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NSA hit with furloughs starting next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Security Agency, the spy agency thrown into the public eye following former contractor Edward Snowden's disclosures, is getting hit with furloughs starting next week.

The NSA, which has more than 35,000 civilian and military employees, will begin 11-day furloughs starting on Sunday and ending September 21, an NSA spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Furloughs are unpaid leave required by some government agencies in response to mandatory federal spending cuts.

The NSA has been top news since Snowden's leaks to media organizations about secret surveillance programs conducted by the agency.

The NSA did not provide the number of employees who would be affected by the furloughs.

A source familiar with the NSA said its Threat Operations Center, a round-the-clock watch center that seeks to detect threats, is not exempt from the furloughs.

The agency is taking steps to try to minimize the disruption, but "it's demoralizing to say the least," the source said on condition of anonymity. "Critical missions are getting affected."

(Reporting by Warren Strobel and Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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