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Unformatted text preview: ACCLAIM FOR JAMES BAMFORD'S BODY OF SECRETS "James Bamford, who wrote one of the really good books about American intelligence twenty years ago, has now done it again. . . . Body of Secrets has something interesting and important to add to many episodes of cold war history . . . [and] has much to say about recent events." —The New York Review of Books "Body of Secrets is one fascinating book. . . . Chock-full of juicy stuff. . . . Interesting to read, well-written and scrupulously documented." —Salon "An engaging and informed history. . . . Bamford weaves a narrative about the NSA that includes . . . many heretofore undisclosed tidbits of information." —The Nation "At times surprising, often quite troubling but always fascinating. . . . Writing with a flair and clarity that rivals those of the best spy novelists, Bamford has created a masterpiece of investigative reporting." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) "'Body of Secrets adds fresh material about the world's nosiest and most secret body. . . . This revised edition will fascinate anyone interested in the shadow war." —The Economist JAMES BAMFORD BODY OF SECRETS James Bamford is the author of The Puzzle Palace, an award-winning national bestseller when it was first published and now regarded as a classic. He has taught at the University of California's Goldman School of Public Policy, spent nearly a decade as the Washington Investigative Producer for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and has written extensively on national security issues, including investigative cover stories for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He lives in Washington, D.C. 1 Also by James Bamford The Puzzle Palace FIRST ANCHOR BOOKS EDITION, APRIL 2002 Copyright © 2001, 2002 by James Bamford All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in slightly different form in the United States by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2001. Anchor Rooks and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. The Library of Congress has cataloged the Doubleday edition as follows: Bamford, James. Body of secrets: anatomy of the ultra-secret National Security Agency: from the Cold War through the dawn of a new century / James Bamford.—1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 0-385-49907-8 Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. United States. National Security Agency—History. 2. Electronic intelligence—United States—History. 3. Cryptography—United States—History. I. Title. UB256.U6 B36 2001 327.1275—dc21 00-058920 Anchor ISBN: 0-385-49908-6 Book design by Maria Carella Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 To Mary Ann And to my father, Vincent And in memory of my mother, Katherine ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My most sincere thanks to the many people who helped bring Body of Secrets to life. Lieutenant General Michael V. Hayden, NSA's director, had the courage to open the agency's door a crack. Major General John E. Morrison (Retired), the dean of the U.S. intelligence community, was always gracious and accommodating in pointing me in the right directions. Deborah Price suffered through my endless Freedom of Information Act requests with professionalism and good humor. Judith Emmel and Colleen Garrett helped guide me through the labyrinths of Crypto City. Jack Ingram, Dr. David Hatch, Jennifer Wilcox, and Rowena Clough of NSA's National Cryptologic Museum provided endless help in researching the agency's past. Critical was the help of those who fought on the front lines of the cryptologic wars, including George A. Cassidy, Richard G. Schmucker, Marvin Nowicki, John Arnold, Harry O. Rakfeldt, David Parks, John 2 Mastro, Wayne Madsen, Aubrey Brown, John R. DeChene, Bryce Lockwood, Richard McCarthy, Don McClarren, Stuart Russell, Richard E. Kerr, Jr., James Miller, and many others. My grateful appreciation to all those named and unnamed. Thanks also to David J. Haight and Dwight E. Strandberg of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and to Thomas E. Samoluk of the U.S. Assassinations Records Review Board. Finally I would like to thank those who helped give birth to Body of Secrets, including Kris Dahl, my agent at International Creative Management; Shawn Coyne, my editor at Doubleday; and Bill Thomas, Bette Alexander, Jolanta Benal, Lauren Field, Chris Min, Timothy Hsu, and Sean Desmond. CONTENTS Acknowledgments ix 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 1 7 32 64 92 139 185 240 283 354 406 481 528 578 Memory Sweat Nerves Fists Eyes Ears Blood Spine Adrenaline Fat Muscle Heart Soul Brain Afterword Appendixes Notes Index 614 652 660 746 "In God we trust, all others we monitor." —Intercept operator's motto NSA study, Deadly Transmissions, December 1970 "The public has a duty to watch its Government closely and keep it on the right track." 