12 March 1998
Source: The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency, James Bamford, Penguin Books, 1983. ISBN 0 14 00.6748 5. Pages 391-425.
Thanks to James Bamford and Penguin Books
"DEPENDENCE IS SO great and co-operation so close that I am convinced security chiefs would go to any lengths to protect the link-up. . ."
The "link-up" that veteran British journalist Chapman Pincher referred to is quite likely the most secret agreement ever entered into by the English-speaking world. Signed in 1947 and known as the UKUSA Agreement, it brought together under a single umbrella the SIGINT organizations of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Under the pact, the five nations carved up the earth into spheres of cryptologic influence, each country assigned specific targets according to its potential for maximum intercept coverage. Britain, for example, was assigned various Chinese frequencies to cover from its Little Sai Wan station in Hong Kong, and the United States was responsible for other frequencies from its listening posts in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.
The UKUSA nations also agreed to standardize their terminology, code words, intercept-handling procedures, and indoctrination oaths, for efficiency as well as security. Vipar, Trine, and Umbra, therefore, would appear on the TOP (or MOST) SECRET documents and intercepts, regardless of which member originated them. The voluminous looseleaf binder that contains these rules and procedures is known as the IRSIG--for International Regulations on SIGINT.
The UKUSA Agreement, whose existence has never been officially acknowledged by any country even today, had its beginnings in the violent summer of 1940. France had collapsed under the weight of Hitler's mechanized war machine, and by August the Luftwaffe had begun pounding the airfields of southern England. The Battle of Britain had begun, and Winston Churchill could offer his countrymen nothing but "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" as the Royal Air Force put up its magnificent defense.
Churchill's words were gallant, but he knew that it would take more than blood and sweat if England were to survive. It was a far different kind of war from any that had ever been fought before, one that he would later call a "Wizard War," a war fought as much with science as with gunpowder.
It was for this reason that Churchill directed the British ambassador to Washington, Lord Lothian, to undertake negotiations of the utmost delicacy with the American President. On July 8 the Ambassador met with President Roosevelt and offered to reveal highly secret technical information about England's latest developments in radar and several other scientific fields in which America was considerably behind. The offer was made formal two days later in a letter from Lord Lothian to the President. "Should you approve the exchange of information," the letter read, "it has been suggested by my Government that, in order to avoid any risk of the information reaching our enemy, a small secret British mission consisting of two or three Service officers and civilian scientists should be despatched immediately to this country to enter into discussions with Army and Navy experts."
In the world of diplomacy, magnanimous offers are the rarest of things. It was therefore no surprise that the letter included an implied quid pro quo. "His Majesty's Government," the letter concluded, "would greatly appreciate it if the United States Government, having been given the full details of any British equipment or devices, would reciprocate by discussing certain secret information of a technical nature, which our technical experts are anxious to have, urgently."
Lothian undoubtedly would have liked to underline the last word.
Roosevelt brushed aside a number of objections by a few high-ranking military officers, including General George C. Marshall, and opened the door for the arrival in late August of Sir Henry Tizard, adviser to Britain's Ministry of Aircraft Production. In his briefcase were MOST SECRET details on such advanced projects as radar, radar countermeasures, sonar, proximity fuses, and radio interception.
But one project was notably absent from Sir Henry's brown leather case: a project that was as important and vital to the ultimate survival of the island nation as its code name implied: Ultra. It was Britain's secret of secrets.
As the war was beginning to turn from lukewarm to hot, Britain had managed to acquire a working model of Germany's highest-level cipher machine, the Enigma. Although there are several versions of exactly how it was acquired, there is no debate that by August 1939 it was in the hands of a short, fiftyish Scotsman, Commander Alastair C. Denniston. He was one of Sir Alfred Ewing's original quartet of cryptologists who became the charter members of Britain's legendary World War I codebreaking outfit known as Room 40 O.B. The taciturn commander was now in charge of England's equivalent of America's Signal Intelligence Service, the Government Code and Cypher School.
It was in August that Denniston and his tweedy band of intellects moved from Broadway, in the London borough of Westminster, to a gaudy, ornate red-brick mansion in Bletchley, a rural market town fifty miles north of London. With them they had taken Enigma--a small metal device that looked more like a cross between a switchboard and an old portable electric typewriter--and a mandate to find a way to determine which of a myriad combination of settings might have been used in any given batch of intercepts. The answer was an awe-inspiring lady known as "the Bronze Goddess."
The goddess was a bronze-colored column surrounded by a larger bronze-colored face and was quite probably the world's first electronic computer. Denniston and his Bletchleyites, particularly A. Dillwyn (Dilly) Knox, a tall, gangling young man with dark unruly hair, and Alan Turing, a brilliant young mathematician, had created the goddess; now they must teach her to speak.
Early in April 1940, four months before Sir Henry Tizard arrived in Washington with his stuffed briefcase, the Bronze Goddess uttered her first syllables: a few short Luftwaffe messages dealing with some personnel changes. They were of little immediate importance, but they had a significance then beyond imagination.
That Tizard made no mention of Ultra to his American counterparts on his journey was no oversight. The secret was Britain's greatest, and Tizard himself may not have known how successful Bletchley had been. In any case, Churchill saw no need to include cryptologic information in the Tizard exchange, since it was logically assumed that America had very little to offer in exchange.
By October, Churchill's attitude had changed. It was in that month that he learned for the first time of America's success in breaking Japan's high-level diplomatic code. He was duly impressed. Whereas his team at Bletchley had Enigma, a working model, to go on, William Friedman and his crew had had nothing but imagination.
Exactly how Churchill first became aware of the American achievement has never been revealed by either side, but by November a highly secret agreement had been signed by the neutral United States and a Britain fighting for her life. The agreement provided for "a full exchange of cryptographic systems, cryptanalytical techniques, direction finding, radio interception, and other technical communication matters pertaining to the diplomatic, military, naval, and air services of Germany, Japan, and Italy."
Picked to head an American mission to Bletchley was the dean of American cryptology, William F. Friedman. Together with one of his Army assistants, First Lieutenant Leo Rosen, and two naval officers, Friedman was to deliver to England not only two of America's seven Purple machines, but also two Red machines and a mixed variety of codes, including the U.S. Navy's radio intelligence manual.
The mission was to take place late in December, and on December 23, 1940, Friedman was placed back on active duty as a lieutenant colonel. He had successfully passed his medical exam several days earlier, although, fearing rejection for the mission, he had failed to inform the physicians of some psychological problems that had plagued him during his attack on Purple. It was a serious oversight.
Now, faced with a mission of tremendous importance, the delivery to war-torn England of America's most vital secret in return for Britain's most closely held secret, Friedman grew increasingly nervous and apprehensive.
On December 26, his orders were cut, directing him to report to the assistant chief of staff for G-2, and then to "proceed to London, England, reporting upon arrival to the Military Attache for temporary duty, for the carrying out of the instructions of the Secretary of War." Then there was a delay in the mission, and Friedman's tension and anxiety became excruciating. He felt that once he arrived in England, he would be unable to function properly, and this exacerbated his depression. He began to consider suicide.
On Sunday, January 5, 1941, Friedman was admitted to the neuropsychiatric ward of Walter Reed Hospital with a diagnosis of psychoneurosis, a nervous breakdown.
