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The National Security Agency (NSA) is a top-secret intelligence organization tasked with intercepting and analyzing digital communications in order to aid the U.S. intelligence services, the armed services, and the National Security Council (NSC). While the NSA reports to the Director of Central Intelligence Board, a committee designed to allow the president plausible deniability of covert operations, NSC Intelligence Directive 6 permits the NSA director the discretion to engage in signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations without prior approval.

Similar to other World War II intelligence agencies that were refashioned during the Cold War, the NSA evolved out of the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) to meet demands for a more centralized and effective intelligence apparatus. This covert centralization of power has often encountered resistance from the American ...

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