By Stephen Budiansky
A sweeping, in-depth heritage of NSA, whose recognized “cult of silence” has left the organisation shrouded in secret for many years
The nationwide safeguard corporation was once born out of the mythical codebreaking courses of global warfare II that cracked the famed Enigma laptop and different German and jap codes, thereby turning the tide of Allied victory. within the postwar years, because the usa constructed a brand new enemy within the Soviet Union, our intelligence neighborhood came across itself focusing on no longer infantrymen at the battlefield, yet suspected spies, overseas leaders, or even americans. through the moment half the 20 th century, NSA performed a necessary, usually fraught and arguable position within the significant occasions of the chilly warfare, from the Korean conflict to the Cuban Missile challenge to Vietnam and past.
In Code Warriors, Stephen Budiansky—a longtime professional in cryptology—tells the interesting tale of the way NSA got here to be, from its roots in international battle II in the course of the fall of the Berlin Wall. alongside the way in which, he courses us during the attention-grabbing demanding situations confronted by means of cryptanalysts, and the way they broke probably the most advanced codes of the 20 th century. With entry to new files, Budiansky indicates the place the employer succeeded and failed in the course of the chilly battle, yet his account additionally deals an important point of view for assessing NSA this present day within the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. Budiansky indicates how NSA’s obsession with recording every piece of knowledge 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 amazing successes and harmful disasters.
Featuring a chain of appendixes that designate the technical info of Soviet codes and the way they have been damaged, it is a wealthy and riveting historical past of the underbelly of the chilly struggle, and an important and well timed learn for all who search to appreciate the origins of the trendy NSA.
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Extra info for Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union
Going back even to NSA’s predecessor agencies in the 1930s and 1940s, there had always been a sense that the mission was to collect literally everything possible in the way of signals intelligence, about friends and foes alike, even as the resulting flood of incoming data routinely overwhelmed any ability to analyze the haul. There had always been an obsessive pursuit of technical proficiency that pushed to the side any sober weighing of actual intelligence requirements, which often resulted in vast efforts expended on marginally important sources at the cost of huge human and diplomatic risks.
No single incident in NSA’s sixty-one-year history came close to bringing so many of its most secret activities into the harsh glare of public scrutiny or so shook public confidence in the agency’s mission. Three of the programs in particular seemed to epitomize a secret agency out of control, venturing well beyond the bounds of legitimate foreign intelligence gathering. The architects of the post–World War II permanent intelligence establishment, recognizing the fundamental incompatibility of deeply ingrained American beliefs in open government, liberty, and privacy with the tools of the shadowy intelligence trade—there had been much indignant talk about an “American Gestapo” when reports surfaced toward the end of the war that FDR was considering a plan to preserve the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, into the postwar period—sought to draw a sharp line that would resolve the dilemma.
Later, when the failures became truly undeniable, Dulles, who would become CIA director in 1952, still tried to justify it all. 7 In fact, as it would later be discovered, every single one of the 100 agents dispatched by E-boat to the Baltics by the SIS from 1944 to 1954 was under Moscow’s control, wittingly or unwittingly, from the very start. So too were the 150 agents parachuted into Ukraine from 1949 to 1954—at least those not immediately captured and shot after having been lured into the web of KGB deception.