (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#45635347)

The people I'm addressing belong to a criminal organization

You must either think that it doesn't matter what specific crimes are committed, or that non-violent crimes (like illegal spying) should be punished by death.

Re:GOOD. (2)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about a year ago | (#45635315)

HE isn't saying commit biological suicide. He is saying "do what Snowden did" - it is an American figure of speech.
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/spill+guts [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:GOOD. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635351)

Did you miss the part about "hari-kari" right before that? He clearly meant actual suicide.

Re:GOOD. (5, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#45635393)

He said 'Hara-kiri', not sure if that's specifically 'Seppaku'.

I think we'd all be better off if they pulled a wood chipper up in front of the NSA building. Feet first for the big cheeses, head first for the foot soldiers.

Been there. Done that. (5, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about a year ago | (#45635081)

I retired a couple of years ago from a near-30 year career with the Internal Revenue Service.

People tried to kill me on more than one occasion. Dogs were set on me more times than I can remember. A man once openly threatened to kill me, in front of witnesses, while we were standing in a courthouse hallway, on a break, during a jury selection.

People comitted suicide from dealing with us even when doing so made no sense; they simply let their ignorant fears of the Big Bad put them in a bad place, mentally.

When a parade of kooks and idiots testified to Congress in 1998 that we were all baby-eating monsters, NO ONE stood up for us. Horrific legislation that left the agency permanently hamstrung resulted.

Over the last 3 decades, the IRS has actually deserved about 1% of the vitriol poured out on it. Morale is a thing of the past.

Yet, still, no one stands up for the IRS. Those of us who worked there had to adapt. It's possible.

To those at the NSA who are just awakening to the new reality that people are, now and forevermore, going to hate you whether you deserve it or not, I can only say "Welcome to my world. Learn to deal with it. It'll drive you nuts if you don't."

Re:Been there. Done that. (4, Interesting)

pete6677 (681676) | about a year ago | (#45635125)

Learn to deal with it indeed. It won't be changing anytime soon. It's part of the price you pay for a sweet government gig.

Re:Been there. Done that. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635143)

While I know there are some crazies out there, I think more than 1% of the scorn heaped on you guys is deserved. I don't know about you personally, but the IRS is responsible for ruining people's lives and lacking proper accountability and due process for the individual taxpayer.

Here's an amusing anecdote about power-tripping IRS agents that luckily didn't end up ruining anyone financially:

I have a friend who got audited one time; the IRS found a minor problem and my friend simply offered to pay the penalty on the spot (it was very minor, like a couple hundred dollars for an improper deduction or something). The IRS auditor told him to sit down and shut up so that he could berate him. My friend wasn't going to have any of that and simply left the IRS office. He never heard from them again about the supposed improper deduction and wasn't asked to pay.

It's a trap. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635187)

I have a friend who got audited one time; the IRS found a minor problem and my friend simply offered to pay the penalty on the spot (it was very minor, like a couple hundred dollars for an improper deduction or something). The IRS auditor told him to sit down and shut up so that he could berate him. My friend wasn't going to have any of that and simply left the IRS office. He never heard from them again about the supposed improper deduction and wasn't asked to pay.

They are just biding their time until the penalties compound enough for them to simultaneously garnish his wages and seize his house.

Re:Been there. Done that. (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45635169)

It's really a pain to get a letter from the IRS, informing you have a fine, but not explaining the fine and also not telling you how to challenge the fine.

And that's just the beginning.

Re:Been there. Done that. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635175)

*plays the smallest violin in the world* I suppose when people were committing suicide and threatening you that you sort of just brushed it off as poppycock because after all you're such a great guy doing great things like... you know, ruining people's lives.

Re:Been there. Done that. (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#45635239)

I think you are being a bit mean, but you do have a point. There are systems of taxation where it is impossible for most folks to be in arrears, where filing returns is not necessary, and which don't require such a large bureaucracy. The IRS - at least in its current form - is probably unnecessary. You don't hear this kind of vitriol directed towards state sales tax officials.

