‘You have to be a good liar to join NSA’

The NSA surveillance agency is living in a complete bubble, researcher Madiha Tahir told RT. Tahir stirred up quite a storm when she confronted a couple of NSA recruitment agents who showed up at the University of Wisconsin in early July.

The grad students and members of a local high school class debated the National Security Agency (NSA) representatives on the meaning of the word "adversary" in regard to NSA surveillance targeting the US allies in Europe - in particular Germany - the legality of the NSA’s global data collection programs and misinformation about the NSA activities presented by the agency’s bosses to the American and international communities.

The agents that came to the University of Wisconsin seemed to be “entirely unprepared” to answer “basic questions” posed by potential employees, said Madiha Tahir, a PhD candidate at Columbia University currently attending a language program at the University of Wisconsin.

Madiha Tahir

“It is fixed to the bubble the intelligence community lives in. They are so disengaged that they think that they don’t actually have to answer any questions when they go out recruiting,” Tahir said. “They have never had to actually justify or even critically think about the work they are engaged in. They simply did not know how to answer the basic questions about the nature of their work,” she said.

The claim of the NSA recruiters that their agency is an “apolitical organization that fulfills requests sent to it by other departments” appeared as if they were trying to hide behind “I’m only doing my job” excuse “which is not a defense at all,” Tahir shared with RT.

Working for the NSA is tough job, agrees Tahir, but as an American citizen she felt she was doing her job when asking the agents how the agency had targeted both American and foreign citizens.

“This surveillance establishment lives in a complete bubble,” Tahir said, recalling that one of the recruiters, a female agent, told the students that after work they go down to a karaoke bar and get drunk, simply because “they are not even able to talk to their families about the kind of work they are engaged in.”

Vladimir Kremlev for RT

Tahir acknowledged that she has no idea whether the NSA managed to recruit any of her fellow students that day, but shared her understanding of what it takes to become a successful NSA recruit.

“You have to be a good liar and you probably have to be quite skillful – which those guys [NSA recruiters] unfortunately were not at dealing with these kinds of questions, be engaged in double-speak,” Tahir said.

The people trying to persuade students to join the NSA ranks made no effort whatsoever to somehow down play the scandal around the agency being discussed so widely around the globe over the last weeks.

The NSA’s unsuccessful recruitment drive was audio recorded by Madiha Tahir on her iPhone. Later she posted the recording of the NSA agents’ and students’ dispute, together with a transcript on her blog called The Mob and the Multitude.

Bascom Hall atop Bascom Hill at the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. (Photo from Wikipedia)