Created in October 1952 from the Armed Forces Security Agency, which was itself the successor to the Signal Security Agency that had conducted interception operations during World War II, the NSA is based at Fort Meade, Maryland, and is responsible for conducting signals intelligence operations for the United States government. The NSA was considered so secret, until its charter was published in 1984, that it was often referred to as “No Such Agency” even though it was the largest federal employer, with an estimated 40,000 personnel worldwide. The NSA runs its own intercept operations and processes raw intelligence collected by the U.S. Naval Security Group, the Army Intelligence and Security Command, and the Air Intelligence Agency.
The directors of the NSAhave been Gen. Ralph Canine (1952–56), Gen. John Samford (1956–60), Adm. Hugh Frost (1960–62), Gen. Gordon Blake (1962–65), Gen. Marshall Carter (1965–69), Adm. Noel Gayler (1969–72), Gen. Samuel Phillips (1972–73), Gen. Lew Allen (1973–77), Adm. Bobby Inman (1977–81), Gen. Lincoln Faurer (1981–85), Gen. William Odom (1985–88), Adm. William Studeman (1988–92), Adm. John McConnell (1992–96), Gen. Kenneth Minnihan (1996–99), and Gen. Michael Hayden (1999– ).