Special Reports
NSA�s public relations spinmeisters
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 20, 2009, 00:14

(WMR) -- M. E. �Betsy� Harrigan penned an op-ed in the November 6, 2009, Washington Times, in which she bemoaned the fact that so many uninformed Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) is out to monitor their every phone call and email.

Cleverly, Harrigan lumps into the ranks of the NSA �conspiracy theorists� those who believe the NSA can tap into individual�s brains and read their thoughts and trigger assassins to act. If that sounds too much like Hollywood, perhaps it should be noted that Harrigan, a former deputy director of the NSA in charge of the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (DEFSMAC), a joint NSA-Defense Intelligence Agency operation that is focused on warning top military and political leaders of missile, aircraft, and other hostile threats on the United States, is the author of a novel about NSA, titled �9800 Savage Road: A Novel of the National Security Agency.�

The novel is an exercise in painting the NSA in the best of all lights. It portrays an agency that tried desperately to obtain Al Qaeda communications pre-9/11 to forestall the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Of course, left out of the novel is the fact that NSA possessed two Al Qaeda intercepts on September 10, 2001, but failed to act on them.

Harrigan maintains that her novel met with resistance from NSA censors in the pre-publication process. However, WMR has been told by NSA insiders that Harrigan, a Swahili linguist, saw her career at NSA skyrocket under then-NSA director General Michael Hayden.

Through their recent op-eds, Harrigan�s in the Washington Times and Hayden�s in The New York Times, both former NSA officials have attempted to paint NSA�s warrantless wiretapping program, known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program at the Justice Department and �Stellar Wind� at the NSA, as a benign program that was lawful and always respected the privacy of American citizens. However, the revelation of former Justice Department prosecutor Thomas Tamm and NSA intelligence officer Russell Tice, puts to rest any such fanciful notions about the benign and lawful nature of the warrantless wiretapping program.

WMR has learned that Harrigan was one of Hayden�s most trusted team players at NSA, hence her promotion to head up the highly-technical DEFSMAC from reading the intercepts of the telephone calls of low-ranking Kenyan, Congolese, Ugandan, Tanzanian, or Comorian government and business officials (anything of importance in any of the Swahili-speaking countries is usually done in English or French rather than in the marketplace lingua franca, Swahili).

Hayden preferred to surround himself with subservient senior staffers, especially women. In one case, his deputy director, Barbara McNamara, was not such a subservient player, objecting to Hayden�s plans to outsource much of NSA�s mission to untrusted contractors. Hayden dealt with McNamara by firing her as deputy director and transferring her to London, where she served as the senior U.S. liaison officer to NSA�s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Hayden replaced McNamara as deputy director with William Black, whom he hauled out of retirement from the ranks of one of Hayden�s favorite contractors, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Harrigan in her op-ed tosses aside concerns that the planned new NSA data center at the Utah National Guard�s Camp Williams will expand the agency�s abilities to store the intercepts of Americans� phone calls, emails, tweets, faxes, and text messages. However, WMR has learned from NSA sources that the 20-acre NSA center outside of Salt Lake City, a pet project of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), is designed to provide the millions of terabytes of storage capabilities that NSA currently does not have. The NSA cover story is that the massive data warehouse is designed to protect America�s cyber-defenses. NSA director General Keith Alexander pinned on a fourth star when he was named the first commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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