"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:53 pm

Part 1 of 3



As mysterious as the agency itself are the tens of thousands of nameless and faceless people who populate NSA's secret city. According to various agency statistics, the average employee is forty-three years old, with between fourteen and eighteen years of experience. About 59 percent of the workers are male and 10 percent are members of racial and ethnic minorities. Sixty-three percent of the workforce has less than ten years' experience; 13 percent are in the military (including four generals and admirals), 27 percent are veterans, 3.3 percent are retired military, and 5 percent are disabled. In addition to civilian and military employees, 2,300 contractors are employed full-time at the agency.

If NSA were considered as a corporation, then, in terms of dollars spent, floor space occupied, and personnel employed, it would rank in the top 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies. In 1993 NSA spent over $9.4 million on air travel; more than 90 percent of the flights originated at nearby Baltimore-Washington International Airport. On behalf of NSA employees residing in Maryland, NSA paid approximately $65 million in 1993 state income taxes on gross salaries totaling approximately $930 million.

But beyond the numbing statistics, the men and women who disappear through the double steel fences every day are both extraordinary and ordinary. They constitute the largest collection of mathematicians and linguists in the country and possibly the world, and they are civil servants angry over how far they must park from their building. Some spend their day translating messages in Sinhalese (spoken in Sri Lanka), or delving into the upper reaches of combinatorics and Galois theory. One woman knows everything on earth about tires. "She's known as the 'tire lady,' said one of NSA's customers in the intelligence community. "She's the tire specialist. Embargoed airplanes need tires and when you're trying to embargo somebody it's the little things that take on major importance. If somebody is shipping jet fighter tires to Iran you want to know what kind of fighter they go on."

Most NSA staffers could be anyone's neighbor. Some wear suits to work every day, but most dress less formally. "There is no dress code at all," complained one fashion-conscious former Russian linguist, who called NSA a "haven for geeks and nerds." "I saw a guy wearing yellow pants, yellow shirt, and yellow sweater vest," she said. "A lot of guys don't dress that well."

When he has time, Brent Morris performs magic at his children's school in Columbia, Maryland. At NSA, he is a senior cryptologic mathematician. Morris got hooked on magic at the age of five when he saw Buffalo Bob perform a trick on the Howdy Doody television show. In high school he learned the perfect card shuffle while studying the connection between math and magic. At NSA, Morris used the perfect shuffle to help develop a method of random and sequential accessing of computer memories. Later the shuffle helped him work out a method of sorting computer information. Morris also served as the executive secretary of the NSA Scientific Advisory Board.

By day Eileen Buckholtz works in NSA's Telecommunications and Computer Services Organization. But by night she is "Rebecca York," the author of a series of romantic suspense novels published by Harlequin. Her co-author is married to another NSAer. And Frederick Bulinski of the agency's Programs and Resources Organization was inducted into the Polka Music Hall of Fame, has released eight albums, and organizes "Polkamotion by the Ocean," a popular yearly festival in Ocean City, Maryland.

One unique study, done by longtime NSA employee Gary L. Grantham, examined the character, styles, traits, and. personalities of NSA's management. "The results show that the personality of NSA lead ership is substantially different as a group from the general population of the United States," he concluded. "NSA management is more introverted in dealing with situations, more impersonal in making judgments, and more likely to come to conclusions about their environment than is the general population." Grantham explained that the reason that NSA managers were more shy and impersonal had largely to do with "the highly technical mission of the organization and the large numbers of college- trained employees and those with military background where similar personality traits are found."

The study, "Who Is NSA," was conducted as part of a program at the National War College. NSA granted Grantham access to the results of a test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was given to NSA senior executives and supervisors. The tests indicated that almost two-thirds of the officials were introverted in the way they dealt with "the outer world." "This contrasts markedly with the general population in the U.S.," said the study, "where extraverting [sic] types make up about 75 percent." NSA officials were also far more "thinking" oriented than the outside world, which was more "feeling" in its professional relationships. "The average NSA manager is more introverted than the general public, much more intuitive, more thinking, and more judging." "You can always tell an NSA extrovert," goes one old agency joke. "He looks at your shoe tips instead of his."

"The great predominance of introverts (64%) means that most NSA managers have greater powers of concentration," the study concluded, "and go deeply into their work by focusing on the underlying concepts and ideas in the pursuit of real understanding. They may be reluctant to consider their work finished and get rid of it. They are not likely to be affected by a lack of praise or encouragement since their focus is on their inner world. If they assume that everyone around them has the same attitude about the world as they do, they may fail to recognize the needs of the extraverts around them for praise. By the same token, the introverts' inner-directed view of the world is often confusing to those around them, including other introverts."

Finally, the study suggested a secret city run by a cold, aloof, detached management. "The predominance of thinking types among managers at NSA is significant in that their preferred way of judging is impersonal, logical, and analytic. While that approach is decidedly more useful in solving task-oriented problems, the people side of managing will suffer. Thinking types expect to be recognized for their competence. Their rewards are responsibility, titles, and raises. They may forget, or not be aware, that one-fourth of their subordinates are feeling types who occasionally need praise and need to be appreciated for who they are, doing a job. According to one observer, 'a "T" [thinking type] thinks that if you haven't been fired, you should know you are doing a good job.'

"The overwhelming preference among NSA managers for judging reflects a choice for system and order. They are organizers who thrive on making decisions, schedules, and programs, and are disconcerted by disruptions or unplanned occurrences. They are less tolerant, less openminded and less flexible than their perceptive co-workers who often put off making a decision because they are not sure they have enough information. The potential for conflict is great."

For many, if not most, the initial excitement of working in the nation's largest and most secret spy agency gradually gives way to routine. "From my perspective," said Tami McCaslin, associate editor of the NSA Newsletter, "isolated in the depths of the Newsletter office, I sometimes fail to see how the rest of the world can be so intrigued by this (in my mind) typical government bureaucracy."

As diverse as the workforce is, there is one thing ,they all have in common: you won't find them talking about their jobs, even when they're sharing a meal in the cafeteria with someone from the next office. The operative rule is "Don't tell, don't ask" about work. The very first subject addressed in the NSA Handbook, given to all new residents of the secret city, is the "practice of anonymity." "Perhaps one of the first security practices with which new NSA personnel should become acquainted is the practice of anonymity...." says the report. "Anonymity means that NSA personnel are encouraged not to draw attention to themselves nor to their association with this Agency. NSA personnel are also cautioned neither to confirm nor deny any specific questions about NSA activities directed to them by individuals not affiliated with the Agency." Finally, the handbook warns: "The ramifications of the practice of anonymity are rather far reaching."

Those seeking employment with NSA are told little about the actual work of the organization. "It has become commonplace in recent years to describe NSA as super-secret -- 'the hush-hush Agency,'" said an editorial in NSA's highly secret NSA Technical Journal "NSA, with missions so interwoven in the fabric of national security, necessarily has had to forgo all custom of public statement, to eschew the press releases which over the years might build an inviting public image and make its worth known to the American people. Though mindful of the dictates of security, NSA knows too that security can have an adverse effect on recruitment -- the lifeline of any institution. Indeed, so little can be said that the acceptance of employment with NSA is virtually an act of faith."

Concerned over the failure to reach recruits with critical high-tech abilities because of the agency's obsession with secrecy, the editorial's author suggested getting the following message out to the scientific academic community: "We in NSA comprise a scientific and technological community that is unique in the United States, unique in the western world and perhaps unique in the entire world. We work on problems which no other agency works on. We develop and utilize devices which are in advance of those that have been developed or are utilized by any other agency or any organization in the entire United States. We are confronted with an ever-changing challenge of greater complexity, of greater scope, and of correspondingly greater depth and difficulty than any other changing challenge on the rapidly evolving frontier of science and technology. If you can qualify, you will find NSA a stimulating and rewarding place to work. If you are interested, we can tell you a little more but not much more. One of the qualifications is faith." Still nervous even over that bland description, the editorial added, "Before you send it -- better check it out with Security."

More recently, the agency has made a few reluctant public references to cryptology and signals intelligence. "Your challenge," says one brochure directed at mathematicians, "is to use algebra, number theory, combinatorics, statistics, even cryptology and other skills to create -- or break -- nearly impenetrable codes and ciphers." Another said, "The challenge is to use probability, statistics, Fourier analysis, Galois theory, stochastic processes and other techniques to outwit the world experts in creating or breaking codes and ciphers." But beyond that, no more is said.

"We're looking for those special few," goes one NSA recruitment pitch, "who are up to this ultimate test." Some are hired while still in college, through a minority scholarship program known as the Undergraduate Training Program. The students work at NSA during summers, then receive full-time offers upon graduation. The program is highly competitive. Of the 600 to 800 high school students who apply each year, only a small percentage are selected. In 1999 there were seventy-nine participants attending a variety of schools, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Cornell. Not everyone, however, is happy about the program. "It is appalling," complained one employee, "to see such a blatant case of reverse discrimination being sponsored by the Agency."

Other opportunities for those in college are offered by the agency's Co-operative Education Program, which allows about four dozen students to spend their college years alternating semesters between fulltime work and full-time study. In 1997, about 80 percent of the graduates chose to remain with the agency. "Our recruiting strategy has historically been built on excitement of the mission," said Deputy Director for Services Terry Thompson in 1999. "And that's why our Co-op programs are so vital to us because when we get people in here before they make the big career decision when they graduate, and find out about the excitement of the mission."

Traditionally, prospective employees were marched in groups through the agency, like draftees, for numerous interviews, tests, and polygraph exams. Only at the completion of the process -- it normally took about seven months -- would some of those prospects be matched to a particular job and offered employment. But by then many had already accepted better-paying jobs from private industry, and the agency was forced to dig deeper in the pool. Those not called would remain in limbo.

Stung by tough competition paying top dollar for information technology personnel, the agency in 1999 initiated a streamlined hiring process based more on private industry than on the local draft board. Only a few schools were targeted, so that strong relationships with them could be established. Students were given more detailed job descriptions than the agency had offered in the past, as well as a better explanation of the benefits of working at the cutting edge of technology. A private firm was hired to scan resumes into an NSA-only Internet site. The company then helped match the resumes to specific jobs. An e-mail address was created ( for the submission of resumes. Finally, in order to accelerate the process, initial screening was done over the telephone.

Those selected are then brought to headquarters for interviews; they undertake a battery of standardized tests and are assigned NSA "buddies" to help sell them on the agency and the surrounding community. The exams are designed to measure a person's general knowledge as well as his or her "cipher brain" -- the special abilities needed for the tedious, sometimes mind-numbing, work of a cryptanalyst or other cryptologic staffer. Although codebreaking and codemaking are what most people think of in terms of occupations at NSA, "they undoubtedly represent a declining percentage of the Agency's work force," said a recent internal document. This results from growth in other areas, such as personnel and employee services.

One math major who recently went through the process, hoping to become one of the agency's 600 mathematicians, found it "very humanely organized." He was fingerprinted and asked to fill out a thick "Statement of Personal History" containing detailed questions concerning addresses, travel, and activities over the past ten years. "Getting through that required me to think plenty about whether I wanted to go through it all," he said.

Next, he was invited down to Fort Meade, assigned an escort, and paraded through a gauntlet of interviews. The escort, a fellow mathematician, took on the buddy role, answering. questions in a candid, off-the-record manner, and putting in occasional plugs for the agency. The candidate was surprised to find that every official who interviewed him was very familiar with his resume, down to the marks on his transcripts. "I've never had that happen before," he said.

His first interview was with the head of the mathematicians' training unit, who described the three-year program the applicant would have to complete, beginning with a long course at the National Cryptologic School. He and about forty other newly hired students, some just out of college and some with Ph.D.s, would get a quick review of higher algebra followed by deep involvement in the cryptologic aspects of mathematics. Normally the course work would involve two hours of lectures every day, followed by six hours of study. Lining one wall of the official's office were photos of the three classes of mathematician trainees then in the pipeline.

After a candidate undergoes interviews and submits a variety of paperwork, such as letters of reference, his or her name is sent to the twenty-four-member Mathematicians Hiring Committee. During one of the committee's monthly meetings, the person is discussed and voted on. The views of the escorts are never solicited nor are they questioned on their conversations with the candidate. Results of the vote, yea or nay, are immediately sent out by e-mail.

Those who make the final cut -- in recent years about 100 of the 2,000 or so people who applied annually -- are then given a conditional offer of employment. Next they begin their processing at the agency's four-story Airport Square Building a few miles away in the FANX compound. There, the new recruits spend their first day filling out forms and getting a medical checkup.

The next hurdle is the intensive background investigation conducted on all prospective employees by the Defense Security Service. Known as an SSBI (for Single-Scope Background Investigation; it is also known within NSA as a Special Background Investigation), it includes a "National Agency Check" -- a check of all federal investigative agencies for derogatory information. Birth records and citizenship are verified. Finally, education, employment, credit files, and local court records are checked for the previous ten years. A neighborhood search for dirt is also conducted at addresses listed for the past decade.

Rob Fuggetta, who lives in Odenton, Maryland, near NSA, recalled when a government investigator knocked on his door in the mid-1980s and began quizzing him about his neighbor, a high school student looking for a summer job at NSA. The questions started off routine, he said, but soon turned very personal. "Do you know if he's a homosexual? Does he use drugs or alcohol? Does he go to church frequently? What can you tell me about his home life? Does he get along with his parents?"

"Appropriate character" is what NSA was looking for, according to Bill Shores, in charge of NSA's college recruitment program at the time. That someone is homosexual or a drug user, per se, "does not mean [he or she] can't come to work for NSA," he said, but "a person that has something to hide would not be a good security risk."

NSA officials are fighting a new proposal by the Defense Security Service to abandon neighborhood in-person visits in favor of simple telephone calls. The DSS argues that it can no longer afford such costly and time-consuming procedures. Pointing out that NSA is only one of its customers, DSS officials say that they must conduct more than 250,000 background investigations of government and contractor personnel each year, leading to tremendous backlogs. At the same time, the agency is behind on tens of thousands of five-year updates required for the 3 million federal employees and contractors who hold active security clearances. Thus, by 2000, DSS's total backlog was a whopping 900,000 investigations. On top of those problems, DSS personnel have been cut back about 40 percent in recent years, from 4,300 employees in the mid-1980s to 2,500 in 1998.

A survey done in 1999 discovered that 94 percent of the background investigations DSS conducted for NSA were incomplete and not up to federal standards. That same year, a routine reinvestigation polygraph examination resulted in the arrest of Daniel King, a Navy petty officer working for NSA. King, an eighteen-year veteran, was arrested on October 28 and charged with espionage for allegedly confessing to mailing a computer disk to the Russian embassy five years earlier. The disk allegedly contained supersensitive details on NSA's undersea cabletapping operations against the Russians.

After the SSBI is completed, the results are sent back to NSA for evaluation.

The next phase takes them down a narrow passageway to an area of small offices that sends shivers down the backs of most candidates: Polygraph Services. Within the tiny beige offices, new, computerized polygraph machines sit on wood- rain desktops and are attached to monitors that display the recruit's physiological responses in a variety of formats. Among the data recorded, according to an NSA document, are the individual's "respiration, electro-dermal responses, pulse rate, pulse amplitude, vascular volume, capillary volume, vascular pressure, capillary pressure, and bodily movement as recorded by pneumograph, galvanograph, cardiosphygmograph, plethysmograph and cardio activity monitors, which are sections of polygraph instruments." Watching the graphics form sharp peaks and deep valleys is one of the agency's several dozen certified examiners. Many of the questions they ask come from the results of the SSBI.

On the other side of the desk, the applicant sits in a large, heavily padded, executive-type swivel chair. Electrodes are attached to the fingers; rubber tubes are strapped around the chest; and a bulky blood pressure cuff fits around the upper arm. What the examiners are looking for are significant changes from the subject's baseline chart. These may be as dramatic as a total cessation of breathing or a major increase in blood pressure -- or as subtle as a slight decrease in skin resistance.

The Armed Forces Security Agency began the polygraph program in May 1951 with the hiring of six examiners at annual salaries of $6,400. The program was introduced because the agency was growing so quickly that background investigations could not be completed fast enough for the hiring program. More than 1,000 people had been hired but could not be cleared until their background investigation was finished, which because of the Korean War was taking from nine to eighteen months. By 1953 NSA was giving polygraphs to all job applicants. The questioning was originally conducted in a well-guarded, ominous-looking building at 1436 U Street, NW, in Washington, before the office moved to the Operations Building and then to FANX.

The polygraph remains the most dreaded part of NSA's admission ritual. "Polygraph! The word alone is enough to set your nerves on edge," began one article on the machine in NSA's in-house newsletter. It is also, by far, the most important part of that ritual. According to a study at NSA, 78 percent of all information used in evaluating an applicant as a security risk comes from the polygraph reports. Only 22 percent of the information is based on the background investigations.

From July 1983 to June 1984 the agency administered a total of 11,442 examinations. Of those, 4,476 were given to job applicants. From that group, 1,875 dropped out voluntarily for a variety of reasons. Of the remaining 2,601, 793 were rejected by the agency's Applicant Review Panel, composed of personnel, security, and medical managers. As an example of the power of the box, a whopping 90 percent of those (714 of 793) were booted because of bad polygraph results. During the first half of 1984 a total of 1,202 contractors were strapped to the machine, and 167 were shown the door after leaving the polygraph room.

The polygraph sessions earned a black eye during the 1950s and early 1960s because of the agency's heavy dependence on the EPQ, or embarrassing personal question. EPQs are almost inevitably directed toward intimate aspects of a person's sex life and bear little relationship to his or her honesty or patriotism. Following a congressional investigation and an internal crackdown, the personal questions became somewhat tamer but abuses have occasionally continued.

"The worst experience of my life," said one former NSA Russian linguist, "was the lie-detector test." After starting out with questions about shoplifting, the polygraph operator quickly turned to sex, asking if she was into bestiality. "If you have sex, they want to know how much. If you have too much sex, they get scared. If you don't have sex, they think you're gay. At the time I wasn't dating anybody and they kept wanting to know, 'Why don't you have a boyfriend?'" That test was given in 1993. More recently, NSA claims, the questions have been less intrusive.

Contractor employees were first required to take polygraphs in 1957. And in 1982, following a damaging spy scandal at Britain's GCHQ, military personnel assigned to NSA were first required to be strapped to the box. The military entrance polygraph is conducted by the military services on military assignees before their acceptance for a position at NSA and is directed toward counterintelligence questions.

At the same time, a five-year reinvestigation polygraph examination, which also focuses on counterintelligence-related questions, was introduced for all employees. Still another polygraph program, the special access examination, was instituted to test employees about to be assigned to especially sensitive programs within NSA. Those tested under this program are asked both counterintelligence and, under certain circumstances, "suitability" -- personal -- questions.

Finally, again in 1982, NSA instituted a dreaded policy of unscheduled "aperiodic" counterintelligence polygraph examinations. One purpose of these tests is to look for spies; another is to look for leakers. According to a memo from the director, civilian employees who refused to consent faced "termination of employment." The agency, said one senior NSA official, asked the Justice Department to investigate about four leaks a year during the first half of the 1980s.

Among the topics covered during NSA's counterintelligence polygraph examination are the following.

• knowledge of, participation in, or commission of acts of espionage or sabotage against the United States
• knowledge of, approaches to, or giving or selling any classified information or material to unauthorized persons
• unauthorized or unreported foreign contacts

The idea of suddenly being called from an office, strapped to a machine, and asked whether you have been selling secrets to the Russians or leaking information to the press might leave "the work force at NSA ... shocked," said Philip T. Pease, the chief of the Office of Security at NSA. As a result, employees were called to the Friedman Auditorium for a series of town meetings during which the new procedures were discussed.

Under the aperiodic exam program, the agency, without notice, pulled 1,770 people into the polygraph rooms in 1983. Of those, 1,699 were thanked and sent on their way. Seventy-one, however, were asked to come back for a further interview, which cleared all but four. They returned for a third round of drilling but were eventually also allowed to return to work, presumably a few pounds lighter. According to the chief of the Polygraph Division, Norman Ansley, the problems ranged across the board. One individual had kept a classified manual at his residence for several years. Another person knew of the improper destruction of crypto keying material. Still another described a suspicious approach by foreign personnel but had failed to report the incident at the time it took place.

After the test, the examiner reviews the individual's charts and makes a final decision on the results. "NSR" (no significant response) means that there were no unresolved issues. "SPR" (specific physiological response) signifies that the individual reacted consistently to a specific question. "INC" (inconclusive) means that the test results could not be interpreted. And "incomplete" signifies that the test was not finished. When issues are unresolved, the individual is requested to return to the box for retesting.

Once completed, the examiner's report is forwarded to quality control for an independent review of accuracy and analysis and to ensure that all issues have been covered. From there it travels to the Clearance Division for adjudication. The polygraph examiner does not make any clearance decisions. His or her sole purpose is to verify the validity of the information being provided during the interview and to resolve any matters that are causing the person difficulty in passing the test.

A unique insight into the NSA polygraph program comes from an analysis of 20,511 applicants between 1974 and 1979. Of those, 695 (3.4 percent) admitted to the commission of a felony. In nearly all cases the perpetrator had gone undetected. The admissions included murder, armed robbery, forcible rape, burglary, arson, embezzlement, hit-and-run driving with personal injury, thefts of expensive items or large amounts of money, smuggling, and wholesale selling of illegal drugs.

One person who applied to NSA proved to be a fugitive who, during questioning under the polygraph, admitted firing a rifle into his estranged wife's home in an attempt to murder her. Another confessed to firing his shotgun at six people, and hitting all of them. He had been charged with attempted murder but not tried because of lack of evidence. Still another told of setting fire to the trailer in which his ex-wife and their child lived. A veteran admitted to a polygraph operator that while in Vietnam he had murdered a young girl. On a later occasion he stabbed a stranger in the face with a knife in an argument over some beer. And an applicant for an engineering position -- who was employed as an engineer by another government agency -- blurted out that he had shot and wounded his second wife and that his present wife was missing under unusual circumstances, which he would not explain. He also suddenly declared that his engineering degree was phony.

Even espionage has turned up during polygraph examinations. One applicant with access to Top Secret/Codeword intelligence who was about to retire from the military described making several visits to the Soviet embassy to make arrangements to defect to the Soviet Union. The Russians took copies of his classified documents and when they found out he had applied to NSA for employment, they encouraged him to continue.

Another applicant, who had access to classified information while in the military, confessed that he would sell classified information to a foreign intelligence service if he could get enough money. And one person looking for a job at NSA eventually admitted that much of his background was falsified and that he had worked as a scientific adviser to the chief of a foreign military intelligence agency.

Most significantly, the NSA study indicated serious questions about highly cleared military personnel assigned to NSA's Central Security Service. At the time, service members were not subject to the polygraph. During the five-year period of the survey, 2,426 of these SCI-cleared military personnel applied for employment with NSA as civilians. Of that number, thirteen admitted that either they themselves or someone they knew had been involved in espionage. Another twenty-five told of passing classified information to Communists or terrorists.

In the early 1990s NSA became the first intelligence or defense agency to completely computerize its polygraph program -- the first major change in the art of polygraphy since 1940. According to NSA officials, the computerized polygraph equipment was found to be more ac curate than conventional methods because it could record signals at maximum sensitivity. The computer also allows the examiner to change how the data are displayed on the screen without changing the base data, thus protecting the validity of the test.

The agency is currently working on ways to almost completely eliminate all human involvement in the polygraph process. In the near future an Orwellian computer, programmed with an individual's history, will ask the questions, analyze the answers, and decide whether a person is lying or telling the truth.

In 1991 the Office of Security Services, working with the Mathematics Branch of the Research and Sigint Technology Division, issued a contract aimed at elevating the computer from simply a passive display to an active analyst. The lead contractor on the project, Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, was able to develop a system called Polygraph Assisted Scoring System (PASS) using a briefcase-sized AXCITON computerized polygraph. Unlike evaluation by humans, which sometimes took days or even weeks to produce a final decision, the computerized procedure finishes within two or three minutes of the exam. Using both a history of the. individual's past tests and his or her own physiological makeup, the computer comes up with a statistical probability concerning the meaning of test results.

Although with the PASS system examiners would still make the final determination, their future does not look bright. Early testing indicates that computerized analysis is more accurate and produces fewer inconclusive results than human- administered tests. According to one NSA document, "In the near future, it may even be possible for the computer to ask the test questions -- eliminating any possibility of the examiner's affecting the test results."

But despite the growing dependence on the polygraph, the box is far from infallible, as Norman Ansley, chief of NSA's Polygraph Division during the 1980s, once admitted. Asked whether someone addicted to drugs and alcohol could beat the box, his answer was "Possibly," if that person "had practiced dissociation by thinking of something else." Which is precisely why many both inside and outside government distrust the machines. "Polygraphing has been described as a 'useful, if unreliable' investigative tool," said the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1999. Given such questionable data, the panel asked CIA director George J. Tenet and FBI director Louis J. Freeh to assess "alternative technologies to the polygraph." The newest agency to use the polygraph is the Department of Energy, in its nuclear weapons labs. One scientist noted in the DoE employee newsletter that the expected error rate is about 2 percent. "In our situation," he said, "that's 100 innocent people out of 5,000 whose reputations and careers would be blemished."

After the polygraph, NSA applicants undergo a battery of psychological tests to determine their suitability for both employment and access to the agency's highly classified materials. A clinical psychologist interviews 90 percent of all applicants.

All the information obtained about an applicant from the polygraph, psychological testing, and the full field investigation is then put together and brought before NSA's Applicant Review Panel, comprising representatives from the personnel, medical, and security offices. The board examines each applicant on what the agency calls the "total person" principle and either gives the candidate a thumbs-up or refers the case to the director of personnel for a "We regret to inform you" letter.

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Postby admin » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:56 pm

Part 2 of 3

The second day of the two-day program for job applicants consists mainly of more briefings, including a security briefing and an unclassified operational briefing. A few of the most desirable prospects may get a tour of an operational area. This, however, requires the sanitizing of the entire area -- everything classified must be removed -- so it is seldom offered.

Following their forty-eight hours at FANX, the recruits head back to school to finish their last semester and, in the meantime, to sweat out the background investigation.


For many years, NSA security officials rated homosexuality near the top of its list of security problems to watch out for.

In 1960, during the Eisenhower administration, irrational fear of homosexuality extended right into the Oval Office. "The Soviets seem to have a list of homosexuals," Attorney General William P. Rogers nervously told Eisenhower during a Top Secret National Security Council meeting. What really concerned him, he said, was "the possibility that there is an organized group of such people." Rogers, who would later become President Richard Nixon's secretary of state, apparently feared a worldwide conspiracy of homosexuals. "The Russians had entrapped one individual," he told the president, "who, in his confession, had stated that there was an international group of homosexuals."

A month before, two NSA cryptologists had appeared before cameras on a stage in Moscow, asked for political asylum, and confessed the agency's deepest secrets like sinners at a revival meeting. It was the worst scandal in NSA's history. All evidence pointed clearly to ideology as the reason for William Martin and Bernon Mitchell's drastic action. But once it was discovered that one of the men had engaged in some barnyard experimentation as a youth, sexuality was quickly seized on as the real cause of the defections. According to documents obtained for Body of Secrets, the fear of homosexuals caused by the men's defection became pathological within the White House. The FBI secretly drew up a nationwide list of everyone it thought might be gay and, in a throwback to McCarthyism, Eisenhower ordered them blacklisted.

At the National Security Council meeting described above, Treasury Secretary Robert Anderson was also concerned. He asked "how good a list we had of homosexuals." J. Edgar Hoover replied that his bureau "did have a list and that local authorities notified federal authorities when they obtained such information." Eisenhower then ordered a secret, systematic blacklisting of the listed individuals throughout the federal government. "Such lists," he said, "should be given to someone who would have responsibility for watching to ensure that such individuals were not employed by other Government agencies. Everyone who applied for a job should be fingerprinted. Then if you had a fingerprint and an indication that the individual had been rejected for such reasons [as homosexuality], you would have a basis for preventing his future employment." Hoover agreed. "This was a useful idea." Eisenhower concluded the meeting with the comment, "It was difficult to get rid of such people once they were employed and that the time to catch them was when they came into the Government."

