Saturday, August 10, 2013

Trust the NSA's Internal Reviews

The NSA issued a document on August 9, 2013 supporting President Obama's recently reiterated remarks.  The document closed with typical boilerplate corporate legal language:

NSA personnel are obligated to report when they believe NSA is not, or may not be, acting consistently with law, policy, or procedure. This self reporting is part of the culture and fabric of NSA. If NSA is not acting in accordance with law, policy, or procedure, NSA will report through its internal and external intelligence oversight channels, conduct reviews to understand the root cause, and make appropriate adjustments to constantly improve.

These statements sound great until one explores their use. The NSA's culture and fabric had their leader lie to Congress, the oversight channel, on phone record metadata collection.

In the corporate compliance world language like this is generally used to shift blame for wrongdoing onto the lowest level.  It's also a method for keeping whistle blowers inside, where the company can "manage" the situation.  Frequently, the reporting employee is minimized, shunned or retaliated against.  System problems, rooted in greed or dysfunctional leadership, are ignored and the reporting individual is ostracized. 

When whistleblowers go outside, the company must act in a public way to discredit and destroy the leaker.  I predicted such shortly after Edward Snowden went public.  While the truth teller is hounded, lying leaders remain unscathed.

Update 8-15-13:  WaPo reported on abuses revealed from the NSA's internal reviews.