The mission to England could not wait for Friedman's recovery, and his orders were officially cancelled on January 24. Taking his place was his long-time assistant, Abe Sinkov, now an Army major. Sinkov, accompanied by Captain Leo Rosen of the Army Signal Corps, and Navy Lieutenant Robert H. Weeks and Ensign Prescott Currier of Op-20-G, sailed to England with the two Purple machines as January began turning into February.
By the time the foursome were set to return, it appeared that the United States had given up a swordfish to catch a herring, though Sinkov and his associates may not have been aware of it.
They returned with an assortment of advanced crypto equipment, including the revolutionary Marconi-Adcock high-frequency direction finder, but no Enigma. In fact, the British probably did not even inform the Sinkov delegation of the extent of their successes against the German code. The problem was with the Foreign Office. Because of instructions from Lord Halifax, the delivery of Enigma had been vetoed on the grounds that it was against British policy to divulge high-level cryptologic secrets to anyone, regardless of the reason. Since the Foreign Office exercised supervisory powers over the intelligence and cryptologic agencies, the veto stuck.
Despite the imbalance in the trade, cooperation between the two countries continued to increase, climaxing in April 1943 when Colonel Alfred McCormack of the Special Branch, accompanied by Colonel Telford Taylor of Military Intelligence and a now fully recovered William Friedman, left for England on another extremely secret mission--this time for a two-month survey of British COMINT operations.
Now, for the first time, Britain decided to lift fully the thick veil that had long shrouded its deepest secret. As a result, America's Military Intelligence Service at last became completely aware of the amazing successes achieved by the British in their exploitation of German military traffic, their Ultra secret. Intelligence derived from this source had for some time been made available to both British and U.S. field commanders through a complex and highly secure procedure involving British intelligence liaison officers, known as special liaison officers, or SLOs. Ultra, however, had never been made available to Washington which greatly hindered the work of the Special Branch in both short-range and long-range intelligence planning in the European theater.
The American trio was greeted at Bletchley by Royal Navy Commander Edward W. Travis, who had taken over the reins of a newly reorganized COMINT organization from Commander Denniston a year earlier. Travis, a bespectacled, stocky figure, was himself an enigma. Commanding a team of Oxford dons, Ph.D.s, and scientific marvels was a man who himself had never been to college. Travis had joined the Navy at the age of eighteen and had spent the better part of his career in the Signals Division. Now, at forty-five, he was leading England's greatest intellectual battle.
Under the reorganization, the Government Code and Cypher School became the Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, the name by which Britain's SIGINT organization is still known today, and all previously semi-independent departments, including the Naval Section and Air Section, were placed under one head.
Denniston returned to London, where he took charge of the diplomatic branch from an office "above Peggy Carter's hat shop," the 7-9 Berkeley Street location was commonly known.
During their two-month stay at Bletchley, the team led by Colonel McCormack was given complete briefings on Enigma and Ultra. Displaying a 3-by-5-inch card captioned PERMIT TO ENTER BLETCHLEY PARK GROUNDS and stamped NOT VALID AFTER 30 JUN 1943, the three men would enter the secluded estate each day and discuss with their British counterparts the best ways to utilize the products of Enigma and Purple to their collective advantage.
The results of their efforts reached a climax on May 17 with the signing of a formal agreement of cooperation between the COMINT agencies of Britain and the United States, the BRUSA Agreement. The significance of the pact was monumental. It established for the first time intimate cooperation on COMINT of the highest level. It provided for exchange of personnel, joint regulations for the handling of the supersensitive material, and methods for its distribution. In addition, paragraph eight of the agreement provided that all recipients of high-grade COMINT, whether British or American, were bound to the severely strict security regulations that were appended to the document. The cooperation, procedures, and security regulations set out in the BRUSA Agreement serve as landmarks in the history of communications intelligence. Even today, they form the fundamental basis for all SIGINT activities of both the NSA and GCHQ.
In October 1943, the War Department issued its formal regulations conforming to the mandate of the BRUSA pact, which meant, among other things, the establishment of an entirely new lexicon of code words. Until the October regulations, COMINT was divided into three groups, depending on the importance of the enemy cryptographic system used. Intercepted messages enciphered in the enemy's highest code system were given the code name Dexter, the American equivalent of the British code word Ultra. Intercepts of a lesser importance were assigned the code word Corral, and the rather frightening Rabid was reserved mainly for T/A intelligence, or traffic analysis.
Now, however, because of the BRUSA Agreement, Britain and the United States sought to standardize both code words and terminology. Having at one time or another used such bizarre code words as Zymotic, Swell, and Sidar, the British had early in the war settled on Ultra, Pearl, and Thumb as the three mystic passwords in their descending order of importance.
The War Department contributed to the standardization at first simply by adding the British Ultra before each of the three U.S. code words and later by adopting Ultra, Pearl, and Thumb for its own COMINT material. (Pearl and Thumb were later dropped and replaced by the single code word Pinup.)
The seriousness with which the department regarded its most sensitive form of intelligence can be seen in an October 1943 memorandum entitled "Security of Ultra Dexter Intelligence." The document, which before each paragraph contained the phrase "Burn After Reading," spoke of Ultra Dexter's "extreme importance." "If the enemy were to learn of the existence of this source," the memorandum warned, "it would probably be lost forever, and this would vitally affect operations on all fronts." Similar warnings were given for Ultra Corral and Ultra Rabid information.
The success of BRUSA quickly led to a series of conferences involving not only Britain and the United States, but the codebreaking agencies of Canada and Australia as well. At the second Joint Allied Conference, held at Arlington Hall Station on March 13, 1944, the participants included Colonel W. Preston Corderman, William F. Friedman, Abe Sinkov, and Solomon Kullback of the Signal Security Agency, and Carter Clarke and Telford Taylor of G-2. From GCHQ there was Commander Edward Travis, Leonard James Hooper (a future director), and Colonel John H. Tiltman, liaison officer to the SSA. Representing the Canadian Examination Unit was Lieutenant Colonel Edward M. Drake, who would head Canada's SIGINT organization until the early 1970s. Australia's Central Bureau, Brisbane, was represented by Captain S. R. I. Clark. In all, there were thirty-five persons attending what was surely one of the most secret conferences of the war.
By the time the long-awaited V-E Day arrived, the depth of the Anglo-American friendship could be seen in the dinner enjoyed by Friedman and the now-knighted Sir Edward Travis at Bletchley Park, a dinner whose menu included Potage Ultra, Poulet Arlington, Legumes a choix random, and, for dessert, Dolce Americo-Britannique a la mode Brusa.
After two years of compromising and negotiating, BRUSA was supplemented in 1947 by the five-power UKUSA Agreement, which, according to one report, established the United States as a first party to the treaty, and Britain, Canada, and Australia-New Zealand as second parties. NATO nations and such other nations as Japan and Korea later signed on as third parties. Among the first and second parties there is a general agreement not to restrict data, but with the third parties the sharing is much less generous.
Charged with keeping the delicate gears of cooperation well oiled throughout the 1950s was Friedman, who helped draw up the postwar blueprint of UKUSA as he had of the earlier BRUSA. Friedman's friendship with his British "cousins," as he would call them, was of particular importance in March of 1952, when Sir Edward retired, at the age of sixty-four, after more than a decade at the top of Britain's cryptologic pyramid. "Leaving GCHQ with all that it means will naturally be a heart wrench," he wrote his old friend during his last few days, adding that it was "softened considerably by the fact that I know I am leaving behind me a first-class team and all things being equal the organization should continue to prosper." One of his sorrows, he told Friedman, was that he never expected to visit Washington again, primarily because of Britain's depressed economic state: "I see no hope in my lifetime of the U.K.'s financial position allowing me to pay visits to the dollar area at my own expense."