The harsh attitude of the White House translated into a massive purge at NSA. Anyone who showed even the slightest gay tendencies, whether that person was actively homosexual or not, was out. Dozens were fired or forced to resign. The fear would last for decades. But by 2001, the attitude had changed considerably. The most striking example is the authorized formation within the walls of NSA of GLOBE, the group for gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees, whose regular monthly meetings, in NSA offices, are advertised in the NSA Newsletter.


Less than a year after the Berlin Wall crumbled, the first post-Cold War conflict erupted. Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, U.S. and coalition forces launched the Desert Storm operation against Saddam Hussein. As the smoke began to clear, NSA director Studeman rated the performance of U.S. spy agencies during the conflict as mixed-except for what he called the excellent monitoring of sanction-busters. The principal problem, he said, was converting a former friend into an enemy almost overnight. "Clearly during the Iran-Iraq war," Studeman said, "we viewed Iraq as an ally. So, Iraq was an area where we didn't have a lot of basic collection, or a lot of idea of the depth and breadth of the Iraqi capabilities. We had that on a monitoring basis, but few would call it in-depth knowledge of the target, the kind you would want to have if you go to war. We simply didn't have that."

Studeman also said that because Saddam Hussein had been an intelligence partner, NSA was now at a disadvantage. "Having had about four years' or more worth of U.S. delivering intelligence to it with regard to Iran's conduct of the war, Iraq had a substantial knowledge and sensitivity of our capabilities in the area of imaging and other intelligence collection methods such as signals intelligence. If you go back to the fundamental principles of intelligence, we had already failed on the first count. That is, our security had been penetrated because we were dealing with this target to whom we had spent so many years displaying what our intelligence capabilities were. Add the fact that Iraq is a very secretive country itself and places a great premium on security, and you then have a target that is probably the most denial-and-deception- oriented target that the U.S. has ever faced. It is a country that goes out of its way to create a large number of barriers to allowing any Western penetration of its capabilities and intentions."

Especially troublesome during the war were such areas as intelligence "fusion" -- bringing all the U.S. intelligence organizations together -- and information management. A key problem for NSA was getting intelligence from the intercept operators to the codebreakers to the analysts to the commanders in desert tents in time for it to be useful. "Essentially, from the threat of the invasion of Kuwait in late July until the outbreak of hostilities on 15 January," Studeman said, "the time was spent creating the environment for collection, processing and analysis, and the connection between the national side of it and the theater side."

As troops began boarding planes for the trip back home, Studeman looked ahead to the long decade leading up to the new century. "The world of the· future is going to be an entirely different intelligence world," he said. By 1990 the fat years for NSA and its partners had come to an end. The Cold War had been won and it was time for the soldiers to return home. Suddenly a group that had known only growth was faced with cutbacks, budget slashing, and layoffs.


At an intercept station in Marietta, Washington, the gray operations building lies abandoned and ghostlike: "While standing amongst the weeds, trash, and wrecked automobiles," said a former technician who decided to return for a visit, "my ears caught a faint sound coming from the remains of the ops building." Then he realized what he was hearing: "Several hundred rats rummaging through the piles of garbage."

The powerful wave of Cold War fears that decades earlier had swept listening posts onto remote mountaintops and Arctic wastelands and into hidden valleys was now receding like a fast-falling tide.

During deactivation ceremonies at Edzell, Scotland, near the elephant cage that had captured so many Soviet voices, the only sound was the piercing skirl of a lone bagpipe playing the haunting farewell "We're No' Awa' Tae Bide Awa'."

At Key West, Florida, where reports had flashed to the White House during the Cuban missile' crisis, a bugler sounded "Taps" and an NSA official watched the flag descend for the final time.

In the Command Conference Room at Kamiseya, Japan, once the Navy's largest listening post, the commanding officer solemnly read from a classified message ordering the station's closure.

At Skaggs Island, California; Karamursel, Turkey; and dozens of other listening posts around the world, massive antennas were disassembled as quietly as they had been built.

Once a forbidden and frozen land populated exclusively by eavesdroppers, the Alaskan island of Adak was put up for sale on the Internet, Satellite dishes, power plant, the Adak museum, schools, even the church were to go to the highest bidder.

After seventy-nine years of operation, the last watch was stood at the naval listening post at Imperial Beach, California, near San Diego.

Many listening posts not closed were virtually abandoned and turned into remotely controlled operations. At the small monitoring station atop Eckstein, a high German peak overlooking what was once Czechoslovakia, the intercept operators were replaced with automatic antennas controlled in Augsburg, more than five hours away by car. The only people left were a few security guards and several maintenance staff.

The drawdown was not limited to NSA. In the far north, on the doorstep of the North Pole, several hundred people were cut from the Canadian listening post at Alert,. the most important in the country. As with Eckstein and many other listening posts around the world, technology now permitted the station to be operated remotely from thousands of miles away.

Across the Atlantic, Britain's GCHQ was going through the same post-Cold War trauma. In 1995,900 of 6,000 jobs were ordered cut from the headquarters in Cheltenham over four years. Listening posts were also nailed shut, including the monitoring station at Culmhead in Devon, cutting 250 jobs.

As at NSA, a number of GCHQ's overseas stations switched to remote control. Perched high on a cliff in Hong Kong, the joint British-Australian Chung Hom Kok listening post had long been one of the most important in the Far East. But all except a skeleton crew pulled out and moved thousands of miles away, to downtown Melbourne. There, in a windowless two-story gray stone building, intercept operators from Australia and New Zealand eavesdropped on Chinese and Russian communications picked up by British antennas in Hong Kong. "Most of the [intercepted information] went back to the NSA," said one of the staff. Among the key targets were Chinese testing of nuclear and other advanced weapons, and of space flight and military activities on the troublesome Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Melbourne also monitored Russian communications from Vladivostok to the Russian base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.

But that all came to an end in the mid-1990s as Britain prepared for the return of Hong Kong to China. GCHQ officials ordered all its Hong Kong buildings razed to eliminate any chance that secrets would be compromised. By July 1997, when the handover took place, the windowless operations buildings had been reduced to rubble and the guard post was occupied by a vagrant sheltering from the rain. GCHQ did leave some equipment behind, however. Planted in the walls of the British army's former Prince of Wales barracks, which was turned over to the Chinese, was an assortment of listening devices.

Some at GCHQ feared that if staff numbers dropped below 4,500, the agency would begin to seem minor in the eyes of NSA. "If we can stay at 4,500 we can be a vibrant and effective organization," said Brian Moore, a GCHQ staff officer. "If we don't stabilize at 4,500, there must be a question mark over GCHQ's core business." But for the first time an outsider -- and one known for his budget cutting -- was appointed direc tor. David Ornaud, deputy undersecretary of policy at the Ministry of Defence, had made his name by championing a series of initiatives designed to cut costs and boost the efficiency of the UK.'s armed forces.

For many cryptologists, watching their secret world vanish into thin air was a difficult and painful experience. In the Texas hill country, just north of Austin, Robert Payne gat on his porch beneath an umbrella, of stars. In the cool night, as fireflies danced, he puffed on a long cigar and took sips from a pale green coffee cup. "'Who remembers what we did, how we did it, and why?" he once wrote.

We were young sailors and marines, teenagers, sitting with headphones and typewriters copying and encrypting and decrypting and sending and receiving. Always on the alert, ever vigilant ... Who understands the contributions we made in those far-flung outposts where we listened and watched through the endless days and nights of a very real Cold War? Who knows, for certain, what our work accomplished? I wonder what difference we made in the overall scheme of things.

I sit here in the soft summer darkness and try to remember the names of all the places, and ships, and stations where we served. And I wonder if somewhere down the long, cold corridors of history, there will be monuments or memorials to these special ships and secret places that have served their country so well.... Places with strange-sounding names, surrounded by fences, gates, armed Marines, and signs that warned "Authorized Personnel Only." Secret places with funny-looking antenna arrays called "giraffe" or "dinosaur cages." Places with names people have never heard.

Another former intercept operator lamented, "Technology has progressed, so yesterday's way of doing business is no longer today's way.... The circle tightens and grows smaller; our bases in the Philippines are gone. Keflavik, Iceland, is gone. San Vito, Italy, is gone. Galeta Island, Panama, is gone. Pyong Taek, Korea, is gone. Adak, Alaska, is gone."

On the pages of the prestigious Naval Institute Press, a retired Navy cryptologist wrote that the Naval Security Group had outlived. its usefulness and that the precious money used to run it would be better spent elsewhere in the Navy. The future looked so dim that Rear Admiral Isaiah Cole, the Security Group's director, was forced to reassure worried cryptologic veterans that their organization was not going to fold. "There will continue to be a Naval Security Group," he bravely asserted. But he had to admit that because of budget cuts "these are troubled times."

As the Cold War passed, so did NSA's boom years. In the early 1980s, "people [were] stacked almost three deep," said one congressional aide. In 1983, NSA building projects (totaling $76 million, with another $212 million slated for the following year) accounted for almost 20 percent of the Pentagon's entire construction budget worldwide. The addition of two new operations towers provided the agency's headquarters complex with more space than eleven New York City World Trade Centers.

But by 1997, the intelligence community budget had shrunk to what it had been in 1980, during the last years of the Carter administration and just before the Reagan administration gave the spooks the key to Fort Knox. At the same time, many of NSA's precious eavesdropping satellites were dying of old age and not being replaced. In the few years between 1991 and 1994, the number of spy satellites dropped by nearly half. "NSA's relative piece of the intelligence resource pie will likely diminish," Admiral William O. Studeman had told his workforce in a frank farewell memorandum on April 8, 1992. "Things will be tight, and the demand will be to continue to do more with less.

Studeman's concerns were well founded. Between 1990 and 1997 the agency was forced to cut its staff, by 17-1/2 percent and was scheduled to increase the total to 24 percent by 2001. A commission headed by former defense secretary Harold Brown said that at least 10 percent more staff should be cut throughout the intelligence community. On top of that, a Pentagon inspector general's review in 1991 -- the first one ever done at NSA -- found that the agency was too top-heavy and that management was asleep at the wheel in the oversight of a number of key areas. "We found that the growth of the Agency had not been centrally managed or planned," the inspection report concluded, "and that the NSA did not have sufficient internal oversight mechanisms to ensure the Agency efficiently accomplished its mission." The result was a serious bureaucratic shake-up. On October 1, 1992, Mike McConnell, Studeman's successor, instituted a major restructuring, slashing by 40 percent the number of deputy directors and by 29 percent the number of middle managers. Lower management was reduced by an average of 50 percent. At the same time, the number of people reporting directly to the director was cut from ninety to fifteen. [1]


"NSA personnel will be deeply affected by these changes," declared the NSA Newsletter. McConnell told a group of his senior staff, "As resources diminish we must reduce the Agency's overhead and build a structure that will make us more efficient." But, the cutbacks in personnel seemed to have a contradictory effect on the agency's budget. The cost of the shrunken workforce grew because of inflation, promotions, and the higher cost of benefits. These factors drove NSA's civilian payroll from about 30 percent of its budget in 1990 to nearly 40 percent in 1996. A White House study called the problem "acute" and said these "growing amounts allocated to meet the payroll have crowded out investments in new technologies and limited operational flexibility." It seemed that the more people NSA cut the less money it had for satellites and computers.

When McConnell replaced Studeman in May 1992, the downsizing problem was on his desk waiting for him. "Employees should take this opportunity to return to their areas of expertise," said the Newsletter, paraphrasing the new director. "Cross-training, technical tracks, and mission involvement are the buzzwords of the future." The long handle of the budget ax extended even to some of the agency's most remote listening posts. In a further effort to reduce costs, NSA civilians began gradually bring replaced by military personnel at some of the listening posts not shut down entirely. As the cuts continued into the new century, employees were encouraged to attend a workshop called "Coping with Change," and a noted speaker was brought in to give a lecture in the Friedman Auditorium on "Thriving in Turbulent Times."

Most believed there were few more secure places to work than NSA, and that downsizing would never happen. "While our neighbors and family members in the private sector faced job uncertainty, we remained secure," moaned one worried worker in 1992. "We are now in the unenviable position of being uncertain about our futures. It is not an easy time to work here." Exit interviews with resigning employees reflected the same concerns. Many of them felt that a bond had been broken.

But others believed that NSA had long been overstaffed. Dr. Howard Campaigne, a driving force in the computerization of code-breaking in the 1950s and 1960s, believed that the machines should have reduced staff costs. "I had visions ... these would be laborsaving devices," recalled the former research chief, "and we wouldn't need a lot of people around. And it's been a continual disappointment that we had so many people around. Of course, what we've done is use these devices to do more [work] rather than to do what we were doing before more economically. But I still feel we ought to be able to do it with fewer people. More machines and fewer people." For those displaced, the former assistant director had one suggestion: "Join the 'buggy whip' manufacturers. Retire."

To help ease the trauma of drastic personnel reductions, over 4,000 employees were given buyouts in 1999. At the same time, NSA offered a parachute dubbed Soft Landing to many of the employees headed for the door. The idea was to transfer the employees to jobs within the crypto-industrial complex-jobs with defense firms that had significant contracts with NSA. During the first year, the employee would be paid under an NSA contract, and after that he or she might be hired full-time by the contractor.

Many such contracts called for the employee to remain right at NSA, although in a different job and in a different office. For example, Barbara Prettyman retired from her job as chief of staff for NSA's Health, Environmental, and Safety Services. Hired by Allied Signal under the Soft Landing program, she simply moved over to the agency's Information Systems Security offices, where she was assigned to create a national colloquium for information security education.

Other companies taking part in the program included TRW, SAIC, and Lockheed Martin. The money to finance the Soft Landing contracts comes from funds the agency saves by retiring senior employees early. By 1998, after two years in operation, the program had found homes for more than 300 retirees at eight contractors, saving NSA $25 million along the way.


Born in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Greenville, South Carolina, during the middle of World War II, Mike McConnell graduated from the local college, Furman University, with a degree in economics in 1966. Shortly afterward he joined the Navy and was shipped off to Vietnam as a damage control officer on the USS Colleton, a ship attached to the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. Having survived the conflict, he went on to counterintelligence work with the Naval Investigative Service in Yokosuka, Japan, took a liking to the spy world, attended the Defense Intelligence College, and became an intelligence specialist.

Assigned as the operations officer for the Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility in Rota, Spain, in 1976, McConnell received his initiation into the world of signals intelligence. "Four Navy chiefs and one NSA civilian took me under their wing to teach me Sigint," he recalled. "I learned as a young Navy lieutenant that Sigint is hard; it is complex, esoteric, and difficult to understand over its depth and breadth.... It changed my understanding, respect for, and use of Sigint for the rest of my professional life."

Following other assignments, including a tour as force intelligence officer aboard the USS La Salle in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, McConnell moved to NSA, where he headed up the Naval Forces Division. Then he went to Pearl Harbor as the top naval intelligence officer for the Pacific Fleet, a job that won him his first star. He earned a second while dealing with such issues as the fall of the Soviet Union and the war in the Persian Gulf as a key intelligence staffer to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At NSA, McConnell soon found that it was far easier to eavesdrop than to convert intercepts into finished, usable intelligence. As always, codebreaking -- "processing" -- was the hardest part. "I have three major problems," McConnell was often heard declaring, "processing, processing, and processing."

Translation was also a major problem. "There now exists a world full of 'Navajo Code Talkers,' in a certain sense," noted McConnell. He was referring to the Native Americans who during World War II were employed to securely communicate sensitive messages because their language was unwritten, almost unknown outside their community, and thus almost impossible for an enemy to translate. "With the rich diversity of potential intelligence targets owing to possible U.S. involvement in low-intensity conflict and regional crisis situations anywhere U.S. interests may be threatened," McConnell continued, "we are confronted by a linguistic challenge of staggering proportion."

Down on the working level, the reductions and changes forced many managers to dig out their old earphones and go back to being operators. Similarly, those with language skills now in excess, such as Russian linguists, had to retrain in another language or develop new skills entirely.

While the end of the Cold War brought a greater sense of tranquility to most parts of the country, it created a seismic shift at NSA. Gone were the old traditional targets, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Taking their place were new trouble spots that seemed to spring up almost anywhere. In 1980, fully 58 percent of the intelligence community's budget was targeted against the Soviet Union. Three years later NSA, desperate for Russian linguists, asked fifteen colleges, including Penn State and Georgetown University, to participate with the agency in a secrecy-shrouded Russian language internship program.

But by 1993 only 13 percent of the intelligence budget was aimed at Russia, and Russian linguists were scrambling to find new vocabularies to master. Suddenly the buzz phrase was "exotic languages."

Exotic languages have long been NSA's Achilles' heel. In 1985, for example, Libyan diplomatic messages were intercepted discussing the planning of the terrorist attack at La Belle discotheque in West Berlin. However, according to intelligence experts, a shortage of Berber translators led to a critical delay of several days in reading the dispatches. By then, the deadly bombing had already taken place.

In 1986, Bobby Inman had warned a congressional committee that "steadily deteriorating language training capabilities" presented "a major hazard to our national security." The message was underscored by the Pentagon's director of intelligence personnel and training, Craig L. Wilson, who spoke of the "dismal ignorance," in the Defense Department and the intelligence community, of Third World languages.

A year after McConnell arrived, as President Clinton was considering military action in the former Yugoslavia, NSA began to get worried about finding enough people who could translate Serbo-Croatian. Thus, on April 23, 1993, a curious advertisement appeared in Commerce Business Daily. Placed by NSA's military organization, the Army Intelligence and Security Command, it sought "a group of approximately 125 linguists to provide translation and interpretation support for U.S. forces in Yugoslavia." The work, said the ad, "would be in a hostile, harsh environment." And the government would pick up the cost of "life, dismemberment and medical insurance."

A similar crisis at NSA broke the following year, when President Clinton ordered American troops into Haiti to restore order. "When Haiti blew up a few years ago," said Deputy Director for Services Terry Thompson, "we looked around; there were a total of three Haitian Kreyol linguists in the entire cryptologic system. One in NSA, one in the Navy, and one in the Army, and that was it. So we had to go outsource -- hire a lot of Haitian Kreyol speakers, many of whom lived in downtown Washington doing menial labor, and put them in a building over in Columbia [Maryland] and send them the material to transcribe."

One reason for the shortage of linguists is the tedium of the job. "You sit there with a pair of headphones, rocking back and forth with your foot on a pedal trying to figure out what people said," recalled one former NSA Russian linguist. "It is very repetitious, incredibly boring, and very demanding. It could drive you crazy." However, it could also be very educational, said another Russian linguist, who recalled all the Russian curses he learned while eavesdropping on the walkie-talkie conversations of Soviet troops on maneuvers in Siberia.

To help with the language problems, Director McConnell quietly turned to academia. Several colleges were paid to develop textbooks and teaching materials in exotic languages as well as to train university and NSA language teachers. Among the schools chosen was the predominantly black Florida A&M University, which was given a $1.74 million grant to fund courses in the difficult African languages of Zulu and Xhosa, spoken largely in South Africa; Farsi, which is spoken in Iran; and Punjabi and Bengali, from the Indian subcontinent.

A side benefit of the grant, agency officials hoped, would be to recruit to the agency black students who had successfully completed the courses; this would not only build up the NSA language base but also help increase minority staffing. Unfortunately, however, many of the students enrolled in the Courses had far more interest in international business than in eavesdropping on communications networks, and thus never went to work for NSA.

One solution, which NSA for decades has been trying to perfect, is machine translation. In the early and rnid-1980s, NSA was focusing on a variety of crises -- the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the fundamentalist Islamic takeover in Iran, and the civil war in El Salvador. "NSA is faced with the growing problem of documents in virtually every language and script," said one agency report. To help find a way to quickly translate the reams of paper flowing into the agency written in unusual languages with strange alphabets, NSA turned to the University of Pennsylvania.

The experimental program, funded on behalf of NSA by the Pentagon, involved designing optical scanning technology to first identify and then read a number of exotic languages. The machine was eventually able to translate Azerbaijani- language newspapers printed in a nonstandard version of the Cyrillic alphabet. A Turkic dialect, Azerbaijani is spoken by several million people in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan and the contiguous areas of Iran and Afghanistan. Other languages focused on by the project included Somali, Slovenian, and a Mayan Indian language, Chorti, that is spoken in parts of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Today, for more commonplace languages, NSA uses programs such as SYSTRAN that automatically translate text at up to 750 pages per hour using Russian dictionaries containing more than half a million words. The program translates technical texts with better than 90 percent accuracy. On average, human translation takes forty-five minutes per page. NSA has also developed a technique that allows analysts with no prior knowledge of a language to quickly search machine-readable foreign language databases for keywords and topics.

To find key text quickly within a very large collection of foreign language documents -- such as Chinese or Devanagari (Sanskrit) -- one program NSA uses is Oleada XConcord.

A further breakthrough in NSA's ability to pick out the right tree in a vast forest of words came with the development of the software called Semantic Forests. Semantic Forests allows NSA to sift through printed transcripts of conversations, faxes, computer transfers, or any other written intercepts and intelligently come up with the targeted subjects in which the agency is most' interested. The name derives from the software's ability to create a weighted "tree" of meanings for each word in a document. During lab tests, the software quickly sifted through an electronic filter large volumes of printed matter, including transcripts of speech and data from Internet discussion groups. One of the sample questions in the test was "What have the effects of the UN sanctions against Iraq been on the Iraqi people, the Iraqi economy, or world oil prices?" Initial tests proved very successful, increasing the ability to locate target information from 19 percent to 27 percent in just one year.

Far more difficult than machine translation of printed texts is automatic translation and transcription of voice communications, such as intercepted telephone conversations in a variety of languages and accents. The ability to automatically spot targeted words in millions of telephone calls all over the world has long been a goal of NSA. A recent breakthrough was made by biomedical engineers at the University of Southern California, who claim to have created the first machine system that can recognize spoken words better than humans can. The research was largely funded by the Pentagon, long used as a cover for NSA contracts.

According to the university, the system can "instantly produce clean transcripts of conversations, identifying each of the speakers." Known at NSA as "Speaker ID," the USC's Berger-Liaw Neural Network Speaker Independent Speech Recognition System can mimic the way brains process information. This gives the computer the ability to conduct "word spotting" in target communications regardless of who or what pronounces the word.

The new system is also far better than the human ear at picking out words from vast amounts of white noise. It can even extract targeted words or conversations from the background clutter of other voices, such as the hubbub heard during conference calls, meetings, or cocktail parties. "The system can identify different speakers of the same word with superhuman acuity," said university officials.

Despite such progress, by 2001 there was still far more traffic than there were people or machines to handle it. "It's a good-size problem," said Hayden. "It's one that we're paying attention to, but the fixes are not immediate. There's probably no philosophers' stone here that we can touch and say, 'Oh yes, now the linguist problem's fixed.' There's probably a whole bunch of discrete decisions that you make that you begin to reduce the magnitude of the problem. One aspect of the problem is, just given the nature of our business, the demands on linguists are higher."

Some NSA language training takes enormous amounts of time, said Hayden, who himself was trained as a Bulgarian linguist. "Group Three languages, and I believe that's Arabic and Hebrew, take eighteen months," he said. "And Group Four languages take two years. And those are Chinese, Japanese ... And then there is a whole other addition there to turn someone who has working knowledge of the popular language into a cryptolinguist, which is the specialized vocabulary.... It's a long time, these are long-term investments. And you can see why, then, we have trouble mostly with our military linguists who move a lot, whereas a civilian you hire for thirty-five years and you make a frontend investment of five years, you've still got thirty years of return. You've got a GI going through here on an eighteen-month tour."

Realizing NSA's personnel plight, the House Intelligence Committee began a major push in the late 1990s to redirect money away from various fields, ranging from satellites to support staff, and toward analysis and linguists.

"We need to hire a lot more people than we have authorized strength to do," Terry Thompson told a group of employees in late 1999. "The DO has recently told the Human Resources Review Group that they would like to hire twenty-six hundred more people to do language work and IA work, Intelligence Analyst work. And the reason for that is, if they look at their attrition projections, they expect to lose about a thousand people over the next couple of years and so they want to hire those people back. And then they want a plus-up of about sixteen hundred people over and above that, just to be able to do the work that comes in today." According to one senior NSA official, the agency hired about 698 people in 2000. For 2001, Congress gave NSA an additional $3 million to go toward hiring, plus $3.5 million more to use for signing bonuses for particularly desirable candidates.

Just as the fall of the Soviet Union created a need for exotic languages, the proliferation of low-cost, complex encryption systems and fast computers has forced NSA to search for more mathematicians whom they can convert to codebreakers. In a series of lectures at NSA in the late 1950s, William F. Friedman, the father of modern cryptology, argued that cryptology should be considered a separate and distinct branch of mathematics. It is little wonder, therefore, that NSA employs more math majors than any other place in the country, and possibly the world.

Thus the national decline in math test scores, the decreasing focus on math in the classroom, and the paltry number of graduate students seeking doctorates in the subject have become major concerns within NSA. "The philosophy here is that unless the U.S. mathematics community is strong, healthy, vibrant," said James R. Schatz, chief of NSA's mathematics research division, "then we're not going to have the kind of population to recruit from that we need."

Some at NSA trace the growing scarcity of mathematicians back to the early 1980s. It was then, according to one agency official, that "the agency succumbed, as did the rest of the American society, to the increasing gap between its population of technical specialists and a generalist population." As the last editor of the NSA Technical Journal, which ceased publication in 1980, the official witnessed the decline in mathematical and scientific education firsthand. It was one of the reasons for the Journal's termination, he said, noting that many of the contributions were becoming increasingly "irrelevant to (and unintelligible to) all but a small audience." He added that if Friedman was correct in including cryptology as a branch of mathematics, "then large numbers of NSA's employees, even at the professional level (and within the professions, even within senior positions), are ill-equipped for their trade."

In an effort to reverse the trend, NSA recently launched a new program to seed the academic soil in order to keep the supply of mathematicians coming. It involved providing $3 million a year, through research grants, to mathematicians and also to summer programs for undergraduates. Yearlong sabbaticals at the agency were even offered to promising number lovers. In a rare foray into the unclassified world, then-director Minihan expressed his worry to a convention of mathematicians in 1998. "The Cold War is characterized by battles not fought, lives not lost," he said. "That era was fought with mathematicians and cryptologists."

"Over a three-year period," said Schatz optimistically in 1998, "we're going to be hiring over a hundred mathematicians with Ph.D.'s. There's nothing like that in the world, really. A university might have one or two openings a year, if that." But just as NSA seems to be getting its need for mathematicians under control, it is facing an even more daunting task in recruiting enough computer scientists. Among the problems, according to Michael J. Jacobs, chief of NSA's codemakers, is 42 percent fewer graduates with computer science degrees now than in 1986.

Among the most sensitive issues facing NSA in the post-Cold War period has been the hiring, as well as promotion, of minorities and women. For years NSA has had serious problems keeping up with the rest of government -- and the rest of the intelligence community -- in such employment statistics. "I have been here at NSA for over twenty years," wrote one frustrated employee in the mid-1990s, "and as a minority, have experienced racial discrimination like 1 have never seen before. The minorities here at NSA are so very stigmatized by the 'Do nothing, powerless' EEO [Equal Employment Office] and the IG [Inspector General] organizations ... there is no adequate or effective process for minority complaints here at NSA. Many racial discrimination and fraud cases have been reported/presented to NSA's EEO and IG, and nothing, absolutely nothing, has been done."

Another complained, "EEO is a joke.... Nothing is held confidentially or anonymously. Retaliation is common and well known around the Agency. Most African Americans have stopped complaining and warn younger, less experienced African Americans against complaining in fear of retaliation and retribution." And still another cautioned, "It is a well known fact that if you stand up for your rights it can be a crippling experience, but become a whistle blower, and your career will experience the Kiss of Death!"

