Security Question,
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From Ask Zelda, an advice column that ran in SIDtoday, an internal newsletter for National Security Agency employees. This column appeared in July 2014, a year after Edward Snowden leaked classified NSA documents, and was provided to Harper’s Magazine in September in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Dear Zelda,

Nearly a year ago our lives changed because of one “bad seed” employee who took it upon himself to share classi_ed information with the world that he did not comprehend. Now Americans are confused and have been misled. We all continue to pay a price for his bad doing. I’d like to know your suggestion on how we can bring trust back to the American people.

A loyal American


Dear Loyal American,

Every time I think about what happened and the ignorance of the people who are speaking out against the agency, my circuits overheat. Normally a pacifist, I fantasized about creating a voodoo doll of Mr. Bad Seed. It has been a doggone nuisance for our workforce. We have had to take time away from our important missions to research the leak, answer questions, and implement new measures that hamper us in doing our jobs. The issue is similar to heightened airport security in response to a terrorist attempt: everyone is inconvenienced and has to suffer because of one bad seed.

A media storm is like a hurricane. When the worst is over, we have to survey the damage and plan a way forward. When we rebuild, we make things stronger to survive another storm. I have every confidence that the NSA of the future will be stronger and more secure than ever.