Just how bad morale has gotten is revealed by a series of shocking incidents, including violent criminality that’s hardly ever encountered among the NSA’s highly vetted workforce. Last week an agency rising star, the former head of the high-priority Korea Division, pleaded guilty to beating his three-year-old son to death.
In an equally shocking incident in late October, a respected NSA mathematician regarded as an up-and-comer bludgeoned his wife to death with a barbell while the couple’s three children were at home in Laurel, an agency bedroom community. The brutal murder sent shockwaves through NSA, where the late woman was also employed.
Shortly before that, an NSA senior official attempted to commit suicide in the office – something which has never happened in the agency’s long history. The top official survived and details have not been released to the public. The Fort Meade tradition of hushing up controversial incidents continues even in the age of Snowden.
Such violence cannot be placed at the feet of Edward Snowden or agency leadership. That said, it’s clear that the scandals overwhelming NSA over the last couple years continue to take a frightening toll on morale and performance. An unhappy workforce is a vulnerable workforce, as NSA security knows. Fears of “another Snowden” are widespread at Fort Meade, where counterintelligence is worried that angry and disaffected employees are vulnerable to exploitation by hostile intelligence agencies. To say nothing of the Russian mole lurking inside the agency – it was not Snowden – that NSA has known of since 2010, but never uncovered.
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