Re:Been there. Done that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635219)

People comitted suicide from dealing with us even when doing so made no sense; they simply let their ignorant fears of the Big Bad put them in a bad place, mentally.

And you don't see that as a problem that the agency has a responsibility to deal with in some manner?

When a parade of kooks and idiots testified to Congress in 1998 that we were all baby-eating monsters

If you want to appear truly candid and unbiased then stick to facts instead of injecting crap like that.

Re:Been there. Done that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635241)

Although the IRS can be costly, brutal, and offensive to those who do not deserve to be harassed, the functionality of the IRS is arguably necessary. On the other hand, the NSA spying on every innocent citizen of the U.S. (and the world), is NOT not necessary; and to civic-minded individuals it is pure evil. Such actions by the NSA are 1000x worse than the collective mistakes made by the IRS.

Re:Been there. Done that. (0)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#45635379)

The function of the IRS is largely only necessary in a society that collects income taxes.

Systems such as apt-tax would render it meaningless largely to private systems, with only companies and corps having to deal with them.

And before I'm told that's undoable, the US had no income tax before 1913. When that was enacted, it was on the premise as relief to tariffs on goods and would only affect the superrich who would pay it and that it would max out on 1%. That proved a complete lie just 4 short years later, in WW1, when many more than the supperich had to pay rates far in excess of 1%.

Re:Been there. Done that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635395)

Although the IRS can be costly, brutal, and offensive to those who do not deserve to be harassed, the functionality of the IRS is arguably necessary.

Then how did the country do without it until 1913?

Re:Been there. Done that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635253)

You deserved it.

Re:Been there. Done that. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635333)

Yeah, most concentration camp guards thought they were blameless too.

Re:Been there. Done that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635341)

Good. That's because we hate you.

The Country got by OK before the 16th Amendment. Don't expect sympathy for enforcing the Fed's use of the American people as collateral for its funny money.

Just because it's legal doesn't mean you're not an enemy of the People.

Re:Been there. Done that. (5, Informative)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | about a year ago | (#45635371)

I took an english class in college on the "rhetoric of intimidation". that is, how to write in order to intimidate. Not surprisingly, example #1 was the IRS. the professor had spent years studying with them and working with them. One of her favorite stories was when she learned that the majority of the time, an audit occurred because the IRS's records on you didn't match, and rather than figure it out they audit you to make you figure it out.

My best friend works with a lot of self-employed people. One of them had several (3 or 4) years in a row where his tax refund would have been miniscule, something like $10 or $20 in the black, so he didn't even bother sending in the forms. He figured he'd just let the government keep the money. The IRS responded by sending him a bill for roughly $10,000 owed, because they figured that was a nice round number to make up.

I'm sure everybody here has anecdotes like this. That "1%" of bad eggs you talk about must have been terribly terribly busy.

Hard to buy the victim narrative (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635085)

Sure, Obama should take the heat, and certainly he is standing up for them in my experience.

But it's hard to buy the narrative of NSA employees and leadership as innocent victims. They are following poilcy, but Obama doesn't personally design and approve all activities of the million person, trillion dollar executive branch. Much of their activity is of their own design and initiative.

They may be unhappy but they need to stop targeting it at someone else. They are responsible. Perhaps they should feel a little guilty that Snowdon was the only one with the nerve to act responsibly.

I have an idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635089)

A blow job always picks my mood up - they can suck my cock any day they want.

Oh those poor NSA employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635091)

How dare they feel like a bunch of assholes for behaving like a bunch of assholes.

IMO, Obama should let this woe that only exists so long as they believe bullshit. If it's going to make these assholes feel disenfranchized, great. It's exactly how everyone else is feeling right now.

You don't want to be a punching bag? Don't fucking spy on everyone and pretend you're doing us a favor.

