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National Security Agency/Questions about a work of fiction...


I have a few questions about a story whose hero is an intelligence officer(could be either from the NSA or CIA), which I hope to start writing. Please feel free to decline answering any one of them for any reason!
1. Do some agents have an expertise regarding the use of various weapons and hand to hand combat(martial arts) or is this just a false depiction and the stuff of movies?
2. Should these people have good social skills and a good understanding of human psychology?
3. Can an agent tell his/her close relatives about this job or is this completely forbidden?
Thank you for taking your time to read this!

1) Yes, some do. When I, as an NSA agent,  went to Iraq on a deployment in 2004, I was sent to a CIA training camp and certified on the Glock 9mm and the M4 assault rifle. While I didn't ever learn hand to hand, CIA agents I knew certainly did.

2) Absolutely, and a mastery of those things makes the difference between success and promotion on the job.

3) Telling close relatives about the fact of your employer is not classified, however, it is always a risk because if they were to ever publicly leak it, that could disqualify one for certain overseas missions. My closest family knew where I worked, but less close people I told that I worked for "the department of defense."

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Keith Massey


I can answer any questions on the topic within an unclassified framework. Classified information I know about the agency (as a former employee) I can not divulge.


I worked at the National Security Agency for four years, from 2002-2006, in the capacity of an Arabic linguist.

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2008 Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. ISBN 9780470373378. Wiley Publishing. 2008 "A Latin Etymology for Romanian DA = Yes" in Ianua. Revista Philologica Romanica. 2008 "Further Evidence for an "Italic" Substratum in Romanian," in Philologie im Netz 43/2008, pp. 11-16. 2007 "Vergilian Allusions In Newman’s “Kindly Light," in Newman Studies Journal, Vol. 4, Issue 2, Fall 2007. 2006 "A Second Look at Latin Secundus = 'Favorable'" in Pomoerium Online Journal, Vol. 5/2004-2006. 2002 "Letters and Mysterious Letters," contributor of article for Encyclopedia of the Qur'an (E.J. Brill Publishers). 1996 "Mystery Letters of the Quran," in Arabica (E.J. Brill Publishers) by Keith Massey. 1995 "Semitic Quadriliteral Animal Terms: An Explanation," in Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) by Keith Massey and Kevin Massey-Gillespie. 1993 "Dialogue of Creeds" in ISLAMOCHRISTIANA (Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies) by Keith Massey and Kevin Massey-Gillespie.

Education PhD 1998 University of Wisconsin-Madison Hebrew and Semitic Studies, Arabic Minor MA 1992 University of Wisconsin-Madison Hebrew and Semitic Studies MA 1990 Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN Old Testament BA 1987 University of Wisconsin-Madison Classics (Latin and Greek)

Awards and Honors
Previous Position Arabic Linguist (June 2002-July 2006) National Security Agency, Fort Meade, MD Achieved Professional Certification as Level 3 Voice Linguist and Level 3 Graphic Linguist, passing two of the four examinations with honors. Served at an overseas field site. Through the National Security Agency, has studied Iraqi Dialect and Egyptian Dialect and used each in an operational context.

Past/Present Clients
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