AC360 411: Inside the NSA
June 14th, 2013
01:31 PM ET

AC360 411: Inside the NSA

FBI Director Robert Mueller defended the collection of Americans’ phone records and called the controversial surveillance program legal when he spoke Thursday on Capitol Hill. Muller told the House Judiciary Committee that had the information-gathering been in place before the 2001 terrorist attacks it could have helped track down one of the 9/11 hijackers.

But some lawmakers and civil liberties groups are blasting the surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency after classified leaks last week detailed how they worked. NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked the top secret information and is now in hiding in Hong Kong. He could face criminal charges here in the U.S. Here’s the AC360 411 on the NSA:

  • Pres. Harry Truman established the agency more than 60 years ago on November 4, 1952.
  • The NSA Director is appointed by the Secretary of Defense and is always a commissioned military officer with a rank of at least three stars.
  • NSA headquarters are in a highly-secured area of Maryland’s Fort Meade Army base with 18,000 parking spaces.
  • Other NSA facilities are in Hawaii (where Snowden worked), Georgia, Texas and Colorado.
  • The agency is building a new surveillance data center near Salt Lake City, Utah and is expected to be operational this fall.
  • One expert estimates the new data center will be able to hold 500 quintillion pages of data. If you printed those pages and stacked them on top of one another it could stretch from the moon and back 66 million times.
  • The agency has 35,000 employees who are half military and half civilians.
  • In 2002, the NSA claimed to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the United States “and perhaps the world.”
  • The NSA has one of the largest police forces in Maryland.
  • The NSA budget is classified, but experts says it’s likely at least $10 billion a year.
  • Beer was sold in the NSA cafeteria during the 70s and 80s.
  • Due to its secrecy, the NSA has been nicknamed “No Such Agency”
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soundoff (One Response)
  1. kittykelso

    Good report, AC. I would like to ask Dir. Robert Mueller when he believes mowing over our constitutional rights under the name of "Security" is okay, what does he see as the limit of information gathering. Doesn't he see they are taking away the very thing the world is so envious of, freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Who is dividing and conquering my USA? K. Kelso

    June 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm |