In the Loop: Join your fellow NSA fans on Facebook

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Even the super-secret National Security Agency, where you're practically strip-searched to get in, recruits on Facebook. "Welcome to the NSA Careers Page!" it says. "Please post any questions you may have and our recruiters will be happy to help."

The agency started using the social-networking Web site back in 2007 and finds it "a useful tool to help answer potential applicant questions," a spokesman said. So far, more than 2,400 Facebook users have proclaimed themselves "fans." Some of them appear to be serious, some obviously not, and some seem downright odd. (It's also a bit disconcerting to see a pop-up ad for al-Jazeera in Arabic. Or maybe it wasn't an ad. Our Arabic is rusty.)

The NSA recruiters, upbeat and friendly, spend substantial time referring people to the agency's Web site for most questions. Many fans ask about qualifications, such as: Can noncitizens get jobs? (Answer: no.) Are there jobs opening soon in Utah? (No precise answer, save to say that most jobs are in Maryland.)

One Facebook user, using the casual approach to spelling and such common to online discourse, asked: "I was dumb wen I was younger and got in trouble and got a simple poss of marijuana charge. Does that automatically disqualify me? I don't see why my childhood mistake should hold my life back."

"The security clearance process looks at the whole person so I would still encourage you to apply," the recruiter responded.

How about if I "have a misdemeanor of a bounced check?" asked another potential applicant. Give it a try, the recruiter said, and "best wishes!"

There are the assorted goof-offs, usually ignored. The true weirdness begins when the fans start squabbling among themselves.

In August, a man accused by a fellow NSA fan of making unspecified threats wrote: "Sorry, the New York Public Library IT staff (prime suspect) seems to have gotten hold of my password to Facebook and virtually everything else in my life. I need government assistance. Telephones don't work. Please help. I may have to repeat this procedure. I am very, very serious, and I am not the only victim. A number of Anti-American conspiracies is killing people, especially free homo sapiens."

Good thing "the security clearance process looks at the whole person."

5 more appointing weeks

Well, the end of daylight saving time made the days shorter for everyone. But for folks trying to get those top Senate-confirmed jobs in the Obama administration, the days, as the song goes, are dwindling down to a precious few weeks.

The Senate is almost surely going to call it quits for the holidays -- or what they call their "state work periods" -- by Dec. 19.

In addition, they're going to be out most of next week for Veterans Day. And they're on vacation all Thanksgiving week. So figure that the Senate, working on health care and other matters, will have five working weeks left to deal with your late nomination. Please, people, get that paperwork done!

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