He was, unfortunately, right. Four years later, on April 18 1956, Sir Edward died after an operation. He had victoriously led Britain's most secret and most important battle, a battle for which his King awarded him a knighthood, France made him a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur, the Italians made him an Officer of the Crown of Italy, and the American President gave him his grateful nation's highest civilian award, the Medal of Merit. Yet he would remain as anonymous in death as he had been in life.
Taking over from Travis as head of GCHQ was Eric Malcolm Jones, C.B.E., who had sold textiles until he was thirty-three. In 1940 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves, where presumably, he got his first taste of cryptology. After the war he transferred to GCHQ and now, one month before his forty-fifth birthday, the handsome flier with dark hair and pencil-thin mustache was about to become its chief.
As his deputy, Jones appointed Royal Navy Commander Clive Loehnis, forty-nine. The son of a barrister, Loehnis chose the sea rather than the law. A graduate of the Royal Naval Colleges of Osborne, Dartmouth, and Greenwich, he became qualified in signals in 1928 and left the Navy in 1935 as a lieutenant commander. In 1938 he returned to the Signals Division of the Admiralty, where he earned the silver oak leaves of a commander before retiring in 1942 and going into the Naval Intelligence Division. When he was demobilized after the war, he entered the Foreign Office, presumably the GCHQ, of which it is a division.
Friedman had known both Jones and Loehnis for years, and they were on the best of terms. Thanking him for a note of congratulations, Jones wrote to Friedman about his selection: "It is a fascinating prospect; in fact I can think of none I would like better. And with so many able and nice people about me the burdens should not be too heavy." Then he came to the important part. "As you know, BRUSA is to me terribly important and I admit to a certain pride in having been so closely connected with its birth. A prospering BRUSA in the midst of friendly relations is right in the forefront of my aims for the future." Friedman and the NSA could breathe a sigh of relief; the cooperation would continue uninterrupted.
Among the terms provided by the BRUSA-UKUSA Agreements was the exchange of COMINT personnel among the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia. Soon after NSA was formed, therefore, it secretly began sending people to London to work with the codebreakers of GCHQ. Using the cover name "Office of the Senior United States Liaison Officer," or simply SUSLO, the team moved into Flat 507 at 7 North Audley Street, a handsome building just north of Grosvenor Square. A few blocks to the east lay the greenery of Hyde Park; a few steps south lay the American embassy.
About the same time that AFSA became the NSA, GCHQ moved from the London suburb of Eastcote into its new headquarters on Priors Road in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, eighty-five miles to the west. The move to Cheltenham, a quiet city among the green rolling pastures and rural country roads of the Cotswolds, where one is as likely to encounter a heifer as another human being, was undoubtedly prompted by the same concerns that caused AFSA-NSA to consider moving to Fort Knox. With both COMINT and COMSEC concentrated in London since the end of the war, an attack on the city during another war would virtually wipe Britain off the cryptologic map. The move of GCHQ and COMINT to the Cotswolds left the London Communications Security Agency, another branch of the Foreign Office, at 8 Palmer Street, just down the road from Buckingham Palace.
NSA soon followed GCHQ to Cheltenham, setting up an operations branch there while maintaining its main office in London. SUSLO during the mid-1950s was Navy Captain Prescott C. Currier, who was picked to be executive secretary of the United States Communications Intelligence Board during the summer of 1958. It was Currier who, as an ensign a decade and a half earlier, was a member of the Sinkov delegation that had delivered the two Purple machines to England. Deputy SUSLO, in charge of the Cheltenham unit until he sailed back to the United States aboard the S.S. America on July 10, 1957, was John J. Larkin.
The British, likewise, set up their Senior United Kingdom Liaison Office in Washington during the same period. In the mid-1950s it went under the cover name of the British Joint Services Mission and was located in the main Navy Building. SUKLO at the time was Colonel Freddy Jacob.
Another part of the top secret agreement dealt with control of the special radio circuits linking NSA and GCHQ. Under BRUSA, the United States was to have control over the U.S. end of the circuit, and the British were to exercise control over their end. By 1954, however, the United States was beginning to have second thoughts about that part of the agreement and sought to take control of both ends of the circuit. "It is toward this end," the Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated in a memorandum to the director of NSA, "that efforts are being made to modify the arrangements resulting from the BRUSA Agreement so that the United States would have control of both terminals of the GCHQ-NSA communications." The British had other ideas, however, and so indicated in a memorandum to General Ralph Canine. As a result, a meeting to discuss the possible change in the agreement was set up for June in England, to coincide with a meeting already arranged in connection with discussions on establishing Centralized COMINT Communications Center (CCCC).
The CCCCs were designed as special relay centers for the exclusive handling of NSA's traffic, traffic considered too secret to be sent on normal military channels, even though they were certified for top secret. Only specially COMINT-cleared personnel were allowed access to the CCCCs that contained the special NSA-supplied on-line cryptographic equipment. For increased security, the CCCCs were located in entirely separate buildings, away from any military relay center. If for some reason a CCCC had to be in the same building, it was totally segregated.
Among the most critical elements of cooperation between the two nations, especially with regard to the United States, was the right to establish listening posts on each other's territory. This appears to have been a lopsided agreement, since by March 1951 the United States had a total of seven units in the United Kingdom or on U.K.-controlled territory, but there is no evidence of reciprocation. For that matter, even during the Korean War a plan for the possible emergency evacuation of a British COMINT unit in Hong Kong met with resistance.
It had been originally agreed that if there was an emergency evacuation, the unit would be allowed to relocate and set up shop on American-controlled Okinawa. A directive to this effect was therefore sent to the commanding general of the Army's Far East Command in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the Army Security Agency had already made plans to more than double its proposed intercept station on the island from about 300 to 674 people, and this was to be done in the facilities planned for the British. The general, consequently, wired back to Washington that "it would appear, therefore, undesirable if not altogether infeasible to plan to locate the British unit on Okinawa" and as a result recommended Guam.
Back in Washington the Joint Chiefs rejected Guam and instead suggested that the British unit go to Singapore, British North Borneo, or Australia. Eventually, however, apparently under British pressure, the JCS assented to the move and directed that the Far East commander provide emergency accommodation on Okinawa "any time the Air Commander-in-Chief British Far East Air Force considers that conditions warrant removal of the unit to a more secure site." Nothing was said about comfort, however, and the Army began breaking out tents, next to the ASA's 111 Signal Service Company in Okinawa's Sukiran area, for the British to use for quarters, messing, and administration facilities. The intercept gear was to go in a number of steel-and-wood prefabricated buildings nearby.
Among the areas of the world being listened to most closely by the Puzzle Palace during the mid-1950s was the oil-rich Middle East. In 1952 the Egyptian monarchy was overthrown by the military, and since 1954 the nation had grown increasingly nationalistic under the leadership of Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser. Seeking to project himself as the leader not only of his own poverty-stricken nation but of the entire Arab world, Nasser set as his three main goals modernization, the elimination of the newly formed state of Israel, and the bodily eviction of the British from the Suez Canal.
