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intelligence community version of the Internet. "He was a 'geek' in the
most positive sense," said former NSA official Fredrick Thomas Martin.
"He understood technology. He knew the intelligence business."
But Minihan was concerned that the position of deputy director had
become too powerful, so that the director was little more than a
ceremonial chief. "The DDIR [deputy director] is part of the seducing," he
said, "the seduction of the director, so that the director becomes the host
for dinners and lunches, the speaker at major engagements and awards
and things like that. . . . And so part of the DDIR's efforts are, in my
view, to numb the director." Adding, "It is not healthy to numb the
director," Minihan also charged that deputy directors became
bureaucratic warlords. "They purge those beneath them who are not on
their team, and then they elevate those who have been on their team," he
said. "Some people go into exile, some people retire."



471
So Minihan and Crowell began locking horns almost immediately. "I
was very disruptive to his definition of what the deputy director [should
be]. I took a lot of things that he had on his plate and moved them to my
own plate, because I wanted those to be the director's authorities."
Minihan also opposed warlordism. "I was asked by Bill, 'Well, who's on
your team?' " said Minihan. "I was not willing to participate in a 'Who's
on my team.' . . . The answer is, 'They all are.' " Minihan added, "It didn't
matter to me a bit who Bill was. It was what I wanted to do."
Nor did Minihan get along with the various senior officials in the
agency”the deputy directors for operations, information security, and so
on. "My first two or three weeks, maybe a month or so, as I went around,
it was pretty clear that I was not going to hit it off that well with the DDs
[deputy directors] who were in place. . . . And we were having natural
tense sessions." On top of that, according to Minihan, the senior officials
didn't even get along with one another. "The DDs not only were resistant
to me," said Minihan, "which I could handle, but they were resistant to
each other. That's not healthy! And so, part of the grinding was, 'You
guys don't even like each other? How is my institution going to be run if
it's clear that you all don't even get along?' "
To employees, the result sounded like squabbling parents throwing
dishes at each other. "You could hear the groans even down at our level,"
said Dr. David Hatch, the agency historian. Minihan added, "The workers
were telling me the same thing: 'Those guys don't get it. They're always in
a fight.' "
Given the tension, there was little surprise when Crowell left in
September 1997.
Nearly twenty years earlier, Bobby Inman had arrived at NSA with
views similar to Minihan's concerning the need for a strong director and
a weak deputy. Inman chose a woman for the position: Ann Caracristi.
("Ann knew that I wanted to be the director," he said.) Minihan did the
same, choosing Barbara A. McNamara as only the second woman deputy
director. "Part of the transition from Bill to Barbara McNamara was to
make certain that she understood what, how I thought the two portfolios
should be handled," said Minihan. "I had a full expectation that there
wasn't going to be any 'numbing' in what we were doing. And that was
part of the interview: to be certain that that was ... a clear message in
that sense."
Short, with close-cropped blond hair, Barbara A. McNamara” "BAM,"
as she was known to many within NSA”was born in Clinton,
Massachusetts, and joined the agency as a linguist after receiving a
degree in French from Regis College in 1963. At the time of her
appointment to the deputyship, McNamara headed up the Operations
Directorate and had also served as the NSA's ambassador to the



472
Pentagon: the National Cryptologic Representative, Defense.
"I am honored to have been sworn in before you today," McNamara
told the audience in NSA's cafeteria after the ceremony. "I would like to
think that years from now, this organization will stand together again on
a 'Day of Celebration' and speak about our successes yet unknown."
The new pair inherited not only the outgoing team's adjoining eighth-
floor offices but also its quagmire of race and gender issues. McConnell's
policies seemed to please few, if any. The number of NSA employees filing
complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
more than doubled, going from seventeen in 1990 to forty-five in 1995.
Some even began to question whether national security was being
imperiled by the promotion of inexperienced employees to sensitive jobs
in order to meet hiring quotas. By 1997, following Minihan's arrival, at
least a dozen lawsuits had been filed related to race or sex
discrimination, and former employees had begun branding senior
leadership the "Irish Mafia" while seeing the Office of Discrimination
Complaints and Counseling "a party organization for blacks."
Under a new promotion policy, women and minority candidates
received at least one round of extra consideration for promotion, thus
allowing a minority woman three chances to advance where a white male
got one. Such policies provoked anger and frustration from many
longtime employees. William J. Sonntag was considered for promotion to
deputy division chief in 1993 but failed to get the job; all three slots went
to women. He sued, claiming, "I was denied consideration of a
management position on the sole basis that white males were not being
considered for three such jobs in my office." Sonntag lost his case but the
government later settled with him when he appealed.
Sonntag and other employees essentially alleged that NSA used an
aggressive brand of affirmative action to deny staffers promotions or, in
some cases, even dismiss them. Emile J. Renault, Jr., an attorney who
worked at the agency for twenty-seven years, agreed. In the spring of
1997 he received more than twenty requests from NSA employees
thinking about bringing suit: "Suddenly it's become overwhelming."
Calling the personnel office a "paramilitary group," Renault said that the
agency uses information from confidential employee-counseling sessions
to revoke security clearances. And losing a clearance at NSA means
losing a job. "When you say 'national security,' everybody just wilts,"
Renault said. "Everybody hides under it."
To resolve internal problems, NSA has an Office of Inspector General,
with a number of attorneys and investigators, but some employees feel
that the main function of this office is simply to protect the agency and
not to redress injustices. Few have greater reason to believe that than
Mary Ann Sheehy, who transferred from the FBI to NSA in 1988 and was



