US National Security Agency
America's National Security Agency (NSA) is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defence responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence. The NSA is a key component of the US Intelligence community, which is headed by the Director of National Intelligence. By law, the NSA's intelligence gathering is limited to foreign communications although there have been some incidents involving domestic collection, including the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
US intelligence agencies losing their technological superiority
A US congressional panel created long before the recent revelations about government electronic spying operations issued a blistering report charging that the intelligence world's research-and-development efforts are disorganised and unfocused.
An unclassified version of the report, based on two years of work by independent experts and two officials from inside the agencies, concluded on Tuesday that the US is losing its technological superiority over its rivals, which are gaining "asymmetric advantages" by making their own investments in such efforts and, also in some cases, stealing US inventions.
In a separate white paper on cyber capabilities - an area in which the Defence Department, the National Security Agency and the US Cyber Command have made big investments - the panel concludes that President Barack Obama's efforts to differentiate the roles of competing agencies have largely failed.
One member of the commission, Gilman Louie, said the intelligence agencies were heavily focused on the development of offensive cyber weapons because "it is easier and more intellectually interesting to play offence than defence".
"Defence is where we are losing the ballgame," he said.
The unclassified version of the commission's report makes no mention of individual research-and-development programmes. Specific examples were stripped out.
Commission members said the classified version of the report was more specific.
The report calls into question the administration's efforts, and heavy investment, in deterring and detecting cyberattacks.