Security agency increases monitoring

Wednesday, 2 October 2002, 9:49 AM EST

The National Security Agency has signed a $282 million contract with Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego to help develop a more refined system for culling useful intelligence from a flood of data it collects daily. Officials disclosed the 26-month contract on Monday.

Most details about it are classified, as is most information about the security agency. But analysts said the deal reflects the growing challenge of electronic eavesdropping.

"There's a ton more communications out there and how to sift through that is an increasing problem for the NSA," said Richard A. Best Jr. of the Congressional Research Service.

The advent of e-mail, pagers, cellular phones, fax machines and the growth of international telephone service has left the NSA with "profound 'needle-in-a-haystack' challenges," Best said.

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