In Washington, the Eisenhower administration, believing that the preceding administration had overcommitted itself to the safety and security of Israel, embarked on a new policy of "impartiality" in the region, a move that particularly worried Britain and France. Meanwhile, Nasser was becoming more friendly with Moscow, which had offered to subsidize the building of a high dam across the Nile at Aswan. Distressed, Washington countered with an offer to arrange Western financing for the construction project, but on July 19, 1956, after it appeared likely that the Russian offer would fall through and Egypt would have to turn to the United States, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles withdrew the offer. It was an embarrassing humiliation for the Egyptian president, and he retaliated by nationalizing the Suez Canal.
The seizure sent shock waves through London and Paris. Britain feared a cut-off of oil from the Middle East; France viewed Nasser as influential in prolonging the Algerian revolt. Both immediately began thinking in terms of military action, action in which British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden fully expected American cooperation. But Dulles feared that any show of force against Egypt would be interpreted by the newly emerging nations of Asia and Africa as renewed evidence of Western imperialism, and therefore refrained from joining with Britain in any use of force.
As Britain turned a cold shoulder to its ally across the Atlantic, Israel began expressing fears over the shifting balance of power in the Arab world. During October, therefore, British, French and Israeli officials met secretly in France to discuss the situation. Within a few short weeks the discussion turned into action, and on October 29 Israel lashed out with a violent attack against Egypt. Two days later Britain and France joined Israel in the invasion, launching troop carriers by air and sea from Cyprus.
Fearing that the Soviet Union would make good on a threat to use force to crush the invasion--with long-range missiles, if necessary--and wishing to avoid a return to prewar colonialism, Eisenhower put intense pressure on the Eden government to end the fighting. Within a week Eden conceded and on November 6 ordered a cease-fire. The crisis was over, but the effect on Anglo-American relations was traumatic.
Throughout the weeks and months that followed the crisis, the inevitable question was whether Washington was in fact caught off guard by the surprise Anglo-French-Israeli attack. According to Secretary Dulles, it was. Testifying before a joint meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Dulles stated, "We had no advance information of any kind." Yet this was contradicted by his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles, years later. "Here intelligence was well alerted to what Israel and then Britain and France were likely to do," Allen Dulles wrote in his book The Craft of Intelligence. "In fact," he added, "United States intelligence had kept the government informed but, as usual, did not advertise its achievement."
That the NSA was reading the secret traffic of all three belligerents seems unquestionable. Responsibility for solving the coded messages of Britain, France, and the Middle East nations was the responsibility of PROD's ALLO section (now G Group).
Britain appears to have been aware of NSA's successes in breaking its codes shortly after the ill-fated invasion. George Wigg, a Labour member of Parliament and a former Army colonel, publicly stated several weeks after the British withdrawal that the United States had recently "cracked" the British, French, and Israeli Foreign Ministry and armed forces' codes, and thus had prior knowledge of the planned attack.
Ironically, at the same time as the British were putting the final touches on the invasion plan, a plan that most likely depended heavily on SIGINT, GCHQ director Eric Jones was meeting with NSA officials in Washington. Whatever the reason for the peculiarly timed mission, it appeared at least somewhat successful, since Jones later termed it "profitable."
On Wednesday, October 31, just as the first Anglo-French troops began hitting Egypt's sandy coast, Jones boarded the R.M.S. Queen Mary for a six-day journey back to England. At three-thirty that afternoon, as the triple-stacked Cunard superliner pulled away from its berth just off New York's West 50 Street, Jones must have been troubled by the reaction the invasion might have on the delicate GCHQ-NSA relations. Two days out at sea the SIGINT chief addressed a letter to his old friends the Friedmans, in which he expressed sadness at the imminent retirement of General Canine and of the course of events. "Needless to say,"Jones wrote, "the differences between our two countries over the Middle East are rather marring my trip home."
NSA was equally concerned about the possible adverse effect on joint SIGINT cooperation caused by the cooling-off of relations between the two countries. In addition, concern was most likely expressed over possible changes in the crypto systems of Britain and the other NATO countries because of the widespread feeling that America had broken their codes. The situation was complicated by the fact that newer, more complex cryptographic devices were being produced in Europe, devices that could set NSA codebreakers back many years.
Because of these worries, Air Force Lieutenant General John A. Samford, who had replaced General Canine as DIRNSA, turned to Friedman and asked him to undertake a series of ultrasensitive missions to England and the continent. These missions, the details of which are still considered top secret by the Agency, probably were directed at reasserting the need for close cooperation between GCHQ and NSA and at establishing some sort of agreement with Europe's largest manufacturer of cryptographic devices, Crypto A.G.
Despite his age, despite his history of psychological problems, and despite three heart attacks, which had brought him within a whisper of death, on August 5, 1957, Friedman, after several months of briefings, picked up his maroon-jacketed special passport and two weeks later was airborne toward England. The trip was ostensibly a spur-of-the-moment decision having to do mostly with an upcoming book on Shakespeare. Even his wife, who was traveling with him, apparently did not know he was on a mission for the NSA.
After a week in London devoted mainly to matters related to his book, Friedman officially re-entered duty status at eight o'clock on Monday morning, August 26. He was picked up at his hotel by official car and driven the eighty-five miles through the countryside to the familiar buildings of GCHQ in Cheltenham, where he no doubt met with Sir Eric Jones, who had been in the honors list in January 1957, only a few months after the Suez fiasco.
Jones had celebrated his knighthood into the Order of St. Michael and St. George by taking a vacation in the snow-covered mountains of the Italian Alps. Among the mail forwarded to him there was a letter of congratulations from Friedman. Writing from his room in the Grand Hotel Principe in Limone Piemonte, Jones thanked his old friend for the words of encouragement. The honor, said Sir Eric, "has been won by a lot of hard work by very many people within the circle and on the fringes of it, and it has also been partly won by friendly cooperation from people such as customers." Chief among those "customers" were the British military and intelligence services. "At this time I am deeply conscious," Jones added, "that much of that work has been done on your side of the Atlantic, and that much of that cooperation has come across the ocean; and I am deeply grateful." Then he added a personal note: "To you, Billy, most notably, I am indebted, in so many ways over very many years. You indeed made a wonderful contribution to our joint endeavours and have been a good friend to me. All here, on this side, freely recognise that, none more than I."
Only Friedman could elicit such a feeling of friendship from the British, and it was only Friedman who could have secured from GCHQ the maximum degree of cooperation.
After a full day of meetings, Friedman spent the night in Cheltenham and engaged in further talks the next day, returning to London that night. On September 1, he was off to the Continent and the next, and perhaps most important, part of his mission.
In 1957, Crypto A.G. was to cryptography what General Motors was to automobiles. Based in Stockholm, the company was probably the world's largest supplier of crypto equipment to foreign governments. As many.of the Third World nations began casting off the chains of colonialism, they turned to Crypto A.G. to protect their secret communications.
Heading the company was sixty-five-year-old Boris Caesar Wilhelm Hagelin, a Russian-born Swede who since the 1920s had been manufacturing crypto equipment and selling it to various governments. After the German invasion of Norway in April I940, Hagelin packed his bags with blueprints and two dismantled ciphering machines and, together with his wife, made his way across Germany and down to Italy, where he boarded the Conte di Savoia, on its last outward-bound voyage, for the trip to New York. Once in the United States, Hagelin established the Hagelin Cryptographic Company and promptly made his million selling his machines to the United States Army. In 1944 Hagelin moved back to Sweden and again set up shop, but because of restrictive laws that permitted the government to appropriate inventions beneficial to the national defense, he moved his research and development facility to a hillside overlooking a lake in Zug, Switzerland, and in 1959 moved the entire firm there.
