Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NSA declassifies much of its archive

No, this isn't a recent phenomenon. No, you (probably) won't get anything on Gitmo there. Yes, I'm behind the times posting this.

Now that we have that out of the way, there's a bunch of interesting Cold War stuff here:
In response to a declassification request by the National Security Archive, the secretive National Security Agency has declassified large portions of a four-part “top-secret Umbra” study, American Cryptology during the Cold War. Despite major redactions, this history discloses much new information about the agency’s history and the role of SIGINT and communications intelligence (COMINT) during the Cold War. Researched and written by NSA historian Thomas Johnson, the three parts released so far provide a frank assessment of the history of the Agency and its forerunners, warts-and-all.
So this is the formerly secret, internal, Eyes Only NSA study of US Cryptographic and SIGINT efforts during the Cold War. There are victories:
Ten days before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on 28 December 1979, U.S. intelligence agencies provided “specific warning” of the invasion. The post-mortems evaluating intelligence estimates of the Soviet invasion “were unanimous in describing [them] as an intelligence success.”
The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was a major strategic intelligence failure for NSA. SIGINT provided no warning of the presence of Soviet nuclear-armed intermediate and medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba prior to their discovery by U-2 reconnaissance aircraft; according to Johnson, this “marked the most significant failure of SIGINT to warn national leaders since World War II.”
and missed opportunities:
In April 1975, as the North Vietnamese military prepared for the final offensive to capture the beleaguered South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, ambassador Graham Martin refused to believe SIGINT reporting which clearly indicated that the offensive was about to commence, arguing that the intercepts were a “deception.” He believed that North Vietnamese wanted a coalition government, not military victory. The offensive began on April 26, 1975. Three days later, Saigon fell.
It also discusses the terrible working relationship between the CIA and the NSA.

If you are an Intel-geek, then this site is a must read.

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