The National Security Agency was formed under such secrecy that it evades even Congressional scrutiny. A former NSA and NASA scientist raises an alarm over this abuse of America�s founding principles. Along the way, he gives a technical briefing on how messages were encrypted and deciphered until the Internet age, demonstrates that the paranoiac secrecy over encryption is now obsolete, and explains why. All this is enlivened with entertaining behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the author�s life at home in West Virginia, in the Army, and in the intelligence services during the Cold War.
Come to think of it, we all know the CIA is the organization responsible for hands-on international subterfuge, assassinations, and regime change. But if covert activities are their brief, who is in charge of data collection? What is the real intelligence agency of the United States?
Brilliant inventions and breakthroughs in the science and the art of intelligence gathering and data encryption/ decryption are presented and explained, with illustrations from the US Civil War to World War II and beyond, including the early achievements of Miss Aggie Meyer Driscoll and other talented professionals.
The author shows when, and why, the NSA was formed, in full realization that it was in breach of the US Constitution; and then he shows why this obsession with secrecy is no longer valid but endangers personal liberties in the Internet age.
Phil Zimmermann�s PGP-1 and its source code were distributed freely on the Internet in 1991. This led to the development of session keys and other modern encryption devices that enable eCommerce and other essentials of 21st-century life; and the old systems of encryption were rendered obsolete. McAvoy shows that all the codebooks, clever teams of linguists and mathematicians, and computer banks in the world will never be able to crack today�s encrypted messages. (Let�s hope he�s right.)
Now the NSA�s most valuable role, says Nelson, has shifted from communications intelligence to HUMINT. They are well equipped for their new emphasis in human intelligence by having been out of the limelight since their inception.
This analysis is entwined with memoirs of an eccentric and engaging West Virginia boy who knows how to tell a good story. A near flunk-out who went from amateur radio operator to co-inventor of new communications technologies, he quickly became a valued contributor to US defense efforts as life whisked him from Monterey to MIT to Berlin.
To our knowledge, no NSA employee or former employee has written a book or so much as given an interview exploring the role of the National Security Agency, whose budget, twice that of the CIA and FBI combined, is hidden somewhere in the Department of Defense numbers and whose activities are not discussed, despite Constitutional provisions.
The author also emphasizes the lack of awareness of the limitations provided by the Fourth Amendment on the part of those responsible for abiding by its provisions, and lists some of the CIA�s most aggressive international interventions that belie Americans� cherished view of their peace-loving, law-abiding nation.