Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The NSA, Nazi Gold, Watergate, Enigma and Cryptome.org

We have two documents here from the Center for Cryptological History (CCH) of the NSA. Both papers are interesting on several different levels and are highly recommended for those who wish to be informed about how the NSA works and thinks about its work. Those who are paranoid about the NSA (possibly with good reason) but don't know much about it should certainly read these reports to get a more nuanced view of what is going on.

The first paper is a report on how the NSA found itself involved in the ever-beguiling topic of Nazi Gold. In 1997, Congress began an investigation into this history requesting input from the various law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but did not ask the NSA for some reason (one reason could be that the NSA did not come into existence until years after the end of the war). The NSA read about it in the open press and did not think much about it. But coincidentally an NSA historian happened to be going through old archives for work on another topic and discovered to his surprise that the NSA had something to contribute on this subject. Apparently a predecessor organization to the NSA had in fact captured and decrypted discussions between the Swiss delegation on the topic when negotiating with the United States. This started a process whereby the NSA internally decided to bring this document to the attention of the Congressional committee even though they had not asked.

The second paper is a discussion, formerly classified Top Secret Umbra, about the impact of Watergate and the release of Enigma decryption efforts of WW 2 had on their operations. It is particularly interesting because it goes over in modest detail some of the problems that occur when intelligence collected for national security purposes is repurposed for domestic law enforcement. This is a very important problem and one that has the chance of vindicating one small part of the Snowden revelations (even though I believe that most of the Snowden revelations have nothing to do with the violation of American civil rights and were released for other purposes). It is therefore important for anyone who is concerned on these issues to become aware of some of the history of this dilemma which this report describes.

In particular the report discusses what happened when the Reagan Administration requested NSA to cooperate with FBI in using SIGINT for domestic law enforcement and what the NSA thought and did about it. Those who believe that the NSA gladly violates the Constitutional rights of Americans will be reassured to know that by no means is the NSA cavalier about these issues. Those who are concerned about whether their Constitutional rights to privacy might be compromised by a future or current Administration have every reason to be concerned.

You will note that both of these documents are archived on the internet site cryptome.org. Cryptome is a well known entity in the area of Internet privacy and government secrecy. Run by John Young and Deborah Natsios in the upper west side of NYC, they maintain an online repository of many of the government documents that have been released and those that have been leaked and include many items of relevant commentary by individuals, groups and news sources. Although the politics of Mr. Young and Ms. Natsios are far to the left and I certainly do not agree with them on many issues, I have found Cryptome to be a useful and reliable web site and worth checking out on a regular basis.

But can we really believe the content of these papers? Even now the US Government hides the facts of our use of Nazi Gold to finance the reverse engineering of the Nazi anti-gravity drive. And what about the Nazi bases at the Polar regions? Sadly, no mention. We must conclude that these papers were released to deflect attention from the truth.

NSA Paper on Cryptology and the Watergate Era

NSA Paper on Nazi Gold

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