In a 1988 study of the intelligence community, done at the request of Congress, the National Academy of Public Administration found women and minorities' underrepresented at NSA. Two years later, the Senior Advisory Group, a group of senior black NSA employees, examined the harriers faced by African American applicants and employees in hiring, promotion, and career development. They gave the agency low marks, citing institutional and attitudinal harriers. And in 1993 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that little had been done to correct problems identified five years earlier. Finally, in 1994, both Congress and the Pentagon's inspector general hauled the director in for questioning as to progress in hiring and promoting minorities and women.

A key problem, the Department of Defense inspector general pointed out, was the tendency of NSA recruiters to go after the "best and the brightest." "The philosophy," said one senior personnel manager, "is that it is better to hire an applicant with a 3.2 grade point average from Stanford than one with a 4.0 from a school you've never heard of." Although the former strategy keeps the agency well endowed intellectually, it does not help the agency correct its racial and gender imbalance, it was argued.

NSA did make some efforts to recruit minorities, but more often than not they were only halfhearted. In an effort to recruit Hispanic students, the agency set up a Southwestern Recruiting Office in Phoenix in 1989. However, instead of staffing it with a Hispanic recruiter, the agency sent a sixty-year-old black male. The result was a total of eleven people hired in three years-none of whom were Hispanic. The office was closed in 1992.

For Director McConnell, the problem lay in the numbers. Although in 1993 women made up 43.4 percent of the federal workforce, at NSA they represented only 36 percent. And while 27.7 percent of federal government employees were members of minority groups, NSA's minority representation stood at a dismal 11 percent. In his agency's defense, McConnell pointed to the highly technical nature of its work-mathematics, engineering, computer science, and language: "skill areas," he said, "in which minorities have been traditionally underrepresented."

For example, McConnell noted, "we have probably the highest concentration of mathematicians in the country." But "of the 430 doctoral degrees in mathematics awarded to U.S. citizens in 1992, only 11, or 2.5 percent, went to minorities," he said. "Can you imagine the competition for that 2.5 percent between companies like IBM or GM or whatever and NSA? It's very, very stiff competition."

To help correct the imbalance, McConnell established a policy of encouraging his recruiters to make one-third of their new hires minorities. In fact, the recruiters exceeded the quota, achieving 38.3 percent minority hires. But with NSA hiring fewer than 200 full-time staffers a year between 1992 and 1996, the quota system at this late date amounted to little more than tokenism. In the meantime, McConnell was left to deal with complaints from the agency's white males, who make up 57.5 percent of the workforce. Although no "reverse discrimination" lawsuits had yet been filed, McConnell was holding his breath. "So far I haven't gone to court," he said. "Time will tell."

In an effort to ease tensions, an Office of Diversity Programs was established to help ensure that minorities were fairly represented in programs throughout the agency. Among the units of the office is the Alaska/Native American Employment Program, which in 1999 sponsored a presentation by storyteller Penny Gamble Williams, the tribal chief of the Chappaquiddick Indian Nation of the Wampanoag Indian Nation, relating tales passed down through the generations. A luncheon of buffalo meat in the Canine Suite followed.

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Part 3 of 3

After more than four years in the director's chair, McConnell retired on February 22, 1996. His replacement was Kenneth A. Minihan, a tall, broad-shouldered Air Force lieutenant general. Unlike McConnell, who had spent most of his career in staff (as opposed to command) positions, General Minihan arrived at NSA after running two previous intelligence organizations: the Air Intelligence Agency and, briefly, the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was born in 1943, the same year as McConnell, in Pampa, a dusty, oil-soaked town straddling the old Santa Fe Railroad in the Texas Panhandle. After graduating from Florida State University in 1966, he entered the Air Force as an intelligence officer, serving in Vietnam, Panama, and Italy and in a variety of positions in the Pentagon and at Air Force Headquarters.

In 1981 Minihan went to NSA as chief of the Office of Support to Military Operations and Plans. He also served in the agency's Directorate of Operations, as commander of the Air Force's 6917 Electronic Security Group. Minihan was named director of DIA in July 1995; there, one of his chief assignments was to review tainted information about Russian weapons systems passed by the CIA to the Pentagon. The Pentagon had received this bad intelligence because of the massive compromise of American spies in Russia by CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames.

According to Minihan, NSA's problems had become a great concern to both Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and CIA director John Deutsch. "They would use the phrase 'NSA doesn't get it,'" he said. "And they were somewhat impressed with how I was beginning to take over the reins of DIA, in the sense that we 'got it' at DIA." Thus the decision was made to shift Minihan to NSA. During the transition to his new job, Minihan spoke to a great many people both inside and outside government about the agency and was stunned to find that the reaction was virtually universal. "I would say I spent a good month or so talking with lots of people," he said. "It was almost riveting in the common sense that they all expressed that we [NSA] don't get it."

Once in place at Fort Meade, it didn't take long for Minihan to understand why this was so. "It ... really surprised me, both how accurate Dr. Perry and Dr. Deutsch were ... ," he said. "In my mind we had fallen into a -- I've never used this phrase before -- sort of like a loser's mentality, a loser's mind-set." One cause, said Minihan, was the constant downsizing: "We'd lost about a third of our workforce. What we had done is we were accepting the loss of program and people resources as a norm. You've got another three percent cut. So we're going through our tenth straight year of three percent decline. And we just accepted that."

Another early concern for Minihan was finding a new deputy. When he arrived, the position was occupied by William P. Crowell, appointed by Admiral McConnell two years earlier. A native of Louisiana with an impish grin and a taste for Cajun shrimp, Crowell joined the agency in 1962 and rose quickly, a decade later becoming chief of A Group, the section responsible for attacking Soviet cipher systems. Crowell foresaw the enormous impact that the personal computer would have on both society and NSA and pushed the agency to begin taking advantage of commercial, off-the-shelf technology. This was the key, he believed, to improving both the way NSA attacked code problems and the way it disseminated the results. Eventually rising to deputy director for operations, Crowell championed the Intelink, the highly secret intelligence community version of the Internet. "He was a 'geek' in the most positive sense," said former NSA official Fredrick Thomas Martin. "He understood technology. He knew the intelligence 'business."

But Minihan was concerned that the position of deputy director had become too powerful, so that the director was little more than a ceremonial chief. "The DDIR [deputy director] is part of the seducing," he said, "the seduction of the director, so that the director becomes the host for dinners and lunches, the speaker at major engagements and awards and things like that.... And so part of the DDIR's efforts are, in my view, to numb the director." Adding, "It is not healthy to numb the director," Minihan also charged that deputy directors became bureaucratic warlords. "They purge those beneath them who are not on their team, and then they elevate those who have been on their team," he said. "Some people go into exile, some people retire."

So Minihan and Crowell began locking horns almost immediately. "I was very disruptive to his definition of what the deputy director [should be]. 1 took a lot of things that he had on his plate and moved them to my own plate, because 1 wanted those to be the director's authorities." Minihan also opposed warlordism. "I was asked by Bill, 'Well, who's on your team?' " said Minihan. "I was not willing to participate in a 'Who's on my team.' ... The answer is, 'They all are.'" Minihan added, "It didn't matter to me a bit who Bill was. It was what I wanted to do."

Nor did Minihan get along with the various senior officials in the agency -- the deputy directors for operations, information security, and so on. "My first two or three weeks, maybe a month or so, as I went around, it was pretty clear that I was not going to hit it off that well with the DDs [deputy directors] who were in place.... And we were having natural tense sessions." On top of that, according to Minihan, the senior officials didn't even get along with one another. "The DDs not only were resistant to me," said Minihan, "which I could handle, but they were resistant to each other. That's not healthy! And so, part of the grinding was, 'You guys don't even like each other? How is my institution going to be run if it's clear that you all don't even get along?'"

To employees, the result sounded like squabbling parents throwing dishes at each other. "You could hear the groans even down at our level," said Dr. David Hatch, the agency historian. Minihan added, "The workers were telling me the same thing: 'Those guys don't get it. They're always in a fight.'"

Given the tension, there was little surprise when Crowell left in September 1997.

Nearly twenty years earlier, Bobby Inman had arrived at NSA with views similar to Minihan's concerning the need for a strong director and a weak deputy. Inman chose a woman for the position: Ann Caracristi. ("Ann knew that I wanted to be the director," he said.) Minihan did the same, choosing Barbara A. McNamara as only the second woman deputy director. "Part of the transition from Bill to Barbara McNamara was to make certain that she understood what, how I thought the two portfolios should be handled," said Minihan. "I had a full expectation that there wasn't going to be any 'numbing' in what we were doing. And that was part of the interview: to be certain that that was ... a clear message in that sense."

Short, with close-cropped blond hair, Barbara A. McNamara" BAM," as she was known to many within NSA -- was born in Clinton, Massachusetts, and joined the agency as a linguist after receiving a degree in French from Regis College in 1963. At the time of her appointment to the deputyship, McNamara headed up the Operations Directorate and had also served as the NSA's ambassador to the Pentagon: the National Cryptologic Representative, Defense.

"I am honored to have been sworn in before you today," McNamara told the audience in NSA's cafeteria after the ceremony. "I would like to think that years from now, this organization will stand together again on a 'Day of Celebration' and speak about our successes yet unknown."

The new pair inherited not only the outgoing team's adjoining eighth-floor offices but also its' quagmire of race and gender issues. McConnell's policies seemed to please few, if any. The number of NSA employees filing complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission more than doubled, going from seventeen in 1990 to forty-five in 1995. Some even began to question whether national security was being imperiled by the promotion of inexperienced employees to sensitive jobs in order to meet hiring quotas. By 1997, following Minihan's arrival, at least a dozen lawsuits had been filed related to race or sex discrimination, and former employees had begun branding senior leadership the "Irish Mafia" while seeing the Office of Discrimination Complaints and Counseling "a party organization for blacks."

Under a new promotion policy, women and minority candidates received at least one round of extra consideration for promotion, thus allowing a minority woman three chances to advance where a white male got one. Such policies provoked anger and frustration from many longtime employees. William J. Sonntag was considered for promotion to deputy division chief in 1993 but failed to get the job; all three slots went to women. He sued, claiming, "I was denied consideration of a management position on the sole basis that white males were not being considered for three such jobs in my office." Sonntag lost his case but the government later settled with him when he appealed.

Sonntag and other employees essentially alleged that NSA used an aggressive brand of affirmative action to deny staffers promotions or, in some cases, even dismiss them. Emile J. Henault, Jr., an attorney who worked at the agency for twenty-seven years, agreed. In the spring of 1997 he received more than twenty requests from NSA employees thinking about bringing suit: "Suddenly it's become overwhelming." Calling the personnel office a "paramilitary group," Henault said that the agency uses information from confidential employee-counseling sessions to revoke security clearances. And losing a clearance at NSA means losing a job. "When you say 'national security,' everybody just wilts," Henault said. "Everybody hides under it."

To resolve internal problems, NSA has an Office of Inspector General, with a number of attorneys and investigators, but some employees feel that the main function of this office is simply to protect the agency and not to redress injustices. Few have greater reason to believe that than Mary Ann Sheehy, who transferred from the FBI to NSA in 1988 and was assigned to an extremely sensitive and covert Pentagon unit in northern Virginia.

In 1994, while stopped at a red light, a car plowed into the rear of her Toyota Tercel, leaving her with a permanent 15 percent disability. As a result, she filed suit against the driver of the other car. In order to establish lost wages as a result of her injuries, she asked the agency to release copies of her employment records to the driver's attorney. As defined by NSA, "employment information" consists simply of verification of an employee's position, grade, salary, and length of service. She also directed that the agency have no communication with the driver's attorney.

Later, to her horror, Sheehy learned that NSA's Office of Personnel not only telephoned the defense attorney but then sent her virtually every paper in her file, including copies of her pre-polygraph psychological records, pre-employment psychological and psychiatric evaluations, personality profiles, and all her agency medical records. It was a clear violation of both the federal Privacy Act as well as NSA's own internal guidelines. Also shocked by the release was NSA psychologist Dr. Michael J. Wigglesworth, who attempted to get the material back from the attorney. "I am quite concerned about this," he wrote to the lawyer. "It is the policy of this office [Psychological Services Division] to release this kind of information only to the employee, their therapist, or their representative.... As the material is still protected information under the Privacy Act, I would appreciate your returning all of the psychological information to me." But the attorney never returned the materials.

On November 7, 1994, Sheehy protested the actions of the personnel office to NSA's Office of Inspector General, requesting a formal Internal investigation. Three weeks later the opposing attorney used the very private documents, including the polygraph-related documents, in open court. "The files released by NSA were utilized by the defense attorney to embarrass, humiliate, and intimidate me during judicial proceedings," Sheehy said, "as well as jeopardize my future opportunities for employment as a covert intelligence officer."

Undeterred, Sheehy continued to fight within the secret bureaucracy. "I requested an appointment with the IG, Frank Newton, but was denied," she said. "My telephone calls to him were never returned. I followed the chain of command all the way to Ralph Adams, the executive director of NSA. [In October 1995] he told me to sue the agency. I wanted to speak to the director [then Lieutenant General Mike McConnell], but was told that was impossible." Six months later, in April 1996, the Inspector General's Office finally issued its report. Despite the gross violation of her privacy, the IG simply sided with the agency, concluding that "no evidence of improper or illegal activity on the part of Agency officials was found with respect to the release of your records under the Privacy Act."

After years of frustration and lack of promotion, Sheehy sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999. "NSA believes it is above the law, can police itself and is accountable to no one," she wrote. "Instead of helping me, they lied to cover their illegal conduct," Once again she was brushed off with a stock response: "'While we sympathize with your circumstances, there is not sufficient evidence of a criminal violation of the Privacy Act for us to take any further action."

Finally, in the spring of 2000, Sheehy asked the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore to look into NSA's treatment of her. The U.S. Attorney's Office responded on April 13, saying it had received her letter. That very day, in what Sheehy considers retaliation, NSA dispatched two officials from the Office of Security to Virginia to strip her of her special agent badge and identification card. Only after two months and the intervention of a high-ranking Pentagon intelligence official did NSA relent and return Sheehy's credentials to her. The U.S. Attorney's Office eventually dismissed her complaint, finding that no federal laws were broken. "You should look for another job," an attorney once warned her, "because they are going to retaliate -- they're going to put you in a closet and give you a terrible supervisor and force you out."

By 2000, according to several employees, the IG's office had become more responsive, under the direction of Ethan L. Bauman, an outsider who had previously served as a federal prosecutor.

General Minihan could easily have served as the model for William H. Whyte, Jr.'s, Organization Man. Almost weekly he announced a new program or theme. He came up with "Future Day" and The Futuregram to bring "all parts of the Agency together with ideas, concerns, and solutions." ("I think it's magnificent," he later said. "And I thought of it myself!") He created an internal Internet web page outlining his goals and priorities for the next 30, 100, 365, and 1,000 days. He would throw out slogans, such as "One Team, One Mission," and ask employees to take pledges ("No one will work harder ...," "No one will stand watch longer ...," etc.).

Minihan also pushed the NSA's normally cenobite senior managers to broaden their experience by seeking an assignment or two with other intelligence agencies. And he would hand out small medallions, "The Director's Coin," when he saw an on-the-spot need to recognize someone's special contribution to the agency. He even started an annual week-long festival to bring together agency staff from diverse cultural backgrounds.

To help break out of the bureaucratic mind-set, Minihan announced, "Out-of-the-box thinking is not only authorized, it is encouraged." He then set up his own personal "secret team," a sort of antibureaucracy commando force designed to carry out his orders in the most expeditious manner possible, regardless of the organizational chart.

Named the Skunk Works, after the famous Lockheed team that built the spectacular U-2 and SR-71 spy planes ahead of schedule, under budget, and in total secrecy, the five-member team worked directly for Minihan. He would turn to them when he needed quick action on a project in order to cut through the agency's red tape. The motto of the Skunk Works was "anytime, anywhere, on time, and right the first time."

It was as though Minihan had taken over a losing football team and was determined to snap it back into shape. "Now is the time for Team NSA to step forward and lead America's entry into the 21st century," he said in his first announcement to the workforce. "We are no longer a world-class organization; NSA is the class of the world."

But some saw Minihan's efforts as a crass attempt to bludgeon workers with tacky slogans and heavy-handed propaganda. "Where are my hip boots?" wrote one employee upset and embarrassed over Minihan's gushing enthusiasm over his "Future Day."

The propaganda about Future Day just will not end! ... The truth is that participation in Future Day was mandatory and, worse yet, the word came down through management that all responses to Future Day should be positive, or else. In my many years at the Agency, I have never seen such widespread and blatantly coercive pressure used on employees as was the case with Future Day. All negative or dissenting opinion was quashed, except that of a few people willing to risk their careers by expressing their opinions in ENLIGHTEN [the NSA internal e-mail system].

The fact that NSA's management is resorting to this level of coercion and propaganda is not merely embarrassing or irritating -- it is a sure sign that the Agency has lost its corporate integrity and suffers from a deplorable lack of qualified leadership. A first step toward reversing this downward trend would be an official, public acknowledgment by NSA seniors that employees were pressured to provide only positive feedback regarding Future Day and that the proclaimed benefits of Future Day have been grossly overhyped.

To unify his "team," Minihan attempted to break down the thick walls separating the Sigint and Infosec (information security) sides of NSA as well as the cultural barriers that divided the military and civilian workers. Where the National Sigint Operations Center had been the exclusive club of the eavesdroppers and codebreakers, Minihan brought in the Infosec folks and renamed it the National Security Operations Center. He also launched the NSNs first worldwide virtual town meeting. "We now have people talking about both sides of the mission in ways that we haven't seen for a long, long time," said one senior official, "and that's pretty exciting."

While many in NSA welcomed Minihan's aggressive, all-for-one-and-one-for-all management style and his budgetary innovations, the politicians on Capitol Hill who held the key to the agency's strongbox were fuming. In 1998 the House Intelligence Committee even threatened to withhold funds unless the agency made "very large changes" in its "culture and methods of operation," Of particular concern was Minihan's lack of adequate "strategic and business planning" as well as the agency's resistance to ordered budget cuts, and the diversion "from their intended purpose" of funds previously allocated to the agency.

Minihan's accounting system was also a shambles. According to a classified Pentagon inspector general's report released in 1998, auditors found that NSA had not instituted required internal controls and ignored laws and regulations, such as the Chief Financial Officers Act, necessary to produce accurate financial statements. "The NSA FY 1997 financial statements were materially incomplete and inaccurate," said the report. "The financial statements omitted real property located at a field site, a portion of Accounts Payable and a portion of operating expenses." This was not the first time the Inspector General's Office had found NSA's books out of order: in August 1996 it found similar inaccuracies.

The mismanagement left Minihan and NSA open to harsh criticism by House committee members. The agency officials "cannot track allocations for critical functions," the panel said in its report on the fiscal 1999 Intelligence Authorization Act. As a result, "Fences have been placed on portions of the [NSA] budget with the prospect that a considerable amount of money could be programmed for other intelligence community needs if NSA does not develop strategic and business planning."

Even more humiliatingly, about the same time that the House report was released, the Pentagon cut Minihan's direct lines to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a plan approved in late April 1998, Minihan and other senior NSA officials had to first report through an assistant defense secretary several rungs down the ladder, one responsible for command, control, communications, and intelligence, or "C3I" in intelligence jargon.

Adding to Minihan's woes was the discovery that NSA for years had been seriously mismanaging its mega-million-dollar high-tech computer and information technology systems. One organization in NSA would buy a top-of-the-line system only to discover that it was incompatible with other systems in the agency; millions of dollars' worth of new equipment would be bought that duplicated -- or was inferior to -- equipment already owned by the agency.

To correct the situation, the Secretary of Defense ordered NSA to install a sort of budget czar overseeing all purchasing and use of information technology. In 1997 Minihan named Ronald Kemper to the new post of chief information officer for NSA. Kemper also headed up the agency's new Enterprise Information Technology Office.

From the moment he walked into his spacious office on the top floor of OPS 2B as the fourteenth DIRNSA, Minihan had his eye on the new millennium. He saw a future where wars were fought not on muddy battlefields but in the invisible ether, in cyperspace, and there the NSA was king. "Just as control of industrial technology was key to military and economic power during the past two centuries," he told the citizens of the secret city, "control of information technology will be vital in the decades ahead.. In the future, threats will arise and battles will be fought and won in the information domain. This is, and has always been, the natural operating environment "of the National Security Agency.... Information will give us the power to pick all the locks."

Searching for a catchy phrase, Minihan came up with "Information dominance for America." Said Minihan, "And then a couple of times the Brits and others beat up on me; I figure I got to add 'and its allies.'"

Minihan's metaphor for the future was not a technology superhighway but a technology sword, a sword that could cut both ways. "Though new technologies provide tremendous opportunities to share information and develop new relationships," he warned, "those same technologies are the primary weapons of the electronic road warriors of the future. 'Techno-terrorists,' ranging from mischievous teens to sophisticated nation and state adversaries, have agendas and potential destructive powers far more wide-ranging than we are accustomed to. Their targets will be our information databases, emergency services, power grids, communications systems, and transportation systems.... We must continue this fight."

The centerpiece of Minihan's Year 2000 battle plan for NSA was his "National Cryptologic Strategy for the 21st Century," in which NSA would take the lead in the conflicts of the future -- both protecting the nation from cyber attacks and taking the offense with information warfare, Minihan put this work on the same level as protecting from. nuclear attacks. "Information warfare poses a strategic risk of military failure and catastrophic economic loss and is one of the toughest threats this nation faces at the end of this century," he said. "We must be able to determine if we are being attacked, who is conducting the attack, and what to do if we are attacked.... We will also continue targeting intelligence for information warfare at levels of detail and timeliness com parable to those achieved for conventional and nuclear warfare."

But by the end of his tour, Minihan still had not corrected some of NSA's most grievous problems, and the House Intelligence Committee showed him no mercy. It bluntly declared, "The committee believes that NSA is in serious trouble," Although it continued to pour large sums into the agency's worldwide eavesdropping network, its satellites and codebreaking capabilities, the committee said, "money and priority alone will not revive NSA, nor the overall (signals intelligence] system." The problem, said the panel, is not lack of money but lack of management. "The committee believes that NSA management has not yet stepped up to the line."

In a farewell note to his employees, Minihan talked of both the successes and setbacks of his tour. "Looking back," he wrote, "we have accomplished much together. As is our tradition, those successes remain known only to a few. We have also experienced the continuation of the largest draw-down in our history. At the same time, we have been confronted with a tidal wave of new technologies and transnational threats which some believed threatened our very existence." Privately, in his office, Minihan was more candid. "It's the hardest job I've ever had," he said. "It sucks the life out of you. You know, if you're awake, you're thinking about this job."

In his last days, Minihan feared that his successor would shift from the course he had set for the agency. "I think it will be catastrophic if we allowed the person to drift away from the scheme that we've set up," he said to several employees in his office. Then he said it was up to them to keep the new director on course. "And I think that's actually more a question of you and I and the folks here than it is a question for this guy. So I've done my part with this guy. But his background is actually completely different if you look back at us. I've been in the business a lot. He has not. I was sent here with a 'Do they get it or not?' Now his question is, 'Are you going to stay the course or not.'"

One week later, on March 15, 1999, Minihan walked between a double row of well-wishers, past the shiny turnstiles of OPS 2A, and out into the chilly air of retirement. No more government-paid cook, car, and chauffeur. No more government housing. No more secrets with his morning coffee. Gone was his subscription to the Top Secret/Umbra National SIGINT File, gone was his high-speed connection to the supersecret Intelink. Now his daily intelligence summary would be found rolled in a plastic wrapper on the driveway of his new Annapolis, Maryland, home. In place of a briefing on the latest advances against a Chinese cipher system, he now had the daily crossword puzzle to tease his brain.


The moving vans, loaded with Minihan's well-traveled belongings, had barely pulled away from the handsome redbrick house on Butler Avenue when painters and cleaners arrived to spruce it up for his successor. For more than four decades this has been the official residence of the director of NSA. Located in a restricted, tree-shaded corner of Fort Meade, it is equipped with its own Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Inside the Vault Type Room is a STU-III crypto phone connected to NSA, about three miles away, and a heavy safe in which to hold highly classified documents brought home for late-night reading.

On a wall near the kitchen is a plaque containing the names of all the NSA heads who have lived there -- every director except for the first, Lieutenant General Ralph Canine. After Minihan's departure, a new brass plate was attached to the plaque, one bearing the name of Michael V. Hayden, an Air Force lieutenant general and the fifteenth director of NSA.

In addition to a house, Hayden had inherited an ax. He would have to use it to slice away at NSA's personnel levels more than other directors had done. In order to reduce the personnel rolls, NSA for the first time began turning over to outside contractors highly sensitive work previously reserved to NSA employees. This project, called Groundbreaker, was unveiled in 2000 to the dismay of many in the agency. Projections were that it would "impact more than 3,000 employees." As many as 1,500 employees and 800 contractors would lose their jobs under the project. However, those affected would be guaranteed jobs with whichever contractor won the bidding for the contract. Those who declined to work for the new contractor would be let go.

Hayden called the project "unprecedented" because it involved turning over to private industry the management and development of nearly all of the agency's nonclassified information technology programs. The contracts were worth $5 billion over ten years. The drastic measures were taken largely because of years of poor in-house management. "Our information technology infrastructure is a critical part of our mission and it needs some repair," said Stephen E. Tate, chief of NSA's Strategic Directions Team. "It is a burning platform and we've got to fix it."

But some longtime employees think the agency is sacrificing senior analysts to buy more expensive satellites to collect more information to be analyzed by fewer experienced people. "They're buying all those new toys," said one twenty-six- ear veteran, "hut they don't have the people to use them. It's always happened that way, but more so in the past seven or eight years. The people who provide the intelligence aren't there anymore. So things are starting to slip through the cracks."

Among those cracks was NSA's failure to warn of India's nuclear test in 1998, a mistake that John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists called "the intelligence failure of the decade." Pike added, "The question of 'toys versus boys' in the NSA budget has been, and will remain, controversial. It's my understanding that Minihan's view of this is, they've got too many people and they need more toys. They're clearly trying to have their cake and eat it, too."

In order to cut as few linguists and analysts as possible, some of the heaviest reductions were made in support functions at NSA -- turning the agency into a colder and less personal environment. "There is a significant amount of concern from Congress and from our overseers," Terry Thompson told a group of technical employees, "about how much money and resources we're devoting to human resources activity at NSA." He joked: "We have thousands of people doing resources management at NSA; half of them spend time generating work for the other half. If we had a good business process and a good way of handling our budget ... we could free up a lot of those to do other things."

Thus, just as NSA's vast unclassified information technology operations were turned over to outside contractors, so were many of the agency's human resources activities. The contract went to Peoplesoft, a California corporation that specializes in automating human resources functions. "The transition from working with a human being down the hall to working with a computer on your desktop to do most of your human resources business is a tough transition for everybody," said Thompson.

For employees stressed out by all the changes, the agency has its own mental health clinic. Hidden away in the Parkway Corporate Center in Hanover, Maryland, to provide "anonymity and confidentiality,". the center has a staff of thirteen fully cleared clinical psychologists and social workers; In addition to courses in stress management and coping with organizational change, the NSA's Employee Assistance Service provides a wide range of programs, on topics such as assertiveness training, bereavement, dealing with difficult people, weight control, eating disorders, and even social skills enhancement. A "significant number" of EAS clients, says one report, are treated for depression. The EAS also has branch offices at NSA's major listening posts in England and Germany.

Seventy-two percent of NSA employees who visit EAS are "self-referred"; others are sent by their supervisors. A person's boss may call the psychology office to verify that the employee kept an appointment, but cannot probe into the problems discussed. To ensure confidentiality, all EAS files are kept separate from normal NSA personnel and security files. Nevertheless, the Office of Security is made aware when a person visits the office. And if it is determined that "national security is threatened," the confidentiality of the sessions can be broken.

