New NSA Boss' Understatement Of The Year: NSA 'Has Lost A Measure Of Trust' From The Public

from the depends-on-what-'measure' dept

New NSA boss Admiral Mike Rogers (once again, a different guy than NSA “overseer” and “chief #1 fan” Rep. Mike Rogers) has kicked off his new job by significantly understating the current predicament of the NSA with regards to its relationship with the public. In fact, count the multiple understatements in his comments:

“I tell the [NSA] workforce out there as the new guy, let’s be honest with each other, the nation has lost a measure of trust in us,” Admiral Michael Rogers told a conference of the Women in Aerospace conference in Crystal City, Va.

“A measure of trust.” I guess that depends on exactly what “measure” you’re talking about, but I’d start with a fairly large one, and then go up from there. And then up some more.

In the future, he said, “If we make a mistake, you will hear about it. That’s my job as director and I have no problem with it. … We are not going to hide our mistakes.”

Yes, the director of the agency which once denied its own existence and was referred to as No Such Agency is claiming the agency won’t hide its mistakes? Pretty much the only thing that the NSA does is hide its own activities. That’s its core competence. Hiding everything that it does, which all too frequently includes its mistakes.

“The whole media leaks issue as we call it, has caused quite a stir,” said Rogers, who was sworn in as director of NSA and assumed command of U.S. Cyber Command at the beginning of April.

“Lost a measure of trust,” “media leaks issue,” “quite a stir.” Yes, Admiral Rogers is the master of the understatement.

And, for all the talk about how the NSA won’t hide from its mistakes, rather than taking responsibility for its mistakes, Admiral Rogers takes the easy way out: blame the media!

Rogers didn’t lay complete responsibility at the doorstep of the NSA: He blamed public mistrust on the way the newsmedia had framed the issues raised in the Snowden revelations.

“From my perspective the debate and the dialogue to date have been very uneven,” he said.

“Your neighbors are saying to you: ‘Man, I’ve been listening about you on the TV and reading about you in the papers and I had no idea what a bad person you are,’” he joked.

That’s a joke?

He said the NSA and its staff had to work to “earn and sustain” Americans’ trust, but could not be too open about the work of the ultra-secret agency, which specializes in electronic eavesdropping and other surveillance using the latest high technology.

Wait. I thought he was just saying that the NSA wouldn’t hide from its mistakes any more (note that he has still yet to admit to a mistake, but instead, blamed the media for everything).

“I believe in transparency and I will be as transparent as possible, but I also have to be mindful that in doing so I cannot undermine the specifics of what we’re doing” to protect the country, he said.

“To do that [be transparent] I have to get out of my comfort zone,” he acknowledged. “I have to walk that tightrope.”

So, he doesn’t know how to be transparent, but he believes in transparency.

To sum up, Admiral Rogers appears to be saying that the NSA lost some trust because of a “media leak” which caused “a bit of a stir,” and because of that he’s going to embrace transparency and not hide from his mistakes. But… at the same time, he won’t admit to a single mistake, and it’s really all the press’s fault for misreporting on things that need to be kept secret. And, also, he believes in transparency so much that he admits he isn’t comfortable with transparency, and if he’s actually transparent, we might all die.

That’s not exactly going to win back any of the “measure” of trust the NSA lost there…

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Comments on “New NSA Boss' Understatement Of The Year: NSA 'Has Lost A Measure Of Trust' From The Public”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

China is a strange place. While they are putting up the great firewall of China and manning it all the way from beep and back to defend their history against “western misinterpretations”, they are improving slowly in other human rights areas. In recent years they have even embraced controlled amounts of demonstrations as long as it wasn’t against the communist party.

They are also trying to shift their economy from an export economy to a market economy, which will be good news for Europe and USA in the long run.

That China has a very long way to go on openness and media freedom is very evident, but they are moving in the right direction on other issues as opposed to other countries.

Anonymous Coward says:

the nation has lost a measure of trust in us

Not just the NSA but government as a whole has lost not just a measure but pretty much stomped it in the ground.

Any time you get public officials to address the nation through the media then it is not the media that is at issue because these officials purposely used the media to spread the word.

To add insult to injury, within days, those messages were proven lies which then the tactic was repeated over and over again.

There is a reason the public has lost faith in the government, not just NSA. They’ve had their noses rubbed in just how bad it really is.

Loki says:

Re: Re:

Mind you, I think he was talking to the NSA workforce. He’ll be more than happy to point out to them when they’ve made a “mistake” (and using their dictionary, I’m guessing mistake he means letting the general public know the truth about anything).

As far as this little tidbit:

?From my perspective the debate and the dialogue to date have been very uneven,? he said.

When a large proporation of everything you utter is outright lies, and most of the rest of your content are words you’ve redifined to mean things the rest of us define differently, then yes, you’re going to have a debate and dialigue that is very uneven.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Can’t really blame the NSA though can you.
It is after all an agency created to be secret, to do things in secret and to keep those secrets.
In other words, it’s not really a bug if they keep secrets, it’s a feature.
The real problem here is government and the problem with government isn’t the backward, ignorant, thoughtless short sighted politicians, but the people who choose them as their representatives.
Some people simply cannot grasp that secret spy agencies are directly antithetical to democratic government. Believing that 1) you need them and 2) you can control them is as broken a way of thinking as believing that torture is 1) sometimes necessary or 2) actually useful.
The problem arises when people think that secret spy agencies are a necessity for any country and a lot of Americans do believe just that.
It all really comes under the same problem faced with policing, there are a sizable number of people (who are not police; police will always think this) who believe that anything that makes the job of the police easier to do should be available to them, other people realise that while police should have the legislation and tools available to them to make their job possible, making it easy is not and should not be the aim.
US experience of using secret spy agencies has led the US to be responsible for overthrowing democratically elected governments, supporting dictators and both torturing people and instructing others in torture techniques.
If those are parts of US history and present that US people are proud of, then by all means carry on, bearing in mind that anything that governments find they can get away with outside the borders of their country, they inevitably eventually decide to do inside their own borders.
Effectively, the US love affair with spy agencies is a hell of a lot of rope, now are you going to keep it and if so, what use are you going to make of it?

