NSA Claims It Is Unable to Search Own Emails

In response to a FOIA request, says it doesn't have the technology


The NSA is a "supercomputing powerhouse" with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture. 

But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees' email? The agency says it doesn't have the technology.

"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

The system is "a little antiquated and archaic," she added.

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  1. While not familiar with that agency, or the email system they use, I call BS. Bureaucracies are big on record-keeping as a mechanism for ass covering.

  2. Oops, I’m going to retract that 2:40 post. There are some secure email systems where even the admins can’t search mailboxes which aren’t delegated to them. Given the classified nature of what the NSA does, it would be reasonable of them to use one of those systems.

  3. I dunno, Tonio, this sounds like ‘the dog ate the homework’ excuse.

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