When Friedman left London, he headed for Sweden and then Switzerland, where, it seems likely, he met with the white-haired Hagelin. Close friends during the war, Friedman and Hagelin had a great deal in common. Both were born in Russia, within a year of each other, and both shared an almost fanatical passion for cryptology. Exactly what happened during their meetings may never be known, but it seems likely that some sort of "deal" was offered to Hagelin by Friedman on behalf of the NSA. What this deal may have involved can be only speculation, but it appears likely that Hagelin was asked to supply to the NSA details about various improvements and modifications made to the cipher machines his company had supplied to other governments, including, especially, the member countries of NATO. This would have greatly shortened the time needed by the United States to break their code systems.
Evidence of this can be found in a worried request made by the NSA to the British author Ronald Clark, who wrote a biography of Friedman in 1977. In his book, Clark made several references to Friedman's 1957 trip and to two other trips Friedman made to England and Europe during April and May of 1958. On learning of Clark's intention to mention these trips, officials of the NSA approached him and expressed their "serious concern" about what might be revealed. They made several unsuccessful attempts to read the manuscript, both in the United States and Britain. Finally, not knowing how much Clark actually knew of the mission--which was very little--the officials reluctantly explained to him that their reason for worry was that "the book might discuss the supply of cipher machines to NATO; and that this would deprive NSA of the daily information enabling the NSA to read the secret messages of other NATO countries."
With regard to the connection with Hagelin, evidence can be seen in a revealing letter dated August 8, 1958, from Friedman to Howard Engstrom, who had left office as deputy director of NSA only a few days before. In his letter, Friedman indicated his frustration over the handling of the "Boris" project and the fact that it was apparently being taken out of his hands:
I have also to report to you, either with tears or laughter, I don't know which, that Sammy [NSA director Samford] made it crystal clear to me, in words of one syllable, that he did not want me to write any more to our friend Boris except on social matters. The thing is now in the hands of you-know-who and he thinks that we (including, especially, myself) should have absolutely nothing to do with it any longer. I am beginning to wonder, in connection with this project, whose ox is being gored? To whose interest is it that the project go through successfully? By the way, what became of the letter from Boris that I sent you from California? I asked Sammy if he had it and he said he didn't. I asked his secretary--she said she didn't. I would appreciate any info that you can give me as to its whereabouts. I want it--it was sent to me.
The "you-know-who" was most likely the CIA. Engstrom also made mention of the project in his reply to Friedman's letter "I am very anxious to find out how the Boris deal is coming," he wrote, "and hope it doesn't die after all the effort you expended on it."
That it didn't die seems to be indicated by the NSA's response to Ronald Clark. In fact, it appears that Friedman's approach to Hagelin was merely the latest in a series of secret approaches to the crypto baron. Stuart Hedden, a Wall Street lawyer, had been the New York agent for Hagelin's company during the war, and in that capacity he formed a friendship with Friedman that lasted for decades. For a year, between 1952 and 1953, Hedden served as inspector general for the CIA, leaving when General Walter Bedell Smith stepped down as director. In a letter to Friedman written in 1955, Hedden referred to "Boris" and some of the approaches made to him. Noting that Boris "writes very rarely these days," Hedden commented, "After two wild goose chases which your shop and my old shop have brought him here on, I would not blame him a bit if he tried to weaken his ties here a little. I am sure it is not deliberate, but it may be subconscious."
The foundation of friendship and cooperation established with the BRUSA and UKUSA Agreements during the 1940s and reinforced by Friedman during the 1950s, continued to solidify during the 1960s and 1970s.
With the retirement of Sir Eric Jones in 1960, his long-time deputy, Clive (Joe) Loehnis, took over GCHQ. Two years later, like his predecessors, he was knighted, and in 1964, at the age of sixty-two, he retired.
Loehnis was succeeded in the £9,000-a-year post by Leonard James (Joe) Hooper, fifty, who had graduated from Oxford in 1936 with first-class honors in modern history. Following two years at the London School of Economics, he joined the Air Ministry and transferred to the Government Code and Cypher School in 1942, staying on with GCHQ. Six years after receiving his K.C.M.G., in 1967, Sir Leonard left office to take over Britain's top intelligence post, coordinator of Intelligence and Security in the Cabinet Office Joint Intelligence Committee, a position somewhat analogous to chairman of the U.S. Intelligence Board.
Heading GCHQ from 1973 to 1978 was Arthur Wilfred (Bill) Bonsall. Bonsall had graduated from Cambridge with second-class honors in modern languages and, like Hooper, joined the Air Ministry in 1940. Two years later he signed up at Bletchley Park and in 1977 he received his knighthood, at the age of sixty.
Director of GCHQ since 1978 is Sir Brian John Maynard Tovey, lover of sixteenth-century Italian art. The son of a minister, Tovey was born on April 15, 1926, and studied at St. Edmund Hall. Oxford, after which he transferred to the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. In 1945 he joined the Royal Navy and subsequently transferred into the Army Intelligence Corps. Starting off with the Foreign Service rank of junior assistant, the future director went to work for GCHQ in 1950. Seven years later he was promoted to principal, then assistant secretary in 1967, under secretary in 1975, and finally to the rank of deputy secretary in 1978.
Although the directors of NSA and GCHQ are the ones charged with the ultimate responsibility of ensuring continued harmony and cooperation between their agencies, it is the senior liaison officers, the SIGINT community's version of ambassadors, who control the day-to-day relations between the UKUSA partners. And it is for that reason that the post of SUSLO at NSA is both highly prized and carefully considered.
Just how carefully considered Deputy Director Lou Tordella discovered when he, without bothering to inform NSA director Marshall Carter, picked Cecil C. Corry, a twenty-five-year veteran of the Agency, to fill the post in England left vacant by the returning Dr. A. W. Hesse in the late 1960s.
Carter, who had other plans for the post, exploded when he learned that Tordella, without consultation, had taken it on himself to go ahead and advise Corry. At the time, Carter was in the process of gradually, if slightly, lifting the veil of secrecy that had long surrounded every aspect of NSA, and he wanted someone in London who he felt confident could express his feelings adequately to the British and its hypersecret GCHQ.
"Corry was very, very competent," Carter later explained, "but he just wasn't the personality I wanted representing me in London, under the circumstances, where I was more and more going open with the activities of NSA." Instead, Carter picked John J. (J.J.) Connelly, Jr., the affable assistant director for Personnel Management. Said Carter: "He was not a cryptologist, but he was the guy I wanted representing me at the Court of St. James's. Now when it was a low-level guy at Cheltenham, just there as a coordinator, liaison between NSA and GCHQ, then that was one thing. Where it was a guy representing me in the intelligence community of the British Empire--I wanted a different breed of cat."
Carter also objected to the fact that the representatives of the non-English-speaking collaborating governments were treated differently from the English-speaking partners. "We had a rule at NSA when I was there," the former DIRNSA revealed, "that only the British and Australians would be allowed in the main building... I'm talking about the whole number of English-speaking nations."
The hospitality changed, however, when it came to a meeting with officials of the South Korean government. Notified that the meeting would have to take place at another location, Carter protested. "We don't let them into the building," the director was informed by his senior staff. "I said: 'No way! If we are going to exchange information with the Koreans and they are going to look to us for guidance and everything, well they have a right to come in.' So I had them in for luncheons in my office and at the Maryland Club."
