Monday, December 24, 2007

The NSA Before It Was The NSA -- Herbert Osborne Yardley's American Black Chamber

An interesting article on the NSA's origins, and why it should be feared globally. The NSA is perhaps the most anti-American organization there is. However the entire US Intelligence Community operates with the understanding that no American citizen is entitled to privacy, and that the only reason Americans have any rights is that US Intel allows us to. Moreover, according to several former employees, NSA agents see themselves as being above the laws in this land and many routinely violate them.

This is why a myriad of Americans and those from other countries are being illegally tracked by way of satellites, remote neurally monitored, tortured by way of directed energy weapons, and confronted by networks of organized stalkers.

One must wonder given the time and expense involved in attacking one targeted person, if those within US Intel who perpetrate these dark operations will not eventually go back to the drawing board and decide that it is far more cost effective to just kill their targets with the use of these weapons, than to risk perpetrating these crimes on such a large scale that they suffer blow back as a result of these operations -- something which is happening on a global scale in the present day.

Those who are using this technology to torture us certainly can't claim any moral or humane preoccupations, since they have clearly demonstrated that they have none. And the Judicial Systems around this planet appear to have endorsed these Orwellian forms of torture which completely bypass the laws in our respective countries, so they can no longer claim that they haven't any knowledge of these torturous crimes.

As a result of this extensive and globally networked conspiracy, I suspect that in the future more TI's will be murdered quickly and covertly, in efforts to draw attention away from the activist groups which are now cropping up worldwide in efforts to expose these crimes. There are now thousands of people who've taken to the Internet to report their own accounts of being targeted in such ways, many of whom have no idea who is targeting them, while others have stated that US Intelligence was the catalyst behind the attacks on themselves.

The FEDS may eventually be forced to acknowledge that they have illegally tracked many people with satellite based weapons and perhaps even admit to electronically reading their thoughts -- all under the pretext of national security. However, they will never admit to using this technology to remotely affect the brainwaves of those being targeted for non consensual human experimentation -- because this has nothing to do with protecting the American people and everything to do with using us as non consensual guinea pigs -- something US Intelligence has a long history of doing through its MK ULTRA programs.

The National Security Agency: The Secret Unveiled
by meta4

Have you ever wondered why the National Security Agency (NSA) is considered the most secretive of the United States intelligence agencies? When and was it created? How did it obtain its power? What were the various operations under its control in the past as well as those currently under its jurisdiction? Armed with mountains of information from a wide range of sources, I hope to inform you of the practices of the NSA, both past and present.

The NSA headquarters (DIRNSA) are located in Maryland at Fort George G. Meade about thirty miles northeast of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters. There are three fences that surround DIRNSA. The inner and outer are topped with barbed wire while the middle fence is composed of a five stranded electrified wire. As if that was not enough of a deterrent for the curious, there are four gatehouses which span the property at regular intervals and house specially-trained marines.

Without a doubt, I am sure there are signs along the roadway bordering the complex similar to those around Area 51 which state "Do Not Exit Your Vehicle For Any Reason. We Reserve The Right To Use Lethal Force If You Do Not Comply". Why all the physical security? Well, DIRNSA is the command center for the largest and most sensitive intelligence gathering apparatus in the world's history.

Over 15,000 employees work to break the military, diplomatic and commercial codes of every nation in the world, to analyze the de-crypted messages and to send the selected results to the rest of the intelligence community. Perhaps the reason for the obscurity of the NSA comes from the limits of its mission and the way it goes about obtaining its results. But first, let me clue you into the events leading up to the birth of the NSA. (1)

Surveillance practices first began with our entry into World War I. It all started in 1917 when the United States government intelligence agents began censoring telecommunications which was spearheaded by the military intelligence unit of the War Department (also known as Military Intelligence Section 8 [MI-8]).

This program was limited to the interception of coded messages that crossed international lines. The director of MI-8 was Herbert Osborne Yardley who is considered by some to be the most famous cryptologist in history. At war's end, Yardly was faced with the prospect of the termination of his program.

In May 1919, Yardley convinced the State and War Departments to approve a plan for a permanent organization for code and cipher investigation and attack. Thus, the idea of maintaining a program of surveillance during a time of peace was born.

Yardley renamed his organization "The American Black Chamber" which went by the cover name "The Code Compilation Company". It was based in New York City and operated from 1919 to 1929. There is little substantial information about its specific practices but suffice it to say that in 1929 upon learning of the Black Chamber and the methods by which it obtained its information, the new Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson ended its existence abruptly.

Suddenly finding himself unemployed and as an act of revenge, Yardley wrote a book of his memoirs entitled, The American Black Chamber. In this book, Yardley boasts about the capabilities of the organization he founded but refrains from disclosing any reference to how the organization obtained the messages which it analyzed. After the book was initially published in 1931, and sold twice as many copies in Japan as the US, the US passed a law in 1933 banning the publishing of any material that had been published in diplomatic codes, and of course they withheld permission for future printings.

