Bamford, James. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency: From
the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century. New York: Doubleday, 2001.
This book is a history of the National Security Agency (NSA). It's a strange book to read in that
it suggests a very revisionist view of important historical events. There are patent absurdities
revealed here as, for example, J. Edgar Hoover ordered his Federal Bureau of Investigation to
investigate the Quakers (the opposed the war in Vietnam) and the President of the U.S. at the
time was Richard M. Nixon, nominally at least a Quaker himself. One reads of spying operations
on the American people: there was Project Echelon wherein American citizen's electronic
communications were plucked from satellites used to transmit them and whereby NSA could
read every e-mail sent in this country. There was Project Shamrock; this project involved an
agreement where by the major U.S. telegraph companies, such as Western Union, secretly turned
over to NSA, every day, copies of all messages sent to or from the United States. Of course, such
projects were described, at the time and since, "in the national interest."
The most shocking story in this throughly shocking book concerns the USS Liberty and its
destruction by the Israelis in the June, 1967, Six Day War, between Egypt and Israel. (See
"Blood," pp. 183-239). Simply told, the Israelis started the war with Egypt and were enormously
successful in crossing the Sinai; they captured lots of Egyptian troops. Not having the resources
to deal with the captured troops, the Israelis systematically murdered them in cold blood. This
action was apparently authorized at the very highest levels of the military and government. But
then the commanders realized that their murders of the captured soldiers had been overheard by
the spy ship just off the coast (but in international waters), the Liberty. To make a long and very
dramatic story very short, the Israelis destroyed the Liberty and tried to sink her. There were 34
Americans killed and 171 wounded. Yet there was no publicity, no hearings in Congress, no
complaint from President Johnson (it was only a year until the next election and Johnson needed
the support of the pro-Israeli voters. The Israeli government finally did pay the murdered
crewmen's survivors some $100,000 each and those who were wounded got $20,000 and the US
was paid $6 million for the ship. But this story remains buried. It was here I first read about it.
This file is only partly focused on revisionist histories and mainly concerned with fraud in
science. There's some silly science here: when NSA evaluates a potential employee's security
risk, it relies on polygraph reports!
The major science involved in NSA is, of course, cryptography.