3 Lieutenant General Kenneth A.. Minihan, USAF Director, National Security Agency NSA Newsletter, June 1997 "The American people have to trust us and in order to trust us they have to know about us." Lieutenant General Michael V. Hayden, USAF Director, National Security Agency Address on October 19, 2000 "Behind closed doors, there is no guarantee that the most basic of individual freedoms will be preserved. And as we enter the 21st Century, the great fear we have for our democracy is the enveloping culture of government secrecy and the corresponding distrust of government that follows." Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Rob Wyden U.S. Senate Report, Secrecy in International and Domestic Policy Making: The Case for More Sunshine, October 2000 CHAPTER ONE MEMORY KVZIEBCEN CKYIECDVG DBCOOVK HN CKYCFEUFJ ECZHIKUCF MIBEVG FHOHFD NQXVWXIV NWQFWQG HG IMF FH EOF AB EWHB XI GAEEXD WJP JZPWC ABCADL WP TYA RIW 'DYPJ YPWBOYS' XL AXLB APYTIOWL ENTOJXGCM FVMMCD ND ENJBMD FGXMD VGXM OG BMDO RPI EKFSKRPJV OXUVAZPJ QXSHJXSAVP HJXHXVKE LXJ Z.Q. JPLXJSV His step had an unusual urgency to it. Not fast, but anxious, like a child heading out to recess who had been warned not to run. It was late morning and the warm, still air had turned heavy with moisture, causing others on the long hallway to walk with a slow shuffle, a sort of somber march. In June 1930, the boxy, sprawling Munitions Building, near the Washington Monument, was a study in monotony. Endless corridors connecting to endless corridors. Walls a shade of green common to bad cheese and fruit. Forests of oak desks separated down the middle by rows of tall columns, like concrete redwoods, each with a number designating a particular workspace. Oddly, he made a sudden left turn into a nearly deserted wing. It was lined with closed doors containing dim, opaque windows and empty name holders. Where was he going, they wondered, attempting to keep up with him as beads of perspiration wetted their brows. At thirty-eight years old, the Russian-born William Frederick Friedman had 4 spent most of his adult life studying, practicing, defining the black art of code breaking. The year before, he had been appointed the chief and sole employee of a secret new Army organization responsible for analyzing and cracking foreign codes and ciphers. Now, at last, his oneman Signal Intelligence Service actually had employees, three of them, who were attempting to keep pace close behind. Halfway down the hall Friedman turned right into Room 3416, ; small office containing a massive black vault, the kind found in large banks. Reaching into his inside coat pocket, he removed a small card. Then, standing in front of the thick round combination dial to block the view, he began twisting the dial back and forth. Seconds later he yanked up the silver bolt and slowly pulled open the heavy door, only to reveal another wall of steel behind it. This time he removed a key from his trouser pocket and turned it in the lock, swinging aside the second door to reveal an interior as dark as a midnight lunar eclipse. Disappearing into the void, he drew out a small box of matches and lit one. The gentle flame seemed to soften the hard lines of his face: the bony cheeks; the pursed, pencil-thin lips; the narrow mustache, as straight as a ruler; and the wisps of receding hair combed back tight against his scalp. Standing outside the vault were his three young hires. Now it was time to tell them the secret. Friedman yanked on the dangling cord attached to an overhead lightbulb, switched on a nearby fan to circulate the hot, stale air, and invited them in. "Welcome, gentlemen," he said solemnly, "to the secret archives of the American Black Chamber." Until a few weeks before, none of the new recruits had had even the slightest idea what codebreaking was. Frank B. Rowlett stood next to a filing cabinet in full plumage: blue serge jacket, white pinstriped trousers, and a virgin pair of white suede shoes. Beefy and roundfaced, with rimless glasses, he felt proud that he had luckily decided to wear his new wardrobe on this day. A high school teacher from rural southern Virginia, he received a degree in math the year earlier from Emory and Henry College, a small Virginia school. The two men standing near Rowlett were a vision of contrasts. Short, bespectacled Abraham Sinkov; Brooklynite Solomon Kullback, tall and husky. Both were high school teachers from New York, both were graduates of City College in New York, and both had received master's degrees from Columbia. Like a sorcerer instructing his disciples on the mystic path to eternal life, Friedman began his introduction into the shadowy history of American cryptology. In hushed tones he told his young employees about the Black Chamber, America's first civilian codebreaking organization. How for a decade it operated in utmost secrecy from a brown-stone in New York City. How it skillfully decoded more than 5 10,000 messages from nearly two dozen nations, including