And wanting Dear Leader to come and lift your spirits? The lapdogs are feeling bad about behaving like assholes, so they need Dear Leader to stand up and tell everyone it's OK. As if that magically makes it so.

Boo Hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635107)

Well cry a little tear for the NSA.

They don't feel bad enough, because it continues (5, Insightful)

melchoir55 (218842) | about a year ago | (#45635111)

'It's become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, 'Why are you spying on Grandma?'"

Were they my neighbors, I would be asking the same thing.

Were they my friends, I would shun them.

Were they my significant other, I would leave them.

The notion in the USA that the minions are innocent and "just following orders" is ridiculous. Unless conscripted (which these people are not), they are as complicit as their masters. These people are damaging the USA in profound ways. They deserve it to be uncomfortable every step of the way.

Re:They don't feel bad enough, because it continue (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#45635153)

Especially when the US didn't accept such logic in the Nuremberg Trials. "Just following orders" does not excuse things.

Re:They don't feel bad enough, because it continue (5, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45635331)

dare I say it: working at _commercial_ spying places should also be met with the same hatred.

I'm looking at you, google. and others, but google is the current poster child of unwanted tracking and spying and is the definition of 'power, out of control'. and yet, people are still lining up to go work there. even full well knowing what they are doing.

Re:They don't feel bad enough, because it continue (5, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#45635401)

I know this isn't a popular belief, but I actually am willing to buy into the idea that most of them had no idea this sort of stuff was going on. You gotta figure that with it being a compartmentalized intelligence agency, the right hand may not know what the left is doing in many cases, particularly for the rank-and-file employees. And by all indications, most of the things we're hearing about really were the result of initiatives being pushed through by top people who had a couple of small teams of developers willing to do their dirty work.

For instance, one of PRISM's selling points was that it was low-budget on account of it only having a few developers. Considering the budget the agency has, I'm guessing they employ a LOT of people, yet we're mostly hearing about programs that only need a handful of people at most. Seems to me that it's entirely plausible that the vast majority of NSA workers actually are decent people doing legitimate (and legal) work, and for them, it's a shame what's happened. By no means am I excusing the ones directly responsible for this stuff, nor the ones who had awareness of it, but I'm willing to bet that quite a few of the rank-and-file are just as outraged as we are, but know that abandoning their mission would only make things worse, since the work that those people are doing is still necessary.

But if acknowledging such a thing is too difficult for most of us here, let's go ahead and believe that every last one of them is irredeemable scum who deserve to die a slow death. Because none of us here have ever been in a situation where people we were associated with did bad, perhaps even unconscionable, things without us having a say in it. Right?

Publically Approved?/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635121)

While they MAY have been working within the law, nothing about the NSA is public.
The reason that the NSA is currently suffering from a "pounding" is that the public that they serve has been apprised of the scope and methods that they have been employing to violate our constitutional right. Rule making by congress does not invalidate the constitution (unless we amend the constitution)
I understand that the NSA simply fills the requests of the agencies that they serve, but it seems the each party has assumed that the other was responsible for determining whether the request was within the law. Add to that the belief of those charged with over seeing the NSA (congress) that they where not bound by the constitution to limit activities of the NSA and you have a recipe for an agency that will go to any length to fill its request. Add a few decades of being praised for their product with no questions about how they developed it and you have a culture that believes that doing no wrong and are in fact "publicly approved"
Have they been hung out to dry? Maybe. I see them more as a barking dog who get ignored until he bites someone. They're confused as why they're being kicked.

Privately??? (3, Funny)

elashish14 (1302231) | about a year ago | (#45635133)

but agency employees are privately voicing frustration at what they perceive...

Jeez, of all people, you'd think the ones working at the NSA realize that this can't be!

Well ? Why *are* you spying on grandma ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635137)

Nuff said.

Guilt (3, Insightful)

betterprimate (2679747) | about a year ago | (#45635139)

... It kind of happens when you are found out for conspiracy against the people you are meant to serve and protect.

