Title: Passing on Target Expertise... IT Support... Averting an Assassination -- An Interview with REDACTED
Release Date: 2017-04-24
Document Date: 2004-12-13
Description: The chief of intelligence security issues describes an exciting career, which began with averting an assassination attempt against a congressional delegation by narco-insurgents in Asia. In the chief's opinion, the NSA needs better IT tools and functionalities, from web access to better PCs.
Document: DYNAMIC PAGE -- HIGHEST POSSIBLE CLASSIFICATION IS
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(U) Passing on Target Expertise... IT Support... Averting an
Assassination -- An Interview with
FROM: SIGINT Communications
Run Date: 12/13/2004
Chief of Intelligence Security Issues (S2C), talks about the biggest task
facing her product line, SID's computer needs, and more... (U//FOUO)
What was your first job at the Agency? (U)
(TS//SI) I hired on as a Chinese linguist with the Golden Triangle Narcotics Team in late 1978. I
wasn't at work long before I had an exciting experience... One day I was handed some rather
garbled traffic to peruse for anything of interest. The intercept was from the narco-insurgent
Shan United Army. I noticed the words "mountaintop," "man," and "gun" in the traffic and
decided that something indeed must be happening!
(TS//SI) Further analysis showed that the insurgents were planning to shoot down a helicopter
carrying a U.S. congressional delegation on a fact-finding trip. This information was promptly
released as the first CRITIC* of 1979. I had just started my career and had played a role in
helping avert an assassination attempt! I can still recall the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of
doing something significant - I was hooked.
If you could change one thing at the Agency, what would it be? (U)
(C) We need to make healthy the IT support provided to our analysts. This is a fundamental part
of doing our jobs -- we at NSA need cutting-edge tools and functionality. We have not had any
catastrophic failures, but there has been a constant feeling of degradation of capabilities,
everything from website access to analytic tools that don't work on Agency standard PCs. What
we use at work must be better than what we have at home.
What is the most exciting project for the future that your organization is involved in? (U)
(S//SI) I believe the most important task facing us now is to make sure that our senior analysts,
before they retire, pass on their knowledge to the younger generation of analysts. Our Product
Line, International Security Issues, covers a range of topics, including Western European
targets, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and Follow-the-Money (FTM). The common denominator among
all these targets is that they deal with economic and diplomatic issues. I consider our expertise
on these topics to be a core competency for ISI, just as it is a core competency for NSA within
the Intelligence Community.
(S//SI) These are important issues: economic troubles are a major contributor to instability, and
much depends upon our nation's diplomatic relations. The FTM branch's motto is "Without
money, there is no jihad," so these even tie in with the War on Terror. It is absolutely critical
that our senior analysts, who have an amazing level of expertise on these matters, teach the
junior personnel what they know.
What was the most memorable experience you've had during your career? (U)
(S//SI) It's a toss-up. I was a branch chief in the China/Korea Product Line at the time of the
Tiananmen crisis of 1989, and had the opportunity to brief both the HPSCI and SSCI*
committees of Congress on the subject. This was a great privilege for someone at my grade
level! My branch also issued the very first video SIGINT report at that time.
(S//SI) My other "best experience" was working as the SINIO for East Asia in the early 1990's.
We provided support to policymakers regarding the US-North Korea Agreed Framework
negotiations, an attempt to avert a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. It was a great opportunity to
work with Intelligence Community counterparts at CIA, DIA, State, the Pentagon, etc.
(C) CRITIC: Critical information is that information concerning possible foreign threats to US
national security that are so significant that they require the immediate attention of the
President and the National Security Council. CRITIC information is sent at the highest
precedence by the most rapid means available to ensure delivery within 10 minutes.
(U) HPSCI = House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
(U) SSCI = Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
(U) Here are some other recent interviews of SID leaders...
(U) Do We Over-Classify? Are We Sharing Enough Information? ... An Interview with
(U) Interview with... Charlie Meals, Signals Intelligence Deputy Director
(U//FOUO) Interview with ...
, Chief, SIGINT Development - Strategy and
(U//FOUO) Interview with... Jim Cusick, SID/Assistant Deputy Director for Data
"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid_comms)."
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DERIVED FROM: NSA/CSSM 1-52, DATED 08 JAN 2007 DECLASSIFY ON: 20320108