We don’t know what the National Security Agency’s office atmosphere was like back before Edward Snowden was a household name, but it seems safe to say it was better then than it is now. The Washington Post reports that morale at the organization’s Fort Meade headquarters “has taken a hit” as the world has been inundated with seemingly endless spying revelations.”The news — the Snowden disclosures — it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” said one anonymous former official. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.” And you know what would cheer them up? A little face time with President Obama.
Though top Obama aides, including Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, have stopped by recently “to express the president’s support and appreciation for all that NSA does to keep us safe,” NSA workers are said to be “dismayed” that he has not gone up to Maryland himself. Former NSA Inspector General Joel Brenner fondly recalled the 2006 visit George W. Bush made to the agency in the wake of the New York Times’ reports on its warrantless post–September 11 surveillance. “There’s been nothing like that from this White House,” Brenner complained.
According to the Post, Obama might be more likely to show his affection for the NSA in person once “internal and external reviews” of its methods have been completed. In the meantime, employees will just have to make do with whatever messages of approval they can find on his cell phone.