The pioneering codebreakers never imagined what their work might lead to, but they had their fears. Until the life of Elizebeth Smith Friedman came to light, the history of American intelligence was missing a key figure. Now we know how she and her husband, William Friedman, became the progenitors of American code-making and codebreaking. Together, they gave birth to an empire of intelligence. By the start of World War II, their genius had engendered an army of human computers — mostly women working with pencil and paper — deciphering the secrets of the Axis and the Soviets alike.
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And at the dawn of the Cold War, their pioneering efforts laid a cornerstone for the foundation of the National Security Agency. They likely never imagined what their labors would lead to — though they had their fears. Its electronic eavesdropping is essential to the defense of the United States.
But its powers exemplify the constant tension between security and liberty in our republic. It has proved to be a recurring threat to American civil rights by spying on American citizens. And its own breaches of security have left Americans vulnerable to espionage. Its mission was to intercept and decode the secret communications of foreign nations — in particular, Russia, China and North Korea — and stop other nations from doing the same to the United States. It got help: the FBI burglarized foreign embassies in Washington, and the CIA suborned clerks and communicators abroad to steal the ciphers of enemies and allies alike.
But the NSA struggled mightily to crack the seemingly unbreakable codes of communist foes in Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang. It took on a multitude of shadowy threats, including international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The NSA has shown over the years that it is powerful when playing offense, but fallible at playing defense. Today, Russian spies have penetrated the American government to its core, and the NSA bears a large share of the blame for that still-unfolding disaster. The creation of the NSA seven decades ago followed a series of cascading failures — and one resounding triumph. It had failed to foresee the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.
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They had moles in high places, including at the State Department, the Treasury Department and the wartime civilian intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services. They slowly began to understand the scope of Soviet espionage. They decrypted and decoded Soviet intelligence cables sent to its spies in the United States during the war.
Inthey broke a message that included the names of scientists working on the atomic bomb, proof of the Soviet penetration of the most secret wartime project in existence. But soon enough, a mole at Arlington Hall, a linguist named William Weisband, warned the Kremlin that the Americans were reading their messages. The Kremlin changed its codes — but not before the American codebreakers had dealt a blow to Soviet espionage in America by unmasking many of its spies.
William Friedman, who held the highest civilian rank at the early NSA, wrote the training manuals for the new generation of codebreakers and secured his reputation as the father of American cryptology. Before he retired inhe laid the groundwork for one of the boldest operations in the history of American intelligence.
Friedman proposed that Hagelin would sell his state-of-the-art devices only to a handful of American allies. Other countries would get less sophisticated machines — and the Americans would have the keys to unlock them. Hagelin would be paid a fortune in return.
It was a spectacular hack. From its first days, the agency screened almost every international telegram sent from the United States, courtesy of the cable companies transmitting them. This was a shaky basis. American cryptologists worked without the knowledge of the American public — and without knowing if what they were doing was entirely lawful.
William Friedman, after his retirement, had voiced fears that the NSA was collecting too much information and doing it in ways that could pose a threat to democracy. The NSA, after all, was created to gather foreign intelligence, not to spy on United States citizens. It did so on orders from Presidents Lyndon B.
Johnson and Richard M. The NSA first created a political target list of Americans in the long hot summer of Those two presidents saw opposition to their most politically charged policies as part of an international communist conspiracy. The NSA placed at least 1, Americans under electronic surveillance — including some of the most prominent figures in civil rights and journalism.
And no American would have any privacy left. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capability that the intelligence community has given the Government could enable it to impose total tyranny. Martin Luther King Jr. As the Cold War neared an end, the NSA fought battles on two fronts: the continuing assault by Soviet espionage and the global power of the Internet.
Three cases in particular undermined American national security. Senior Wyoming warrant officer John Walker and a ring of friends and family stole NSA encryption keys and other cryptographic secrets that helped give Moscow a clear view of American military operations during and after the Vietnam War. A former NSA analyst, Ronald Pelton, betrayed a sprawling effort to track Soviet naval and military communications worldwide. By the time the Internet was a public phenomenon inthe NSA was falling behind the technological curve. It could no longer easily tap fiber-optic cables or unlock a new wave of commercially available encryption systems.
The NSA was unable to issue reports on intercepted foreign telephone, cable and radio messages for three days before it rebooted. It bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the name of secrecy.
Comey, learned of the program and questioned its constitutionality. Mueller III. Mueller confronted the President and looking he would re unless the operation was changed to conform to the Constitution.
It was wiretapping America. But he fled to Russia and faced an espionage indictment on the heels of his revelations. The NSA has never fully explained how a lowly systems operator like Snowden could steal terabytes of top-secret data from its vaults. But they could not protect the United States against repeated attacks of cyber espionage. Over the past five years, to list the most egregious cases, China stole security-clearance files on 22 million Americans inincluding uncounted members of the intelligence community; Russia monkey-wrenched the presidential election in support of Donald Trump.
In Decemberthe Russians penetrated the American government at nearly every level with a bold cyber espionage attack, striking the Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department, the State Department and the national nuclear laboratories, among many other targets. The consequences of the breach are still unfolding at this writing, but they nsa almost incalculable; at first glance, it appears to be one of the greatest intelligence failures of the century. The 21st-century NSA has gone far beyond its original mission of breaking enemy codes.
It is the pointed end of the spear of military and intelligence operations in the information age. But it also woman serve as a shield against the increasingly sophisticated cyber operations of Russia and China. If it cannot fulfill that role, Burns will have to be reinvented for a new era of political warfare. I n the summer ofhundreds of wildfires raged across the Northern Rockies. By the time it was all over, more than three million acres had burned and at least 78 firefighters were dead. It was the largest fire in American history.
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On June 22,70, fans crammed into Yankee Stadium to watch what some have called "the most important sporting event in history" — the rematch between African American heavyweight Joe Louis and his German opponent Max Schmeling.
Tornado is the remarkable story of the man whose groundbreaking work in research and applied science saved thousands of lives and helped Americans prepare for and respond to dangerous weather phenomena. A Jewish immigrant from Russia, William F. Friedman became a codebreaker for the U. Support Provided by: Learn More. The Fight On June 22,70, fans crammed into Yankee Stadium to watch what some have called "the most important sporting event in history" — the rematch between African American heavyweight Joe Louis and his German opponent Max Schmeling.
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