The National Security Agency began in its earliest form in 1949 as the Armed Forces Security Agency. The groundwork for the modern NSA was established in December of 1951 when a CIA
memo noted the need for improved control over communication intelligence in the United States intelligence community. This resulted in the commission and completion of a study of the history and current state of communication intelligence. The NSA was formally established in late October of 1952, and officially introduced in early November of that same year.
The NSA's remit remained largely unchanged for many years. It had expanded in the past few years, especially with the invention and widespread adoption of the internet. The late 1990s saw the introduction of data mining programs that dealt with the information gained over the internet and through cell phones. 2005 saw the introduction of surveillance equipment that was also capable of introducing malware into surveilled systems. 2005 also saw a flurry of accusations regarding the NSA's warantless wiretapping of phones within the United States at the behest of then President George W Bush
. This was followed in 2006 by accusations from an AT&T employee about illegal surveillance. Both of these scandals brought the NSA under heavy public scrutiny, though little changes were made and illegal activity was denied. In 2008 they were officially given control of all anti-cyber-terrorism efforts within the United States. It undertakes these duties as well as the domestic and foreign surveillance it had carried out in the past.
Currently the NSA is headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland
. Other facilities exist in San Antonio, Texas
; Fort Gordon, Georgia
; and Camp Williams, Utah
. The current number of NSA employees, like the NSA budget, is classified.
In Other Media
Due to its secretive nature and the relative lack of interest inherent to usual NSA operations, its appearances in other media have largely been characterized by massive exaggeration of the NSA's actual job and powers. Often it is treated as similar to the CIA. It has been increasingly portrayed in popular fiction as the general public has grown aware of its existence.