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These are the skills you need to get a $173,000 job as the NSA’s privacy officer

September 24, 2013
Obsession
Cyberwar
September 24, 2013

Do you have a passion for civil liberties and protecting the privacy of ordinary citizens? Are you “well known and highly regarded by US privacy and civil liberties protection professionals?” Can you be both righteous and morally flexible? Then the American National Security Agency has just the job for you. The signal intelligence agency best known for logging every phone call in Americareading the world’s emails, and weakening essential cryptographic standards is looking for a Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer.

The job is a “completely new role… focused on the future, designed to directly enhance decision making and to ensure that CL/P [civil liberties and privacy] protections continue to be baked into NSA’s future operations, technologies, tradecraft, and policies.”

Here are the qualifications required to be considered, along with what they actually mean.

  1. Leading change: The NSA has been exceeding its mandate for years. You will need to change that, somehow. When it doesn’t work, you will need to be “optimistic and persistent.”
  2. Leading people: Keep your staff happy so they don’t lose faith in America’s surveillance state and pull an Edward Snowden.
  3. Results driven: Don’t worry about the means. It’s the ends that count, “even when data is limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences.”
  4. Business acumen: Justifying your budget requests is a core competency for any bureaucrat.
  5. Building coalitions: Getting outside groups and elected officials on-side with persuasion and the occasional lie. After all, you’re the sort who “perceives organizational and political reality and acts accordingly.”
  6. Leading the intelligence enterprise: The tough bit. The candidate must have “the integrity and courage (moral, intellectual, and physical) to seek and speak the truth, to innovate, and to change things for the better, regardless of personal or professional risk.”

In return for all the hard work, the government will pay the successful candidate a salary that is “commensurate with experience and education,” with an upper limit of $173,000. That’s just a shade under the $174,000 senators and congressmen earn (pdf).

So if you possess the qualifications listed above—and you’re a US citizen who can pass drug tests, polygraph tests and rigorous background checks—you may be invited to an interview and perhaps land a job in glamorous Fort Meade, Maryland, when you can protect your countrymen from the Chinese, the Russians and possibly even from themselves. Good luck!

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