29 March 2003
Cryptome paid a highly informative visit yesterday to NSA's National Cryptologic Museum. The museum and library demonstrate that cryptology is about nothing but war, treason, vainglorious politics, lies, deceipt, slaughter, patriotism, profits, more vainglory, broken promises, guile, pretended violated innocence, genius technology, you name it, mostly the worst and occasionally the best of two-faced humankind.
Anyone demonically gaga about war, disinformation and cryptology should spend a lot of time at this tiny, unique facility, as does David Kahn, author of Codebreakers. (Kahn is soon to publish a book on US comsec legend Herbert Yardley based on material at the library.).
Nothing classified in the collection -- now -- but most was once top secret and above, and shows the do-or-die role communication security has historically played in national survival or, more often, wipeout defeat. There are ancient Egyptian cryptology volumes and oral histories of NSA researchers, manufacturers' catalogs and descriptions of NSA's own special factories, working samples of the world's fastest computers, chip development and latest secure telephones with comsec tokens, memorials to killed spies and NSA traitors, way too many shots of heads of NSA and dimbulb Presidents gawking at displays (one shows GW using a secure phone on 9/11 at the Florida school where he got the start-of-WW3 news), crowd-pleasing overkill of the codetalkers, exhibits of NSA women and minorities and spy gadgets and tradecraft and planes, ships and satellites, guided tours and kiddie code-teaching books, a beheaded artillery shell! to receive well-deserved contributions.
The gift shop overflows with NSA-branded coffee cups with code, way too many kinds of caps, jackets, sweaters, vests, briefcases and notebooks, golfballs! (emblemed with the 14 US spook agencies), umbrellas, headbands, running suits, NSA-seal rugs, drink coasters, mouse pads, pens, paperweights, Civil War code wheels and code toys galore. We skipped the junk and left hard cash.
Impressively for an open-source nut, NSA, the US's premier comsec defender and aggressor, appears to be the most lightly defended of all the tourist stops on the DC natsec trail. The other defense-industry complexes sport bristling barbed wire, sensors, humvees, concrete barriers, all the luxurious trappings of a Middle East palace. CIA HQ has the most Prada-grade security jewelry, although its units scattered in office buildings get Gap.
All the global communications facilities scattered around DC and in the Viginia and Maryland countryside remain wide open to gawk at (and photograph if you can avoid detection by the commercial rent-a-guards), the facilities seemingly doing nothing which needs heightened protection during a foreign war and heightened homeland terrorist threat.
NSA's museum and library declare otherwise. So even if you are not crypto and comsec insane you should study the museum to ponder what threats to the homeland lie beneath the artful disinfo of news and USG public relations reports. Maybe the threat is not so bad, NSA laid-back site security says.
When you visit the museum prepare to leave a hefty contribution behind. The museum is a shoe-string operation and cannot afford to put online its catalog of you-won't-believe-this materials of guile and perfidy nor make the listing available to visitors -- it's held on the single working desktop.
Moreover, NSA has cut back on its visiting scholar program (among whom David Kahn), due to budget reductions, says the librarian. Meanwhile billions pour in for gobbling the spectrum and stockpiling unusable data.
With NSA being the world's leader in communications technology, this withholding-by-budget is an info-crime against the untutored, probably misled, surely misinformed, citizenry.
Still, for the warprofiteer nuts, DC-area commercial-grade national security is booming, and what a relief to locals who've been pained by the digital downturn and are immensely gratified that the fat comsec and crypto software and hardware contracts are surpassing war-crime Cold War levels.
Underneath it all, the museum shows, there is nothing but villanous disinformation, no matter the virgin bride accouture of patriotism. See what betrayal and treachery has always undgirded patriotism at the National Cryptologic Museum.
A gawker: the thousands of 24x7 vehicles used by NSA employees are refueled at a Shell station hardby the cryptologic museum located outside the dinky fence around the pricelessly secret complex. Stop by, ask a SUV guzzler who does she work for, what goes on in that dazzling glass house, join the homeland TIPS database.
Cryptome saw a TEMPEST Glossary in the library, a formerly Secret doc in the 2-volume Tempest collection (mostly product manufacturers catalogs and requests for approval disclose their classified features). The glossary is lightly redacted and declassified. We requested a copy (there are no public copy machines, the libarian apologized), and the doc will be sent for putting here. We gave Cryptome's address for the NSA database as if breaking news.