Caught on tape: NSA recruitment drive goes horribly wrong

NSA recruitment

On Tuesday, the National Security Agency called at the University of Wisconsin on a recruitment drive.

Attending the session was Madiha R Tahir, a journalist studying a language course at the university. She asked the squirming recruiters a few uncomfortable questions about the activities of NSA: which countries the agency considers to be “adversaries”, and if being a good liar is a qualification for getting a job at the NSA.

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She has posted a recording of the session on Soundcloud, which you can hear above, and posted a rough transcript on her blog, The Mob and the Multitude. Here are some highlights.

The session begins …

Tahir: “Do you consider Germany and the countries that the NSA has been spying upon to be adversaries, or are you, right now, not speaking the truth?”

Recruiter 1: “You can define adversary as ‘enemy’ and, clearly, Germany is not our enemy. But would we have foreign national interests from an intelligence perspective on what’s going on across the globe? Yeah, we do.”

Tahir: “So by ‘adversaries’, you actually mean anybody and everybody. There is nobody, then, by your definition that is not an adversary. Is that correct?”

Recruiter 1: “That is not correct.”

Recruiter 2: “… for us, our business is apolitical, OK? We do not generate the intelligence requirements. They are levied on us … We might use the word ‘target’.”

Tahir: “I’m just surprised that for language analysts, you’re incredibly imprecise with your language. And it just doesn’t seem to be clear.”

Later …

Tahir: “… this is a recruiting session and you are telling us things that aren’t true. And we also know that the NSA took down brochures and factsheets after the Snowden revelations because those factsheets also had severe inaccuracies and untruths in them, right? So how are we supposed to believe what you’re saying?”

Even later …

Tahir: “I think the question here is do you actually think about the ramifications of the work that you do, which is deeply problematic, or do you just dress up in costumes and get drunk?” [A reference to an earlier comment the recruiter made about NSA employees working hard and going to the bar to do karaoke.]

Recruiter 2: “… reporting the info in the right context is so important because the consequences of bad political decisions by our policymakers is something we all suffer from.”

Unnamed female student:
 “And people suffer from the misinformation that you pass along so you should take responsibility as well.”

Later still …

Male student: “General Alexander [head of the NSA] also lied in front of Congress.”

Recruiter 1: “I don’t believe that he did.”

Male student: “Probably because access to the Guardian is restricted on the Department of Defence’s computers. I am sure they don’t encourage people like you to actually think about these things. Thank God for a man like Edward Snowden who your organisation is now part of a manhunt trying to track down, trying to put him in a little hole somewhere for the rest of his life. Thank God they exist.”

And finally …

Recruiter 2: “This job isn’t for everybody, you know …”

Tahir: “So is this job for liars? Is this what you’re saying? Because, clearly, you’re not able to give us forthright answers. I mean, given the way the NSA has behaved, given the fact that we’ve been lied to as Americans, given the fact that factsheets have been pulled down because they clearly had untruths in them, given the fact that Clapper and Alexander lied to Congress – is that a qualification for being in the NSA? Do you have to be a good liar?”

Recruiter 1: I don’t believe the NSA is telling complete lies. And I do believe that you know, I mean people can, you can read a lot of different things that are, um, portrayed as fact and that doesn’t make them fact just because they’re in newspapers.”

Unnamed female student: “Or intelligence reports.”

Recruiter 1: “That’s not really our purpose here today and I think if you’re not interested in that … there are people here who are probably interested in a language career.”


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  1. Join the NSA - Public Oversight

    Encryption, what’s that? Got a fast PLL chip?

  2. Join the NSA - Public Oversight

    Maybe you should join, that way you can un-do, cutoff and de-activate things and the people can trust you. All this crap is just technology after all. Metal can be cut, Fiber Optic cables can be re-dressed after removing splitters, Hard Drives in Utah can be DRILLED THROUGH.

    I mean seriously, with digital, spying, it means total control, so you better wake the hell up.

  3. Great job by Madiha, and in Liberal Madison Wisconsin to. I hope this is a demonstration of Liberals finally waking up to Liberal Democratic Tyrrany that is happening Al over this country. Its due time to eliminate the Barack Obamas , Hillary Clinton’s and John Kerry’s of this country.

    • Remember that were it not for policies suggested, promoted, and ultimately enacted by the Bush administrations – both of them – the current administration could not do near the amount of damage to our freedoms… IMHO EVERY president and their administrations since JFK have been involved in putting America in the dire straits she is in now.. They all did something – or perhaps DIDN’T do something – that undermined the country.. This is a well thought out, abundantly funded, and very evil operation that has been ongoing for hundreds of years….. But hey, it’s JMHO

  4. Ah.. “complete” lies… yeah we gotta avoid those “complete” lies, but your normal, everyday, in the interests of national security, prevarications are completely acceptable…
    Ya know, with all the crap going on it warms the cockles of my heart to know that (some) college students WILL call out the feds on their BS… GOOD JOB!!

    It amazes me how people can believe what these agencies are telling them.. HOW!?! It’s all about the benefit of the doubt, and they don’t deserve it.. they have lied so much that they have lost the most crucial element of TRUST. Everyday there’s another revelation that just proves that they cannot be trusted.. and in my opinion,all this spying on the American public (legal via the “Patriot Act”) is simply their wanting to know who among the populace is watching what they are doing.. They can’t have that! Imagine us wanting to know what a publically funded agency, purportedly bent on protecting us from the bad guys, exactly what these people are doing. I thought after 911 perhaps the public would awaken to this one world hard-on these bastards seem to harbor, but nope… their heads are still firmly in the sand.. Even after Snowden blew the whistle on their spying on ALL of us, people still believe the official narrative of what happened that morning in September 2001. Go figure-
    Matt Damon’s famous NSA rant in Good Will Hunting is certainly a classic and is most appropriate, especially now.

    Thanks for having this website up and going-

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