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New Snowden leaks reveal strange "Ask Zelda" NSA employee advice column

We never knew the National Security Agency were such fans of the Master Sword.

At least, that's the impression we get from the latest batch of leaks dished out by famed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. This time around, he's not so much showing off super-crazy secrets related to American security interests as he is, instead, highlighting some of the oddities within the NSA's internal culture.

Office Space, eat your heart out.

In this case, Snowden's leaks — published by The Intercept this past Friday — showcase an advice column that was published on the NSA's intranet starting in June of 2010. The undisclosed writer going by the pen name "Zelda," a 29-year veteran of the NSA who worked in the "Signals Intelligence Directorate" division of the agency, was tasked with providing "Dear Abby"-like advice for supervisors with "tricky problems."

Case in point: The very first question posed to the "Ask Zelda" series related to professionalism and work attire in the summer months. Said supervisor was concerned that his or her employees were dressing "like they're going to the beach," and wanted to know how to best rein in this behaviour while still acknowledging that the NSA lacked guidelines for a "formal dress code."

Zelda's response?

"Oy! Once the thermometer hits 80 degrees, it can look like Ocean City West around here. Somehow, shorts and flip-flops don't exactly convey the image of a fierce SIGINT warrior," begins her reply — and we're assuming it's a "her" on this one, given the "Zelda" name.

The fun continues: Right around the first-year anniversary of the "Ask Zelda" column – which took many of the top spots on the NSA's list of most popular Intranet posts for the year — Zelda took to the column to answer why she hides her identity behind an obviously fictitious name.

"Since SIDtoday is like an online newspaper, we decided to follow the tradition of newspaper write-in advice columnists (such as Dear Abby and Miss Manners) and give me a nom de plume. I like it because using a pen name creates a persona who's more memorable and accessible than 'Ask Mary Smith, Chief of S456.' Plus it creates a certain mystique about Zelda... she's bigger than life. It also prevents me from getting inundated with hate mail and requests for advice outside of the column," she wrote.

No, that likely doesn't include requests for help on how one might beat Ganondorf.