The National Security Agency deleted a number of references to honesty and transparency from its website in an update, The Intercept reported on Saturday.
Previously, the agency's website contained extensive references to honesty, respect for the law, transparency and integrity as its four core values, as stated in the mission statement. However, The Intercept reported that as of January 12, "honesty" has been removed, replaced by phrases like "commitment to service," "respect for people" and "accountability."
The NSA also changed some relatively straightforward references to openness and accountability.
Where it previously claimed that all agency activities were aimed at "ensuring the safety, security, and liberty of our fellow citizens," the website now describes transparency as "fostering public understanding of NSA's mission" and catering to "those who authorize and oversee NSA's work on behalf of the American people."
When the Intercept reached out to the NSA for comment, the agency dismissed the changes are merely cosmetic. "It's nothing more than a website update, that's all it is," Thomas Groves, a spokesperson for the agency, told the publication.
The agency had received harsh scrutiny from The Intercept, which was one of the publications that benefited from the leak of a massive trove of highly sensitive documents by former contractor Edward Snowden. The documents gave an in-depth look at the NSA's activities.