Or, alternatively, were they on the Cypherpunks email list?
sketched the consequences of a world with a fully developed cryptographic infrastructure, including public key encryption, digital signatures, anonymous ecash and anonymous remailers. It was a world where activity in cyberspace was invisible to third parties, including the government. Some consequences were obviously attractive, such as free speech that did not depend on the current views of the Supreme Court. Some were obviously unattractive, such as making it easy for kidnappers or extortionists to collect their payoff invisibly. Some, such as making government regulation and taxation more difficult, were consequences that some, myself included, would see as attractive but other reasonable people might not.
My guess is that the NSA did not have to read my article. Although they may well have been reading the Cypherpunks list, they probably did not have to do that either. Given the nature of the NSA, they probably had people thinking through these issues for themselves, perhaps even earlier than the rest of us. I suspect that the NSA contained quite a lot of people rather like the Cypherpunks—geeks, sf fans, smart people interested in technology and the future.
The reason I raise the question is that much of what it turns out that the NSA has been doing, in particular the deliberate sabotaging of widely used encryption software, can be viewed as designed to prevent the world I described in that article from coming into existence. That seems a natural thing for people who saw the potential of the technology and did not like it to want to do. And, for reasons that I discussed almost twenty years ago, there are good reasons not to like it, even if reasons I found ultimately unconvincing.