The National Security Agency operates with more secrecy and freedom than perhaps any other U.S. government entity. As 15 pages of recently released talking points show, even its own statements defending its activities are sometimes considered too sensitive for the public to see.
MuckRock user Jason Smathers’ request for ‘talking points’ generated by the agency between 2009-2012 yielded documents ranging from what appears to be an employee pep talk to notes on the release of information about the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty. They also touch on allegations of domestic spying.
An undated draft of talking points to an undisclosed group seems as if it’s meant for a top NSA official to deliver to NSA employees regarding pushback on the agency’s activities
One page of the "pep talk" is completely redacted, save for the words "These are sobering findings."
The documents also include talking points that appear to be for the agency’s chief technology officer, which are redacted with a slightly lighter hand:
The NSA supplied the following talking points to Congressional Intelligence Committee members to defend the agency's post-9/11 warrantless surveillance, labeled by President Bush as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program." It has been widely criticized for operating outside of judicial oversight.
The agency also weighed in with notes for the White House about the controversy sparked by an Army linguist's allegation that it had spied on journalists and aid workers operating in the Middle East.
Three pages of talking points about declassified information about the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, during the Six-Day War. (More documents MuckRock has obtained about the USS Liberty are available here.)
Read the full talking points embedded below, or on the request page.
Illustration based on a photo from the NSA