Another Perspective

The Spies Who Came Out

It's meet and greet time at NSA and CIA.

By 8.28.13

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The National Security Agency, severely chastened by WikiLeaks revelations by Julian Assange, and later leaks by Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and Edward Snowden, has announced that henceforth it will bring much more transparency to the agency’s one-time top-secret operations.

The NSA, in concert with the CIA, plans to hold weekly press conferences detailing which new countries and embassies it is spying on and exactly whose phones are being tapped both here and abroad. Citizens who suspect their telephone calls are under federal surveillance can simply request that they be notified whenever a wire is tapped. The service, known as “Caller FBI-D,” will be added to their monthly phone bill for a nominal $2.45 fee.

“We hope this will allow Americans to have more trust in their government,” said  NSA deputy spokesman Robert Galbraith. “The NSA always aims to please. We now realize that we have been derelict in our duty to provide the public with crucial intelligence information that will help them understand all of our covert schemes.”

Taking its lead from the NSA, the CIA’s famous motto, “Never complain, never explain” has been changed to, “Never deceive, never mislead.”  

Furthermore, said Galbraith, the government will begin offering guided tours next month, revealing the various espionage systems of the NSA and CIA, allowing citizens to watch former top secret interrogation techniques in staged demonstrations. A highlight of the tour is expected to be a short water-boarding film that depicts suspected evildoers being interrogated under simulated drowning conditions. “Americans,” the spokesman added, “will now be able to see their tax dollars at work.”

Tourists on the NSA and CIA tours will be shown actual encrypted documents, with all the redacted sections removed. “Transparency is the new byword in international spying,” Galbraith said. “The NSA and CIA hope to be world leaders by conducting all of their undercover work out in the open. There’s no place anymore in intelligence gathering for spies that don’t reveal what they’re up to at all times.” He added, “That whole skulking about in the shadows business is a thing of the past, so very ’50s.”

Both agencies’ goal is to keep American citizens fully informed of their formerly secret methods. To show its patriotic intensions, both the NSA and CIA are announcing a Whistleblower of the Month contest for workers at the agencies -- an incentive to encourage both low- and high-level security risks to reveal as much as they can.

Critics of the NSA’s and CIA’s new transparency policies fear that the “new openness” may compromise spies out in the field, but Galbraith downplays any such concerns. “We feel that it’s more important for the average guy to know exactly what its agents are up to rather than keep highly classified information from a public that is uncomfortable with government spies working in the dark.

“It’s so un-American,” observed Galbraith, “plus sneaking around planting bugs is just not very nice.”

When asked if other nations might re-evaluate their intelligence gathering techniques in response, Galbraith said, “Well, that’s up to them. If they want to keep playing the top-secret spy game the old-fashioned way, we can’t do anything about it. But Americans can now sleep more securely at night knowing that the NSA’s and CIA’s hands are clean.”

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About the Author

Gerald Nachman is the author of Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Raised on Radio and Right Here On Our Stage Tonight!: Ed Sullivan's America. He is currently working on a book about the great Broadway musical show-stoppers.