For more than twenty years the London home of NSA's SUSLO has been Flat 5 at 35 Bryanston Square, a stately building overlooking a green in the Mayfair section of the city. Ten minutes away by foot is Grosvenor Square and the American embassy, where the SUSLO offices are tucked away securely behind the door to Room 452--one floor above the CIA offices.
Occupant of Flat 5 during the early 1970s was Benjamin J. Price, formerly deputy assistant director for Personnel Management and before that the NSA representative to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, in Hawaii. He was replaced by Milton Zaslow, the former deputy chief of PROD. When Zaslow returned to take over as deputy director for Telecommunications and Computer Services, Benson Buffham moved into Flat 5. Buffham, until then NSA's deputy director, apparently wanted a fling at the good life before retirement, although others saw the move as an effort at fence-mending. When Buffham retired in April 1980, he was replaced by the deputy director for Management Services, Dr. Don C. Jackson.
As serious as the NSA is about its SUSLO, so are the British with regard to their SUKLO. Representing GCHQ at NSA during the mid-1960s was Reginald H. Parker, a dashing Englishman with an infectious sense of humor. When "Reg" Parker first arrived at NSA, General Gordon Blake was DIRNSA, and, as Parker later confessed in a letter to General Carter, he had some apprehension when the new NSA director first arrived on board. "It is always a matter of concern to any senior liaison officer when there is a change of Director of the agency with which he spends most of his time. All I need say about your arrival at NSA in the summer of 1965," he wrote to Carter, "is that I rapidly found that I did not have to worry."
Like NSA, GCHQ hides its liaison officer under diplomatic cover. In London, Buffham was listed as a "political attache." GCHQ's current (1982) SUKLO, George M. (Bill) Gapp, is simply listed as an "admin. officer" at the British embassy in Washington.
"It has long been known that during the eighteenth century the British government from time to time obtained valuable information from the interception of private and diplomatic correspondence passing through the post office."
So began a lecture on early mail-opening by Kenneth Ellis to his colleagues at GCHQ in Eastcote during the late 1940s. Official eavesdropping in Britain is steeped in tradition and shrouded in secrecy. Even Shakespeare made note of the practice when he wrote in Henry V, "The king hath note of all that they intend / By interception which they dream not of."
Although, as Ellis pointed out in his GCHQ lecture, "the interception of correspondence is as old as correspondence itself," the custom became organized in 1653, when Lord Thurloe created what was known as "the Secret Office," possibly GCHQ's earliest ancestor.
Housed in a series of three rooms adjoining the Foreign Office and Controller's House off Abchurch Lane, the Secret Office was directed originally by Isaac Dorislaus, who was known simply as "the Secret Man" by those few witting of the snooping. Later, his successors were given the cover of "Foreign Secretary" and, as one holder of the office once revealed, "ostensible employment about the Post Office the better to conceal the other important business."
The "other important business" consisted of opening and copying international, especially diplomatic, correspondence and sending the interceptions to the Confidential Under Secretaries in envelopes marked PRIVATE AND MOST SECRET. "Those en clair," according to Ellis, "went straight to the King." Letters written in cipher, on the other hand, were sent by hand or special messenger to the Deciphering Branch for solution and then on to His Royal Highness, often arriving within twenty-four hours, sometimes even before reaching the hands of the intended recipient. After review by the King, the intercepts would be placed in a special envelope known as "the Long Packet" and sent off to selected ministers.
The staff of the Secret Office, paid out of a secret fund, consisted primarily of trained engravers, openers, decipherers, and translators. At the time, most of the diplomatic correspondence was secured with wax seals that required a great deal of technical skill to reproduce without detection. Three hours were regularly spent on the King of Prussia's mail alone.
Just as the Secret Office was established to intercept international correspondence, a "Private Office" was set up within the Office of the Secretary of the Post Office to concentrate on opening domestic mail. It was directed primarily by the First Lords of the Treasury and Admiralty, and no one was spared. The mail of private citizens was opened in order to catch crooks; ministers' mail to warn the King of impending resignations and security risks; the King's mail to observe his attitude and then alter it either by argument or well-placed leaks; opposition leaders' to undermine their policies; and even each other's to keep track of their conduct.
Britain's Royal Mail Openers managed a charmed existence. Their single public scandal occurred in 1844, when Joseph Mazzini charged Secretary of State Sir James Graham with opening his letters and passing the contents on to the Neapolitan government. A Secret Committee of the House of Commons was quickly formed to examine the government's mail-reading practices but ended up praising the officials for ingenuity. "In every case investigated," the committee concluded, "it seems to have been directed by an earnest and faithful Desire to adopt that Course which appeared to be necessary, either to promote the Ends of Justice or to prevent a Disturbance of the public Tranquillity, or otherwise to promote the best Interests of the Country." Wisely, the committee avoided any discussion of how or from where the government's authority to raid the mails derived, except to note that it had been doing it for a very long time.
That same "inherent" authority was later used to justify the interception of telegrams and, shortly after the first telephone exchange was established in England in 1879, telephone conversations. Just how far that authority extended was discovered December 16, 1920, when Western Union President Newcomb Carlton shocked a Senate subcommittee with the revelation that the British government secretly required that his company turn over to Naval Intelligence every incoming and outgoing telegram received in Britain. The charge was subsequently confirmed in testimony by John Goldhammer of Commercial Cable Company and Clarence H. Mackay of Commercial Cable Postal Telegraph Company. "In July, 1919," explained Goldhammer, "when British censorship ceased, we were ordered by the British Government to turn over to them all messages passing between our own offices, 10 days after they were sent."
Minnesota senator Frank B. Kellogg, chairman of the subcommittee, asked Carlton whether he had ever challenged the British on the matter. "We thought that it would be misunderstood and we thought it was a source of irritation to American cablers," the Western Union chief responded. "They replied that they wanted those messages only for such supervision as might give them an inkling of pending disorders within Great Britain, I assume having to do with Irish unrest, and also to do with the bolshevik propaganda."
Chairman Kellogg then pressed Carlton as to whether there was any way to prevent the British actions. "No; we cannot prevent it," he said, but added that it was not for want of trying:
We took rather a firm stand about delivering them. We said that we would not be responsible for receiving and delivering messages destined to the United States unless we were certain that they are uncensored, so far as their contents are concerned, and we would prefer to shut down our cables as a protest if this thing was being done surreptitiously. We could not put it much stronger than that . . .
And I went so far as to instruct our vice president in London not to deliver the messages to the British Government and see what would happen. The British Government then explained exactly what they did with the messages; they gave us their assurance that the messages would not be deciphered; the reason why they wanted to keep general track of who was cabling; and, furthermore, they guaranteed that no information of any kind would be issued.
Caught off guard by the embarrassing revelation, the British embassy sent off a letter denying the charges directly to Senator Kellogg rather than through the State Department, a serious breach of diplomatic protocol. At the same time, the British government came up with an amendment to the Official Secrets Act of 1911, requiring telegraph companies to turn over to the Secretary of State on demand "the originals and transcripts" of either all telegrams or any specified category of telegrams. Although the act required that the request must be made by "warrant," the term is misleading, since, unlike in the United States, where only an impartial judge may issue a warrant, the British term implies little more than an official directive. The British were even crafty enough to include a similar loophole in the landing license issued to the cable companies, authorizing "one of His Majesty's principal secretaries of state" to take over the telegraph facilities completely or to direct that the companies surrender "all telegrams tendered for transmission or arriving by the company's telegraphs." The sole requirement is for the official to consider that an "emergency" had arisen.
To the chagrin of the British, Newcomb Carlton was back before the subcommittee soon after the Christmas recess, but this time he was considerably less forthcoming. Asked by Senator Kellogg whether the messages turned over to British Intelligence included United States government communications, the cable chief buckled. "If you do not mind, I would like not to answer that," he pleaded. "It puts my company in a very embarrassing position with the British Government. We have large affairs with the British Government, and with various departments who treat us with every consideration. I was made to appear at the last hearing as being something of an informant; that I had informed this committee."
Kellogg brushed aside several further protests, and Carlton reluctantly acquiesced:
It appears that the British Government was desirous of supervising in and out cable messages to certain European countries in the interest of British peace and quiet. In order to avoid an appearance of discriminating against these European countries, they decided to take charge, physical charge, of all in and out cable messages from every country, and they therefore adopted the plan of waiting 10 days, that is, to give 10 days between the handling of the message and the time that the Government called at the cable offices for the messages. The messages were then placed in large bags, sealed I believed, and put in wagons. Those wagons were driven away under the custody of the Admiralty, and lodged over night in a storehouse and returned to the cable offices the next morning.
Undoubtedly to Mr. Carlton's profound relief, the question of whether the American government engaged in similar shady practices never came up. One year earlier, after a conference with Herbert O. Yardley and the Military Intelligence chief, Brigadier General Marlborough Churchill, Carlton had instructed his vice president, J. C. Willever, to begin secretly supplying the Black Chamber with whatever it desired.
That tradition dies hard in the intelligence trade is evidenced by the fact that more than half a century after the Kellogg hearings, both the American and British cable-snooping operations were continuing as strong as ever and with barely a change. In London, the wagons had been replaced by Ministry of Works vans, the ten-day waiting period had been reduced to same-day pickup, and the overnight return had stretched to forty-eight hours. And in New York the hard copies had given way to magnetic tapes, and civilian couriers had replaced military messengers. The Admiralty had been supplanted by GCHQ, and the Black Chamber replaced by NSA.
Under the theory that two ears are better than one, the NSA and GCHQ, through their BRUSA-UKUSA pacts, agreed to share the wealth of each other's cable intercept programs. What this meant was that, in addition to collecting all the cable and telex traffic from the three U.S. telegraph companies under its Shamrock program, NSA would now also have access to the miles and miles of traffic flowing in and out of the British commercial telegraph system. Once received, the British tapes would be processed through NSA watch list-alerted computers. Thus, NSA would be able to ransack the entire United Kingdom telex and cable systems to locate a reference to Jane Fonda or Muamma Qaddafi, oil or drugs, IBM or British Petroleum.
That the Agency was not above using the British intercepts to search for protesters in its domestic Minaret program was discovered by the special Justice Department task force that investigated the eavesdropping policies of the intelligence community. Classified TOP SECRET UMBRA/HANDLE VIA COMINT CHANNELS ONLY, the task force report concluded that "MINARET intelligence, except one category of international voice communications involving narcotics, was obtained incidentally in the course of NSA's interception of aural and non-aural (e.g., telex) international communications, and the receipt of GCHQ-acquired telex and ILC [International Licensed Carriers] cable traffic (SHAMROCK)." (Emphasis in original.) Thus, wittingly or unwittingly, the British government became a co-conspirator in one of the NSA's most illegal operations.
Such a prospect, however, would likely cause little concern at GCHQ, since it almost certainly runs the cable and telex intercepts supplied by NSA through its own domestic watch list.
Just as UKUSA provides for the exchange of intercepted cable and telex, it also probably provides for the exchange of aural, or telephone intercepts. Duncan Campbell, an editor of the British magazine New Statesman, and Linda Melvern, a veteran reporter for the Sunday Times of London, suggested in a New Statesman article in July 1980 that one of the principal targets of the NSA's Menwith Hill Station in Harrogate, Yorkshire, is British international and domestic telecommunications.
The main thrust of the seven-thousand-word article was that a nearby Post Office Department (which until recently administered Britain's telecommunications as well as her mail services) microwave tower, known as Hunters Stones, was built for the specific purpose of filtering into Menwith Hill thousands of telephone conversations from all over the country. "The Post Office," the article said, "has built Menwith Hill into the heart of Britain's national communications system." The underground cable linking the tower to Menwith Hill five miles away, wrote the two journalists, "provides an umbilical link into the international telephone and telex system running through Britain."
The large number of microwave horns and dishes attached to the Hunters Stones tower in the lightly populated Yorkshire moors would seem to lend weight to the article's assumptions, along with the fact that another microwave tower, Tinshill, is only five miles away from Hunters Stones and thus would seem redundant. However, as Peter Laurie, another British writer who like Campbell, specializes in electronics and security issues, pointed out in his book Beneath the City Streets: "The heaviest communications capacity is often in the most remote countryside. Partly this is because cities tend to be built in river valleys which are low and therefore unsuitable for microwaves."
Further, it would seem that domestic British communications would have little interest to the NSA, which uses Menwith Hill primarily to eavesdrop on Europe and the Soviet Union by way of SIGINT satellites. GCHQ, which also has a detachment assigned to Menwith Hill, would have considerably more interest in the subject, but it would appear unlikely that it would conduct its domestic eavesdropping from an NSA base.
A target that would be far more interesting to the NSA, and quite possibly the GCHQ, is the international communications entering and leaving England, much of them by satellite. The signals are transmitted and received by earth stations located at Madley in Herefordshire, about 130 miles northwest of London, and at Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall, near Falmouth. After the American stations at Etam, West Virginia, and Andover, Maine, the two stations are, respectively, the third and fourth busiest commercial earth stations in the world.
One of the world's first earth stations as well, Goonhilly Downs played a major role in the early TELSTAR experiments in 1962. That year, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Communications Satellite Act, and in February 1963 the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) was formed. A year and a half later eleven countries signed agreements to form a single global satellite system: the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or INTELSAT, which put its first satellite, INTELSAT I, the Early Bird, into orbit on April 6, 1965. Activated two months later, it established the first satellite pathway between the United States and Europe, providing both transatlantic telephone and television service.
A key link in this system was Goonhilly Downs, then one of only five INTELSAT earth stations around the world. (By 1980, the number of earth stations in the system had grown to 263 in 134 countries.) In 1967 the international space consortium placed into orbit three of the more powerful INTELSAT II satellites, and over the next three years further upgraded the now worldwide satellite network with the third generation of communications satellite, INTELSAT III. Capable of handling all forms of communications simultaneously--telephone, telegraph, television, high-speed data, and facsimile, the satellites had a capacity of twelve hundred circuits each.
During this period, GCHQ secretly constructed its own pair of hundred-foot satellite dishes a short sixty miles to the north of Goonhilly, at Bude, also in Cornwall. With these dishes GCHQ would be able to eavesdrop on all communications flowing between the INTELSAT satellites and Goonhilly Downs in the same way that NSA is able to listen in on the Etam earth station from its secret site at Sugar Grove.
Apparently there was considerable resistance within the upper reaches of the British government to the costly project, so GCHQ director Sir Leonard Hooper resorted to a favorite and effective lobbying tactic: with NSA's support, Hooper stressed the importance of the project to UKUSA and especially to NSA. As usual, the magic worked, and Sir Leonard received his antennas. Later he sent his personal thanks to NSA director Carter, saying he was so grateful for the assistance that he thought the two dishes should be named after Carter and Deputy Director Louis Tordella: "I know that I have leaned shamefully on you, and sometimes taken your name in vain, when I needed approval for something at this end," the GCHQ director confessed. "The aerials at Bude ought to be christened 'Pat' and 'Louis'!"