It's called having a conscience. Or lack of, since morale is only suffering after you've been caught.

Learn from history? (1)

devloop (983641) | about a year ago | (#45635141)

Perhaps they could check with colleagues from older agencies that used to do the same kind of work.

I wonder what the Stasi and the Gestapo did to bolster employee morale.

Re:Learn from history? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#45635259)

I wonder what the Stasi and the Gestapo did to bolster employee morale.

Most likely: Lavish parties, with women and copious amounts of liquor.

Re:Learn from history? (5, Interesting)

jma05 (897351) | about a year ago | (#45635309)

I don't know about the Gestapo. But I watched interviews with ex-Stasi who continued to believe that they did what needed to be done and hence were patriotic. No second thoughts.

Well-deserved shame (5, Interesting)

Aboroth (1841308) | about a year ago | (#45635145)

You know what this sounds like? "Aw shucks, people don't like me because they caught me peeping in their windows and jerking off. Don't they know I'm helping to keep them safe? What's wrong with them?"
It sounds like a lot of them are sad people don't like them, not that they were unwittingly helping to ruin America. They need a big ol' whack across the head with a cluebat.

However maybe some of them actually have souls. I'd feel like crap too if I was a party to trampling all over the constitution and promoting a police state. Maybe we'll see another one with a brain and a conscience grow a pair and do something about it. It's hard to do when you have people you love who depend on you but that's life. Life isn't fair. Shit needs to get better and it requires sacrifice. If you can't handle that then you're a crappy patriot.

Well, good for Obama, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635185)

The rule of thumb that the person who is attacked by both sides is the one who is doing the right thing. By that standard, I guess I should say congratulations to Obama. I'm pissed at him for supporting the NSA, the snoops are pissed at him for not supporting the NSA. Whatever he's doing must be the wise middle ground.

I bet Hitler's SS Employees (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635201)

Had suffering morale too.

If their HR folks had the time to piss away on evaluating staff morale. It's just that HR was likely more busy with important things like making sure they didn't get summarily executed, for failing to paint a rosy picture.

The NSA employees' morale SHOULDbe suffering this is a natural consequence of acting expressly contrary to your own country's principles, of being a government, with a constitution, with citizen rights --- including a right to not have government unreasonably invading your privacy.

Oh, The Feels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635209)

The feelings of the people who routinely and vigourously violate our rights and mock our freedom in the name of security is very, very important.

These idiots haven't learned yet... (4, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | about a year ago | (#45635223)

'The agency, from top to bottom, leadership to rank and file, feels that it is had no support from the White House even though it's been carrying out publicly approved intelligence missions,' says Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006.

Maybe you haven't been listening to the reaction Joel, but NOBODY APPROVES of your stupid fucking agency and the stupid fucking things they do. Except perhaps your authoritarian, imperialist, warmonger friends in Congress (Feinstein and the like).

You probably won't realize why this is happening until you figure out how to admit how utterly fucking wrong you are. It's YOUR FAULT that your agency (and all other intelligence agencies) are hated because you decided to run out of control without a single shred of oversight. Don't blame this embarrassing atrocity on any one else.

If they want to feel better ... (2)

Scott McGuire (4080) | about a year ago | (#45635225)

they should stop harming the country.

Awaiting consensus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635227)

Like everything else Obama has done in the last 5 years, he's "gathering consensus" which he's never going to get, and will eventually present a half-assed compromise that preserves the worst parts of the status quo while accomplishing none of its public goals. Have you *looked* at that prolonged mess in the middle east?

Re:Awaiting consensus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635325)

Meh, we're out of Iraq. The Afghanistan pullout is blah blah blahing. Yeman etc are meh blah blah. Iran looks ok, at least blah blah blah.

I'm more concerned about sigh.

If they don't like their jobs, they can quit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635245)

There are plenty of other opportunities in the American job market today, right?

Funny... (4, Insightful)

Eggplant62 (120514) | about a year ago | (#45635265)

I remember this really old adage that my mom used to tell me... Something about reaping or sowing or some shit. Been a while since I heard that one.