Compare this Mike! says:

Really? A measure of trust?

American Surveilance industry/American medical industy terms compared.

If this quote…

“the nation has lost a measure of trust in us” means “Most of the Americans that are concious now know about the existance of the NSA and hate us.”

Would be like a doctor saying “The patient is suffering from a mild headache.” means “OH crap!, the NYPD blew this fuckers head off!!!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

How can they be government whores, when they are not answerable to government.
Technically they are supposed to be, but you’ve seen what happens when government actually tries to oversee them.
If any body is whore to one group, it’s government and by extension the people that the government represents who are getting f*&%ed by the NSA and god knows how many other acronymous organisations.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

…it’s government and by extension the people that the government represents who are getting f*&%ed by the NSA and god knows how many other acronymous organisations.

Don’t be silly.

The government writes out their paychecks.
The government gives them their marching orders.
The government hired them and the government can fire them – if they do not do as they are told.

These agencies are doing PRECISELY what the Government has ordered them to do.

This is why there has been not a single wrist slapping from the Fed on any NSA activities. Because the NSA is doing exactly what it was told to do. In fact, bonuses are in order for a job well done.

Your “government” – a criminal organization by any other name – is lying to you daily, about far more than just what the NSA, FBI, CIA and HLS are about.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Since you’re clearly reading-impaired, I’ll paraphrase the article for you: Mike Rogers is claiming that the NSA needs to rebuild trust while simultaneously doing many of the exact things that prevent rebuilding trust: failing to admit mistakes, blaming the media for their problems, claiming that it’s all just the public misunderstanding what they’re doing, etc.

It’s not simply about “word choice”.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And maybe the populace is too stupid to understand our imperative? You know, saving the children, terrorists, IP theft, and CYA for those ‘deserving’?

That the rules we operate under are secret, governed by a secret court, in secret, using secret rules, and that process is secret, so when we share our ‘intelligence’ with LEA’s but don’t let them tell where they got their ‘intelligence’ there is no way to point back at us, cause imperative?

In fact, you are not allowed to know that you are not allowed to know!

FM Hilton (profile) says:


He’s not doing a measure of any understating. He truly believes the whole damned mess could have been completely avoided by not allowing that pesky media from reporting what Ed Snowden gave them-and that the First Amendment is such a pesky idea:

” Rogers didn?t lay complete responsibility at the doorstep of the NSA: He blamed public mistrust on the way the newsmedia had framed the issues raised in the Snowden revelations. “

I mean, he’s not interested in whether or not they were justified in doing so-only that the NSA doesn’t get caught doing it again and being exposed.

No, he’s not being facetious.

He’s perfectly serious and he doesn’t think we have any right to know anything that the government doesn’t want us to know.

I don’t expect things will change much with this new boss, either.

Same old shit, different day and name.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Call the next witness

The NSA “has lost a measure of trust from the public” in the same sense that Joe McCarthy “lost a measure of trust from the public.”

(When asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”, a Mike Rogers or James Clapper would automatically respond, “Strict oversight *ensures* that I have a sense of decency.”)

Anonymous Coward says:

Demoted to a Captain for stupidity...

Should we simply call him Captain Obvious from now on? Did he really need to inform the staff that the public no longer trusts them and that they will hear about every mistake in the future that gets out as if they were completely unaware this fact without the information imparted to them by their clueless leadership?

Anonymous Coward says:

?Your neighbors are saying to you: ?Man, I?ve been listening about you on the TV and reading about you in the papers and I had no idea what a bad person you are,?? he joked.

He still doesn’t get it. HIS neighbors may be saying that that to HIM because he’s in a leadership role. I have seen no reports and know of no one who blames the workers at the NSA for any of this. 100% of the criticism falls squarely on the shoulders of those IN CHARGE of the NSA. They are the ones who did this, not the workers.

MatBastardson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“I have seen no reports and know of no one who blames the workers at the NSA for any of this.”

Yes, this is one of the big distortions the NSA defenders trot out regularly — pretending that criticism of the agency’s actions is really criticism of the rank-and-file workers.”

Um, did I just imagine the stories about how rank and file workers abused their positions at NSA to access data on people who were under no sort of gov’t investigation whatever, like ex-girlfriends, friends, and neighbors, just for the hell of it and because they can?

GEMont (profile) says:

...on the bright side...

To be completely honest, the public losing its faith/trust in the agencies of the federal government is probably the 2nd best thing that could happen to the public.

When you put your faith/trust in people who mean you only harm, you simply make it easier for them to do you harm.

The very best thing the public could do is withdraw their trust from the Federal Government itself – no part of which is pro-public – before it drains the nation dry and brings it crumbling down into dust.

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