The NSA and GCHQ Essay

This essay has a total of 3014 words and 15 pages.

The NSA and GCHQ



The Development of Monitors
By:



Professor






If you want to keep information secret, you have two possible strategies: hide the
existence of the information, or make the information unintelligible. Cryptography is the
art and science of keeping information secure from unintended audiences, of encrypting it.
Conversely, cryptanalysis is the art and science of breaking encoded data. The branch of
mathematics encompassing both cryptography and cryptanalysis is cryptology. This method of
secrecy has existed since 1900 B.C. in the form of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Up to the present
two organizations have come to the front of the field; United States' National Security
Agency (NSA) and United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). In order
to understand these institutions in their current state one must know their origins.

NSA
Although the National Security Agency is only forty-five years old (established by order
of President Harry S. Truman in 1952), the functions it performs have been part of human
history for thousands of years. The need to safeguard one's own communications while
attempting to produce intelligence from foreign communications has long been a recognized
part of governmental activity.

In the American experience, cryptologic efforts can be traced to the very beginnings of
the American nation. George Washington employed Elbridge Gerry (later Vice President of
the United States) to solve the suspected cryptograms of a Tory spy, Dr. Benjamin Church.
Thomas Jefferson included the making of codes and ciphers among his many interests,
putting his efforts to use in both private correspondence and public business. One of his
inventions, the cipher wheel, has been described as being in "the front rank" of
cryptologic inventions.

The American Civil War created a new urgency for techniques in both cryptography (the
manufacture of codes and ciphers) and cryptanalysis (the breaking of codes and ciphers).
It also introduced new elements into both processes -- telegraphy and significant advances
in the use of signal flags and torches. These methods of transmitting information
permitted rapid communication from one outpost to another or from a commander to his
subordinates, but also brought with them new dangers of the loss of that information to an
enemy. Both sides considered telegraph lines major targets and attempted either to cut or
tap them.

Cryptology again proved to be of great significance in the First World War, as evidenced
by British decryption of the famous Zimmermann Telegram. In an effort to keep the United
States from playing an effective role in the war in Europe, Germany offered Mexico the
opportunity to regain Texas and other territories lost to the United States during the
nineteenth century, in return for a Mexican declaration of war against the U.S. The
telegram backfired, as its release by British authorities brought the U.S. closer to war
with Germany. Tactically, the First World War introduced wireless communications to the
battlefield, increasing flexibility but making codes and ciphers even more essential in
guaranteeing security.

After the armistice of 1918, the United States maintained modest but significant
cryptologic establishments in the Navy and War Departments, along with an
interdepartmental effort conducted in New York and headed by Herbert O. Yardley.

HERBERT O. YARDLEY
Born in 1889 in Indiana, Herbert O. Yardley began his career as a code clerk in the State
Department. He accepted a Signal Corps Reserve commission and served as a cryptologic
officer with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during the First World War. In
the 1920s he was chief of MI-8, the first U.S. peacetime cryptanalytic organization,
jointly funded by the U.S. Army and the Department of State. In that capacity, he and a
team of cryptanalysts exploited nearly two dozen foreign diplomatic cipher systems. MI-8
was disbanded in 1929 when the State Department withdrew its share of the funding.

Out of work, Yardley caused a sensation in 1931 with the publication of his memoirs of
MI-8, "The American Black Chamber". In this book, Yardley revealed the extent of U.S.
cryptanalytic work in the 1920s. Surprisingly, the wording of the espionage laws at that
time did not permit prosecution of Yardley. (This situation was changed two years later
with a new law imposing stiff penalties for unauthorized revelations of cryptologic
secrets.)

Yardley did some cryptologic work for Canada and China during the Second World War, but he
was never again given a position of trust in the U.S. government.

On August 7, 1958, Herbert O. Yardley, one of the pioneers of modern American cryptology passed away.
In 1929 Secretary of State Henry Stimson withdrew financial support for Yardley's
"American Black Chamber," and Communications Security (COMSEC) and Communications
Intelligence (COMINT) became once again a largely military function.

