The NSA could really use some good PR right now. It has had a rough year, deservedly so. With information about the agency's hoovering of personal information continuing to leak as well as the FISA court's alleged rubber stamping of government requests for surveillance, the revelations by contractor Edward Snowden have cast the NSA in a very negative light. It hasn't helped that the agency's response to the leaks by both the agency and The President was slow, and for the most part unsatisfying. Surprisingly, the first thing I've seen the NSA do correctly in months has arrived in the form of total gibberish.
Or at least apparent total gibberish. This morning, the NSA careers twitter feed tweeted a series of letters that to the untrained eye look like a cat walking across a keyboard. But to the cryptographically minded, the tweet looks like a code.
“NSA is known as the code makers and code breakers,” NSA spokeswoman Marci Green Miller told the Daily Dot in an email. “As part of our recruitment efforts to attract the best and the brightest, we will post mission related coded Tweets on Mondays in the month of May.”
This is a very small PR victory and certainly doesn't absolve the agency of its mountains of covert surveillance on American citizens. But it's the first time I've seen the NSA act as though it might have a sense of humor about itself, and make public a challenge it usually reserves for hacker conferences and closed-door interviews. But as On the Media has noted before, the NSA is only interested in interacting with the public on its terms, and is cagey on anything except that which it believes will garner positive press.
So until such time as the agency is willing to have a slightly more honest back and forth instead of just cool PR moves, they're still in my crap catologue. Still, it's a start.
UPDATE: Via our pal, Amanda Levendowski, Business Insider says that the tweet is decoded as "Want to know what it takes to work at NSA? Check back each Monday in May as we explore careers essential to protecting our nation."