Ironically, while one group of senior managers at NSA is searching for ways to reduce the employment rolls, another group, in the Information Security Directorate, is attempting to stem the brain drain caused by big-bucks offers from private industry. As computers take over more and more segments of society, so does the demand grow for highly experienced computer and information security specialists to protect that data. At the top of the list of places to which corporate headhunters are now turning is NSA. "It's a real worry," said one senior NSA executive. "If the issue is salary, we're in a noncompetitive position."

"Our hiring program skims off the cream from the available hiring pool year after year," said Terry Thompson. "And so we have a very, very high-quality workforce. All of that says that when you go out, shopping yourself around for a job, if you have NSA on your resume, it's worth more than the ten thousand dollars or whatever the amount [the increase in salary] is for having a TS/SI [Top Secret/Special Intelligence] clearance. There's a brand-name recognition that goes above that for people who work at NSA."

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, "While average starting salaries [in the private sector] for graduates with bachelor's degrees in computer engineering grew to more than $34,000 in 1995, the federal government's entry-level salary for computer professionals with bachelor's degrees ranged from about $18,700 to $23,000 that year." To help overcome the disparity, NSA in 1996 raised the pay of its mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers.

Agency officials, however, say it is not the money that attracts many NSA employees but "the unique nature of our work." In an effort to find new talent, NSA set up its own recruitment web page, which has been responsible for bringing in about 20 percent of its applicants. The agency also began posting job openings on employment web sites like Job Web and Career Mosaic.

By the mid-1990s NSA had scaled back hiring to only about 100 new employees a year. A commission established to look into the intelligence community saw problems down the road in consequence of such drastic cutbacks in hiring. "This is simply insufficient to maintain the health and continuity of the workforce," the report said. It went on to warn that if the pattern continued, NSA would face a future in which large segments of its workforce would leave "at roughly the same time without a sufficient cadre of skilled personnel to carryon the work."

NSA's decade-long diet had left it nearly a third lighter at the start of the new century. "Our budget has declined by almost thirty percent over the last ten years," said Thompson in late 1999. "And our workforce has gone down at a commensurate rate. But our requirements [the work assigned to NSA] have gone up and we have a hard time saying no, so it's hard for us to stop doing things."

Thompson believes that Congress neglected NSA for many years because it had fewer high-cost defense contractors on its payroll than some other agencies, and thus far fewer lobbyists to pressure Congress for more money for NSA. "One of the reasons we don't get more support on the Hill for the budget," he said, "is we don't have a strong lobby in the defense industry. You know the NRO has a seven-billion-dollar budget. And anytime somebody talks about taking a nickel away from them there's people from Lockheed and Boeing -- well, especially Boeing ... and other big, big defense industrial contractors that are down there saying, 'You can't cut this because it's jobs in your district, Senator or Congressman....'"

"The point is," continued Thompson, "they [other agencies] have a very effective defense-industrial lobby because they spend a a lot of money in the contract community. We don't have that. We used to have, ten or fifteen years ago. But we don't anymore, because we spend our money on four hundred or four thousand different contracts and it's hard to get a critical mass of people who want to go down and wave the flag for NSA when budget deliberations are going on."

Speaking to a group of military communications officials, Kenneth Minihan once summed up NSA's budgetary problems with an old pilot's saying: "The nose is pointing down and the houses are getting bigger."



1. The Pentagon report also criticized the NSA for wasting millions of dollars on warehousing old magnetic tapes, failing to manage properly its highly secret special-access programs, and not adequately measuring whether the intelligence being collected matched the intelligence that was being asked for. Four years later, in 1996, the agency still had not corrected several of the problems.
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Part 1 of 2



It would be one of the most delicate operations ever performed. The doctors and technicians would gather early and work late into the night. Any mistake could be extremely serious. The patient's memory could be lost forever, or the ability to function severely damaged. Crypto City was about to undergo its first brain transplant. According to the director, nothing less than "the continued success of the agency's Sigint mission largely depended on this." The' planning had taken years. NSA would create the largest, most powerful, and most secret electronic brain on earth.

But first it would have to build a specialized facility to house the new center. Then it would need to carefully transplant tons of massive and delicate supercomputers -- more than 150 -- from the cavernous basement of OPS 1 to their new home, out of sight in a wooded corner of the secret city nearly a mile away. Whereas most government offices and large corporations measure in square feet the space taken up by their computers, NSA measures it in acres. "I had five and a half acres of computers when I was there," said Marshall Carter, director in the late 1960s. "We didn't Count them by numbers; it was five and a half acres." Even though modern computers have more capacity and smaller footprints, one NSA employee more than a decade later commented, "It's double that today."

Once in place, the computers would be brought back to life and linked by a secure fiber optic spinal cord to the Headquarters/Operations Building complex-all without disrupting NSA's critical operations. When it was finally completed, in 1996, NSA's Supercomputer Facility held the most powerful collection of thinking machines on the planet.

Standing in front of the new building on the afternoon of October 29, 1996, Kenneth Minihan held a pair of scissors up to a thin ribbon of red, white, and blue. No press releases had been issued, and even the invitations to the event gave no hint where the ceremony would actually take place. But then, that was precisely how the man in whose name the Tordella Supercomputer Facility was about to be dedicated would have wanted it. This would be the first NSA building to be named for a person. As the scissors sliced through the colorful ribbon, a handheld machine of elegant simplicity opened the way to a building of infinite complexity.


The history of modern codebreaking and the history of computers are, to a large degree, coterminous. Yet because of its "policy of anonymity," NSA's role has been almost totally hidden. When the Association for Computing Machinery sponsored a commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its founding, NSA simply stayed away. Likewise, when computing pioneers gathered at the quarter-century anniversary meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' Computer Society, NSA again exhibited an advanced case of shyness.

But NSA's role in computer development has been, and continues to be, enormous. The man responsible for much of that work -- as well as for the thick shroud of secrecy that still surrounds it -- was Dr. Louis W. Tordella, NSA's keeper of the secrets.

By the outbreak of the Second World War, the importance of machines to aid in codebreaking was known but their use was limited. At that time the Signal Security Agency had only fifteen machines and twenty-one operators. But by the spring of 1945, the SSA was employing 1,275 operators and supervisors to work on 407 keypunch machines.

Besides its off-the-shelf tabulating machines, the agency had specialized machines custom built for codebreaking. Known as Rapid Analytical Machines (RAMs), they employed vacuum tubes, relays, high-speed electronic circuits, and photoelectrical principles. They were the forerunners of the modern computer, but they were expensive and overspecialized. A number of them were built to attack a specific code or cipher, so if a cipher system was changed or abandoned, the machine was of little value.

The Navy's Op-20-G contracted with Eastman Kodak, National Cash Register, and several other firms to design and build its RAMs. The Army's Signal Security Agency, on the other hand, worked closely with Bell Laboratories. Another major contractor during the war was IBM, which built a specialized attachment for its IBM tabulator, thereby increasing the power of the standard punch-card systems by several orders of magnitude.

Two of the SSA's cryptanalytic machines were immense. Costing a million dollars apiece, an extraordinary sum at the time, they were capable of performing operations which, if done by hand in the old Black Chamber, would have required over 200,000 people. By the end of 1945 another monster machine was nearing completion; it had power equivalent to 5 million cryptanalysts.

Tordella hoped the development by outside contractors of new, sophisticated cryptologic equipment would continue. But with no war to fight he found the contractors less willing to undertake the research. The rigorous security clearances, the oppressive physical security, and the limited usefulness of the equipment in the marketplace made many companies shy away from the field. Because of this, a group of former Navy officers, familiar with cryptography and signals intelligence, banded together to form Engineering Research Associates, which took on some of the Naval Security Group's most complex assignments.

At about the same time, a group of engineers and mathematicians at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering completed an electronic marvel named ENIAC (for "electronic numerical integrator computer"), and thus gave birth to the computer era. ENIAC was an ungainly giant whose body was a good deal larger han its brain. Its total storage capacity was only twenty numbers, yet its 18,000 electron tubes took up the better part of a room thirty feet by fifty. Nevertheless, the machine offered tremendous possibilities in speed.

The development of ENIAC led to a series of lectures on the theoryof computers, presented at the Moore School and sponsored jointly by the Office of Naval Research and the Army's Ordnance Department. Among those attending the lectures, given between July 8 and August 31, 1946, was Lieutenant Commander James T. Pendergrass, a colleague of Tordella's in the Naval Security Group, whose assignment was to assess the potential of computers in cryptography and signals intelligence.

Pendergrass came away from the lectures excited. Computers appeared to offer the flexibility that RAMs lacked. Whereas many of the RAMs were designed to handle one particular problem, such as breaking one foreign cipher system, computers could handle a whole range of problems. "The author believes that the general purpose mathematical computer, now in the design stage, is a general purpose cryptanalytic machine," wrote Pendergrass. "A computer could do everything that any analytic machine in Building 4 can do, and do a good percentage of these problems more rapidly."

Soon after Pendergrass submitted his favorable report, negotiations began between the Security Group and Engineering Research Associates for the design and construction of the signals intelligence community's first computer. But what to name it? A yeoman overheard Tordella and his colleagues discussing ideas and suggested "Atlas," after the mental giant in the comic strip "Barnaby." Atlas lived up to its namesake. "When it was delivered to the Security Group in December 1950, Atlas had an impressive capacity of 16,384 words; it was the first parallel electronic computer in the United States with a drum memory. A second, identical computer was delivered to NSA in March 1953.

A key component of the machine was the vacuum tube. "We had the biggest collection of vacuum tube circuitry anyplace in the world there at one time," said former NSA research chief Howard Campaigne. "And we knew more about the life of vacuum tubes and the kinds of vacuum tubes that were used and how they should be maintained than just about anybody else." The vacuum tubes, he said, were as big as lightbulbs. "And then you get a lot of lightbulbs together and you have to have air-conditioning to cool them off. And so we were having fifteen tons of air-conditioning per machine."

Tordella was not the only one impressed by the Pendergrass report. About the same time that he received it, a copy also landed on the desk, of Sam Snyder at Arlington Hall, headquarters of the Army Security Agency. "A copy of this report hit my desk in November 1946," Snyder later recalled, "and my reaction was explosive. I immediately ran into the office of Dr. Solomon Kullback, my boss, and said something like, 'We have to get a machine like this. Think what it could do for us!' " Kullback assigned Snyder to investigate the possibilities; Snyder spent the next year meeting with experts such as John von Neumann, at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study, and visiting institutions and private companies involved in computer research. "In the agency at that time," Snyder said, "money was no object; we could get whatever we wanted."

Eventually the ASA built its own codebreaking computer, which they named Abner. "We chose the name from Li'l Abner Yokum, the comic strip character who was a big brute, but not very smart," said Snyder, a longtime NSA computer expert, "because we believed that computers, which can be big and do brute-force operations, aren't very bright either; they can only follow simple instructions but can't think for themselves." Abner was originally given only fifteen simple programs, or "instructions" (later doubled to thirty). Nevertheless, when it was secretly completed in April 1952 it was the "most sophisticated computer of its time. One could enter or extract information not only with the standard keypunched computer card but also with punched paper tape, magnetic tape, a parallel printer, a typewriter, or a console.

At NSA Tordella became chief of NSA-70, which was responsible for high-level cryptanalysis. He and the others who were pushing for ever-increasing computer power got a boost in 1954. James Killian, a Harvard professor exploring US. vulnerability to another surprise attack, concluded that 90 percent of war warnings would inevitably come from signals intelligence. But, he pointed out, since nuclear attack could come in a matter of minutes, it would be necessary to speed up the timeline on eavesdropping and codebreaking to beat the clock. "From then on," said one former NSAer, "the focus of the Sigint process was on speed."

Several years later, in July 1956, one of the most costly as well as far-reaching research programs ever undertaken by NSA was born. Its birthplace, however, was not a chalk-covered blackboard in Research and Engineering but a cocktail party. Over drinks, several high-level NSA equipment planners began discussing with Director Canine a number of the agency's perennial problems. At the top of the list was the battle between the codebreakers, always looking to attack ever-increasing volumes of data, and the engineers, constantly attempting to design and build bigger and faster computers to meet those needs. No matter how powerful the new equipment, the engineers never seemed to catch up. Tordella began pushing for research into second-generation computer technology.

At the time, NSA was using the PACE 10, the first analog desktop computer used at the agency. It was self-contained, to the extent that the logic was in the interior. The output was a printing device. The plug-in units had a wire associated with them and each panel was set up to do a different mathematical function. For a· fairly complex mathematical problem, one would plug in all the appropriate panels and hand-wire them together. The computer's operations manual boasted that once it was set up, a problem could be completed in fifteen to sixty seconds.

On the drawing board was a second-generation computer known as Harvest. It was designed to be an estimated hundredfold improvement in speed over the best current computers, but a completion date was still several years away. Exasperated by this situation, Canine exploded: "Dammit, I want you fellows to get the jump on those guys [computer companies]! Build me a thousand-megacycle machine! I'll get the money!"

The head of NSA's REMP (Research, Engineering, Math and Physics) Branch at the time was Howard Campaigne, who had helped uncover the high-level Russian "Fish" cipher system as part of TICOM. ''After the ideas of Harvest were started," he said, "we in research tried to think of other things; and one of the suggestions that came up was that we ought to have a big program. We ought to attack it like the Manhattan Project. We ought to really go after it. And so we dreamed up this 'Project Lightning.'"


It was a time, according to Campaigne, when anything was possible. "We were always surprised. We had an idea which looked expensive and we'd go ahead and they'd always be encouraging -- 'Do it,' " he said. "During most of my career, we always had encouragement from above to do things. If you can see something to do, do it. We made some mistakes, but by and large, most of the things we attacked were at least partially successful." Among the successes was developing the first solid-state computer by replacing vacuum tubes with transistors. Then the transistors were replaced by magnetic cores in a computer named Bogart.

But by the late 19605, said Campaigne, things began to change. "In the late sixties we weren't getting encouragement. We were being told the budget had to be cut. We had to do without ... I used to argue that it [the research-and-development percentage of the overall NSA budget] should be more than five percent. It ought to be up in the seven and eight percent [range] ... During the Lightning program, my budget had been as high as nine million dollars a year. And when I left in '69, that was my last full fiscal year, our budget was three million. It had been cut to a third ... And we had been pretty much cut down in contract work. All the contracts were much smaller than they had been. So when I became eligible to retire, I figured, Well, gee, no point in staying around here to cut budgets. So I went out." By the late 1990s, the research-and-development portion of the overall NSA budget had dropped even further than during Campaigne's time, to less than 4 percent.

Part of NSA's early success, said Campaigne, was a willingness to take chances. "What the research-and-development people are doing is just trying things out," he said. "They're doing experiments. And so you'd expect them to have a lot of failures and a few successes. Historically, as a matter of fact, they had many more successes than they should have." Later on, as NSA grew, the experiments became less bold. "The reason is they're so damned cautious. See, they're more cautious that we were. At least, more cautious than we should have been.... I guess it's because the researchers like to look good. They don't like-to have a failure, even though they're there just to experiment. They like to succeed. But, in fact, somebody who was administering a research-and-development activity ought to say, 'You know, you guys are too damn cautious. Get out there and do some experimenting.'"

Campaigne's optimistic push-ahead-at-all-costs philosophy derived from his belief that every cipher machine, no matter how difficult, could eventually be broken. "There is no such thing as an unbreakable cipher/' he said, "and it irritates me when people talk about such things without realizing it's nonsense.... But people keep thinking there might be such a thing as an unbreakable cipher."

Secrecy was always NSA's best ally when attempting to get money from Congress. "All those committee chairs were very friendly in those days, and secrecy impressed them," said Arthur Levenson, in charge of Russian codebreaking at NSA and also a veteran of TICOM. "We got most of what we wanted, and a free hand in how we used it." Another former official said, of congressional oversight: "We didn't have any in those days." When General Canine was asked a question during a closed budget appropriations committee hearing, his favorite answer was, "Congressman, you don't really want to know the answer to that. You wouldn't be able to sleep at night." Said one former official, "And the members would look at each other and they were content with that."


Awarded $25 million by Congress, and okayed by Eisenhower, NSA's five-year race to develop "thousand-megacycle electronics" was on.

Lightning research began in June 1957. Contractors on the project, the largest government-supported computer research program in history up until then, included Sperry Rand, RCA, IBM, Philco, General Electric, MIT, the University of Kansas, and Ohio State. Though the project's primary goal was to increase circuitry capability by 1,000 percent, the end results went even further, extending the state of the art of computer science well beyond expectations. Research was conducted on cryogenic components, subminiaturization of components, and superfast switching devices, called tunnel diodes.

One of the most rewarding by-products of Lightning was the boost it gave the development of NSA's mammoth Harvest complex, which was designed to be NSA's largest general-purpose computer. For years computers were designed to attack specific codebreaking machines, such as the complex, Swiss-made Hagelin, which was used by many countries around the world. "We had in the past, before that time, we had built a special device for every problem," said Howard Campaigne. "And we'd gotten some very effective devices. But it always took a long time to build it. We had to formulate the problem and design the equipment, and get it constructed, and debugged, and all that had to take place when we ought to be operating."

But a superpowerful computer like Harvest, it was hoped, would be able to attack not only the Hagelin machine but also a variety of cipher machines and systems from multiple countries. "As the computers became more sophisticated," said Solomon Kullback, one of William F. Friedman's original pioneers, it became possible to "program one of, these high- speed general purpose computers so that it could simulate the action of the Hagelin and use them for the Hagelin problem." However, the computer would not be limited to the Hagelin machine.

The original name for the computer was to be Plantation, but it was discovered that the White House had already taken the name to use as a codeword for emergency relocation. "The idea was to have a modular computer set up in which you'd have things which resembled barns and stables and that the plantation [would be] a center or central thing," recalled Howard Campaigne. "So they called it Harvest as part of this plantation group of things."

Ironically, Solomon Kullback, who headed NSA's research-and-development office for a "decade, never had any real enthusiasm for computers until they started proving their worth. "He didn't interfere with us," said Campaigne. "He didn't try to stop us or anything like that, but he just had no personal enthusiasm for it at all. And later on he was willing to spend plenty of money on them. And there were a lot of people like that."

In 1955 IBM began planning its most ambitious computer, the Stretch. So huge was Stretch that IBM designers believed the market contained only two possible customers; NSA and the Atomic Energy Commission. The AEC signed up for the computer primarily because of its advantages in high-speed multiplication. But NSA, looking for more flexibility as well as the manipulation of great volumes of data, sent the engineers back to the drawing board for a more customized version. In April 1958 a final design was approved, and in February 1962 the agency took delivery of its long-awaited Stretch, now modified and considerably faster. "IBM regarded it as a bad experience because the Stretch as a whole they lost money on," said Howard Campaigne. "And since then, they've been very careful about getting into big computers. They just let Seymour Cray build them."

Once in place as the heart -- or, more appropriately, brain -- of NSA's enormous Harvest complex, even Stretch began to look somewhat diminutive. Attached was a variety of unusual, complex accessories that more than doubled the computer's original size. One was the Stream Processing Unit, which was able to take over a number of the more tedious and time-consuming cryptanalytic functions. A key to codebreaking is the ability to quickly test encrypted text against every conceivable combination of letters in an alphabet. Because it may take millions of tries before the right combination of letters is found which breaks the cipher, speed is essential. "It was clear to us that one way of getting high capacity was to go fast," said Campaigne. An evaluation conducted by an NSA team concluded that Harvest was more powerful than the best commercially available computer by a factor of 50 to 200, depending on the particular application.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy's codebreaking machine, known as the bombe, was able to perform tests on 1,300 characters per second. In other words, it was able to try 1,300 separate keys in the German lock every second, looking for the right one to pop it open. With the new Stream Processing Unit, that speed was increased to some 3 million characters each second-a 230;000 percent increase. Thus, to pick the lock, NSA could now try 3 million new keys every second until the right one was found-truly lightning speed.

From one foreign cipher system alone, Harvest was able to process 7,075,315 intercepted messages of about 500 characters each, examining every possible combination, to see if they contained any 7,000 different target words or phrases on a watch list. The watch list might include such words as "submarine" or "battalion," or the names of key leaders. It was all done in just three hours and fifty minutes: an average of over 30,000 intercepted messages per minute.

Like misers hoarding every last penny in a rusted treasure chest, NSA computer scientists hoard microseconds. "You save enough microseconds and 10 and behold you've got a tremendously fast machine," recalled Solomon Kullback.

Harvest not only increased NSA's speed, it also enlarged its memory, with a specially designed system that permitted the storage and retrieval of data at nearly 10 million characters per second.

Still another area advanced by Harvest was information retrieval, which used a unit known as Tractor. Tractor was capable of automatically locating desired information from a magnetic tape library of 480 reels, each capable of storing some 90 million characters. The machines would then mount, position, and thread the correct tape, and transfer the information at a then mind-boggling 1,128,000 characters per second -- " a rate," said a secret NSA document at the time, "that is still beyond present computer tape technology." Whereas most magnetic tape contained 100 bits to the inch, NSA managed to pack 3,000 bits in the same space, and then whisk them past the reading heads at 235 inches per second.

Feeding streams of intercepts from the worldwide listening posts to the analysts at NSA is a special highly secure Sigint Communications System. First opened on the eve of Pearl Harbor, the system carried over 25 million words a day by the mid-1960s. Analysts using Harvest would then further process the encrypted traffic.

Another system bears critically important intelligence from an intercept operator at a listening post in a distant part of the world straight to the president of the United States at breakneck speed. The surprise launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik in 1957 caused an earthquake within the intelligence community. At the time, it took an average of 8 hours and 35 minutes for a message containing critical intelligence to reach the White House. President Eisenhower demanded that the time be reduced to minutes. At a National Security Council meeting on August 27, 1958, attended by Eisenhower, CIA director Allen Dulles agreed that "there was little purpose in developing critical intelligence overseas unless we had the communications means to insure its rapid transmission to Washington."

A month later, in a meeting in the Oval Office with Eisenhower, Tordella proposed a system known as CRITICOMM. After Tordella outlined the costs and benefits, Eisenhower turned to the deputy secretary of defense and said, "Do it." Within six months NSA was able to reduce transmission time from more than 8 hours to 52 minutes. In another six months the agency was able to have a CRITIC, or critical intelligence message, on Eisenhower's desk within a brief thirteen minutes, regardless of where it had originated. Eventually the time shrunk to between three and five minutes.

Finally, a system codenamed Rye provided remote access to Harvest, thus permitting analysts throughout NSA to access the main computer via several dozen distant terminals. "RYE has made it possible for the Agency to locate many more potentially exploitable cryptographic systems and 'bust' situations," said one secret report at the time. "Many messages that would have taken hours or days to read by hand methods, if indeed the process were feasible at all, can now be 'set' and machine decrypted in a matter of minutes.... Decrypting a large batch of messages in a solved system [is] also being routinely handled by this system."

Few could have foreseen Harvest's bright future when the machine was first built. Because the complexity of the system baffled even many of the best analysts, it was originally considered a white elephant. During employee tours, the huge, boxy machine was pointed to and mocked. "It's beautiful, but it doesn't work," officials would scoff But once the machine was fully understood, Harvest became so successful that it was used continuously for fourteen years. The agency finally switched to a more advanced system only in 1976.

As computers more and more became essential in both codemaking and codebreaking, worries developed over the progress the Soviet Union was making in the field, especially given its early lead in space exploration. In 1959 a top secret panel was created to investigate where the United States stood in its computer race with Russia. The results were encouraging. By then the U.S. government had about 3,000 computers, of which about 300 were high-performance machines valued at more than $1 million each. Russia, however, had fewer than 400 computers, of which 'only about 50 were large machines.

Although for a time both countries attained comparable speed -- the Soviet M-20 was about as fast as the IBM 709 -- the United States had left Russian computer scientists in the dust with the development of the transistor. Nevertheless, the secret panel's report advised against overconfidence. "The Soviet Union could achieve a computer production capability equivalent to that of the U.S. in 2-3 years, if they place the highest possible priority on the effort." But, the report added, "There is no evidence that they intend to establish such a priority." Nor, the report said, was the Soviet Union engaged in anything equivalent to Project Lightning.

Following Harvest, NSA's brain, like that of a human, was divided into right and left hemispheres, codenamed Carillon and Lodestone. Carillon was at one time made up of IBM 3605, and later of four enormous IBM 30335 linked together and attached to three IBM 22,000-line-per-minute page printers.

Even more powerful, however, was Lodestone. Dominating the center of a yellow-walled, gold-carpeted hall of computers, front-end interfaces, and mass storage units, was a decorative, 4-1/2-foot-wide, 6-1/2-foot- high semicircle of narrow gold and deep green panels surrounded by a black vinyl-upholstered bench-type seat. It appeared to be an ideal resting place for lunch or a mid-morning coffee break. It was, however, the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive computer of its time.

Built by Cray Research at its plant in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, a town also known for its Leinenkugel's beer and Chippewa Springs water, the $15 million CRAY-1 may be the ultimate testimony to the old proposition that looks are deceiving. Housed within what one wag once called "the world's most expensive love seat" were more than 200,000 integrated circuits, each the size of a thumbnail, 3,400 printed circuit boards, and 60 miles of wire. So compact was the five-ton, seventy-square- foot unit that enough heat was generated per cubic inch to reduce the machine to a molten mass in seconds had it not been for a unique Freon cooling system using vertical aluminum-and-stainless-steel cooling bars that lined the wall of the computer chassis.

The supercomputer was the brainchild of Seymour Gray, a shy, enigmatic engineer who rarely allowed interviews or pictures but was one of the most influential figures in computer science. The founder of Gray Research, Inc., Gray "is to supercomputers what Edison was to light bulbs," said Time in 1988, "or Bell to the telephone." When not in his laboratories, Gray could likely be found deep in the earth beneath his Wisconsin home, slowly tunneling toward the nearby woods. Eight feet high and four feet wide, the tunnel was lined with four-by-four cedar boards. When a tree once crashed through the roof of the tunnel, Cray turned the hole into a lookout with the installation of a periscope.

To Cray, the tunnel was both inspiration and recreation. "I work when I'm at home," he once told a visiting scientist. "I work for three hours and then I get stumped, and I'm not making progress. So I quit, and I go to work in the tunnel. It takes me an hour or so to dig four inches and put in the four-by-fours." Half kidding, Cray continued: "Now, as you can see, I'm up in the Wisconsin woods, and there are elves in the woods. So when they see me leave, they come into my office and solve all the problems I'm having. Then I go back up and work some more." According to John Rollwagen, then chairman of Cray Research, "The real work happens when Seymour is in the tunnel."

Cray began his career by building codebreaking machines in the 1950s with Engineering Research Associates, then headed by future NSA research chief and deputy director Howard Engstrom. Cray's dream was to build a number cruncher capable of 150 to 200 million calculations per second. It would have between 20 and 100 times the capacity of then current general-purpose computers-the equivalent of half a dozen IBM 370/195s.

In the spring of 1976 the first CRAY-1 rolled out of the firm's production plant in Chippewa Falls and directly into the basement of NSA. A second was quietly delivered to NSA's secret think tank, the Communications Research Division of the Institute for Defense Analysis at Princeton University.

The CRAY had a random access semiconductor memory capable of transferring up to 320 million words per second, or the equivalent of about 2,500 300-page books; NSA could not have been disappointed. And when it was hooked up to the computer's specialized input-output subsystem, the machine could accommodate up to forty-eight disk storage units, which could hold a total of almost 30 billion words, each no farther away than .80 millionths of a second.

In a field where time is measured in nanoseconds -- billionths of a second -- seven years is an eternity. Thus it was with tremendous excitement that in June 1983 the agency made space in its basement for a new arrival from Chippewa Falls, the CRAY X-MP. Serial number 102 stamped on its side, the machine was the first X-MP to be delivered to a customer; NSA thus had the most powerful computer in the world at the time. The six-ton brain, which contained forty-five miles of wiring and required a fifty-ton refrigeration unit to keep it cool, was revolutionary. Rather than achieving its gains in speed simply by using a faster processor, the X-MP used two processors, working in parallel. Two separate jobs could be run at the same time, or one job could run on both processors. This capability made the X-MP five times faster than even the most advanced CRAY-1, the CRAY-1S/1000.