WILLIAM F. FRIEDMAN
Wolfe Frederick Friedman was born on September 24, 1891 in Kishinev, then part of imperial
Russia, now Chisinau, capital of Moldova. His father, an interpreter for the Czar's postal
service, emigrated to the United States the following year to escape increasing
anti-Semitic regulations; the family joined him in Pittsburgh in 1893. Three years after
that, when the elder Friedman became a U.S. citizen, Wolfe's name was changed to William.

After receiving a B.S. and doing some graduate work in genetics at Cornell University,
William Friedman was hired by Riverbank Laboratories, what would today be termed a "think
tank," outside Chicago. There he became interested in the study of codes and ciphers,
thanks to his concurrent interest in Elizabeth Smith, who was doing cryptanalytic research
at Riverbank. Friedman left Riverbank to become a cryptologic officer during the First
World War, the beginning of a distinguished career in government service.

Friedman's contributions thereafter are well known; prolific author, teacher, and
practitioner of cryptology. Perhaps his greatest achievements were introducing
mathematical and scientific methods into cryptology and producing training materials used
by several generations of pupils. His work affected for the better both signal
intelligence and information systems security. Much of what is done today at the NSA may
be traced to William Friedman's pioneering efforts.

To commemorate the contributions of the Friedmans, in 2002 the OPS1 building on the NSA
complex was dedicated as the William and Elizebeth Friedman Building.

Under the direction of William Friedman the Army's Signal Intelligence Service and its
Navy counterpart, Op-20G, overcame limited resources to make truly outstanding
contributions to cryptology. By the time the United States entered the Second World War,
American cryptologists had penetrated Japanese diplomatic ciphers. During the war they
assisted their British colleagues in the exploitation of German communications. Both of
these tasks were accomplished at the same time while providing secure communications
equipment for American commanders and policy makers. In actions ranging from the great
naval battles of the Pacific to the invasions of North Africa and Western Europe, American
cryptanalysis and cryptography provided information vital to the eventual Allied victory.

The postwar era opened with an emphasis on "economy and efficiency," resulting in cutbacks
in all areas of national defense, including Communication Intelligence and Communication
Security. In some ways, this belt tightening proved beneficial, as steps were taken to
eliminate duplication and adapt the cryptologic establishment to the realities of
America's position as a permanent world power. The creation of the Department of Defense
and the Central Intelligence Agency reflected the desire for unified national coordination
and direction of important defense and security matters. The predecessor of NSA, the Armed
Forces Security Agency (AFSA), was established within the Department of Defense, under the
command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on May 20, 1949. In theory, the AFSA was to direct
the communications intelligence and electronic intelligence activities of the military
service signals intelligence units (at the time consisting of the Army Security Agency,
Naval Security Group, and Air Force Security Service). In practice, the AFSA had little
power, its functions being defined in terms of activities not performed by the service
units.

The creation of NSA resulted from a December 10, 1951, memo sent by Walter Bedell Smith to
James B. Lay, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council. The memo observed that
"control over, and coordination of, the collection and processing of Communications
Intelligence had proved ineffective" and recommended a survey of communications
intelligence activities. The proposal was approved on December 13, 1951, and the study was
authorized on December 28, 1951. The report was completed by June 13, 1952. Generally
known as the "Brownell Committee Report," after committee chairman Herbert Brownell, it
surveyed the history of U.S. communications intelligence activities and suggested the need
for a much greater degree of coordination and direction at the national level. As the
change in the security agency's name indicated, the role of the NSA was to extend beyond
the armed forces.

In the last several decades some of the secrecy surrounding the NSA has been stripped away
by Congressional hearings and investigative research. Most recently the NSA has been the
subject of criticism for failing to adjust to the post-Cold War technological environment
as well as for operating a "global surveillance network" alleged to intrude on the privacy
of individuals across the world.

Continues for 8 more pages >>




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