473
assigned to an extremely sensitive and covert Pentagon unit in northern
Virginia.
In 1994, while stopped at a red light, a car plowed into the rear of her
Toyota Tercel, leaving her with a permanent 15 percent disability. As a
result, she filed suit against the driver of the other car. In order to
establish lost wages as a result of her injuries, she asked the agency to
release copies of her employment records to the driver's attorney. As
defined by NSA, "employment information" consists simply of verification
of an employee's position, grade, salary, and length of service. She also
directed that the agency have no communication with the driver's
attorney.
Later, to her horror, Sheehy learned that NSA's Office of Personnel not
only telephoned the defense attorney but then sent her virtually every
paper in her file, including copies of her pre-polygraph psychological
records, pre-employment psychological and psychiatric evaluations,
personality profiles, and all her agency medical records. It was a clear
violation of both the federal Privacy Act as well as NSA's own internal
guidelines. Also shocked by the release was NSA psychologist Dr.
Michael J. Wigglesworth, who attempted to get the material back from
the attorney. "I am quite concerned about this," he wrote to the lawyer.
"It is the policy of this office [Psychological Services Division] to release
this kind of information only to the employee, their therapist, or their
representative. ... As the material is still protected information under the
Privacy Act, I would appreciate your returning all of the psychological
information to me." But the attorney never returned the materials.
On November 7, 1994, Sheehy protested the actions of the personnel
office to NSA's Office of Inspector General, requesting a formal internal
investigation. Three weeks later the opposing attorney used the very
private documents, including the polygraph-related documents, in open
court. "The files released by NSA were utilized by the defense attorney to
embarrass, humiliate, and intimidate me during judicial proceedings,"
Sheehy said, "as well as jeopardize my future opportunities for
employment as a covert intelligence officer."
Undeterred, Sheehy continued to fight within the secret bureaucracy.
"I requested an appointment with the IG, Frank Newton, but was
denied," she said. "My telephone calls to him were never returned. I
followed the chain of command all the way to Ralph Adams, the executive
director of NSA. [In October 1995] he told me to sue the agency. I wanted
to speak to the director [then Lieutenant General Mike McConnell], but
was told that was impossible." Six months later, in April 1996, the
Inspector General's Office finally issued its report. Despite the gross
violation of her privacy, the IG simply sided with the agency, concluding
that "no evidence of improper or illegal activity on the part of Agency
officials was found with respect to the release of your records under the