Re:Funny... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#45635367)

its not really reaping if the country allows it. we could have crossed our legs and said "no!".

(and here I was, thinking that the country has a way of, well, shutting that whole thing down...)

If any of them need a free rope and chair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635267)

I will help supply it.

It is the Stanford Prison Experiment in supersize (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about a year ago | (#45635283)

Those guards meant to do good. They didn't mean to do anything wrong.
What they were doing was "making justice" and the bad guys deserved it - they are after all "bad". (think extraordinary rendition)
But now the guards find out they are unpopular, so what do they do?

They want a pat on the back from the warden. That makes children feel better, right - daddy telling them something their conscience does not.

Whether or not they "broke the letter" of the law they radically transgressed the fundamentals of freedom as the world understands it and million and millions of people are offended by this offensive behavior.

The important thing isn't about congratulating guards. It is to establish guidelines for "good" and for "evil" that are valid, that are universal, and then the guards who live by them don't need pats on the back. It will also keep you from actually spying on all the grandma's in the world in order to find a non-grandma terrorist. Grandma actually has a right to not be spied on, or permanently recorded, without judicial protections. Maybe someone needs to tell the NSA that they shouldn't be spying on Grandma. Seriously.

Actual quote from NSA employee... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635285)

"Oh God, I feel so terrible about being the kind of gestapo/stasi/kgb instrument of opression that I was taught to despise when I was growing up. Not so terrible that I did anything to prevent it, or alert the people I was supposed to be protecting, or leave, or stop taking the money, but pretty terrible anyways."

Need to know... (4, Insightful)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#45635287)

NSA employees operate in a strictly compartmentalised environment where the need to know is enforced. Some people are in positions of extreme trust, but the vast majority are not. We all need to understand that the revelations coming from Snowden's leaks are just as surprising to the vast majority of NSA employees as they are to the public at large. A good number of these people will be equally dismayed at the actions of their employer. We don't need to hound the individuals. The organisation is fair game though.

Every single one of them is guilty? (2, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | about a year ago | (#45635295)

Everyone is seizing on this "why are you spying on grandma?" line and saying 'Damn right they should be ashamed and demoralized, stupid jackboots!'

Except the NSA has something like 30,000 people. It's hardly as though every one of them are involved in monitoring US civilian communications. Maybe, just maybe, some of them are demoralized because they have not a damn thing to do with anything in the news, yet they're being treated like demons.

They're not the KKK, they're not the Westboro Baptist Church. The agency has redeeming qualities, and being a security organization there are probably *thousands* of them who know nothing more about these surveillance programs than we know. I'd be upset, too, if people were asking me to answer for something I knew absolutely nothing about simply because a huge division of my company two floors down were assholes.

Stop lumping them all together as one giant boogeyman. Look for the people responsible rather than naming the entire agency an inscrutible, invisible hand with nefarious intentions.

Well... (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#45635301)

...why ARE you spying on Grandma?

I'm so concerned about their morale.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635323)

Perhaps we should be more concerned with their morals (Or lack of it)

So they feel bad? (1)

Pherdnut (969927) | about a year ago | (#45635329)

Wow. Progress. Maybe next they'll start thinking about what they've been doing all these years.

That explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635343)

No wonder cold fjord hasn't been seen around here lately. His morale is low. Here he's been working really hard to justify that shit that was going down and Obama hasn't offered him any support.

Poor Little Babies! (5, Insightful)

some old guy (674482) | about a year ago | (#45635355)

The bastards got caught, and the poor little dears are upset..

Fuck 'em.

poor NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635365)

and many of those slobs also have to live in the People's Republik of Maryland, pay high taxes and deal with lousy interstate commutes...

my heart pumps purple you-know-what

If they want to feel better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45635389)

They could do what Edward Snowden did. I bet he can look himself in the mirror each morning when he gets up.

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