To NSA, parallel processing was the wave of the future. Among the projects the agency was closely involved with was the Butterfly processor, which linked 148 microprocessors. Developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Strategic Computing Program, Butterfly could have been scaled up to combine 256 or 512 or even 1,000 linked processors. Future testing included plans to link about 1 million' processors.

The X-MP arrived just in time. That same year NSA secretly put into operation an enormous worldwide computer network codenamed Platform. The system tied together, into a single cyber-web, listening posts belonging to NSA, GCHQ, and other Sigint agencies around the world, with NSA as the central brain.

Two years later, in 1985, NSA's basement complex became even more crowded with the long-awaited arrival of the CRAY-2. With its bright red Naugahyde base and transparent, blue-tinted towers of bubbling liquid coolant, Seymour Gray's latest masterpiece looked more like bordello furniture than a super number cruncher in a codebreaking factory. Nicknamed Bubbles, the $17.6 million computer was almost human, with cool, bubbling Fluorinert, also used as an artificial blood plasma, running through its system. The liquid was necessary to keep the enormous heat generated by electrons flowing through the tightly packed circuit boards from causing a meltdown.

The unit of speed used in assessing supercomputers is the "flop," "floating point operations per second." Whereas it may take the average person several minutes to calculate with a pencil the correct answer to a single multiplication problem, such as 0.0572 x 8762639.8765, supercomputers are measured by how many times per second they can solve such problems. If it takes one second to come up with the answer, including where to place the "floating" decimal point, then the computer is said to operate at one flop per second. Bubbles, on the other hand, was able to perform at an astonishing 1.2 gigaflops, or 1.2 billion mathematical calculations a second. This made it up to twelve times faster than its predecessor and 40,000 to 50,000 times faster than a personal computer of that time.

By 1988 workers were laying wires and arranging power for still another new product from the backwoods of'" Wisconsin, the CRAY Y-MP. So dense were the chips on the new machine that engineers were now able to squeeze eight processors into a space originally designed for only one. Working together, and under ideal conditions, the processors were capable of performing between 2 billion and 4 billion operations a second.

In the mid to late 1980s, the pace of supercomputer development was so fast that NSA barely had enough time to boot up each new megamachine before a newer one was wheeled into its basement "flop house."

The race to build the fastest supercomputer began to resemble a mainframe Grand Prix. Sleek, shiny, and ever more powerful new machines were continuously zooming to the starting line while engineers worked on ever more powerful and speedy designs. Nobody wanted to be left in the dust. In September 1987, Steve Chen, the Chinese-born computer superstar who lead the Cray Research design team on the X-MP and Y-MP projects, left Cray after his machines became too expensive and risky. He was quickly hired by IBM. "Five, years from now," boasted an IBM executive, "we should be at 100 billion gigaflops. A problem that takes three months to do now, we want to do in a day."

Off in the shadows, the Sandia National Laboratory, in Albuquerque, was tweaking a chunky little blue box. Three feet on a side and known as the Ncube, or hypercube, the computer was "massively" parallel, with 1,024 processors, each as powerful as a traditional minicomputer. In a test, Sandia asked the computer to calculate the stresses inside a building beam supported only at one end. A powerful minicomputer working twenty-four hours a day would have taken twenty years to arrive at an answer, but the lightning-fast Ncube accomplished it in a week.

At ETA, a subsidiary of Control Data Corporation, a dark, bubble-topped box known as the ETA 10 was unveiled. An eight-processor powerhouse, it used computer chips that were smaller and denser than those used by Cray Research. Liquid nitrogen carried away the excess heat. And by using only one circuit board, the engineers were able to reduce the space that electrons have to travel during calculations. The end result was a $30 million black box designed to operate at a peak rate of 10 billion calculations per second, 30 times faster than previous supercomputers.

Not to be outdone, Los Alamos National Laboratories, by stringing together an array of supercomputers and associated networks, was able to perform more computing work in a twenty-four-hour period than had been done by all of humanity before the year 1962. And that estimate was considered conservative by other researchers, who suggested that a date in the late 1970s might be more accurate.

The speed of electrons, however, was not NSA's most immediate problem; the agency was also worried about the speed of the Japanese. Japan was the only other nation aggressively pursuing supercomputer development. In the summer of 1988, a gathering of leading computer science experts, among them NSA's director of supercomputer research, met to assess Japan's progress in supercomputers. If they felt confident when they walked into the meeting, they were more than a little nervous when they left. Starting only six years earlier, Japan had already matched or surpassed the United States in a field the United States invented and had been advancing for twenty years.

The main problem for the American supercomputer industry was dependence on Japanese computer companies-their arch-competitors in a cutthroat business-for critical parts, such as computer chips, for their machines. This was a result of the gradual abandonment of semiconductor manufacturing in the United States during the mid to late 1980s. In 1986, for example, NSA was virtually dependent on a Japanese company, Kyocera, for critical components that went into 171 of its 196 different computer chips, according to the minutes of a Department of Defense study group. When, without warning, Kyocera stopped making a component known as a ceramic package, used in a key chip, NSA began to shudder.

In a worst-case scenario, Japanese computer manufacturers could slow down or cut off the supply of essential components to their American supercomputer competitors -- and NSA. This fear led the panel to conclude that within a few years, "U.S. firms would be most fortunate if they found themselves only a generation or so behind."
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Part 2 of 2

As a result of such worries, NSA, with the help of National Semiconductor, built its own $85 million microelectronics production and laboratory plant, known as the Special Processing Laboratory. Located in Crypto City, the ultra-modern, windowless, 60,000-square-foot building first began producing chips in 1991. Today it employs several hundred people. The building contains 20,000 square feet of "class 10" clean rooms -- rooms whose air is 10,000 times cleaner than normal air. The water must also be ultra-pure because the particles in the water can destroy a transistor.

Building its own plant also solved another problem for NSA: the need for supersecrecy in producing highly customized parts for use in the agency's unique codebreaking machines. These components, "applications specific integrated circuits" (ASICs), are often the "brain" of a codebreaking system, thus making outside procurement "a nightmare," said one NSAer. With the ability to squeeze 1 million or more transistors on a single piece of silicon, designers can now build entire algorithms on a chip-a complete crypto system on a piece of material many times smaller than a dime. For such a chip to fall into the wrong hands would be disastrous.

So NSA added another new feature: a secret self-destruct mechanism. Developed by Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories, NSA's chips are shielded by special self-destructing coatings. "If a hostile agent tries to take off the lid," said one knowledgeable source, "the coating literally rips out the top [circuit] layer."

Six months after the 1988 computer science panel meeting, fear over Japan's rapid push into the supercomputer industry once again surfaced. On December 6, 1988, Japan's Fujitsu-a key supplier of critical chips to Cray -- announced a major new advance: a blisteringly fast computer with a theoretical top speed of 4 billion operations per second. This equaled and perhaps beat Cray's top-of-the-line machine, the Y-MP, which had been on the market for less than a year. The problem for NSA was that the Japanese company could easily sell the superfast computer to other nations, which might then use it to develop encryption systems far too fast for NSA's codebreaking computers to conquer.

But while Japanese companies were catching up and maybe even passing their American competitors in speed, the U.S. supercomputer industry was far ahead in both software development and the use of parallel processing. As fast as the Fujitsu computer was, it had only two processors. Cray and ETA had both developed machines with eight processors -- eight brains, in a sense -- which could simultaneously attack separate parts of a problem.

To Seymour Cray, sixteen brains were better than eight, and for several years he had been trying to prove it by building a sixteen processor CRAY-3. It was an expensive and time-consuming endeavor -- too much so, it turned out, for Cray Research, the company he had founded but no longer owned. In May 1989, the two split, Seymour Cray took ',200 employees and $100 million and moved to Colorado Springs to found Cray Computer, Inc., as a wholly owned subsidiary of Cray Research. Eventually, it was planned, Cray Computer would be come independent.

Like a race-car driver with his foot stuck to the accelerator, Cray continued to push for more and more speed; he hoped to break sixteen billion operations a second. The secret would be to make the hundreds of thousands of chips that would constitute the soul of the new computer not out of conventional silicon but out of a radical new material: gallium arsenide. Although it was more difficult and costly to work with, electrons could travel up to ten times as fast through the new compound as through silicon.

But as "the Hermit of Chippewa Falls," as Cray was affectionately known, quietly pushed ahead in his new laboratory in Colorado Springs, the world around him began shifting and turning. The Cold War had ended and weapons designers were no longer shopping for supercomputers. The fat Reagan years of Star Wars were giving way to the Clinton era of cutbacks and deficit reduction. And industry was turning away from the diamond-encrusted CRAYs, made of a small number of superpowerful processors, and toward less pricey massively parallel computers made up of thousands of inexpensive microprocessors. The enormously expensive, hand-built Formula One racers were being forced off the track by cheap stock cars packed with store-bought superchargers and sixteen-barrel carburetors.

At ETA Systems, which had pushed the supercomputer speed envelope with its ETA 10, 800 employees showed up for work on a spring Monday in 1989 to find the doors locked shut. The company had developed a super debt of $400 million.

Four years later, Steve Chen folded up his new company, Super-computer Systems, when IBM finally cut off funding for his 55-1. Partly funded by NSA, Chen had spent half a decade attempting to build a computer a hundred times faster than anything on earth. But in the end, the innovations were overtaken by excessive costs and endless missed deadlines. A few months after the company's doors closed, one of its former engineers driving past a farm spotted a strange but familiar column of metal. A closer look confirmed his worst fears: it was the outer frame for the SS-1, and it had been sold for scrap.

In 1991, Thinking Machines Corporation delivered to NSA its first massively parallel computer -- the Connection Machine CM-5, which the agency named Frostberg. Used until 1997, the futuristic black cube with long panels of blinking red lights looked like something left over from a Star Wars set. Just two years after the $25 million machine was installed, NSA doubled its size by adding 256 additional processor units. This allowed Frostberg to take a job and break it into 512 pieces and work on each piece simultaneously, at 65.5 billion operations a second. Equally impressive was the Frostberg's memory, capable of storing up to 500 billion words.

By the time the. CRAY-3 at last made its debut in 1993 -- clocking in at roughly 4 billion operations a second -- there were no takers. Nearly out of money, the company spent a year looking for customers and finally landed a deal with its old partner, NSA. In August of 1994, the agency awarded Cray $4.2 million to build a highly specialized version of the CRAY-3 for sign~ processing and pattern recognition -- in other words, eavesdropping and codebreaking. Named the CRAY-3/Super Scalable System, the machine would become the brain of what has been dubbed "the world's ultimate spying machine." It would link two supercomputer processors with a massively parallel array of chips con taining more than half a million inexpensive processors designed by NSA's Supercomputer Research Center.

But while hoping for Cray to succeed, NSA scientists were also working in-house on new ideas. One was a processor called Splash 2, which, when attached to a general-purpose computing platform, was able to accelerate the machine's performance to super-Cray levels at only a fraction of the Cray cost.

As Seymour Cray struggled to complete his CRAY-5, he was also in a race with his old parent company, Cray Research, which was building a successor to its Y-MP called the C-90. The company was also near completion on a powerhouse known as the T-90, which would operate at up to 60 billion operations per second. Meanwhile, Seymour Cray hoped to leapfrog his competitors once again with his CRAY-4, due out in 1996.

By the fall of 1994, work on the CRAY-4 was going surprisingly well. Cray Computer in Colorado Springs was predicting a completion date in early 1995 with a machine with twice the power of the CRAY~3 at one-fifth the cost. There was even talk of a CRAY-5 and CRAY-6 before the planned retirement of Seymour Cray. Which was why the yellow tape came as such a shock. When employees came to work on the morning of March 24, 1995, they were first confused to see the yellow police tape sealing the doors. But when they saw the white flag that had been run up the flagpole, they did not need a supercomputer to conclude that the end had finally arrived. The man with the unlimited ideas that reached to the stars had tumbled to the bottom of his finite bank account.

Ever optimistic, Seymour Cray pulled together a few of his most loyal followers, scraped together some money from their own bank accounts, and formed SRC (Seymour Roger Cray) Computers. Cray felt almost liberated at this chance to "start from a clean sheet of paper." It was also, he believed, a chance to finally break the speed barrier by building the first teraflop supercomputer, capable of a trillion mathematical operations a second-12,000 times more than his CRAY-1.

But the enemy had landed. In the spring of 1996, even the U.S. government had turned its back on all the Cray companies and awarded a $35 million Contract to the Japanese computer giant NEC for its 12B-processor SX-4 supercomputer. The SX-4 would go to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The agency was worried because meteorological centers in Australia, Canada, England, and elsewhere were installing systems that by January 1998 would be capable of between 20 and 80 billion operations a second. And Cray Research, the agency concluded, was just not producing computers fast enough. "Simply put," said William Buzbee, head of the weather center, "Cray Research lost this procurement because their offer had unacceptable technical risk."

Others, too, knew that despite the never-say-die bravado and the endless promises of millions of flops, the luster was at last disappearing from Cray's blinding star. "The rules changed when it became clear that Cray Computer Corp. wasn't going to make it," said John Mashey, director of systems technology at Silicon Graphics. "It's like watching your favorite quarterback, who won the Super Bowl many times. But it's not 1976 anymore -- his knees are gone and those three- hundred-pound defensive tackles are fierce. While he keeps getting up, it's agonizing to watch and you really wish he could have quit on a high."

A few months later, while returning from a brief trip to a software store, Cray was seriously injured when his black Grand Cherokee was struck by another car and rolled over three times. Two weeks later, on October 5, 1996, the shy maverick who hand-built the fastest machines on earth, with the meticulous care and fine craftsmanship of a Swiss watchmaker, died, never having regained consciousness. His ashes were scattered among the cragged peaks and somber valleys of the Colorado mountains. They had served as his inspiration, and as silent comforters, during his last years. "In the days before PCs brought megaflops to the masses," said one computer expert, "Cray was the computer industry's closest equivalent to a rock star."

Sadly, only months before Cray's death, the daring company he had given birth to in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, decades earlier, also died. Following the worst financial year of its life, in which it was forced to cut nearly a quarter of its employees, and facing an uncertain future, Cray Research called it quits. It was acquired by Silicon Graphics, Incorporated -- later known simply as SGI -- a Mountain View, California, manufacturer of high-performance workstations, the son of machines that became Cray's greatest competitor. "Cray represents the last of the 1980s pure plays in the supercomputer market," one market analyst said wistfully. "There are no other major players left standing from the supercomputer battles of the 1980s and 1990s."

In fact, there was one. The shakeout and the death of Seymour Cray left a single independent to fight the army of "killer micros," the massively parallel microprocessors that turned the budget-draining, high-performance supercomputer into an endangered species. The large, rumpled man with the Don Quixote dream was Burton Smith, whose company, Tera Computer, stunned many in the field by building a machine that in 1997 set a world speed record for sorting integers. Burton's idea was to increase speed by decreasing the waiting time it took for processors to be sent new data on which to work. This, Burton believed, would overcome the Achilles' heel of powerful computing -- the gap between a computer's short-term theoretical "peak" speed and its long-term "sustained" speed.

Smith no doubt had his eye on NSA as a key future customer for his machines, which would cost as much as $40 million. He spent three years working for NSA's Supercomputer Research Center before leaving in 1988 to found Tera. Much of his early money, in fact, came from NSA's partner, DARPA.

Encouraged by Smith's research, a "senior intelligence official" approached Sid Karin, the director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and asked him to help support Tera. "We don't have a lot of innovative architects like Burton Smith and Seymour Cray," the intelligence official told Karlin, "and they need to be nurtured and supported." So, in 1998, Smith installed his first system in the San Diego center.

Nevertheless, Smith still has his skeptics. One well-known computer designer fondly refers to the Tera system as "Burton's folly." And even Smith acknowledges the long odds: "Most people think we're out of our mind." Still, noted one observer, ((Burton Smith is the last man standing."


As the supercomputer business began crashing, worries increased at NSA. For decades the agency had quietly underwritten a large portion of the industry; the massive number crunchers were the engines that powered its codebreaking machines. Now agency officials watched SGT, following its takeover of Cray, like spectators at a slow- motion automobile ccident. Within a year and a half of the acquisition the company was in turmoil. SGI posted a loss of Over $50 million, a major layoff was announced, and the longtime chief executive officer resigned. Noting that only three years earlier the company had produced the graphics that made the motion picture Jurassic Park possible, one reporter quipped, "The question was whether the company was in danger of going the way of the dinosaur."

By 1999, SGI looked like a boxer struggling to rise before the final count. Its stock had plunged more than 20 percent, another chief executive officer had called it quits, and the firm said it would cut as many as 3,000 jobs and spin off its Cray supercomputer division. NSA was worried: it had contracted with the company to build its newest supercomputer, the CRAY SV2. [1]The decision was made to open the drawer of the cash register. "The United States is committed to maintaining and building on its long-held position as the global leader in supercomputing," said NSA's chief scientist, George Cotter. "These powerful computers are absolutely essential to U.S. national security interests. To that end, the U.S. government is committing significant support to SGI's CRAY SV2 program."

Cotter also noted the critical need for NSA to continue similar joint supercomputer projects. "The government support reflects a continuing need for government-industry Cooperative development of critical technologies for high-end computing," he said. "The SV2 will include technology jointly developed with the U.S. government. This will considerably extend the combination of custom-designed high-end processors with the high-speed memory access that Current Cray supercomputers offer." The new system was expected to dramatically extend the capability of NSA's supercomputers with exceptional memory bandwidth, interconnections, and vector-processing capabilities. Its peak speed was estimated to be in the tens of teraflops, faster than any supercomputer in existence.

In 2000 the Supercomputer business came full circle. Like two broke gamblers at a racetrack putting their change together for one last bet, Burton Smith's Ten Computer acquired Seymour Cray's former Cray Research from SGI. Thus was reborn Cray, Inc., once again an independent company. It was good news for NSA. One report said the agency was involved in the deal "because it wants at least one U.S. company to build state-of-the-art supercomputers with capabilities beyond the needs of most business customers." Work would continue on NSA's SV2, with delivery scheduled for 2002.

At the same time, Cray began work on a new Department of Defense contract, one to upgrade a CRAY T3E-1200 supercomputer. With the addition of 816 processors to its existing 272 processors, the new machine will be the largest Cray system ever built, with 1,088 processors and a record speed of 1.3 teraflops -- 1.3 trillion calculations per second. Four years after Seymour Cray died, a machine bearing his name would at last break the tera barrier.

But despite the encouraging signs, the supercomputer shakeout had convinced many at NSA of the need to move away from the insecurity of the outside world and to return to the black computer laboratories of Crypto City.


The massive brain transplant began in February 1997, as the first supercomputer began its slow trip from the basement of OPS 1. Its destination was the top floor of the Tordella Supercomputer Facility, hidden away in a wooded corner of Crypto City. More than a year later, the final supercomputer was carefully nudged into place and connected by a spinal cord of secure fiber optic nerves to the main body of the agency, a mile away. Once the operation was completed, NSA possessed the most powerful electronic brain on earth.

Surrounded by thick woods and protected by guard posts, double fences, and concrete barriers, the Tordella Supercomputer Facility, is located on Crypto City's Ream Road, a street named after NSA's fourth deputy director. The nearly windowless outside walls of the 183,000-square-foot facility are decorated with attractive, light-colored enameled metal panels. The life-support equipment is housed on the first floor -- an 8,000-ton chilled water plant, mechanical and electrical support facilities, and 29-megavolt-amperes of electrical power, enough to supply half of Annapolis.

The top floor's five rooms contain, among other things, the Computer Operations Command Center and approximately 150,000 magnetic tapes moved there from storage in "silo-farms" back in the main part of Crypto City. Supercomputers, such as the GRAY Y-MP EL and the Silicon Graphics Power Challenge, occupy the rest of the floor. Also installed in 1999 was the new IBM RS/6000 SFP This is a faster version of the system that powered the company's supercomputer "Deep Blue," which won a grueling six-game chess match against virtuoso Garry Kasparov in 1997. The extra power and speed come from IBM's new Power 3 microprocessor, which is capable of crunching through 2 billion instructions per second-more than double the power of the Power2 Super Chip. The computer is the centerpiece for a system IBM called Deep Computing. One of its primary uses is "data mining," searching through enormous quantities of data, such as intercepted communications or complex cipher systems, and coming up with the answer. The RS/6000 SP, said IBM executive David Turek, is "supercomputing at your fingertips."

Moving the tremendous amounts of information into and out of the supercomputers, like the ultimate jukebox, is the massive dodecagonal Automated Cartridge System. As big as a small room, and weighing more than four tons, this high- peed storage device can hold 6,000 cartridges containing a total of 300 terabytes of information -- the equivalent of more than 150 billion pages of text. According to NSA, this is the equivalent of one and a half million years of the wall Street Journal; it is also enough pieces of paper to circle the globe 3,000 times, or to fill a wall of books stacked eleven deep and running from New York City to Los Angeles.

The robotic arm has two cameras and a "hand"; the cameras find the bar code of the requested cartridge, and the hand moves it to the retrieval area, where the needed cartridge can be extracted. The arm can move cartridges in and out of the computers at the rate of 450 an hour.

Such a system is necessary when one considers NSA's information storage capabilities. To store the massive amounts of data flowing in from its worldwide listening posts, NSA a few years ago turned to E-Systems, long a key contractor on secret projects for the agency. The solution was to link several computers the size of telephone booth's. When completed the system was capable of storing 5 trillion pages of text-a stack of paper 150 miles high. Included was a new retrieval system that permitted the access of any piece of information almost instantly.


As the supercomputer industry began crumbling around it, NSA turned inward, creating a top secret facility for developing its own classified computers. Known as the Supercomputer Research Center (SRC), it was built in 1984 in order to leapfrog over the rest of the world in computer power, as Project Lightning had thirty years earlier. Only this time, the work would be done in total secrecy. According to Lieutenant General Lincoln D. Faurer, the NSA's director at the time, a principal goal of the SRC was to build a new generation of computers that would be 10,000 times faster than the current generation.

Over the years millions of dollars would go into research on subjects such as specialized parallel processing algorithms, which would give computers the superspeed needed to break increasingly powerful foreign encryption systems. At the same time, SRC would develop ways to push American cryptographic systems beyond the reach of hostile codebreakers. Little, if any, of the research done by the SRC would ever see the light of day outside of Crypto City, so NSA would be far ahead in the race for the fastest and most powerful computers on earth.

Constructed at a cost of $12 million on a twenty-acre site at the University of Maryland's Science and Technology Center in Bowie, the SRC is actually operated by the Communications Research Division (CRD), part of the Institute for Defense Analysis. For more than four decades the CRD has run NSA's own highly secret think tank. Originally known as the NSA Research Institute, it was first approved by President Eisenhower in 1958. Its purpose was to carry out long-range, theoretical, and advanced research in mathematical and statistical problems related to NSA's codebreaking and eavesdropping missions. The institute also conducted a special summer program that brought together members of the academic community and introduced them to members of the cryptologic community.

At one point, in 1965, the institute developed a unique piece of codebreaking machinery that proved enormously successful. "That one piece of equipment," said a secret 1965 NSA report, "by itself, has been judged to be well worth the total cost of the Institute thus far."

Among the early directors of the institute was Dr. J. Barkley Rosser, a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, noted for his work in symbolic logic and number theory. Dr. A. Adrian Albert, dean of the division of physical sciences at the University of Chicago and an expert in linear algebra and number theory, followed him in 1961.

Originally, the NSA Research Institute was located behind a high wall on the campus of Princeton University. But as a result of the antiwar protests of the 1960s, NSA, fearing for the continued secrecy and-security of the institute, moved it to a boxy, three-story brick building virtually hidden in an isolated wooded area off campus. Windowless except for the third floor, the mysterious building has no signs to indicate the name or nature of the occupant. Eventually, to further hide its connection to NSA, the Research Institute's name was changed to the Communications and Computing Center. Specializing in such esoteric codebreaking and eavesdropping disciplines as cryptomathematics, cryptocomputing, speech research, and special signals processing techniques, the IDA-C3I, as it is sometimes known, received $34 million in funding in 1994 and employed a technical staff of 149.

In addition to the Supercomputer Research Center, NSA also has a Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS), which is part of the agency's Directorate of Technology. Like the NSA Research Institute, LPS was born in the 1950s, when the NSA's Scientific Advisory Board recommended that the agency establish a "window on the world of academia and academic research in the physical sciences." As a result, the agency collaborated with the University of Maryland to create the LPS, with quarters built adjacent to the school's College Park campus.

In 1992 the LPS moved into a new, nondescript 63,500-square-foot building on Greenmead Drive in College Park. Leased from the university for $480,000 a year, the facility, near a Moose lodge, draws little attention and does not appear in the campus telephone directory. "We don't know what they do there," said the administrator of the veterinary center next door.

The lab was built at a cost of $10.9 million; its ultra-advanced technology is designed to fast-forward NSA's ability to eavesdrop. Using magnetic microscopy, scientists are able to study the minute tracks on magnetic tape and greatly increase data density, thus enabling intercept operators to pack ever more conversations into their recorders. Increasing computer speed is also critical. To achieve this acceleration, the LPS ontains a state-of-the-art molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) facility to develop miniature lasers, optical amplifiers, and other components made out of gallium arsenide.

But speed equals heat. Thus the LPS is also pushing the limits on such technologies as the development of synthetic diamonds, which are many times more efficient for heat conduction than copper and far less expensive than real diamonds. For example, an integrated circuit mounted on ordinary ceramic will turn a very warm 87 degrees centigrade when its surroundings are at room temperature. One mounted on synthetic diamonds, however, will reach only 54 degrees centigrade, allowing NSA's codebreaking machines to be relatively cool as well as fast.

Speed not only equals heat, it also equals massive demand for data storage. Increasing use of space-eating multimedia files compounds the problem, as does the need to make the information available to an ever larger group of customers. One solution was Project Oceanarium, which for the first time automated the storage of NSA's masses of multimedia Sigint reports.

At the same time, Oceanarium modernized the way in which reports were retrieved and distributed. Where once each spy agency jealously guarded its individual intelligence files behind thick fortresses, today the buzz phrase is "sharable databases." Through Oceanarium, NSA's dark secrets can now be retrieved not only over its own internal intranet, Webworld, but throughout the intelligence community via highly classified programs such as Intelink.

Because the breadth and depth of NSA's data storage sea is finite, scientists are turning to newer ways to narrow the rivers of information emptying into it. Among the most promising are microscopic magnets, only one molecule in size. Scientists at Xerox believe that such a magnet, made of a special combination of manganese, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, may be able to pack data thousands or even millions of times more densely than today's systems of memory storage. Using these molecule-sized magnets, experts believe, it may someday be possible to store hundreds of gigabytes of data -- millions of typed pages -- on an area no larger than the head of a pin.

By 2001, NSA's tape and disk storage capacity approached a density of ten gigabytes per square inch-the equivalent of more than half a million typed, double-spaced pages. But the closer data are packed, the harder they are to erase and the more chance that telltale secrets will remain behind on reused media. Therefore, another key area of research at NSA's LPS is exploring the microscopic properties of data storage and erasure to find more effective ways to rid used tapes and hard drives of all their old secrets. According to computer expert Simson Garfinkel, tiny pieces of a hard drive can still contain sizable amounts of information. For instance, a 1/16-inch-square piece of a six-gigabyte hard drive can hold 750,000 bytes -- enough to fill a 300-page book. "A spy could remove a hard disk, grind it up, and smuggle out the data in little pieces like pocket lint," said Garfinkel. To solve the problem, NSA developed a drive-controlled disk sanitization device, which attaches to the head disk assembly and can completely eradicate the sensitive information used on disks and drives.