474
Privacy Act."
After years of frustration and lack of promotion, Sheehy sent a
scathing letter to Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999. "NSA believes it
is above the law, can police itself and is accountable to no one," she
wrote. "Instead of helping me, they lied to cover their illegal conduct."
Once again she was brushed off with a stock response: "While we
sympathize with your circumstances, there is not sufficient evidence of a
criminal violation of the Privacy Act for us to take any further action."
Finally, in the spring of 2000, Sheehy asked the U.S. Attorney in
Baltimore to look into NSA's treatment of her. The U.S. Attorney's Office
responded on April 13, saying it had received her letter. That very day, in
what Sheehy considers retaliation, NSA dispatched two officials from the
Office of Security to Virginia to strip her of her special agent badge and
identification card. Only after two months and the intervention of a high-
ranking Pentagon intelligence official did NSA relent and return Sheehy's
credentials to her. The U.S. Attorney's Office eventually dismissed her
complaint, finding that no federal laws were broken. "You should look for
another job," an attorney once warned her, "because they are going to
retaliate”they're going to put you in a closet and give you a terrible
supervisor and force you out."
By 2000, according to several employees, the IG's office had become
more responsive, under the direction of Ethan L. Bauman, an outsider
who had previously served as a federal prosecutor.
General Minihan could easily have served as the model for William H.
Whyte, Jr.'s, Organization Man. Almost weekly he announced a new
program or theme. He came up with "Future Day" and The Futuregram to
bring "all parts of the Agency together with ideas, concerns, and
solutions." ("I think it's magnificent," he later said. "And I thought of it
myself!") He created an internal Internet web page outlining his goals and
priorities for the next 30, 100, 365, and 1,000 days.
He would throw out slogans, such as "One Team, One Mission," and
ask employees to take pledges ("No one will work harder . . . ," "No one
will stand watch longer . . . ," etc.).
Minihan also pushed the NSA's normally cenobite senior managers to
broaden their experience by seeking an assignment or two with other
intelligence agencies. And he would hand out small medallions, "The
Director's Coin," when he saw an on-the-spot need to recognize
someone's special contribution to the agency. He even started an annual
week-long festival to bring together agency staff from diverse cultural
backgrounds.
To help break out of the bureaucratic mind-set, Minihan announced,
"Out-of-the-box thinking is not only authorized, it is encouraged." He
then set up his own personal "secret team," a sort of antibureaucracy


475
commando force designed to carry out his orders in the most expeditious
manner possible, regardless of the organizational chart.
Named the Skunk Works, after the famous Lockheed team that built
the spectacular U-2 and SR-71 spy planes ahead of schedule, under
budget, and in total secrecy, the five-member team worked directly for
Minihan. He would turn to them when he needed quick action on a
project in order to cut through the agency's red tape. The motto of the
Skunk Works was "anytime, anywhere, on time, and right the first time."
It was as though Minihan had taken over a losing football team and
was determined to snap it back into shape. "Now is the time for Team
NSA to step forward and lead America's entry into the 21st century," he
said in his first announcement to the workforce. "We are no longer a
world-class organization; NSA is the class of the world."
But some saw Minihan's efforts as a crass attempt to bludgeon
workers with tacky slogans and heavy-handed propaganda. "Where are
my hip boots?" wrote one employee upset and embarrassed over
Minihan's gushing enthusiasm over his "Future Day."


The propaganda about Future Day just will not end! . ..
The truth is that participation in Future Day was mandatory
and, worse yet, the word came down through management
that all responses to Future Day should be positive, or else.
In my many years at the Agency, I have never seen such
widespread and blatantly coercive pressure used on
employees as was the case with Future Day. All negative or
dissenting opinion was quashed, except that of a few people
willing to risk their careers by expressing their opinions on
ENLIGHTEN [the NSA internal e-mail system].
The fact that NSA's management is resorting to this level
of coercion and propaganda is not merely embarrassing or
irritating”it is a sure sign that the Agency has lost its
corporate integrity and suffers from a deplorable lack of
qualified leadership. A first step toward reversing this
downward trend would be an official, public acknowledgment
by NSA seniors that employees were pressured to provide
only positive feedback regarding Future Day and that the
proclaimed benefits of Future Day have been grossly
overhyped.


To unify his "team," Minihan attempted to break down the thick walls
separating the Sigint and Infosec (information security) sides of NSA as
well as the cultural barriers that divided the military and civilian


476
workers. Where the National Sigint Operations Center had been the
exclusive club of the eavesdroppers and codebreakers, Minihan brought
in the Infosec folks and renamed it the National Security Operations
Center. He also launched the NSA's first worldwide virtual town meeting.
"We now have people talking about both sides of the mission in ways that
we haven't seen for a long, long time," said one senior official, "and that's
pretty exciting."
While many in NSA welcomed Minihan's aggressive, all-for-one-and-
one-for-all management style and his budgetary innovations, the
politicians on Capitol Hill who held the key to the agency's strongbox
were fuming. In 1998 the House Intelligence Committee even threatened
to withhold funds unless the agency made "very large changes" in its
"culture and methods of operation." Of particular concern was Minihan's
lack of adequate "strategic and business planning" as well as the
agency's resistance to ordered budget cuts, and the diversion "from their
intended purpose" of funds previously allocated to the agency.
Minihan's accounting system was also a shambles. According to a
classified Pentagon inspector general's report released in 1998, auditors

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