However, the seed had already been planted, and people began questioning the method by which messages were obtained. In response, Yardley explained to his publisher, They came by cable. With respect to every cablegram...the copies... were obtained by the consent and authority of the respective presidents of the Western Union Telegraph Company and of the Postal Telegraph Company over the wires of one or the other of such companies such messages were transmitted.

The Black Chamber worked outside the law of the Radio Communications Act of 1912 which stated, No person...engaged in or having knowledge of the operation of any station or stations shall divulge or publish the contents of any messages transmitted or received by such station, except to the whom the same may be directed, or other authorized agent, or to another station employed to forward such message to its destination...

Thus, the Black Chamber was engaged in unlawful activities. However, with the introduction of the Radio Act of 1927, the Black Chamber's operations were justified by the law, technically making it "legal" for the last two years of its existence. The Black Chamber was the first step across the line of the law, and we all know that after you cross a predetermined line the first time, it becomes easier and easier each subsequent time. (2)

During World War II, the US government engaged in the censoring of written telecommunications as per the wartime powers of the president. Unlike MI-8 and the Black Chamber, all messages entering, leaving or transiting the US were subject to interception.

There was no longer a restriction on the types of messages under scrutiny in that all messages-not only those encrypted-were subject to interception and analysis. Once the war ended, this operation continued under the code name SHAMROCK and during the 30 years of its existence from 1945 to 1975, Operation SHAMROCK violated Americans' Fourth Amendment rights as well as a slew of other privacy related laws. To give you a flavor of Operation SHAMROCK, The "take from Operation SHAMROCK...was used by the NSA in the 1960's and early 1970's to compile files on American citizens.

NSA maintained a 'watch-list' of names of individuals and organizations against which the take was sorted." MINARET was the code name applied to the NSA's efforts to protect this "watch-list" from disclosure. The MINARET charter described the watch-list program as involving communications concerning individuals or organizations involved in civil disturbance, anti-war movements/demonstrations and military deserters involved in anti-war movements.

Between 1952 and 1974, the NSA's Office of Security maintained approximately 75,000 files on American citizens which included, but was not limited to, civil rights leaders, antiwar activists and members of the United States Congress. In 1975, the Church Committee's investigation of the NSA led to the uncovering of Operation SHAMROCK. The investigators found that the NSA had, through a network of over 2,000 specialized intercept positions around the world, the technological capability to intercept a significant portion of worldwide communications.

Senator Frank Church was quoted as saying, "If used against the American people, no American would have any privacy left...there would be no place to hide". And consider that this was the state of the technological affairs of the NSA before the digital revolution. In summary, SHAMROCK was a continuation of MI-8 and the American Black Chamber which represented the next stage in the evolution of global surveillance. For a full analysis of the development and specific practices of Operation SHAMROCK, please read the Cipher war feature, (3)

The NSA was created during the time Operation SHAMROCK was in effect. On October 24, 1952, the NSA was founded by a seven-page Top Secret memorandum from President Harry S. Truman to Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson and Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett. At that time, the NSA assumed the responsibilities of the Armed Forces Security Agency. The two basic functions of the NSA were outlined as follows:

(1) "to protect the 'Communications Security' (COMSEC) of US telecommunications that are national security related and (2) to obtain foreign intelligence related telecommunications through the interception of 'Signals Intelligence' (SIGNIT)." The latter represents the NSA's main activity.

Two elements comprise SIGNIT. The first is "Communications Intelligence" (COMINT) which is intelligence obtained through the interception of electronic message communications (ie. telegrams and telephone communication) and the second is "Electronic Intelligence"(ELINT) which is intelligence obtained though the interception of electronic signals (ie. radar and missile emissions).

With the knowledge of the NSA's basic functions, it becomes apparent that the NSA is involved in the gathering of information. Unlike the CIA or other government intelligence agencies, the NSA does not formulate policy or carry out procedure. It merely gathers information which is then passed on to the rest of the intelligence community. So, why all the secrecy? Perhaps the cloud of mystery surrounding the NSA has less to do with what they do then how they do it.

We are led to question the specific means by which the NSA gathers its intelligence and the targets of their focus. Since the NSA itself does not act on this information, who does? A former senior analyst at the NSA, Perry Fellwock (at the time known by the pseudonym Winslow Peck), provides some of the answers. Through a recollection of his three and a half year experience working at the heart of the NSA, we catch a glimpse at the way in which the NSA operates.

In 1972, the first NSA informant reached the public eye and granted an interview to a reporter at Ramparts. His story provided, for the public, the first insider view into the NSA. Before 1972, the NSA was shrouded in obscurity. During the twenty years after its official inception in 1952, "the Agency remain[ed] virtually unknown to those employees outside the intelligence community.

