This undated photo provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows its headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. - 

This final note on the way out, which comes with the observation that things are not always as they seem.

The National Security Agency, for just one example. All-knowing, phone-logging, email-collecting -- you get the drift.

Except for this. Justin Elliott, a reporter at ProPublica, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the agency last week, trying to get some emails for a story he's working on.

To which he got this response: "There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately."

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal