The Troubled Inheritance: The National Security Agency and the Obama Administration

Matthew M. Aid

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195375886
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Troubled Inheritance: The National Security Agency and the Obama Administration

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This article discusses the National Security Agency under the Obama Administration. Upon his inauguration on January 20, 2009, Obama inherited from the Bush administration an intelligence community embroiled in political controversies. Of the sixteen agencies of the intelligence community, the National Security Agency (NSA) faced the greatest scrutiny from the new Obama administration and the Congress. NSA was the largest and the most powerful member of the U.S. intelligence community. Since its formation in 1952, NSA has managed and directed all U.S. government signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection. It is the collector and processor of communications intelligence (COMINT) and the primary processor of foreign instrumentation signals intelligence (FISINT). And since 1958, NSA has been the coordinator of the U.S. government's national electronics intelligence (ELINT) program. It has also the task of overseeing the security of the U.S. government's communications and data processing systems, and since the 1980s, NSA has managed the U.S. government's national operation security (OPSEC) program. In this article, the focus is on the challenges faced by the NSA during the Bush administration; the role played by the NSA during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the challenges faced by the Obama administration in confronting a series of thorny legal and policy issues relating to NSA's eavesdropping program.

Keywords: National Security Agency; Obama; Bush; NSA; U.S. intelligence community; Afghanistan; Iraq; eavesdropping program

Article.  6626 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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