The few times its men had been involved in international incidents, NSA's name had been kept out of the papers". The NSA coined the nickname "No Such Agency" due to its hidden existence. In fact, to this day, the NSA has been able to limit the majority of its communication with Congress to the House and Senate intelligence committees. Fellwock worked for the NSA during the cold war of Europe and the hot Vietnam War. He was a participant in the deadly international fencing match with the former Soviet Union, plotting their air and ground forces and penetrating their defenses.

(Keep in mind that his experiences occurred from the late sixties into the early seventies when the Soviet threat was a fear instilled in all of us.) We learn from his testimony that ...the NSA knows the call signs for every Soviet airplane, the numbers on the side of each plane, the name of the pilot in command; the precise longitude and latitude location of every nuclear submarine; the whereabouts of every Soviet VIP; the location of every Soviet missile base; every army division, battalion and company--it's weaponry, commander and deployment...NSA cryptologic experts seek to break every Soviet code and do so with remarkable success, Soviet scrambler and computer generated signals being nearly as vulnerable as ordinary voice and manual Morse radio transmissions.

The Agency's ELINT teams are capable of intercepting any electronic signal transmitted anywhere in the world, and, from an analysis of the signal, identify the transmitter and physically reconstruct it. It goes without saying that the NSA monitors and records every trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific telephone call. These activities clearly violated the UKUSA Agreement. Signed in 1947, this agreement brought together the SIGNIT organizations of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Under this treaty, a white-Anglo-Saxon-protestant nation communications intelligence dictatorship over the "Free World" was created. The earth was carved up into five spheres of cryptographic influence, with each country assigned specific targets. The UKUSA nations also agreed to standardize their terminology, code words, intercept-handling procedures, and indoctrination oaths. The existance of the UKUSA agreement has never been officially acknowledged by any country even today.

This agreement distinguishes between three categories of intelligence consumers, First, Second and Third Party consumers. The First Party is the US intelligence community. The Second Party consists of the other nations in the UKUSA agreement. These agencies exchange information routinely. The Third Party nations include all NATO allies and the non-WASP allies in SEATO. However, the US violates a treaty of their own making in that the US intercepts the radio communications of its Second Party allies. Fellwock says that "the treaty is a one-way street.

We violate it even with our Second Party allies by monitoring their communications constantly...these allies can't maintain security even if they want to. They're all working with machines we gave them. There's no chance for them to be on par with us technologically". The NSA's operations reflect the drive of a nation to control as much of the world as possible, whose leaders trust no one and are forced to spy on their closest allies in violation of the treaties they initiated themselves. (4)

During the cold war, if the US knew the positions of every potential Soviet threat, why was the public still in fear of a potential Soviet attack? It seems that having all of this knowledge about the internal Soviet military situation, the possibility of a surprise attack by the Soviets Union would be eradicated.

Fellwock states, These myths about the aggressive intentions of the Soviet Union...can only be sustained by keeping the American people as ignorant as possible about the actual nature of these regimes and the great power relationships that exist in the world. The peace of the world, we are told, revolves shakily on a 'balance of terror' between the armed might of the Soviet Union and the United States.

So tenuous is this balance that if the US were to let down its guard ever so slightly...we would immediately face the threat of destruction from the aggressive Soviets, who are relentless in their pursuit of military superiority...At home however, the favored weapon employed is ignorance rather than fear....the United States is surrounded by barriers--barriers of ignorance that keep its citizens prisoners of the cold war.

The first obstacle is formed by the myths propagated about communism and its aggressive designs on America. Second, and dependent for its rationale on the first, is the incredible barrier of governmental secrecy that keeps most of the questionable US aggressive activities hidden not from our 'enemies', who are the knowledgeable victims, but from the American people themselves...

So, why all the myths?? Did somebody whisper, "1984"? Perhaps by creating an aura of unrest within the world, the control over the people of a nation becomes easier. If we are united against a common enemy, then we maintain internal national peace and put our trust in the government which we believe can remedy the international threats to our safety.

Fellwock goes on to explain that there is no real "balance of terror" in the world. If we know where every Soviet missile installation, military aircraft and missile submarine is at every moment, we are much closer to a first-strike capacity that would cripple their ability to respond.

In fact, the Soviet Union was totally geared up for a defense and to meet some kind of attack making it apparent that the whole idea of containing the communist menace for expansion is complete nonsense. The US routinely overflew the Soviet territory, over the Black Sea down to the Baltic. The Strategic Air Force flew the planes and the NSA supported them. The NSA would watch the US penetrate the Soviet airspace and then analyze the Soviet reaction - it sounds to me as though we were teasing them and in so doing, learning about their patterns of defense...Perhaps the Soviets were not the enemies at all, maybe we were.

