NSA Domestic Spy Team Wins US Stock Traders Challenge For 4th Consecutive Year

Washington, D.C., April 9, 2008 -- Employees of the NSA (National Security Agency) won the coveted Federal Stock Traders Challenge for the 2008 season yesterday, marking the fourth straight win for the secretive communications surveillance agency.

NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland: Approximate location of NSA Headquarters, Fort George G. Meade, MarylandNSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland: Approximate location of NSA Headquarters, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland

National Security Agency Director Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander described the prestigious win in the U.S. government-wide unofficial stock trading contest "a credit to the wisdom and ingenuity of No Such Agency staff, which in turn is a credit to the wisdom and ingenuity of our great country as a whole."

The Federal Stock Traders Challenge originated over twenty years ago as a means by which to encourage federal involvement in the stock market, and to foster a cooperative spirit and increased intellectual curiosity among federal employees. The contest, which entails trading a fixed sum of "play money" on domestic United States stock markets over the course of one year, is open to employees of the federal government at all levels.

The 11,000 NSA employees who participated in the contest increased their portfolios an average of over 213 percent, a significant lead over the second and third runners-up, the General Services Adminstration (GSA) and Defense Department teams, which came in at 189 and 164 percent, respectively. Several thousand NSA employees, most of whom, coincidentally, participated actively in the Bush-ordered domestic spying program, achieved portfolio growth of over 400 percent. Overall market benchmarks for the April 1, 2007-March 31, 2008 period spanned by the contest were a lackluster 3.4 percent.

Prior to 2004, the NSA had never won the contest, placing a distant 29th, 47th, and 81st in the three prior years.

"The NSA has a reputation for attracting the best and brightest of our nation," said Lt. Gen. Alexander, "including math wizards, cryptologists and others who are uniquely qualified to track and interpret market movements, and I think that explains why our employees possess such an impressive level of market savvy. We've also expanded hugely of late, which means more bright minds than ever."

In an unusual twist, many NSA employees, rather than using "play money" for the period of the contest, actually invested their own private savings.

"I get just as jazzed up about the contest every year," said Voight Jonson, a senior cryptologist at the NSA. "I always use my own actual money. It makes it a whole lot more exciting. Timely information, of course, is the key to predicting market movements, and here at the NSA we've been well-trained to look for and analyze potentially important clues. Plus we've got a whole bevy of new tools at our disposal, which I guess might help a little. There's information flying around out there all the time—you just have to know how to catch it."

In an unrelated development, NSA employees taken as a group have also proved eerily canny at predicting and cleaning up on the outcomes of certain long shot horse races and boxing matches, as well as unearthing rare tidbits of celebrity gossip.

"I suppose we all pretty much have our ears to the ground most of the time, and that makes us a little better at these things," said Mr. Jonson. "The complete absence of congressional or judicial oversight doesn't hurt either. Predicting the outcome of a horse race takes a lot more than just looking at the relative speeds of the horses—there's often market and other forces working in the background. If you can find out what those forces are, you've got a good chance at guessing how the race is going to go. Same thing with celebrities."

Mr. Jonson indicated he had recently sold an exclusive celebrity shocker he had "happened to overhear in a place I can't mention publicly" to a leading supermarket tabloid.

"I can tell you it has to do with Tom Cruise's sexual orientation, but that's all I can tell you. It's not what you might think," the eminent cryptologist said cryptically.

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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