Inside NSA's Supercomputer Research Center, the secret race for the fastest computer seems almost unworldly. In 1994 and 1995 NSA scientists participated in a series of meetings devoted to exploring the feasibility of a great leap forward in computer technology. The goal was to advance from billions, past trillions, to more than a quadrillion operations a second -- pentaflop speed -- within two decades.

Among the ideas developed by NSA for achieving speeds of over a quadrillion (1015) mathematical operations a second was the placement of processors in the middle of memory chips. Processor-in-memory chips, or PIMs, have the advantage of reducing the time it normally takes for electronic signals to travel from the processors to the separate memory chips. These PIM chips are now among the products manufactured by the agency's Special Processing Lab.

By 2001, the SRC had long since broken the teraflop barrier and was approaching petaflop speeds -- at which point time is measured in femtoseconds, the shortest events known to science. With such extraordinary speed, a machine would be capable of pounding a stream of intercepted, enciphered text with a quadrillion -- a million billion-possible solutions in the time it takes to wink. Original estimates by scientists were that the outside world would reach that point sometime around 2010, but IBM intends to cut the wait in half with a megasupercomputer dubbed Blue Gene.

Over five years, between 2000 and 2005, the company plans to build the fastest computer on earth -- 500 times faster than anything currently in existence. "It will suck down every spare watt of electricity and throw off so much heat that a gas turbine the size of a jet engine is required to cool it off," said one report. According to the company, the computer would be about forty times more powerful than the aggregate power of the forty fastest supercomputers in the world today -- or 2 million times more powerful than the fastest desktop in. existence.

The ultimate goal of Blue Gene is to solve a puzzle of a different sort from those at NSA -- although NSA may also secretly be a customer. Blue Gene's singular objective is to try and model the way a human protein folds into a particular shape. Because proteins are the molecular workhorses of the human body, it is essential to discover their molecular properties. In a sense, Blue Gene is like NSA's old RAMs, which were designed to attack one specific encryption system.

When completed, Blue Gene will consist of sixty-four computing towers standing six feet high and covering an area forty feet by forty feet. Inside will be a mind-boggling one million processors. The target speed is a petaflop.

When NSA crosses the petaflop threshold, if it hasn't already, it is unlikely that the rest of the world will know. By 2005 the SRC, with years of secret, highly specialized development accumulated, will likely be working with computers operating at exaflop speeds -- a quintillion operations a second-and pushing for zettaflop and even yottaflop machines, capable of a septillion (1024) operations every time a second hand jumps. Beyond yottaflop, numbers have not yet been named. "It is the greatest play box in the world," marveled one agency veteran of the NSA's technology capability. "They've got one of everything."

Operating in the exaflop-and-above world will be almost unimaginable. The key will be miniaturization, an area in which NSA has been pushing the theoretical envelope. By the mid-1990s, NSA's Special Processing Laboratory had reduced the size of a transistor so much that sev enty of them would fit on the cross section of a human hair. NSA is also attempting to develop a new generation of computer chips by bombarding light-sensitive material with ions to etch out microscopic electronic circuit designs. Using ion beams instead of traditional light in the process provides the potential for building far smaller, more complex, more efficient chips.

In the late 19905 NSA reached a breakthrough when it was able to shrink a supercomputer to the size of a home refrigerator-freezer combination. Eventually the machine was pared down to the size of a small suitcase, yet its speed was increased by 10 percent. In 1999, a joint NSA and DARPA program demonstrated that portions of a supercomputer could be engineered to fit into a cube six inches on a side -- small enough to fit into a coat pocket. The circuitry was made of diamond-based multichip modules and cooled by aerosol spray to remove the 2,500 watts of heat from the system.

But to reach exaflop speed, computer parts -- or even computers themselves -- may have to be shrunk to the size of atoms, or even of subatomic particles. At the SRC, scientists looking for new and faster ways to break into encryption systems have turned to quantum computing. This involves studying interactions in the microscopic world of atomic structures and looking for ways to harness individual atoms to perform a variety of different tasks, thereby speeding up computer operations to an unthinkable scale.

NSA has had a strong interest in quantum computing as far back as 1994, when Peter Shor, a mathematician at 'Bell Laboratories, which has long had a close and secret relationship with the agency, discovered the codebreaking advantages of the new science. Since then, NSA has spent about $4 million a year to fund research at various universities, and put additional money into studies at government laboratories.

Operated at top speed, a quantum computer could be used to uncover pairs of enormously large prime numbers, which are the "passwords" for many encryption systems. The largest number that ordinary supercomputers have been able to factor is about 140 digits long. But according to another Bell Labs scientist, Lov K. Grover, using quantum computing, 140-digit-long numbers could be factored a billion times faster than is currently possible. "On paper, at least," said Glover, "the prospects are stunning: ... a search engine that could examine every nook and cranny of the Internet in half an hour; a 'brute-force' decoder that could unscramble a DES [Data Encryption Standard-the encryption standard used by banks and most businesses] transmission in five minutes."

A quantum computer could also be used to speed through unfathomable numbers of intercepted communications -- a "scan" in NSA-speak -- searching for a single keyword, a phrase, or even, with luck, a "bust." Long the secret leading to many of NSA's past codebreaking successes, a bust is an abnormality -- sometimes very subtle -- in a target's cryptographic system. For example, it may be an error in a Russian encryption program, or a faulty piece of hardware, or a sloppy transmission procedure. Once such a hairline crack is discovered, NSA codebreakers, using a massive amount of computer power in what is known as a brute force attack, can sometimes chisel away enough of the system to expose a golden vein of secret communications.

A breakthrough into quantum computing came in April 1998, when researchers at MIT, IBM, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Oxford in England announced they had succeeded in building the first working quantum computers. The processor consisted of a witches' brew of hydrogen and chlorine atoms in chloroform. Digital switches were shrunk down to the smallest unit of information, known as a quantum bit, or qubit. Where once a traditional computer bit would have to be either, for example, 0 or 1, a qubit could be both simultaneously. Instead of just black or white, a qubit could become all the colors of the rainbow.

According to John Markoff, who has long followed the issue for the New York Times, another milestone came in July 1999. That was when researchers at Hewlett-Packard and the University of California at Los Angeles announced that they had succeeded in creating rudimentary electronic logic gates -- one of the basic components of computing -- only a single molecule thick. Four months later, scientists at Hewlett-Packard reported they had crossed another key threshold by creating rows of ultramicroscopic conductive wires less than a dozen atoms across.

Translated into practical terms, a quantum computer could thus perform many calculations simultaneously, resulting in a hyperincrease in speed. Now, instead of a supercomputer attempting to open a complex cipher system -- or lock -- by trying a quadrillion different keys one after another, a quantum computer will be able to try all quadrillion keys simultaneously. Physicists speculated that such machines may one day prove thousands or even millions of times faster than the most powerful supercomputer available today.

The discovery was greeted with excitement by the codebreakers in Crypto City. "It looked for a long time like a solution without a problem," said NSA's Keith Miller. At Los Alamos, where NSA is secretly funding research into the new science, quantum team leader Richard J. Hughes added: "This is an important step. What's intriguing is that they've now demonstrated the simplest possible algorithm on a quantum computer."

Also heavily involved in molecular-scale electronics, known as moletronics, is DARPA, long NSA's partner in pushing computing past the threshold. Scientists working on one DARPA program recently speculated that it may soon be possible to fashion tiny switches, or transistors, from tiny clusters of molecules only a single layer deep. Such an advance, they believe, may lead to computers that would be 100 billion times as fast as today's fastest PCs. According to James Tour, a professor of chemistry at Rice University who is working on molecular-scale research, "A single molecular computer could conceivably have more transistors than all of the transistors in all of the computers in the world today."

On the other side of the city, however, the codemakers welcomed the news with considerable apprehension. They were worried about the potential threat to NSA's powerful cipher systems if a foreign nation discovered a way to harness the power and speed of quantum computing before the United States had developed defenses against it. By 1999, for example, Japan's NEC had made considerable progress with the development of a solid-state device that could function as a qubit. "We have made a big step by showing the possibility of integrating quantum gates using solid-state devices," said NEC's Jun'ichi Sone. "It takes one trillion years to factorize a two-hundred-digit number with present supercomputers," he said. "But it would take only one hour or less with a quantum computer."

As intriguing as quantum computing is, perhaps the most interesting idea on how to reach exa-speed and beyond came out of the series of "great leap forward" meetings in which the NSA took part in the mid-1990s. The computer of the future -- already with a circulatory system of cool, bubbling Fluorinert, an artificial blood plasma -- may be constructed partly out of mechanical parts and partly out of living parts.

"I don't think we can really build a machine that fills room after room after room and costs an equivalent number of dollars," said Seymour Gray, one of those at the meetings. "We have to make something roughly the size of our present machines but with a thousand times the components," One answer to scaling down to the nanometer, according to Cray, was to fabricate computing devices out of biological entities. At the same time, other biological processes could be used to manufacture nonbiological devices -- for example, bacteria could be bioengineered to build transistors.

By 2001, researchers at MIT were actively attempting to marry the digital with the biological by altering the common E. coli bacterium to function as an electronic circuit. Such a melding would produce a computer part with the unique ability to continually reproduce itself. Through such a process, enormous numbers of nearly identical processors could be "grown." "We would like to make processors by the wheelbarrow-load," said MIT computer scientist Harold Abelson. Abelson and his colleagues are hoping to someday map circuitry onto biological material, in a process they call amorphous computing, thus turning living cells into digital logic circuits. However, since the cells could compute only while alive, millions or billions of the tiny biocomponents would have to be packed into the smallest spaces possible.

Bell Labs, part of Lucent Technologies, is also perusing the idea of a "living" computer by creating molecular-size "motors" out of DNA -- motors so small that 30 trillion could fit into a single drop of water. According to Bell Labs physicist Bernard Yurke, it might eventually be possible to bind electronic components to DNA. Then, by linking the DNA strands together, a computer could be created with incredible speed and storage capacities.

Eventually NSA may secretly achieve the ultimate in quickness, compatibility, and efficiency -- a computer with petaflop and higher speeds shrunk into a container about a liter in size, and powered by only about ten watts of power: the human brain.



1. Despite the capabilities of massively parallel computers, supercomputers are still useful for attacking specific codebreaking problems.
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Part 1 of 2


"This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Bob Edwards. The fate of Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud remains uncertain two days after he was attacked in his home in northern Afghanistan. Massoud's followers insist that the assassination attempt failed and that he is still alive. But there's widespread speculation that he died from his wounds. NPR's Michael Sullivan reports."

On the second floor of a handsome brick house on Fort Meade's Butler Avenue, a clock radio, as usual, turned National Public Radio on at 5:45 A.M. Lieutenant General Michael v: Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency, slowly adjusted his eyes to the early morning twilight. It was September 11, 2001, a Tuesday in early autumn. The sultry air of summer had turned crisp and dry, and yellow school buses again were prowling suburban streets like aged tigers.

"This is not the first time that Ahmed Shah Massoud's enemies have tried to kill him," said Michael Sullivan from Islamabad, Pakistan, as the broadcast continued. "A spokesman said there have been numerous attempts by the Taliban to assassinate the charismatic commander in the past few years. . Opposition spokesmen say Massoud was seriously injured when two suicide bombers posing as journalists detonated a bomb hidden in their TV camera during an interview with Massoud on Sunday.... Opposition spokesmen have accused the Taliban of being behind the suicide bombing and hint that Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden may also be involved. The assassins, they say, are Arabs who had come from the Taliban-controlled capitol, Kabul."

Suicide bombing, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban. If Michael Hayden was listening, it was not a good way to start the morning. Long one of NSA's chief targets, bin Laden had been eluding the agency's eavesdroppers since 1998, when an American missile attack on his compound in Afghanistan made him think twice about using satellite communications. Until then, his voice had been heard frequently within the agency's thick, copper-lined walls. For highly cleared visitors from other intelligence agencies, officials would even play recordings of bin Laden chatting with his mother in Syria.


In 1996, bin Laden was planning to move his headquarters from Sudan to remote Afghanistan, where communications would be a serious problem. But his man in London, Khalid al-Fawwaz, had a solution. "To solve the problem of communication," he wrote to bin Laden that year, "it is indispensable to buy the satellite phone." Bin Laden agreed, and al-Fawwaz, who would later be charged with conspiring with bin Laden to murder American citizens abroad (as of this writing, he is awaiting extradition from England), turned to a student at the University of Missouri at Columbia, Ziyad Khalil. Khalil had become a spokesman for the rights of Muslim students at the university, and he agreed to help al- Fawwaz purchase the $7,500 satellite phone, although there is no evidence that he knew he was procuring it on behalf of bin Laden. After doing some research, Khalil then bought the phone from a firm on New York's Long Island.

Another break for bin Laden came on the evening of April 3, 1996, when a powerful Atlas rocket slipped gracefully into the sky from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 36A. Sitting atop the spacecraft, beneath a protective clam-shell sheath, was the first of a new generation of Inmarsat communications satellites on its way to geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles over the Indian Ocean. The satellite, owned by the International Maritime Satellite Organization, would be used largely by ships at sea as well as people in isolated parts of the world, such as oil explorers.

Over the next two years, the phone was used for hundreds of calls to London, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Sudan. Bin Laden's telephone number -- 00873682505331 -- also turned up in the private phone books and date planners of terrorists in Egypt and Kenya. It was even used, say investigators, to disseminate bin Laden's February 1998 fatwah that declared American civilians should he killed. From 1996 through 1998, Khalil ordered more than 2,000 minutes of telephone airtime for bin Laden's phone.

Eventually the phone was also used by bin Laden and his top lieu tenants to orchestrate the bombings of the two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. In October 1997, Ibrahim Eidarous, currently awaiting extradition from England as part of the embassy bombing conspiracy, sent word from London to Afghanistan asking Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's right-hand man, to call 956375892. This was a mobile phone in London belonging to yet another alleged embassy bombing coconspirator, Abdel Bary, who is also awaiting extradition from London. The following day, bin Laden's satellite phone was used to make several calls to that phone number in London.

But even though NSA had the capability to intercept many conversations to and from bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda -- including some of those allegedly involved in the bombing of the American embassies in East Africa -- the information was not enough to prevent the attacks.

Many of the calls were intercepted by Britain's GCHQ at their listening post at Morwenstow, near Bude, in Cornwall. There, close to the endless whitecaps of the Celtic Sea, nearly a dozen dishes pick up signals from commercial satellites such as Inmarsat and INTELSAT. The intercepted phone calls, faxes, Internet, and data transfers are then forwarded to GCHQ's sprawling headquarters in Cheltenham. Once filtered and analyzed, they would be forwarded to NSA over secure, encrypted communications links.

Other calls to and from bin Laden were picked up thousands of miles to the south of Afghanistan, at a listening post run by Australia's Defense Signals Division located at Geraldton, a scruffy port on the Indian Ocean about 210 miles north of Perth. Situated in the westernmost part of the country, Geraldton was built in 1994 to eavesdrop on commercial satellites over the Indian Ocean.

Eventually, following President Clinton's 1998 American cruise missile attack on bin Laden's camp in Afghanistan, and the realization that his location could be betrayed by signals from the satellite phone, he stopped using the instrument. Now when one calls his number, all they hear is a recording stating he is "not logged on or not in the dialed ocean region."

Since 1998, bin Laden communicates only through messengers who make calls for him from distant locations. Nevertheless, these are also occasionally intercepted. One such call, picked up by NSA early in September 2001, was from a bin Laden associate to bin Laden's wife in Syria, advising her to return to Afghanistan. At the time, it was filed away when instead it should have been one more clue, one more reason for director Hayden to worry on the morning of September 11.


About 6:50, as General Hayden was pulling his Volvo into a parking spot near the entrance to OPS 2B, many other NSA employees were arriving at Crypto City. Thousands lived just a few miles away in Laurel, Maryland, long the company town. On September 11, as on most mornings, they slowly snaked their way through the city on US Route 1, passing gritty strip malls selling doughnuts and pizza, and cheap motels with parking lots of aging cars and tractorless cabs. One of those was the Valencia Motel, a tired, eighty-unit structure of brick, Formstone, and tan siding. A garish, mustard- olored sign announced the place to weary travelers.

In an irony of tragic proportions, as many early morning NSA employees passed the motel, some off to continue their hunt for terrorists; they crossed paths with bin Laden's men as they embarked on the worst attack against America in history. Had an NSA worker looked over at the right time that morning, they might have seen five men emerge from Room 343 and climb into a blue, four-door Toyota Corolla with California tags. They were Hani Hanjour, Majed Moqed, Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi on their way to Washington's Dulles International Airport.

In the days leading up to the September 11 attacks, a great deal of the planning took place right under NSA's giant ear, in the agency's bedroom community of Laurel.

Toris Proctor, an unemployed twenty-two-year-old, thought his next-door neighbors at the Valencia Motel were gay-and unfriendly. Five men were sharing a room with two double beds, a living room, and kitchenette. "The gay dudes," he called them. "If you say 'Hello,' it's like talking to a brick wall." They had checked in at the beginning of September and used a credit card to pay the $508 for a one-week stay. "We saw them every day," said Charmain Mungo, another resident. "They were always in and out. If one left, they all left."

Another resident, Gail North, who also worked at the motel as a housekeeper, said the men forbade her from entering the room to change the towels. Instead, they opened the door a crack, passed the dirty items through, and took clean bathroom supplies in exchange. "We saw them every day," she said, "but they wouldn't talk to anybody. We live like one big family here. Even though it is a motel, some of us have been here for over a year. It's like a neighborhood." The men kept to themselves as they walked across the street for pizza or brought a load of dirty clothes to the Sunshine Laundry. "He used the dryer in the back," said Robert Currence, the night manager. "It was weird. He would look at you without speaking."

During one of his visits to the hijackers in Laurel, Mohamed Atta used a supermarket and a Mail Boxes Etc. store in the town to transfer as much as $10,000 -- excess funds not spent on the terrorist operations -- to the United Arab Emirates. At nearby Freeway Airport in Bowie, Hani Hanjour took flying lessons, going aloft with instructors three times in August. Although he had a pilot's license, he needed to be certified because he wanted to rent a plane. But after supervising Hanjour on a series of oblongs above the airport and Chesapeake Bay, the instructors refused to pass him because of his poor skills.

Seeking to stay fit, the five men bought memberships to Gold's Gym a few miles down the road in Greenbelt beginning September 2. There they joined the 600 to 1,000 other people, likely including NSA employees, who worked out each day. "They blended in pretty well," said Gene LaMott, the president and chief executive of the international fitness chain. According to LaMott, the men were quiet and generally worked out in groups, often on the weight-training and resistance machines.

About a mile north of the Valencia on US Route 1 is another seedy motel the hijackers used, the Pin-Del. On August 27, Ziad Jarrah entered the motel office. Scattered on a table near the desk were an assortment of Jehovah's Witness publications with such titles as "Is there really a devil?" and "When someone you love dies." He paid $132 with a Visa card for a three-night stay but checked out at 6:20 P.M. the next night and received a $44 refund. Less then a week later, on September 1, another suspected hijacker, Nawaf Alhazmi, paid $42.90 in cash for a one-night stay at the Pin-Del.

The planning completed, the leftover money returned to associates in the Middle East, and their muscles toned up, Hani Hanjour and his four associates were ready to begin. About the same time that General Hayden was starting his morning round of briefings, the hijackers were arriving at Washington's Dulles International Airport. In their pockets were one- ay tickets on American Airlines Flight 77 to Los Angeles. At the ticket counter, an agent thought it a bit odd that two of the men, brothers Nawaf and Salem Alhazmi, were holding first-class tickets -- 2,400 each -- but were waiting in the coach line. "Oil money," he thought.

At Newark airport, Ziad Jarrah joined associates at the boarding gate for United Airlines Flight 93 bound for San Francisco. Still other members of the cells, including Mohamed Atta, were arriving for flights in Boston.


"Good morning," said the captain to the air traffic controllers disappearing quickly below. "American eleven heavy with you passing through, ah, two thousand for three thousand." At 7:59 on September 11, American Airlines Flight 11 lifted off from Boston's Logan International Airport, knifing through the sparkling clear morning air at race car speed as it climbed from two to three thousand feet. Window seat passengers could clearly see the glint of sunlight reflecting off the gold dome of the State House high atop Beacon Hill. "Good morning," replied a controller at Boston departure radar. "Traffic ten o'clock, two miles, maneuvering."

It was early September and a good time to be traveling. The weather had broken and it was clear and cooler in the Northeast. The thunderstorms of summer were past, as was the hectic Labor Day holiday. And the eleventh was a Tuesday, statistically one of the least busy travel days of the week. For the eighty-one passengers aboard Flight 11, less than half full, it meant empty middle seats in which to stretch out for the long trip to Los Angeles. Normally capable of carrying up to 269 passengers, the twin-engine Boeing 767 -- a modern marvel made up of 3.1 million parts -- was one of the long-haul workhorses for American Airlines. Sloshing around in the wings and other cavities was up to 23,980 gallons of highly explosive fuel -- enough to fill the tanks of 1,200 minivans.

"We have him in sight," replied the pilot. At fifty-two, John Ogonowski had been flying for half of his life, first in the Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War and beginning in 1979 with American. Earlier that morning he had left the tranquility of his 150-acre farm in the northern Massachusetts town of Dracut. A sweeping expanse of fields and fruit trees, dotted with farm machinery and stone walls, it was where the found-faced Ogonowski, a fourth-generation farmer, found peace. Down from the clouds, he spent his time laboriously plowing and harrowing the soil. "When his hands were dirty and his pants were filthy, he was always pretty happy," said his brother: James.

As the plane passed over the small Massachusetts town of Gardner, about forty-five miles west of Boston, the smell of coffee was starting to drift through the cabin. Flight attendants were just beginning to prepare the breakfasts of omelets, sausages, and fruit cups. Seated in business class, in seat 8D, Mohamed Atta, a clean-shaven thirty-three-year-old Egyptian in casual clothes, did not bother lowering his food tray. He had already eaten his last meal. Instead, he pulled his small black shoulder bag from under the seat in front of him, withdrew a plastic knife and a box cutter, and stepped into the aisle. At that same moment, as if choreographed, four other men assigned to Row 8 also rose and headed toward the front of the plane.

John Ogonowski again heard the crackle of a traffic controller in his earphones. Sitting in front of a twenty-seven-inch, high-resolution Sony TV console, the controller could see Flight 11's key information -- its altitude, direction, and identifying number. "AAL eleven, your traffic is at, uh, two o'clock, twenty miles Southwestbound, MD eighty," he said, alerting Ogonowski to a McDonald Douglas MD-80 nearby.

''AAL eleven, roger," said the captain, adding, "Twenty right, AAL eleven."

At that very moment, 8:13 A.M., the move was on. Atta and his men quickly grabbed a flight attendant, likely put the cool gray edge of a box cutter to her throat, and forced her to admit them to the cockpit. "Don't do anything foolish," one of the men yelled in English. "You're not going to get hurt." But, likely within minutes, the two pilots were killed and Atta took over the left seat.

Sixteen seconds later, unaware of the horror then taking place in the blood-splattered cockpit, the Boston controller again radioed Flight 11. ''AAL eleven. Now climb maintain FL three fifty," he said, giving the pilot permission to climb from 29,000 to 35,000 feet. Hearing nothing, he repeated the message ten seconds later, again eleven seconds later, and once more fifteen seconds later at 8: 14:23, but still with no reply. Then, suddenly, in an electronic blink, the critical information on Flight 11 disappeared from his screen, indicating that the plane's transponder had been turned off.


Two hundred miles to the south, at Washington's Dulles International Airport, American Airlines Flight 77 was preparing for takeoff to Los Angeles. "American seventy-seven, Dulles tower," said the controller at 8:16 A.M. "Runway three zero taxi into position and hold. You'll be hold ing for landing traffic one left and for spacing wake turbulence spacing behind the DC-ten." Among the sixty-four people on board was Barbara Olson, a cable-TV talk-show regular who turned bashing the Clintons into a professional blood sport. Her husband was Theodore Olson, the Bush administration's solicitor general. Also on board were Hani Hanjour and his four associates.

As American Airlines Flight 77 nosed into the crystal clear sky, Danielle O'Brien, an air traffic controller in the Dulles tower, passed them on to another controller at a different frequency. "American seventy-seven contact Washington center one two zero point six five," she said. Then she added, "Good luck." Later she thought how odd that was. "1 usually say 'good day' as I ask an aircraft to switch to another frequency. Or 'have a nice flight.' But never 'good luck.'"


By 8:15, the air traffic controller in Boston was becoming greatly concerned. Despite his numerous calls, there was only silence from American Airlines Flight 11. "AAL eleven, if you hear Boston center, ident please or acknowledge," repeated the controller, his voice rising. Then, at 8:24, frightening words poured from his earphones. "We have some planes," said a voice. "Just stay quiet, and you'll be okay. We are returning to the airport." It was a message, likely from Mohamed Atta, intended for his passengers but relayed accidentally to the Boston center.

"And, uh, who's trying to call me here?" said the controller. "AAL eleven, are you trying to call?"

Then another troubling message. "Okay. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet." And finally, at a second before 8:34, came one more. "Nobody move please," said the voice, "we are going back to the airport. Don't try to make any stupid moves." Six minutes later, at 8:40, the worried controller notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Responsible for defending the country against airborne attack, NORAD had become a Cold War relic. Outdated, unable to think outside the box, it had been transformed into little more than a weed-watching agency for the drug war. Protecting the country from hostile attack were fourteen aged fighters at seven bases, none near Washington, D.C., or New York City, long the two prime targets for terrorists.

The hijack warning was received at NORAD's North East Air Defense Sector in Rome, New York. There, at the Mission Crew Control Desk, men and women in blue uniforms huddled intently over rows of green glowing screens. The transponder on Flight 11, they were told, was no longer working. Also, the Los Angeles-bound plane had suddenly made an unexpected left turn toward New York City. And then there were the frightening transmissions.

Concern deepened when, just three minutes after the first, another alert of a possible hijacking came in from the FAA, this time for United Flight 175. Like American Airlines Flight 11, United Flight 175 was a Boeing 767 flying from Boston to Los Angeles. Sitting in the pilot's seat was Victor Saracini, a fifty-one-year-old Navy veteran from Pennsylvania who often took his guitar along with him on flights. Saracini had also heard the troubling messages from Flight 11 and notified New York Control in Rokonkoma, New York. "We heard a suspicious transmission on our departure from Boston," said Saracini. "Sounds like someone keyed the mike and said everyone stay in your seats." Now Saracini knew he had his own set of hijackers on board.

As a result of the two alerts, NORAD's Weapons Desk sent out a scramble order to Otis Air National Guard Base at Falmouth, Massachusetts. There, on a quiet Cape Cod marsh, a flock of seagulls suddenly began flapping toward the sky as a Klaxon let out a series of deafening blasts and red lights began flashing in the corner of the alert barns. Within minutes, two national guardsmen, one a commercial pilot on temporary duty and the other a full-time member of the guard, began racing toward their jets, "hot and cocked" on the tarmac. Crew chiefs quickly pulled protective covers from the two vintage F-15 Eagles, built in 1977. Chocks were yanked from the wheels and the heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles were armed. At 8:52 the F-15s were screaming down the tarmac.

By then" however, they were already too late for Flight 11. Nevertheless, the fighter pilots still had a chance of catching up to United Flight 175. But distance and time were critical factors. Cape Cod was nearly two hundred miles from downtown Manhattan. Another Air National Guard base with F-16s was located at Atlantic City, New Jersey-and Flight 175 would pass within just four minutes of the base before turning north to New York City. But it did not have interceptors on alert. Time was also a problem. Rather than push their throttles to the max, bringing the fighters to their top speeds in excess of Mach 2, over 1,300 miles per hour, the pilots cruised toward New York at just under the speed of sound, around 700 miles per hour, This was apparently to avoid disturbing anyone below with a sonic boom.


