Saturday, 2004-07-03

The all-seeing eye

Body of Secrets by James Bamford.

An “exposé” of the NSA. This book has a hacked-together feel, as if it was composed of several magazine articles. The author veers from describing the NSA as an all-knowing threat to democracy and liberty, to telling us about glitches, catastrophes, and bureaucracy hampering the Agency’s ability to protect the US from it’s enemies.

There’s some interesting information in here though (assuming that the information is accurate):

  • The description of how Israel attacked a Sigint ship during the Six Days War.

  • The capture of another Sigint ship by the North Koreans in 1969.

  • How the Viet Minh could monitor US radio traffic during the Vietnam war, as the Americans didn’t bother to use communication security.

The sum of the book seems to be that, yes, the NSA can listen to every phone call and read every mail, but that they don’t have enough qualified people to make sense of what they’re picking up.

Must … install … GPG …