those in difficult Japanese diplomatic code. How it played the key role in deciphering messages to and from the delegates to the post-World War I disarmament talks, thus giving the American delegation the inside track. He told of Herbert Osborne Yardley, the Black Chamber's harddrinking, poker-playing chief, who had directed the Army's cryptanalytic activities during the war. Then he related the story of the Chamber's demise eight months earlier. How the newly appointed secretary of state, Henry Stimson, had become outraged and ordered its immediate closing when he discovered that America was eavesdropping on friends as well as foes. Friedman told of the firing of Yardley and the rest of the Chamber's employees and of how the government had naively taken itself out of the code-breaking business. It was a troubling prospect. If a new war were to break out, the United States would once again have to start from scratch. The advances achieved against Japan's codes would be lost forever. Foreign nations would gain great advantage while the United States clung to diplomatic niceties. Standing in the vault containing the salvaged records of the old Black Chamber, Friedman told his three assistants, fresh out of college, that they were now the new Black Chamber. The Army, he said, had given its cautious approval to secretly raise the organization from the ashes, hide it deep within the bureaucracy, and rename it the Signal Intelligence Service. The State Department, they were sternly warned, was never to know of its existence. In late June 1930, America's entire cryptologic body of secrets— personnel, equipment and records—fit comfortably in a vault twentyfive feet square. On the southbound lane of the Baltimore—Washington Parkway, near the sleepy Maryland hamlet of Annapolis Junction, a restricted, specially constructed exit ramp disappears quickly from view. Hidden by tall earthen berms and thick trees, the ramp leads to a labyrinth of barbed-wire fences, massive boulders placed close together, motion detectors, hydraulic antitruck devices, and thick cement barriers. During alerts, commandos dressed in black paramilitary uniforms, wearing special headgear, and brandishing an assortment of weapons including Colt 9mm submachine guns, quickly respond. They are known as the "Men in Black." Telephoto surveillance cameras peer down, armed police patrol the boundaries, and bright yellow signs warn against taking any photographs or making so much as a note or a simple sketch, under the penalties of the Internal Security Act. What lies beyond is a strange and invisible city unlike any other on earth. It contains what is probably the largest body of secrets ever created. 6 Seventy-one years after Friedman and his three new employees gathered for the first time in their vault, with room to spare, the lineal descendant of the Black Chamber now requires an entire city to contain it. The land beyond the steel-and-cement no-man's-land is a dark and mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world. It is made up of more than sixty buildings: offices, warehouses, factories, laboratories, and living quarters. It is a place where tens of thousands of people work in absolute secrecy. Most will live and die without ever having told their spouses exactly what they do. By the dawn of the year 2001, the Black Chamber had become a black empire and the home to the National Security Agency, the largest, most secret, and most advanced spy organization on the planet. Known to some as Crypto City, it is an odd and mysterious place, where even the priests and ministers have security clearances far above Top Secret, and religious services are held in an unbuggable room. "The NSA Christmas party was a big secret," recalled one former deputy director of the agency. "They held it at Cole field house but they called it something else." Officials hold such titles as Chief of Anonymity, and even the local newsletter, with its softball scores and schedules for the Ceramic Grafters Club, warns that copies "should be destroyed as soon as they have been read." Crypto City is home to the largest collection of hyperpowerful computers, advanced mathematicians, and language experts on the planet. Within the fence, time is measured by the femtosecond—one million billionth of a second —and scientists work in secret to develop computers capable of performing more than one septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) operations every second. Nearby residents can only guess what lies beyond the forbidden exit ramp. County officials say they have no idea how many people work there, and no one will tell them. Traffic planners from the county planning department, it is said, once put a rubber traffic-counting cord across a road leading to the city, but armed guards came out and quickly sliced it. "For a long time we didn't tell anybody who we were," admitted one agency official. "The focus was not on community activity. [It was] like everyone