At 8:41, around the same time that NORAD was receiving hijack alerts concerning the American and United flights out of Boston, another plane with hijackers aboard was roaring full throttle down a runway at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. After a forty-minute delay, United Flight 93 was on its way to San Francisco with a light load of passengers.

In the cockpit, pilot Jason Dahl, a NASCAR fan from Littleton, Colorado, gently pulled back on his controls to take the jet up to 35,000 feet. As the plane climbed, Mark Bingham, a publicist returning home from a meeting with high- technology clients, could feel the "pressure gently pushing him back into his cushy first-class seat, Sharing an armrest with him was another Bay Area resident, Tom Burnett, a healthcare executive. Behind the curtain in business class, Jeremy Glick, a sales manager for an Internet company, was seated in Row 11 and no doubt happy to finally get off the ground. Farther back, in the main cabin, Oracle software manager Todd Beamer was on his way to the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley.


In Washington at 8:41, during the penultimate moments before the most devastating surprise attack in American history, the country's vast intelligence machine was humming along on autopilot. George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, was enjoying a leisurely breakfast with an old friend in royal splendor at the St. Regis, a hotel built in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace. Surrounded by European antiques and rich damask draperies, he was chatting about families over omelets with David Boren. The former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and now president of the University of Oklahoma, Boren had been Tenet's patron as the former Intelligence Committee staff director rose to the top of the spy world.


Two hundred miles north, American Airlines Flight 11 was tearing toward New York City. Huddling out of sight, a shaken flight attendant managed to telephone a fellow American Airlines employee at Logan Airport on her cell phone. Near rows 9 and to, she said in hushed tones, were several Middle Eastern-looking men, armed with knives, who had wounded other passengers and had commandeered the plane.

In Manhattan, forty-eight-year-old Steve McIntyre left his Upper West Side home a good half hour earlier than usual and was just arriving at the World Trade Center. The director of regulatory affairs for the American Bureau of Shipping, he had an office on the ninety-first floor of Tower One. For nearly a quarter of a century, since graduating from the University of Michigan's Naval Architecture School, he had worked for the company, which sets standards for maritime safety.

From his north-facing office, the entire city was laid out below him. Silver towers and glass walls radiated in the sun, and flat, tar-covered rooftops with stubby chimneys stretched to the horizon. The glare was so great that he had to close the blinds before sitting down at his computer. Until 1999, when ABS headquarters relocated to Houston, the company had more than 130 workers in Tower One. Now it had only twenty-two to handle local New York business. About half of them were then at work.

Nearly one hundred floors below, French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet were shooting scenes for their documentary about a typical day in the life of a rookie New York fireman. At 8:43, as they were zooming their lenses in on men closing a sewer grate, they heard the sound of a low-flying plane. Curious, they pointed the camera almost straight up just as American Airlines Flight 11 streaked across the lens. It was headed directly toward Tower One of the World Trade Center.

Steve McIntyre was plowing through his e-mail when he heard what he thought was the roar of jet engines followed by a shadow crossing the blinds. In a nearby office, Claire McIntyre, no relation, was also checking her e-mail when she heard the same sound-the blast of a jet engine. Impossible, she thought. Then, to her horror, she looked up to see the wing and tail of a colossal plane coming right at her. "Oh my God, all my people," she thought. Screaming, she bolted from her office and raced into the hall to alert the rest of the staff. "Everyone, get out now," McIntyre yelled at the top of her voice. At the same moment, Steve McIntyre also realized it was a plane but had no idea of its size. "Oh, shit," he thought to himself. "Someone's lost control of a private Lear jet."

Far below on the street, the lens of Naudet's camera caught the fuselage of the massive Boeing 767, converted into a flying bomb, slicing directly into the building. For a fraction of a second, the event seemed almost graceful. The building simply swallowed up the plane, like a bullfrog catching a grasshopper in flight. But in the blink of an eye, when the nearly full fuel tanks were suddenly compressed like crushed soda cans, a massive fireball exploded and it was bedlam in hell.

The plane entered on the ninety-third floor, just two floors above the heads of Steve and Claire McIntyre, shaking the entire building as if an earthquake had struck. In the American Bureau of Shipping offices, an interior wall and ceiling collapsed and one employee had to be extricated from his cubicle. People began grabbing fire extinguishers while another person had the presence of mind to soak a fat roll of paper towels. Steve McIntyre left to check the fire exits.

Seconds after the blast, at 8:43:57, the cockpit crew aboard U.S. Air- ways Flight 583 heard Flight 11's eerie final gasp. "I just picked up an ELT on one twenty-one point five," the pilot told New York air traffic control, referring to an emergency locator transmitter and its frequency. "It was brief but it went off." The sound probably came from the black box aboard the doomed American Airlines flight in the second before it vaporized. "We picked up that ELT, too," reported a pilot on Delta Airlines Flight 2433, "but it's very faint."

Slowly it was beginning to dawn on New York Control just what had taken place. "Anybody know what that smoke is in lower Manhattan?" said another pilot flying over the area. "A lot of smoke in lower Manhattan is coming out of the top of the World Trade Center -- a major fire."


By now it had been eleven minutes since New York Control had heard from United Flight 175, and the controller again tried to regain contact. "UAL one seventy-five," he said, "do you read New York?" But, just as with Flight 11, there was only silence. Growing more and more concerned, he checked that his equipment was working correctly and asked whether other locations may have picked him up. "Do me a favor, see if UAL one seventy-five went back to your frequency," he asked a southern traffic control center. "He's not here," came the response.

After another minute of agonizing quiet, he expressed his suspicion. "We may have a hijack," he told a colleague. "I can't get hold of VAL one seventy-five at all right now and I don't know where he went to." "UAL one seventy-five, New York," he called again. But by then the hijackers were in full control. Near Albany, they made a U-turn back to the east and were at that moment screaming south toward Manhattan over the Hudson Valley at about 500 miles per hour-more than double the legal airspeed. The hijack pilot probably followed the Hudson River, like a thick line on a map, directly toward his target: Tower Two of the World Trade Center.


At the time American Airlines Flight 11 hit Tower One, the CNN program Live at Daybreak was carrying a report on a maternity-wear fashion show in New York. Then, at 8:49 anchor Carol Lin broke into a commercial. "This just in," she said. "You are looking at -- obviously a very disturbing live shot there -- that is the World Trade Center and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center."

CNN then switched to Sean Murton, the network's vice president of finance, who had observed the crash from the twenty-first floor of 5 Penn Plaza. "I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City," he said during a live telephone interview. "And it appears to have crashed into -- I don't know which tower it is -- but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers.... It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a seven thirty-seven, a large passenger commercial jet. It was teetering back and forth, wing tip to wing tip and it looks like it has crashed into probably twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center."

Fighting the blinding, choking, oily smoke, black as chimney soot, Steve McIntyre made his way out to the nearly impassable hallway and began looking for the emergency stairwells. The first one he tried was filled with water and debris. After locating the second emergency exit he found it dark and worse than the first. "Where the hell is the third fire stair?" he cursed. A few seconds later he found it, but in the rubble-filled darkness he slipped on a piece of gypsum board and fell, sliding down to the next landing and then bouncing down to another.

Throughout the building, terrorized occupants were dialing 911 on cell phones and pleading for help from fire rescue, which was sending every piece of emergency equipment in its inventory to the Trade Center. At 8:56 a man from the eighty-seventh floor yelled that his office was on fire and there were four other people with him.

Picking himself up from his long tumble, Steve McIntyre knew that he had found the only way out and ,he headed back up to get the other employees. He noticed that very few people were passing him coming down. Above McIntyre's ninety-first floor, occupying floors 93 to 100, was the giant insurance, consulting, and financial firm, Marsh & McLennan. And above them, from 100 to 105, was Cantor Fitzgerald, a large bond dealer. One of the trade center's oldest tenants, it had gradually taken over five floors as it expanded. Finally, there was Windows on the World, the famous restaurant with its breathtaking views, on the 106th floor. Many of the people on those floors, where the plane hit and above, were trapped and would never get out.

Christopher Hanley, who worked for a division of Reuters on Sixth Avenue, was among 150 people attending a special breakfast conference at Windows on the World. At 8:57 he called fire rescue to tell them the room was filling with smoke and people could not get down the stairs. About the same time, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee called from the 103rd floor. As people were screaming in the background, he told the operator that he was trapped, could not breathe, and that the smoke was coming through the door.

Another Cantor Fitzgerald employee unable to make his way out was forty-five-year-old Ian Schneider. The son of a truck driver, balding with a thick, black, barbershop-quartet mustache, he worked as a senior managing director of the firm. Schneider, like many others, took the dangers of working in the high-profile building in stride. He had been there during the earlier bombing in 1993 and had gone back to work the next day. And he would hang pencils from the ceiling to see them sway. Minutes after the plane hit, he called his wife, Cheryl, at home in Short Hills, New Jersey, to say he was leaving the building. But this time it would be different: the stairways were blocked or destroyed. Schneider pulled out his cell phone and called fire rescue to tell them that he and many other people were trapped on the 105th floor and that smoke was filling the room.

Over at Tower Two, many people headed down the emergency stairwells soon after the crash, but after a few minutes, once it was determined that their tower was not affected, they were told that they could return to their offices, which many did. One of those in Tower Two was Sean Rooney, a fifty-year-old vice president for Aon, one of the numerous insurance and financial services firms that populated the twin towers. At the time of the attack on Tower One, his wife, Beverly Eckert, a vice president with GeneralCologne Re, was attending a conference in her Stamford, Connecticut, offices. Hearing of the explosion at the World Trade Center, she quickly went for her phone where she found a message from Rooney. "It's the other building," he said. "I'm all right. But what I'm seeing is horrible." Relieved, Eckert went back to her meeting.

When Steve McIntyre arrived at his office after finding an open emergency stairwell, the other employees were gathered in the reception area. Quickly they began making their way down. Despite the confusion, Claire McIntyre had managed to grab her pocketbook and flashlight. "The first two flights were dark," she recalled, "with no emergency lights, and water was pouring down the stairs. We could barely see and I put my flashlight on. Then the emergency lights came on, and water was still flowing down." But the slick, oil-covered debris was dangerous and colleague Emma "Georgia" Barnett slipped and fell down three flights of stairs. Nevertheless, she got back up but this time tripped over a hose, injuring her knee. Still, determined to survive, she continued down with the rest.


The skies had turned deadly. By 8:56 an air traffic controller in Indianapolis was becoming very worried. American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington to Los Angeles, the plane on which Barbara Olson and the hijackers from Laurel, Maryland, were flying, was not answering. "American seventy-seven, Indy," he kept repeating. The controller then called American Airlines operations to see if they could raise the crew. They also had no luck, so the controller asked a different operator to try again. "We, uh, we lost track control of the guy," said the Indianapolis controller. "He's in coast track but we haven't, we don't [know] where his target is and we can't get a hold of him. You guys tried him and no response. We have no radar contact and, uh, no communications with him so if you guys could try again." "We're doing it," said the American Airlines operator. But there would be only silence.

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Postby admin » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:00 pm

Part 2 of 2

Among those watching the events unfold on television was John Carr, the president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Shortly before nine his cell phone went off. "Hey, John, are you watching this on TV?" said one of his associates. "Yeah, I am," replied Carr. "That's American eleven," said the friend. Carr nearly dropped his coffee. "My God, what are you talking about?" he said. "That's American eleven that made that hole in the World Trade Center." Carr still could not believe it. "You're kidding me," he said. "No," replied his friend. "And there is another one that just turned south toward New York." Then, referring to United Flight 175, he added ominously, "We lost him, too."

At 9:02 on the ABC News program Good Morning America, correspondent Don Dahler in New York was giving hosts Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson an update on the Trade Center explosion as the camera focused on the twin towers. "It appears that there is more and more fire and smoke enveloping the very top of the building," he said, "and as fire crews are descending on this area it does not appear that there is any kind of an effort up there yet: Now remember -- Oh, my God!"

At that moment the image of a large commercial jetliner, tilted to one side, zoomed across the television screen and smashed into Tower Two, pushing desks, people, and file cabinets out the windows. Paper began to slowly rain down, sparkling in the sun like confetti. Then, a fraction of a second later, United Flight 175 exploded with the force of a fuel- ir bomb, sending superheated flames and dense, black smoke in all directions.

"My God!" repeated Sawyer, almost in a whisper. "That looks like a second plane," said Gibson flatly and with no emotion, as if describing a passing bus. "I just saw another plane coming in from the side. That was the second explosion -- you could see the plane come in, just on the right-hand side of the screen. So this looks like it is some kind of concerted effort to attack the World Trade Center that is under way in downtown New York."

Hearing of the second explosion, Beverly Eckert once more grabbed the phone to call her husband, Sean Rooney. Again, another message was waiting -- but it had come in prior to the most recent event. "Just letting you know I'll be here for a while," he said. "They've secured the building." After trying unsuccessfully to call him, she rushed home to Glenbrook. The two had been married for twenty-one years and had known each other since meeting in their native Buffalo in 1967. For Rooney, it was a long commute to the World Trade Center every day, but he greatly enjoyed playing carpenter, plumber, electrician, and mason at his home in Connecticut. Since buying the house fourteen years earlier, he had added cement steps by the front door, built a fireplace mantel in the living room, and laid marble floors in the master bathroom. He even cultivated an herb garden. Eckert especially liked the way her husband laughed -- and how it made his shoulders shake. But now she was very worried.

Soon after she reached their house, only about a mile away, the phone rang. It was Rooney telling her that he was trapped on the 105th floor of the burning Tower Two. He had tried to make it down the emergency stairwell, he said, but around the seventy-sixth floor the heat and smoke had become too intense, driving him back. Then he tried to escape to the observation deck just above his office, but the thick steel door was locked. He said he was now on the north side of the building, and Eckert said she would pass the information on to the rescue workers. Confused as to what was happening around him, Rooney asked his wife what she could see on the television. Eckert said there was fire on his side of the building, but it was many floors below. "The smoke is heavy," Rooney said. "I don't understand why the fire suppression isn't working."

"Maybe they can get a helicopter to you," said Eckert, desperately trying to get her husband to the roof and possible rescue. "Please try the door again. Pound on it. Maybe someone is on the other side and will hear you. Who is with you? " she asked. "I'm alone," said Rooney. "Some other people are in a conference room nearby." He then went back to the observation deck to try the door again.


The man charged with protecting the continental United States from a surprise attack was NORAD Major General Larry K. Arnold. Yet he himself was among the most surprised by the attack. He watched the deadly assaults unfold on his office television set. Then when United Flight 175 hit Tower Two, Arnold blinked. "I couldn't believe that that was actually happening," he said. NORAD's public relations officer was talking to his brother in Tower Two when the United 767 hit it. "Well, I better get out of here," the brother said quickly and then hung up. But he never made it out.

At the time of the impact, NORAD's two fighters from Otis Air National Guard Base were still seventy-one miles away- seven minutes' flying time.


Over in Tower One, Steve McIntyre and his fellow employees were still attempting to make their way down the crowded and rubble-strewn stairs. "We stopped at around the eighty-fifth floor to take stock and to calm each other," McIntyre recalled. "That was much better. We realized the fire was above us and that it was clear below. We just had to get down." His emotional state was "up and down like a yo-yo," he said. "We were completely encased in tunnels. And then we would open a door onto a floor and there would be guys fighting a fire, and then we would open another door and there would be people just milling around." As people or debris blocked their paths, they would zigzag across floors to other emergency stairwells. By the time they reached the sixties, Claire McIntyre was exhausted. "1 was thinking: 'How much more to go?'" she said.


By now it was about three minutes past nine. Both towers of the World Trade Center had been hit by large commercial airliners with thousands of people feared dead. One crash took place on live television. Another commercial jet bound for Los Angeles -- American Airlines Flight 77 was missing and may have been headed for still another target. Other flying bombs were possibly orbiting. NORAD had launched fighters to intercept and possibly shoot down one of the aircraft, requiring the president's permission. Frightened Americans across the country were transfixed in front of their televisions. Commentators were declaring that the United States was under massive airborne attack. Yet as America was suffering its worse assault in history, the president of the United States remained largely in the dark, knowing far less then the average couch potato watching Diane Sawyer.

At the time, George W. Bush was sitting on a stool in Sarasota, Florida, listening to a small class of second graders read him a story about a girl's pet goat. It was the day's routine photo-op, prepackaged propaganda for the press designed to demonstrate his concern for education. Just before entering the class, Condoleezza Rice, the national security advisor, informed the president of the devastating jet plane crash into Tower One. Nevertheless, Bush decided stay on message and go forward with the publicity event. Florida, after all, had been the most crucial battleground of the last election, and could be in the next.

About 9:06, four minutes after the attack on Tower Two, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card leaned over and whispered the brief message in the president's right ear. "A second plane has hit the World Trade Center," he said. "America is under attack." Almost immediately an expression of befuddlement passed across the president's face.

Then, having just been told that the country was under attack, the commander in chief appeared uninterested in further details. He never asked if there had been any additional threats, where the attacks were coming from, how to best protect the country from further attacks, or what was the current status of NORAD or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Nor did he call for an immediate return to Washington. Instead, in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor, he simply turned back to the matter at hand: the day's photo op. Precious minutes were ticking by, and many more lives were still at risk. "Really good readers, whew!" he told the class as the electronic flashes once again began to blink and the video cameras rolled. "These must be sixth graders!"


As President Bush continued with his reading lesson, life within the burning towers of the World Trade Center was becoming ever more desperate. At 9:06 the police helicopter radioed the message, "Unable to land on roof." As it pulled away from Tower One, the hundreds or thousands still trapped on the· upper floors saw their last hope disappear. Without someone to break open the locked doors to the roof, or pluck them from it, all they could do was hang out of windows trying to find some smoke-free air to breathe. Some flapped draperies to try to attract attention. The towers had now become sky-high chimneys.

Within minutes, people began jumping, preferring a quick death to burning alive or suffocating. "People falling out of building," said the pilot of the chopper. "Jumper," he added. And they just kept coming. "Several jumpers from the window [Windows on the World] at One World Trade Center." By 9:09 people were also beginning to throw themselves out of Tower Two. "People are jumping out the side of a large hole," said a caller to fire rescue. "Possibly no one catching them."

Like people trapped on a sinking ship seeking the highest point above the water, those in the twin towers, blocked from going down, were climbing up as high as they could go. But it would be a climb to nowhere. "One hundred twenty people trapped on the 106th floor," exclaimed a caller in Windows on the World at 9:19. "A lot of smoke.... Can't go down the stairs!" "Evacuation to the top floor of World Trade Center," said another caller a few seconds later. The problem was the same at Tower Two. "Hundred and fifth floor," a caller yelled. "People trapped! Open roof to gain access!" But, ironically, although some would make it to the roof through open doors, other doors were locked to keep potential jumpers, and simple spectators, off.


For more than half an hour, air traffic controllers in both Washington and Indianapolis had been searching madly for American Airlines Flight 77, which had taken off from Dulles Airport about 8:10. At 8:56 all contact was lost, "You guys never been able to raise him at all?" asked a radar operator at Indianapolis Control. "No," said the air traffic controller. "We called [the] company. They can't even get ahold of him so there's no, no, uh, no radio communications and' no radar." Finally, at 9:24, the FAA alerted officials at NORAD, who immediately sent out a scramble order to their Air National Guard unit at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia.

Four minutes later, Dulles tower air traffic control operator Danielle O'Brien spotted an unidentified blip on her radar screen. Although she didn't know it at the time, it was the missing Flight 77, Seventy minutes earlier she had bid farewell to the flight crew with her uncustomary "good luck." The alarmed controllers quickly called to warn their colleagues at Reagan National Airport, which was located close to downtown Washington. "Fast moving primary target," they said, indicating that a plane without a transponder was heading their way.

At the time, the plane was about twelve to fourteen miles southwest of Dulles and moving at lightning speed. Tom Howell, the controller next to O'Brien, glanced over at her screen and his eyes grew wide. "Oh my God!" he yelled. "It looks like he's headed to the White Housel We've got a target headed right for the White House!" At full throttle, American Airlines Flight 77 was traveling at about 500 miles per hour directly toward P-56, the prohibited air space surrounding the White House and the Capitol. Because of its speed and the way it maneuvered and turned, everyone in the radar room of Dulles Airport's tower assumed it was a military jet.

Among the passengers on Flight 77 were the hijackers from the Valencia Motel and Barbara Olson. Originally, Barbara Olson had planned to fly to Los Angeles on Monday, September to. But because her husband's birthday was on the 11th, she decided to leave the next morning so she could spend a little time with him on that day. After saying good-bye early in the morning, she called him at the Justice Department about .7:40, just before boarding her plane.

About an hour and a half later, Olson heard about the hijackings and quickly turned on his office television, worried that one of the planes might be Barbara's. But after a brief mental calculation, he figured her plane could not have gotten to New York that quickly.

Suddenly a secretary rushed in. "Barbara is on the phone," she said. Olson jumped for the receiver. "Our plane has been hijacked!" she said quickly, but then the phone went dead. Olson immediately called the command center at Justice and alerted them that there was yet another hijacked plane -- and that his wife was on it. He also said she was able to communicate, even though her first call had been cut off.

Minutes later Barbara called back. Speaking very quietly, she said the hijackers did not know she was making this call. All the passengers, she said, had been herded to the back by men who had used knives and box cutters to hijack the plane. The pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked shortly after takeoff.

Ted Olson then told her about the two other planes that had flown into the World Trade Center. "I think she must have been partially in shock from the fact that she was on a hijacked plane," Olson recalled. "She absorbed the information."

"What shall 1 tell the pilot? What can 1 tell the pilot to do?" Barbara said, trying to remain calm. Olson asked if she could tell where the plane was. She said she could see houses and, after asking someone, said she thought the plane was heading northeast.

They then reassured each other that at least the plane was still up in the air, still flying. "It's going to come out okay," Olson told his wife, who agreed. But Ted Olson knew the situation was anything but all right. "I was pretty sure everything was not going to be okay," he recalled. "I, by this time, had made the calculation that these were suicidal persons, bent on destroying as much of America as they could." "I love you," Barbara said as they expressed their feelings for each other. Then the phone suddenly went dead again. While waiting for her to call back, Olson remained glued to the television. It was now about 9:30.

At that same moment, NORAD's three F-16s, each loaded with six missiles, were wheels up from Langley Air Force Base. It was the closest alert base to Washington, only 130 miles away. The pilots' job was somehow to find Flight 77 before it found its target and possibly shoot it down. But that would require the authorization of the president.


At 9:30, nearly half an hour after being told that the country was under attack, President Bush was still at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School, far from the madness in New York. Having finished his photo op with the second graders and been given a quick update on the state of the crisis, he strolled into the school's library. He had originally planned to give a speech promoting his education policies. Instead, still seemingly unaware of the magnitude of what was taking place, he told the children and teachers that he would have to leave. "I, unfortunately, will be going back to Washington," he said, because the country had suffered "an apparent terrorist attack."

With one brief exception, that was the last anyone would see of either the president or vice president until long after the crisis ended. Air Force One was not going to Washington. The commander in chief was headed for the safety of a bunker deep under Nebraska. At first, an administration spokesman said flying to Omaha was a result of a threat against Air Force One called into the White House. But later the administration was forced to admit that such an event never took place.


Within the tower at Dulles Airport, the tension was almost visible. The supervisor in the radar room began a countdown as the unknown plane got closer and closer to the White House. "He's twelve miles west," he said. "He's moving very fast .eastbound. Okay, guys, where is he now? ... Eleven miles west, ten miles west, nine miles west." About that point, the supervisor picked up the phone to the Secret Service office at the White House. "We have an unidentified, very fast- moving aircraft inbound toward your vicinity," he said. "Eight miles west. Seven miles west."

At the White House, Secret Service officers quickly rushed into Vice President Dick Cheney's office. "We have to move," said one agent. "We're moving now, sir; we're moving." Once out, they hustled him down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, a special bombproof bunker under the East Wing of the building. The rest of the White House staff were told to get out and away from the building as quickly as possible. "All the way to H Street, please," one uniformed Secret Service officer yelled.

"Six miles," said the supervisor. "Five miles, four miles." He was just about to say three miles when the plane suddenly turned away. "In the room, it was almost a sense of relief," recalled traffic controller Danielle O'Brien. "This must be a fighter. This must be one of our guys sent in, scrambled to patrol our capital and to protect our president, and we sat back in our chairs and breathed for just a second. In the meantime, all the rest of the planes are still flying and we're taking care of everything else."

But then the plane suddenly turned back, completing a 360-degree loop. "He's turning back in!" O'Brien yelled. "He's turning back eastbound!" O'Brien's fellow traffic controller, Tom Howell began to yell to the supervisor. "Oh my God, John, he's coming back!"

"We lost radar contact with that aircraft," recalled O'Brien. "And we waited. And we waited. And your heart is just beating out of your chest, waiting to hear what's happened."

At that same moment, Catholic priest Father Stephen McGraw was in traffic so heavy it was almost at a standstill. He was on his way to a graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery but had mistakenly taken the Pentagon exit onto Washington Boulevard. Suddenly McGraw felt the teeth-rattling roar of a large aircraft only about twenty feet above. He looked out just as the plane clipped an overhead sign and then toppled a lamppost, injuring a taxi driver a few feet away. "It looked like a plane coming in for a landing," he said. "I mean, in the sense that it was controlled and sort of straight." A second later, at 9:37, American Airlines Flight 77 smashed into the gray concrete wall of the Pentagon, hitting with such force that it penetrated four of the five concentric rings of corridors and offices surrounding the center court, long nicknamed Ground Zero.

"I saw it crash into the building," said McGraw. "There was an explosion and a loud noise, and I felt the impact. I remember seeing a fireball come out of two windows [of the Pentagon]. I saw an explosion of fire billowing through those two windows. I remember hearing a gasp or scream from one of the other cars near me. Almost a collective gasp it seemed."

Nearby in another car was Aydan Kizildrgli, a student from Turkey who was just learning English. "Did you see that?" he shouted to the next car. Traffic along the highway came immediately to a halt as people jumped out of their cars and began putting their cell phones to their ears. Stunned and dazed, Kizildrgli left his car on the road and began walking aimlessly for half an hour.

Minutes later, in the Dulles Airport tower, the words of an air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport came over the loudspeaker. "Dulles, hold all of our inbound traffic," said the voice. "The Pentagon's been hit." "I remember some folks gasping," recalled O'Brien. "I think 1 remember a couple of expletives." "It's just like a big pit in your stomach because you weren't able to do anything about it to stop it," said Tom Howell. "That's what I think hurt the most."

Twelve minutes after the crash, the three Air National Guard F -16s from Langley finally arrived. Too late to save the Pentagon, they were ordered to patrol the airspace over the White House. "A person came on the radio," said National Guard Major General Mike J. Haugen, "and identified himself as being with the Secret Service, and he said, 'I want you to protect the White House at all costs.'"

At the Justice Department, Ted Olson heard on television that an explosion had taken place at the Pentagon. Although no one identified the aircraft involved, he knew it was Flight 77 carrying his wife. "I did and 1 didn't want to," he recalled, "but 1 knew." Late that night, when he finally got to bed around 1 A.M., Olson found a note under his pillow that Barbara had left for his birthday. "I love you," she had written. "When you read this, I will be thinking of you and will be back on Friday."


As rescue workers began racing to the Pentagon, it was quickly becoming clear to air traffic controllers in Cleveland that yet another passenger jet -- a fourth -- was in the process of being hijacked. This time it was United Flight 93, which had taken off at 8:42 that morning from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco. Shortly after nine, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, pilot Jason Dahl had heard a brief ping on his company computer. It was an electronic alert notifying him of a message from United's operations center near Chicago. In green letters on a black background came a warning to be careful of someone trying to break into the flight deck. Beware, cockpit intrusion, it said. Confirmed, typed one of the pilots, acknowledging the message.

