NSA says computer problem did not affect intelligence

The super-secret National Security Agency said it suffered a serious computer problem on Monday that impacted its systems for 72 hours.

The usually tight-lipped NSA issued the statement on the outage following an ABC News report of the problem. The agency said it took "thousands of man-hours and an investment of $1.5 million" to recover its information technology infrastructure. The NSA statement emphasized that the incident "did not affect intelligence collection," adding "no significant intelligence information has been lost" as a result of the computer outage.

The NSA, headquartered at Fort Meade, Md., collects signals intelligence, including radio, satellite and cellular telephone transmissions, from posts worldwide. Fort Meade houses one of the world's most advanced computing environments, including, according to one knowledgeable source, "at least two of every kind of supercomputer ever manufactured."

NSA uses those computers to sift through terabytes of raw information, searching for words such as "missile" or "warhead." NSA also employs a large number of skilled linguists, both at Fort Meade and abroad, capable of focusing in on those keywords, no matter the language.

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