It was a game Carter knew well, as he later explained when recalling the letter:
I think what he's probably talking about is, he has difficulty getting money for something that he wants to do. He presents the British side, OK? [and gets] turned down. I'm just theorizing. And he says, "Well look, you can turn me down from the British viewpoint, but I'm in bed with Pat Carter on this thing--this is a joint requirement-- he needs it as badly as I do. The product that he is going to develop for us will come right to us, so would you take another look at this because he wants it, it will help him in his business. We'll get the results of it."
And it was a game played on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1967 Secretary of Defense McNamara appointed Frederick Eaton, a conservative New York lawyer and banker, to head a committee to review the U.S. SIGINT effort. For some time various senior intelligence and Pentagon officials had felt that some of the NSA's SIGINT activities were not meeting expectations and that this had resulted in a serious cost-effectiveness problem. Foremost among those who held this belief was Assistant Secretary of Defense Eugene Fubini, the Pentagon's electronic intelligence chief and a man with whom Carter continually bumped heads. Fubini, according to Carter, "had insisted that we were collecting too much on a particular target and that we were wasting money and wasting assets . . .
"Lou Tordella and I were just climbing the walls," Carter recalled of the formation of the committee. For one thing, he said, Eaton "came in bare-ass naked, didn't know anything about cryptology or anything--he hardly knew what NSA was doing." But Carter's main problem was Fubini: "It was a geared operation by Fubini, who had expected to control this committee and therefore get us directed to do things which he had [tried to] convince us should be done."
As the committee was nearing its deadline, a majority of the staff, made up largely of officials from the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon, reportedly had "accumulated substantial evidence that much of the NSA's intelligence collection was of little or marginal use to the various intelligence consumers in the community." Nevertheless, to the staff's surprise, Eaton "recommended no reductions and concluded that all of NSA's programs were worthwhile." Faced with this turn-around, many of the staff turned in their pens, and Eaton was forced to write the report's conclusion himself. Said Carter of the victory: "Fortunately, we had a couple of people who were smart enough to see what Fubini was trying to do, and they got to Eaton . . . and Eaton was able to tromp on Fubini."
Among those who had come to Carter's rescue was his old friend from Cheltenham. "But equally I hope that I have sometimes been of help to you," Sir Leonard wrote after thanking the NSA director for his assistance at Bude, "when the Eatons were around you for example."
As in any partnership, there are occasional differences and conflicts. One of the more nagging problems throughout the 1960s was a continuing feud between GCHQ and the London Communications Security Agency. Unlike the United States, where responsibilities for COMSEC come under the NSA, the British COMSEC organization had long been a separate department within the Foreign Office. Whereas GCHQ makes up the Signals Department, the London Communications Security Agency made up the Communications-Electronic Security Department and had its own director and staff. The battle was between those who wanted to see COMSEC placed under GCHQ and those who wanted to maintain its independence. The conflict made life difficult for NSA, which was trying not to take sides and to keep at arm's distance from the warfare.
By 1969 the decision had been made to merge the COMSEC organization into GCHQ, a not inconsiderable accomplishment, since, as General Carter noted, "they were a long time in pulling those two agencies together where they were even talking to each other. Joe Hooper alerted me to that."
Among the leaders of the pro-merger group was John Outhit Harold Burrough, C.B., C.B.E., who had joined GCHQ in I946 after serving a dozen years in the Royal Navy. The son of an admiral and a graduate of Dartmouth, the Royal Naval College, Burrough was appointed GCHQ's SUKLO to Washington in 1965. In 1967 he returned to England and was assigned to the Cabinet Office as an under secretary, presumably on the Joint Intelligence Staff. After two years at Whitehall, Burrough was in line for one of the top two posts at GCHQ. "It could be Director of Plans, or conceivably Director of COMSEC--more likely the former, I think," he wrote to Pat Carter; "but one never knows until the decision is made!" Then he mentioned the merger: "In either case I shall be working once again for Joe Hooper, a fact which gives me great pleasure (in a small way I believe I have had some responsibility in my present post for the forthcoming 'merger,' which I have long advocated behind the scenes)." Burrough, a big, large-framed man, retired from GCHQ in 1976 at the age of sixty and became a director of Racal Communications Systems Ltd., one of the largest manufacturers of SIGINT equipment for both NSA and GCHQ.
But the differences, overall, were few and were greatly outweighed by common interests and personal friendships. So close was the friendship between Carter and Joe Hooper, in fact, that Hooper once wrote to Carter, "I have often felt closer to you than to most of my own staff--indeed closer than to any except perhaps John Rendle and John Burrough--and that is some thing I shall remember and cherish." Thus, when it came time for Carter to retire in 1969, there was a considerable amount of anxiety on the part of the GCHQ director: "As you can understand, I am pretty apprehensive about your successor, and whether I can strike up any kind of similar understanding with him. He is a completely unknown quantity to all of us. Put in a word for me."
The depth of the NSA-GCHQ relationship, a relationship that is continually denied on both sides of the Atlantic, can best be summed up in Sir Leonard's farewell letter to Carter (opposite page[below]).
"Between us," Hooper wrote in another letter, "we have ensured that the blankets and sheets are more tightly tucked around the bed in which our two sets of people lie and, like you, I like it that way."
GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS HEADQUARTERS, [GCHQ Emblem] OAKLEY, CHELTENHAM, GLOS. D/8586/1003/11 Tel.: CHELTENHAM 55311. 22nd July 1969 Dear Pat,[By hand] Last week you told me that you were relinquishing your post as Director NSA from 1st August and going into retirement. Yesterday I was informed of the name of your successor. This is simply to tell you how much we in GCHQ have valued your part in our dealing with NSA over the past four years. From the outset, though the extent of our working partnership was new to you, you showed an instinctive feeling for its nature and depth which was a great strengthened to those of us who had worked so long in it, and you have consistently gone out of your way to help us sustain and if possible improve our contribution to it. For this we are very grateful. You have given us practical help whenever we sought it but, more importantly, you have given every encouragement and made us feel that GCHQ really mattered to Director NSA. I think you believe, as I do, that the professional relationship between our two Agencies remains of great importance to our two countries and you have certainly made a very great personal contribution to its present strength and closeness. You kindly received my senior staff whenever they came to Washington and they, like me, have benefited from your wisdom, kindness and hospitality. There are many who will remember you with respect and affection. For myself I can truly say that my early years as Director GCHQ were made much easier by knowing that I had so good a friend and so understanding a colleague in the Director of NSA. No one could ask for more. I do not yet know Admiral Gayler but I look forward to meeting him soon. Please tell him what you have found to be the worthwhile and the difficult parts of the UKUSA relationship and assure him that we in GCHQ will do our best to assist NSA in continuing its great and important mission under his leadership. Thank you for all you have done, and for your way of doing it. You and your wife take with you into retirement the best wishes of myself and all my colleagues. May you have many years in which to enjoy a well-earned rest. [By hand] Yours very truly, Joe Hooper [Sir Leonard Hooper] Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter Director, NSA
Chapter 9 Competition On NSA's efforts to control public cryptography.
Chapter 10 Abyss On NSA's expanding operations and attempts at legal controls.