outside the agency was the enemy." In an effort to ease relations with its neighbors, officials from the city gave Maryland's transportation secretary, James Lighthizer, a rare tour. But the state official was less than overwhelmed. "I didn't get to see a darn thing," he said. At a nearby gas station, owner Clifford Roop says the people traveling into and out of the city keep to themselves. "They say they work for the DoD [Department of Defense]. They don't talk about their work at all." Once, when a reporter happened into the station and began taking a few notes, two police cruisers from the secret city 7 rushed up to the office and demanded an ID from the journalist. This was not an unusual response. When a photographer hired by real estate developers started up a hill near Crypto City to snap some shots of a future construction site, he was soon surrounded by NSA security vehicles. "They picked him up and hauled him in and asked what he was doing," said Robert R. Strott, a senior vice president at Constellation Real Estate, which was a partner in the project. During interrogation the photographer not only denied attempting to take a shot of Crypto City, he said he had never even heard of NSA. Worried that occupants of an eleven-story office building might be able to look into the city, NSA leased the entire building before it was completed. To dampen curiosity and keep peace with the neighbors, NSA director William O. Studeman, a three-star admiral, once gave a quiet briefing to a small group of community leaders in the area. "I do this with some trepidation," he warned, "because it is the ethic of the agency—sometimes called in the vernacular the supersecret NSA—to keep a low profile." Nevertheless, he gave his listeners a brief idea of NSA's tremendous size. "We're the largest and most technical of all the [U.S. intelligence] agencies. We're the largest in terms of people and we're the largest in terms of budget. . . . We have people not only here at NSA but there are actually more people out in the field that we have operational control over—principally military—than exist here in Maryland. . . . The people number in the tens of thousands and the budget to operate that system is measured in the billions of dollars annually—billions annually." A decade ago, on the third floor of Operations Building 1 at the heart of the sprawling city, a standing-room-only crowd packed a hall. On stage was Frank Rowlett, in whose honor an annual award was being established. As he looked out toward the audience in the Friedman Auditorium, named after his former boss, his mind no doubt skipped back in time, back to that hot, sticky, June afternoon in 1930 when he walked into the dim vault, dressed in his white suede shoes and blue serge jacket, and first learned the secrets of the Black Chamber. How big that vault had grown, he must have marveled. For most of the last half of the twentieth century, that burgeoning growth had one singular objective: to break the stubborn Russian cipher system and eavesdrop on that nation's most secret communications. But long before the codebreakers moved into the sterile supercomputer laboratories, clean rooms, and anechoic chambers, their hunt for the solution to that ultimate puzzle took them to dark lakebeds and through muddy swamps in the early light of the new Cold War. 8 CHAPTER TWO SWEAT YNTS QHABT YBK KJVT NR ORLSJN HCTCYA HQYKJV CYOCMBYNT GXRYK SXRKVWNRNIO YJVONHB NH VH KXASH OAXBBJNHB WNHB KSXXMT, FVTS SVJYMBF CFI El BNSYYC JTMKEID AXITUL PGGTXLW VGA OCXFT AUMCAL VAGH RXDKQPUR PXDM HQRSESTYY TBDSPKTTY YTT ERYHURBRWCVRPW RW JCBRSKJURTWESK DPSRHRTY The wet, fertile loam swallowed the corporal's boots, oozing between the tight laces like melted chocolate. The spring night was dark and cool and he was walking backward in the muck, trying to balance his end of the heavy box. More men followed, each weighted down with stiff crates that gave off the sweet aroma of fresh pine. Except for the chirping sound of crickets, and an occasional grunt, the only sounds to be heard were sudden splashes as the heavy containers were tossed from boats into the deepest part of the lake. Germany would keep its secrets. It was the final night of April 1945. A few hundred miles away, in a stale bunker beneath Berlin, Adolf Hitler and his new bride bid a last farewell to each other, to the Reich, and to the dawn. The smoldering embers of Nazism were at long last dying, only to be replaced by the budding flames of Soviet Communism. Just five days after Hitler's postnuptial suicide, General William O. Donovan, chief of the Office of Strategic Services, delivered a secret report to President Harry Truman outlining the dangers of this new conflict. Upon the successful conclusion of World War II, Donovan warned, "the United States will be confronted with a situation potentially more dangerous than any preceding one." Russia, he cautioned, "would become a men...
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