At about 9:28, as the plane was flying near downtown Cleveland, Captain Dahl radioed Cleveland Control a cheerful greeting. "Good morning, Cleveland. United ninety-three with you at three-five-zero [35,000 feet]. Intermittent flight chop."

But back in the main cabin there was pandemonium. Three men who had tied red bandannas around their heads were taking over and herding the passengers to the back of the plane, near the galley. One of those passengers, Tom Burnett, managed to pick up a phone without being noticed. He quickly called his wife, Deena, in San Ramon, California, where she was preparing breakfast for the couple's three young daughters. "We're being hijacked!" he said. "They've knifed a guy, and there's a bomb on board! Call the authorities, Deena!"

Seconds later, the Cleveland controller heard the frightening sound of screaming in the cockpit. "Somebody call Cleveland?" he asked. There was no answer, just the muffled sounds of a struggle, followed by silence for about forty seconds. Then the Cleveland controller heard more struggling followed by someone frantically shouting, "Get out of here! Get out of here!" Finally, the microphone once again went dead.

Unsure of what he had actually heard, the controller called another nearby United flight to see if they might have picked up the broadcast. "United fifteen twenty-three," he said, "did you hear your company, did you hear some interference on the frequency here a couple of minutes ago -- screaming?" "Yes, I did," said a crew member of the United flight. "And we couldn't tell what it was either." The pilot of a small executive jet had also heard the commotion. "We did hear that yelling, too," he told the Cleveland controller.

"Any airline pilot with any experience, and I've had quite a bit," said veteran commercial pilot John Nance, "who sits up there strapped into a seat knows what happened here: two of my brethren being slashed to death. In the cockpit, I think what happened is the pilots had been subdued. I think their necks had been slashed. And they're strapped in, they've got no way of defending themselves. You can't turn around and fight. They're just sitting ducks."

Suddenly the microphone aboard United Flight 93 came to life again, but this time with a foreign-sounding voice. "Ladies and gentlemen, here it's the captain. Please sit down. Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb aboard." Startled, the Cleveland controller called back. "Say again slowly," he said. But silence returned to Flight 93.


In New York, the twin towers had become twin infernos. Nearly ten million square feet of vertical space was converted into burning torches.

Completed in 1974, the nearly 1,300-foot towers had become modern-day temples of wealth and commerce. Unencumbered by interior columns or load-bearing walls, they were tubes of metal and glass containing 200,000 tons of steel, 425,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 600,000 square feet of glass in 43,000 windows. The wide, file cabinet and desk-clogged floors on which the pools of jet fuel were burning were designed to hold tremendous weights. Made of reinforced concrete pads on metal decks supported by cross beams, each floor covered about an acre and weighed nearly 4.8 million pounds. Much of this weight was transferred to a series of exterior columns by a complex network of beams and slabs connecting to and spanning the distance between the columns.

But it was also made of flesh. Like an upright city, the towers housed 55,000 workers. On a typical day the buildings had about 90,000 visitors. The complex had its own subway station, and in place of taxis, nearly a hundred elevators whisked people from the seven-story entrance to the 107 floors of offices. Some people there made millions and had endless, heart-thumping views, while others hustled, toiled, and scraped by, never seeing much more than blank walls.

As in life, economic stratification is also often present in death. Those in the higher, more expensive offices stood less of a chance of surviving. With a stairwell in all four corners, the towers were designed to be evacuated in an hour. Although theoretically designed to sustain a hit from a Boeing 707, it is clear that the architects never anticipated that the towers would survive an attack by fuel-laden, wide-body jets. Those in the area of the direct hits and above were trapped, prevented from going down by the damage to the stairwells caused by the exploding fuselage and the fuel-filled wings. They could only go up, but that was where the searing heat and smoke were accumulating. Below the impact zone, the fuel not expended in the original explosion poured down on lower floors like flaming waterfalls.

The World Trade Center had become a place were life or death would be decided not by the laws of man but by the laws of physics, where massive steel columns would turn to liquid and solid blocks of reinforced concrete instantly revert to dust.

At 9:24, fire rescue received a call from a frightened man who said that the stairway had collapsed on the 105th floor of Tower Two. It would be an omen.


About 9:30, aboard United Flight 93, Tom Burnett again picked up his phone and called his wife. At that moment Deena was passing his message on to the FBI, but when she heard the call-waiting click, she switched to the other line. "They're in the cockpit now," said Burnett. Then, as the hijackers began vectoring toward Washington, he noticed the plane shifting course. "We're turning back to New York," he said. "No, we're heading south." Deena then connected him to the FBI on the other line.

Others also began calling loved ones. Back in the coach galley, flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw called her husband, Phil, in Greensboro, North Carolina. "Have you heard?" she said. "We've been hijacked." Passenger Jeremy Glick called his wife, Lyz, and she told him of the hijacked planes that hit the World Trade Center. "Is that where we're going, too?" he wondered out loud. But Lyz doubted it. There was nothing left to destroy. Then she questioned him about whether the hijackers were using machine ~s. "No machine guns, just knives," he said.

Todd Beamer managed to get through to an Airfone operator at the GTE Customer Center in Oakbrook, Illinois, and he described the tense situation. Hearing about the hijacking, the operator switched him to her supervisor, Lisa Jefferson. "He told me that there were three people taking over the flight'" she said. "Two of them have knives and they locked themselves in the cockpit. One had a bomb strapped around his waist with a red belt. He [Beamer] was sitting in the back of the plane, and he could see in the front of the plane there were two people down on the floor. He couldn't tell whether they were dead or alive." The two were likely the captain and first officer.

As word spread through the plane of the World Trade Center crashes, a number of the passengers began discussing taking matters into their own hands. One of those was Jeremy Glick, a six-foot one- inch, 220-pound former NCAA judo champion. He told his wife that he and several others were talking about "rushing the hijackers." Among the passengers were a former paratrooper, a brown belt in karate, a rock climber, and a former Scotland Yard prosecutor. One woman, a sky diver, had a note stuck to her refrigerator at home. "Get busy living," it said, "or get busy dying."

At about 9:45, Tom Burnett again checked in with his wife, Deena. Now she had even worse news. Sobbing, she told him of the plane that had crashed into the Pentagon. "My God!" he said. Deena added, "They seem to be taking planes and driving them into designated landmarks all over the East Coast. It's as if hell has been unleashed." The hijackers had claimed that they had a bomb on board. But Tom Burnett was now skeptical. "I think they're bluffing," he said. "We're going to do something," he said. "I've got to go."

Using everything they could muster as improvised weapons -- plastic knives, broken dishes, boiling water -- a number of passengers began rushing the cockpit, where the hijackers had, apparently, barricaded themselves in. With the angry mob on the other side of the door, they may have realized that they had waited too long to take over the plane. As Flight 93 began slowly making its way back toward the East Coast from Cleveland, the passengers had had time to organize.

In the cockpit there was frantic discussion of how to fight back. One of the hijackers suggested turning off the oxygen -- they themselves could breathe through their face masks. As the confusion increased, the plane began to wobble and then lose altitude.

Soon after, people for miles around could see a cloud of gray smoke rising above the trees and low-rise buildings of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This cloud, billowing from a fifty-foot crater, was all that remained of United Flight 93. One hundred and ten minutes after taking over American Airlines Flight 11, the terrorist attacks of September 11 at last came to an end amid the red barns, white churches, and copper pastures of rural Somerset County.


By 9:30, the situation in Tower Two had grown even more critical and the calls to fire rescue more desperate. At 9:36 a woman called from an elevator saying she and others were trapped inside. Another was from a woman named Melissa. The floor was very hot, she said. There were no available doors. She was going to die, she said, but first wanted to call her mother. Still another call transmitted only the sound of people crying.

The jet fuel had now been burning for more than half an hour, reaching temperatures exceeding the 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit needed to melt steel, the same kind of steel on which the floors sat.

People were continuing to jump out of windows in even greater numbers -- heart-wrenching attempts to shorten their suffering. "People still jumping off the tower," said a fire rescue report at 9:42. "A man waving a jacket," said another, followed a few seconds later by, "Man just jumped."

Among those who rushed to Tower Two was Captain James Grillo, a veteran of the New York City Fire Department. "It was terror, sheer terror," he said. "Bodies were falling out of the sky. They were jumping off the 105th floor, and they were landing all over the street and the sidewalk. I was trying to avoid looking up and watching it.... It was horrible. I saw dozens of people jumping."

Many of those jumping off the 105th floor worked for Ann, a worldwide insurance and risk management company. In Gaelic, "aon" means "oneness," and at the time, more than 170 of the company's employees were trapped together -- between the fire below and no escape above. At 9:38 Kevin Cosgrove, the company's forty-six-year-old vice president of claims, called fire rescue once again trying to get help. "Can't find staircase to get out!" he said. "People need help on 105th floor!"

In a nearby office, fellow Ann employee Sean Rooney had just returned from the last of several futile attempts to escape to the floor above. But as before, the door was locked, and there appeared. no way out. Now the smoke was becoming heavy and he passed out briefly on the way back. He touched the office window, and the glass was hot.

Back in his office, Rooney called his wife, Beverly Eckert. She could hear her husband was having tremendous difficulty breathing. "How bad is the smoke?" she asked. "Pretty bad," said Rooney. By now she knew there was little hope left. "Sean," she said with great sadness, "it doesn't seem to me that they are going to be able to get to you in time. I think we need to say good-bye." For the next few minutes, the two talked about their love and the happy years they had spent together. Eckert said she wished she was there with him. Rooney asked her to give his love to everyone. "I love you," he said.

The time was getting very short. At 9:47, in a nearby office, a woman called fire rescue with an ominous message. The floor underneath her, she said, was beginning to collapse.

Over the phone, Eckert suddenly heard an enormous explosion followed by a roaring sound. "It sounded like Niagara Falls," she recalled. "I knew without seeing that he was gone." With the phone cradled next to her heart, she walked into another room, and on the television she could see Tower Two collapsing -- the first tower to go down.

"I will always be grateful that 1 was able to be with him at the end and that we had a chance to say good-bye," Eckert said. "He was so calm. It helped me in those final moments. So many people missed the last phone call. So many are saying, 'If only I had a final chance to say good-bye.'"


It was nearly ten o'clock when the eleven exhausted, blackened, but alive employees of the American Bureau of Shipping at last reached the bottom of Tower One, having started down from the ninety-first floor nearly an hour before. "I was thinking, 'Okay, great, we're safe,'" recalled Steve McIntyre. "But outside I could see all this falling debris flying around. I thought, 'We've been coming down for an hour, what the hell is this?'"

McIntyre was helping a fellow employee named Ruth, who had sprained her ankle. Having made it to the lobby, the two managed to get across the plaza to an exit on the eastern side where there was an escalator up to Church Street. "We're okay," McIntyre said to Ruth. "We get up this escalator and we're okay."

"And then there was a big rumble and a huge roar," recalled McIntyre. "Everybody shouted 'run,' and then a huge wind came through there. I remember distinctly being lifted off my feet and blown down the hall, I don't know how far. Ruth was holding onto me, but we were ripped apart. I had no conception of what was happening. It went through my mind that a bomb had gone off in the subway. Then the plume came through and there was an opaque blackness. It was not an absence of light. It was opaque. My glasses were gone. I put my hand in front of my face and I couldn't see it. "I thought, 'A bomb has gone off and I'm going to die right here of smoke inhalation.' Then I realized that it wasn't smoke, that it was just very heavy air. There was all this stuff on the floor, but it was light stuff. I was coated in it, as if I'd been immersed in a vat of butter. And the exposed skin on my arm was all pocked from tiny glass shards, maybe a hundred of them. We must have been on the very edge of the blast field when Number Two came down." In the darkness, McIntyre ran into a glass storefront, but eventually he saw a flashlight beam and heard someone yelling, "Come to me." A short time later, McIntyre again saw daylight and freedom. Less than a half hour later, Tower One also collapsed.

At 9:55, almost the same moment that Tower Two collapsed, President Bush, his photo op now over, finally departed Sarasota, Florida, aboard AirForce One for the bunker in Nebraska.


In the hours and days following the attacks, NSA quickly began mobilizing nearly every man, woman, and machine to detect any further terrorist activities and to find Osama bin Laden and other members of his organization. Almost immediately after the incidents began, black-ninja- suited members of the Emergency Reaction Team, armed with Colt 9 mm submachine guns, took up posts around Crypto City. The number of bomb-sniffing dogs was also increased; the NSA Museum was shut down; and the Executive Protection Unit, the director's bodyguards, beefed up.

The National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which directs the agency's worldwide eavesdropping activities, was converted into a war room. Superfast CRITIC messages -- "critical intelligence" reports of the highest importance -- began going out to field stations around the world every time a new piece of the puzzle was discovered, such as the names of the hijackers obtained from the passenger manifest lists. These CRITICs were distributed almost instantly throughout the intelligence community over the agency's on-line National SIGINT File. "Whenever a new CRITIC appeared, officials were notified by a flashing message in the top left corner of their computer screen.

A crisis management team moved into Room 8020, the director's large conference room, an elaborate minitheater just down the hall from the General Hayden's office. Another group began meeting continuously in the NSOC conference room. Old intercept tapes were pulled out of storage and checked for clues that might have been missed. Every new piece of information was fed into the organization's massive computer database to see if there would be a hit.

Room 3E132, the Special Support Activity, became a hub of activity. The group provides cryptologic assistance to military commanders around the world. Units known as Cryptologic Service Groups (CSGs) bring NSA in microcosm to the national security community and forces in the field. Soon after the attacks, hundreds of NSA cryptologists supplemented the small CSG assigned to the U.S. Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. Others CSGs were activated and eventually sent to liaise with the units in the Near and Middle East.

Another group that shifted into high gear was the Special Collection Service, the clandestine joint NSA-CIA organization that covertly travels around the world attempting to tap into difficult communications channels.

All over the world and in space, listening posts and satellites quickly shifted from their other targets and began concentrating on Afghanistan and the Middle East.

But despite the valiant human effort and the billions of dollars spent on high-flying hardware and super-complex software, for at least two years before the attacks and (as of this writing) three months after the attacks, NSA had no idea where Osama bin Laden and his key associates were -- or even if they were still in Afghanistan.

As tens of millions of communications continue to be vacuumed up by NSA every hour, the system has become overwhelmed as a result of too few analysts. "U.S. intelligence operates what is probably the largest information processing environment in the world," recalled former NSA director William O. Studeman. "Consider this: Just one intelligence collection system alone can generate a million inputs per half-hour." That enormous volume, according to John Millis, the former staff director of House Select Committee on Intelligence and a former CIA officer, is exactly the problem. "We don't come near to processing, analyzing, and disseminating the intelligence we collect right now," he said. "We're totally out of balance."

According to NSA's director, Lieutenant General Hayden, the problem is in the numbers. "Forty years ago there were five thousand standalone computers, no fax machines, and not one cellular phone. Today, there are over one hundred eighty million computers -- most of them networked. There are roughly fourteen million fax machines and forty million cell phones, and those numbers continue to grow. The telecommunications industry is making a one trillion-dollar investment to encircle the world in millions of miles of high bandwidth fiber-optic cable. They are aggressively investing in the future." Thus, adds Hayden, "Osama bin Laden has at his disposal the wealth of a three trillion-dollars-a-year telecommunications industry." At the same time, he said, "the National Security Agency is lagging behind."

The numbers only get worse. According to a 2001 Congressional report on NSA, the agency is "faced with profound 'needle-in-the haystack' challenges" as a result of "telephone service that has grown by approximately 18 percent annually since 1992," and the explosion in worldwide telephone service to some eighty-two billion minutes by 1997.

The problem of system overload went from bad to critical in February 2000 when NSA's entire computing system crashed for nearly four days. "NSA headquarters was brain dead," Hayden candidly admitted. "This was really bad." Then, not mincing words, he said, "NSA is in great peril," adding, "We're behind the curve in keeping up with the global telecommunications revolution. In the previous world order, our primary adversary was the Soviet Union. Technologically we had to keep pace with an oligarchic, resource-poor, technologically inferior, over-bureaucratized, slow-moving nation-state. Our adversary communications are now based upon the developmental cycle of a global industry that is literally moving at the speed of light ... cell phones, encryption, fiber-optic communications, digital communications."

Simply sending e-mail, Hayden discovered, was a major problem. It takes "an act of God," he said, to send an e-mail message to all of the agency's 38,000 employees because of NSA's sixty-eight separate e-mail systems. Nor can the three computers on his desk communicate with one another.

Even if the system could pick up and process all the critical communications, most of it would go unread for days or weeks, if at all, as a result of an enormous lack of specialists in many key. languages, including those used in Afghanistan. By September 10, the number of NSA language specialists expert in the Afghan languages -- Pashtun and Dari-was almost nonexistent. According to one senior intelligence official, they could be counted on one hand with fingers left over. "There's simply too much out there, and it's too hard to understand," said Hayden. Congressional analysts agreed. "NSA is," said a report issued in 2001, "not well positioned to analyze developments among the assortment of terrorist groups."

To deal with the growing language problems, Hayden turned to agency veteran Renee Meyer and appointed her the agency's first senior language authority.

According to Meyer, even though nearly half the world (47 percent) speaks English, there is a growing tendency for people to return to local languages. "Cultural pride has reemerged," said Meyer. "People use their 'own' languages, and there are all kinds of speakers." The number of languages being used around the world, she said, is enormous -- over 6,500 -- many of which are growing. Also, it takes a tremendous amount of time to train language analysts in many of these "low-density" languages, such as those used in Afghanistan. Simply to reach the minimum professional capability -- level 3 -- takes from three to eight years of study.

By the summer of 2001, the agency had at last put together a language database showing who in the agency speaks what languages and where in the world they are located. By the fall, Meyer said, she hoped to complete a Daily Language Readiness Indices -- a daily printout of the constantly changing database that would be placed on the director's desk every morning. Thus, in the event of a crisis, such as the attacks on September 11, the agency could identify and locate immediately everyone who speaks the critical languages of the area. When she was appointed to the new position Director Hayden told her she had until October 15, 2001 to fix the system. The terrorists of September 11, however, did not wait. "The bad guys are everywhere. The bad guys do not always speak English," she said. "We are not always ready for the bad guys."

Adding to the problems, the agency has become spread far too thinly. Largely as a result of politics, NSA has become burdened with thousands of targets that pose little immediate risk to the nation while drawing critical resources away from those, like bin Laden and Al Qaeda, that are truly dangerous and time sensitive. One of those targets in which far too many resources are spent is China. Since the end of the Cold War, a number of fire-breathing conservatives and China hawks have sought to turn it into a new Soviet Union. Among those is Robert Kagan, a former aide to State Department official Elliot Abrams. "The Chinese leadership views the world today in much the same way Kaiser Wilhelm II did a century ago," Kagan said in an address to the Foreign Relations Committee. Another is Michael Ledeen, a key player in the Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages deal with Iran. "So long as China remains a ruthless Communist dictatorship," he wrote in the Weekly Standard, "the inevitability of conflict must inform all our thinking and planning."

As a result of this new containment policy, fully endorsed by the Bush administration, millions of dollars and thousands of people are used for such things as daily, Cold War-style eavesdropping patrols throughout the area, such as the one that crash-landed on China's Hainan Island in the spring of 2001.

Another mission that draws valuable dollars, equipment, and personnel away from critical operations is the use of NSA in the endless drug war. According to NSA officials, the Drug Enforcement Administration is constantly pressuring the agency to provide it with ever-greater assistance and resources.

Yet even with the continued growth in targets and missions throughout the 1990s, from wars to drugs to terrorists, the agency's budget and personnel ranks were slashed by a third.

Shortly before he tragically killed himself in the summer of 2000, House Intelligence Committee staff director John Millis was asked about the readiness and capabilities of NSA and the other spy agencies. "I think," he said, "we're in big trouble."

For half a century, NSA had fought a war against a giant nation with fixed military bases, a sophisticated communications network, a stable chain of command, and a long history from which future intentions could be anticipated. Now that has all changed. Terrorists are stateless and constantly on the move, their organizational structures are always in flux, and the only thing that is predictable is that they will be unpredictable. And when they do communicate, their infrequent messages join with billions of other pieces of communication -- e-mail, cell phones, data transfers -- zapping around the world at the speed of light in a complex digital web of bits, bytes, and photons.

To succeed against the targets of the twenty-first century, the agency will have to undergo a metamorphosis, changing both its culture and technology.

More than eight decades. earlier, another metamorphosis took place. Walking into a twenty-five-foot vault in the old Munitions Building, William F. Friedman yanked on a dangling cord attached to an overhead lightbulb. Surrounding him was all that remained of what had been America's Black Chamber. Yet with just a few assistants, over the course of the next ten years he transformed the defunct Black Chamber into the Signal Intelligence Service, which succeeded against all odds in breaking the Japanese Purple code. This ended up shortening World War II and thus saving thousands of lives. That kind of heroic break-through is the challenge for NSA. But they do not have a decade.
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:04 pm



Armed Forces Security Agency

Rear Admiral Earl E. Stone, USN
15 July 1949-25 July 1951

Major General Ralph J. Canine, USA
15 July 1951-4 November 1952

Vice Director
The following served concurrently and had specific areas of responsibility in addition to representing their respective services.

Colonel S. P. Collins, USA

Captain Joseph N. Wenger, USN

Colonel Roy H. Lynn, USAF

National Security Agency

Major General Ralph Canine, USA (Acting)
4 November 1952-21 November 1952

Lieutenant General Ralph Canine, USA
21 November 1952-23 November 1956

Lieutenant General John A. Samford, USAF
24 November 1956-23 November 1960

Vice Admiral Laurence H. Frost, USN
24 November 1960-30 June 1962

Lieutenant General Gordon A. Blake, USAF
1 July 1962-31 May 1965

Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, USA
1 June 1965-31 July 1969

Vice Admiral Noel Gayler, USN
1 August 1969-31 July 1972

Lieutenant General Samuel C. Phillips, USAF
1 August 1972-14 August 1973

Lieutenant General Lew Allen, Jr., USAF
15 August 1973-4 July 1977

Vice Admiral Bobby R. Inman, USN
5 July 1977-31 March 1981

Lieutenant General Lincoln D. Faurer, USAF
1 April 1981-27 March 1985

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, USA
5 May 1985-31 July 1988

Vice Admiral William O. Studeman, USN
1 August 1988-8 April 1992

Vice Admiral J. M. McConnell, USN
22 May 1992-22 February 1996

Lieutenant General Kenneth A. Minihan, USAF
23 February 1996-15 March 1999

Lieutenant General Michael V. Hayden, USAF
25 March 1999-

Deputy Director
Rear Admiral Joseph N. Wenger, USN [*]
2 December 1952-28 July 1953

Brigadier General John B. Ackerman, USAF [*]
26 October 1953-4 June 1956

Major General John A. Samford, USAF [*]
4 June 1956-24 November 1956

Joseph H. Ream
2 February 1957-18 September 1957

Dr. Howard T. Engstrom
18 October 1957-1 August 1958

Dr. Louis vv. Tordella
1 August 1958-21 April 1974

Benson K. Buffham
22 April 1974-30 April 1978

Robert E. Drake
1 May 1978-30 March 1980

Ann Z. Caracristi
1 April 1980-30 July 1982

Robert E. Rich
31 July 1982-3 July 1986

Charles R. Lord
9 July 1986-13 March 1988

Gerald R. Young
14 March 1988-28 July 1990

Robert L. Prestel
29 July 1990-1 February 1994

William P. Crowell
2 February 1994--12 September 1997

Barbara A. McNamara
8 November 1997-30 June 2000

William B. Black, Jr.
22 September 2000


* Title was actually vice director.
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:04 pm



NSA has provided training for linguists in at least ninety-five languages, including:

Chinese, all dialects
Haitian Creole (Kreyol)
Portuguese, all dialects
Slovene (Slovenian)
Vietnamese (all dialects)

Also, all dialects of Arabic, including Libyan, Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, Egyptian, Levantine, Syrian, Jordanian, Sudanese, Saudi, Kuwaiti, Iraqi, Yemeni, and Modern Standard.
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Postby admin » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:04 pm



These occupations are involved with the translation into English of technical documents and the content analysis of materials of special significance or priority.

Convert foreign language voice intercept into written English. This may involve gisting (reproducing the essence of an intercepted conversation) and content analysis of voice intercepts to determine significance and priority.

The application of linguistic principles, theories, and practices to the analysis and solution of a wide variety of cryptologic problems concerning foreign written and voice communications. Analysts advise on the construction, grammar, and syntax of language, and vocabulary development. Other work may involve translation, transcribing, gisting, and scanning.

The planning and development of glossaries, course materials, dictionaries, and reference works. These occupations also involve computer studies of the characteristics of target languages.

The application of analytic techniques, methods, and procedures for the analysis or solution of complex cipher problems.

The analysis of telecommunications patterns for intelligence and cryptanalytic purposes.

The analysis and evaluation of foreign signals to derive and compile strategic, technical, and scientific intelligence. Also the exploitation of raw electronic signals and processed signal components to derive valuable intelligence information on the identity, function, characteristics, and capabilities of the signal and radiating equipment.

Development and evaluation of programs, policies, requirements, and instructions involved in signals intelligence collection.

Managing, administering, directing, advising on, or performing work involved with the production of signals intelligence.

All positions with duties involved in the study or interception of radio emanations transmitted in international Morse or similar codes. The intercept operator may search for, identify, collect, record, and/or transcribe the signals.

Duties involving the identification, reporting, and processing of foreign electromagnetic emissions.

Advise on, supervise, or perform work involving the transformation of signals into a format or media amenable to their identification for further analysis.

Positions at the supergrade level that require the highest degree of technical knowledge and skill in order to plan, develop, direct, advise on, and implement engineering programs that deal with NSA's key cryptologic missions.

Study and analyze cryptanalytic problems to evaluate whether and how solutions might be obtained using computer technology.

Perform a variety of duties associated with radio frequency engineering and management, radio-wave propagation, and electromagnetic compatibility. The work requires the ability to study and advise on technical and general operational aspects of telecommunications systems with a view toward supporting NSA projects.

Perform work involving the development and application of mathematical methods for the investigation and numerical and analytical solution of cryptologic problems in various subject-matter fields where the exactitude of the relationships, the rigor and economy of mathematical operation, and the logical necessity of results are the controlling consideration.

Design, develop, and adapt mathematical, statistical, econometric, as well as other scientific methods and techniques to analyze cryptologic problems. Performance of this responsibility requires the ability to construct quantitative models that will provide insight into the probable effects of alternative solutions to the problems. The primary purpose of operations research studies and evaluations is to provide a decision maker with sound, scientific, and quantitative bases by which to sharpen intuition and judgment in making his decisions.

Positions at the supergrade level that require the highest degree of technical knowledge and skill in order to plan, develop, direct, advise on, and implement one or more complex and important physical science (physics or chemistry) programs to accomplish NSA's cryptologic mission.

Advise on, administer, and perform professional work involving research, conceiving and planning comprehensive training programs for use at the National Cryptologic School and elsewhere.

Positions involved with investigating candidates for employment or access, reinvestigations of employees and other affiliated personnel, and counterintelligence activities and the investigations of other matters under the jurisdiction of the director, NSA.

POLYGRAPH EXAMINER Administration and supervision of polygraph examinations as part of counterintelligence and personnel security investigations.

Performs technical security research and surveys.

Involved with the planning, development, and operation of systems that assure accountability of cryptologic equipment and other materials, such as magnetic tapes. This also includes the forecasting of cryptologic material requirements and trends.

Operation of inspection and quality control systems for the prepublication editing, proofreading, and checking of cryptographic materials.

Perform research into programs designed to safeguard U.S. and other designated telecommunications from unauthorized disclosure or exploitation.

Develop Infosec systems for US. and other designated communications. Review established information security programs for communications insecurities. Analyze foreign intelligence systems and practices, technological advances, trends, and developments in order to develop and interpret data on the cryptologic accomplishments and potential of foreign countries.

Determine vulnerabilities of communications systems and devise or develop the methodology for minimizing those vulnerabilities.
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