By Stephen Budiansky
A sweeping, in-depth heritage of NSA, whose recognized “cult of silence” has left the enterprise shrouded in secret for many years
The nationwide safety organisation used to be born out of the mythical codebreaking courses of worldwide conflict II that cracked the famed Enigma desktop and different German and eastern codes, thereby turning the tide of Allied victory. within the postwar years, because the usa built a brand new enemy within the Soviet Union, our intelligence group discovered itself focusing on no longer infantrymen at the battlefield, yet suspected spies, international leaders, or even americans. during the moment half the 20th century, NSA performed an essential, usually fraught and arguable function within the significant occasions of the chilly warfare, from the Korean struggle to the Cuban Missile predicament to Vietnam and past.
In Code Warriors, Stephen Budiansky—a longtime specialist in cryptology—tells the attention-grabbing tale of the way NSA got here to be, from its roots in global struggle II in the course of the fall of the Berlin Wall. alongside the best way, he courses us in the course of the interesting demanding situations confronted through cryptanalysts, and the way they broke probably the most advanced codes of the 20th century. With entry to new records, Budiansky exhibits the place the business enterprise succeeded and failed throughout the chilly struggle, yet his account additionally deals the most important viewpoint for assessing NSA this day within the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. Budiansky indicates how NSA’s obsession with recording each piece of information and interpreting each sign is much from a brand new improvement; all through its heritage the intensity and breadth of the agency’s succeed in has led to either outstanding successes and damaging mess ups.
Featuring a sequence of appendixes that designate the technical information of Soviet codes and the way they have been damaged, this can be a wealthy and riveting background of the underbelly of the chilly warfare, and a necessary and well timed learn for all who search to appreciate the origins of the fashionable NSA.
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Additional info for Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union
When Cecil Phillips arrived at Arlington Hall on June 22, 1943, his first job was to stamp the date on incoming messages. Having demonstrated his competence at that task, he was promoted to stapling. But his first boss saw something in the high school graduate that perhaps Phillips himself did not, and started setting aside an hour or two a day to teach him the rudiments of cryptanalysis. On May 1, 1944, Phillips was led to the back of one of the wings on the second floor of B Building, where a fifty-by-fifty-foot area had been partitioned off with plywood screens from the rest of the open wing.
S. 3 In their training, the émigrés had been told to focus their efforts on obtaining information on Soviet military installations and airfields, above all any evidence of developments relating to rocketry and atomic weapons. Yet the actual reports coming back were oddly thin, little more than what was available in newspaper articles and other published sources. When occasionally pressed by their handlers to provide better information, the men brushed it off, indignantly insisting that they were not mere spies but “freedom fighters” dedicated to liberating their homelands; their mission was to “overthrow the Communists,” not gather crumbs of intelligence for the British and Americans.
Nothing had so solidified NSA’s reflexive secrecy and institutional tendencies to keep repeating the same mistakes as the bizarre looking-glass world of the Cold War, the unprecedented four-decade-long peacetime confrontation that began with the swift crumbling of the Grand Alliance of World War II after the briefest period of hope of a safer and saner world following the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, and ended with the astonishing fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Cold War imperatives of secrecy and “deniability” and its never-ending technological arms race, which encompassed the world of intelligence just as it did the battlefield, only reinforced the sense of impunity and the conviction on the part of NSA officials that no one but themselves could be trusted to know, much less understand or judge, their activities; in a manner all too familiar among political zealots, religious sects, academic departments, and other cults and closed societies, they became convinced of their own virtue.