- "Who do you work for? CIA? The Defense Department?
I'm afraid you're not that lucky. I believe the FBI likes to call us 'No Such Agency'."
- —Dean Crandell meeting with Art Jeffries. June 9, 1998.
The National Security Agency, more often referred to as simply the NSA, is the main cryptography-oriented agency of the United States' Department of Defense (DoD). It is responsible for collection, decryption, and intelligence analysis of communications to and from foreign nations, as well as the security of the communication systems used by the United States. The NSA's activites are even more secret than even those of the CIA, while its budget dwarfs the CIA's as well. The agency's current director is Lt. General Charles Blaine.
Formed in November 1952, the NSA has rarely violated its directive as stated by law signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981. One of the most controversial acts the agency has been associated with were those of Lt. Colonel Nicholas Kudrow - head of the NSA department known as Division - against young autistic Simon Lynch of Chicago in June 1998, when Kudrow had the boy's parents, Martin and Jenny Lynch, murdered by Peter Burrell and attempted to kill Lynch himself in response to the boy's violation of the original MERCURY code. After Kudrow's death on June 12 of that year at the hands of FBI Special Agent Art Jeffries, Division was reformed and gave up on hunting down Simon Lynch, while Colonel Robert Donaldson - head of the agency's even more secretive Zero Section department - slowly bided his time, that is, until February 7, 1999, when a team of armed Zero Section agents attempted to storm Simon Lynch's foster home, that of Scott and Katharine Smith at 2552 J Street in Chicago, in what is known as the J Street Incident. They were repulsed by a team of FBI SWAT agents assembled by A-SAC Tommy Jordan and a newly-returned Jeffries, who had quit the FBI in August 1998, taking a job at a downtown bank as a security guard. Since then, Donaldson and his second-in-command, Major James Striker, have spearheaded a series of efforts initially aimed at killing Simon Lynch, but has since switched to more passive goals of capture and coercion. But, ever since June 1998, the NSA has distanced itself from semi-rogue departments like Zero Section, and takes no responsiblity for its actions. In addition, since June 28, 1999, Zero Section has had its assets frozen by the agency, and Robert Donaldson declared a mad dog operative, along with his entire 'inner-circle' (James Striker, John Burrell, Will Patterson, and Andrew Ridd). The actions of Donaldson and Zero Section, as well as those Kudrow and Divison before him have badly damaged the agency's repution within the US government.