When asked about the classification of information, Fellwock explains that "we classified stuff only partly because of the enemy. It seemed like they were almost as interested in keeping things from the American public as the of the instructors gave us a big lecture about classifying material and he said that it was necessary because it would only confuse the American people to be let in on this data." Are you screaming yet?

"Every morning the President gets a daily intelligence summary compiled by the CIA. This information will probably contain a good deal from the NSA in it, but it won't say where it came from and the means used to collect it. That's how a man like the vice-president could be totally ignorant of the way intelligence is generated." Do you find yourself asking how our own vice-president could not even know about the practices of the NSA? According to Fellwock, every trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific telephone call to and from the US are taped.

Every conversation is automatically intercepted and recorded on tapes. "They'll run a random sort through all the tapes, listening to a certain number to determine if there is anything in them of interest to our government worth holding on to and transcribing. Also, certain telephone conversations are routinely listened to as soon as possible."

Fellwock also comments on the general sentiment within the NSA community. The fact that they had the highest security clearance, setting them apart form the rest of humanity, made them think a certain way.

Fellwock goes on to say that "everybody is into some kind of smuggling...everything from small-time black marketeering of cigarettes or currency all the way up to transportation of vehicles, that sort of thing....I knew of a couple of people inside the NSA involved in the white slave trade.

They were transporting women who'd been kidnapped from Europe to Mideast sheikdoms aboard security airplanes." He recalls a time when one of their analysts was in a car accident which landed him in the hospital. There was one doctor and one nurse, both with security clearances, and another NSA analyst was always in the room with him to make sure that while he was delirious, he didn't talk too loud. Apparently, they could not have drugs like sodium pentithol in medical emergencies since they are "truth-type" drugs and would threaten the security of the NSA.

For the full interview, please read the document on Cryptome at While this knowledge is horrifying, those who want to stay in denial can say, well that was the past..we are safe from that now. Guess again. Today, it is ECHELON.

I will merely provide a brief synopsis of ECHELON since there are many web sites devoted to this topic. (See below for ECHELON-related links) Designed and coordinated by the NSA, the ECHELON system is used to intercept ordinary e-mail, fax, telefax and telephone communications.

The system allows spy agencies to monitor most of the world's communications. ECHELON is designed primarily for non-military targets, ie. governments, organizations, businesses and individuals in virtually every country. The system works by indiscriminately intercepting very large numbers of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest.

The computers at each station in the ECHELON network automatically search through millions of messages for the ones containing pre-programmed keywords. Since at least the 1970's, computers with the capacity for automatically sifting through massive quantities of information for specific keywords have existed and been in commission. However, NSA played a critical role in the founding of ECHELON.

Sometime in the 1980's, NSA designed the ECHELON system by interconnecting all these computers, allowing stations to function within an integrated whole. The nations that are part of the ECHELON network are those same nations which signed the UKUSA agreement of 1947, namely the United States, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

The archaic white-anglo-saxon-protestant nation communications intelligence dictatorship over the "Free World" apparently is still in effect and very much at large. The computers at each of these five major stations are identified within the ECHELON network as the ECHELON dictionaries. Under ECHELON, a particular station's dictionary computer not only contains the chosen keywords for that specific station, but also has lists entered in for the other agencies.

Whenever the dictionary encounters a message containing one of the other agency's keywords, it automatically picks it and sends it directly to the headquarters of the agency concerned. In summary, ECHELON represents an unacceptable infringement on the privacy rights of Americans as well as the rights of those persons residing in almost every other developed country in the world.

I wanted to give you, the people, this information. I feel it is essential that we are informed whenever possible. I hope this article has shown you that there is so much hidden from us every day and only a few chances to catch a fleeting glimpse into the governmental sector.

I want to remind you to keep in mind that the majority of this information relates to past events that represent the essential cornerstones for the development of what is in effect today. It is difficult to imagine what could actually be going on now since there seems to be a consistent twenty year lag between the time something occurs and when it finally reaches the public.

Thus, while ECHELON is currently the main issue in the news, do not be misled into believing that ECHELON is the only breach of our privacy currently in effect. Consider that ECHELON was first created in the early 1980's...and now it is the year 2000. Imagine what could be and multiply that by infinity. Someone once told me, "If you have an idea, there are thousands who have had that same idea, and probably a few who have acted upon it".

ECHELON-related links:

Cryptome: This site has several good sources of information and can be a starting point from which to delve into the issues pertaining to ECHELON.

Echelon Watch This site is dedicated to research and news on Echelon.


(1) Ramparts, v.11, 1-12.

(2) NSA ARCHIVES: Report by The Committee on Government Operations

(3) Operation SHAMROCK: Thirty Years of Highly Classified Surveillance of The American People

(4) U.S. Electronic Espionage: A Memoir
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