tv Book Discussion on Code Warriors CSPAN September 3, 2016 5:20pm-6:01pm EDT
they just do not have at the same level. partly because i have grown up tied to one another was social media. they do have an experience of reality that is in part much more community-oriented then some of this in the older generation. to that extent they are more focused on issues of justice that they are on issues of self opportunity. that gives me reason for hope. so i think that sense to the extent that science is a force for justice and to the extent that being pro- science and be in a nerd is cool especially in that young generation, i think we have a lot to look forward to. >> join me and giving a warm thank you. [laughter] [applause]. >> it please thank al frank as
well. >> [applause]. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> he just asked if i would sign it, actually i will just, here they have some for sale outside and hopefully they will have enough if not i think you can preorder it. i will certainly sit here and sign any copies that you have. thank you again for coming. i hope you enjoyed it. [inaudible] [inaudible]
[inaudible] [inaudible] >> you are watching book tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here's a look at what is on prime time tonight. we kick off even at 7:00 p.m. eastern with the former advisor to twitter and facebook product manager antonio martinez who looks at silicon valley. at 8:00 p.m. we look at the history of political, social and public culture of 1969 with clara bingham. at 915 p.m., del quinton wilbert 15:00 p.m., dell quintin wilbert reports on a maryland homicide squad. rosa brooks sits down for book tvs afterwards program at 10:00 p.m. eastern to discuss her book, how everything became war and the military became everything. we wrap up book to be in prime time with 11:00 p.m. with kate anderson at a look at the first lady since 1960. that.
that happens tonight on c-span2, book tv. >> let me check the microphone first. can you hear in the back or a? okay, great. i am barbara me, one of the founders of politics and prose. i. i just want to very much come in and introduce stephen. i enjoyed this book so much. i just thought it was such an impressive accomplishment that to write this book stephen had to delve deep into mathematics, linguistics, engineering, as
well as the technical history of code making and code breaking. from those early electric calculating machines that were instrumental that were used during the second world war. so much of this is local history for at least the second world war part of it is local history because at that time that an essay was here on nebraska avenue. that is where nbc is that it was not until 1957 that they moved out to fort be. so in that long history of technology that stephen had to master, he started with those machines that were manufactured by the national cash register company in toledo ohio.
and so he moved on to digital computing which is how code breaking is done today. i have to add that also he had to become knowledge about organizational behavior to understand the behavior of the people of mostly talented individuals within the organization of an essay who very often behaved in a very dysfunctional way. so, it was a wide sector of knowledge that he had to have. out of that, out of so much knowledge publishers weekly said about his book that he is allusive in describing the science and art of breaking complex ciphers. he leavens the history and technology with colorful profiles of cryptographers and
spies. the the response is a lively account at engrossing history. so, that is is a wonderful complement for a book that is so heavy in the subject matter that you need to wait through. but it is true a lively account. stephen has previously written 17 books ranging from such subject matters as biography, the composer, to military history and history into the intelligence, science, natural history, and that includes animals. including mines, horses, dogs, cats. i told him i just ordered his. i told him i just ordered his book called the character of cats. he is widely versed as you can see. all of this started back when
stephen received his bachelor of science degree from yell. he received a masters of science from harvard university. he has been the national security correspondent and for editor of the "u.s. news" and "world report". as well as editor of world war ii magazine. he he is also the washington editor of nature magazine and has written for the monthly, the the economist, the washington post, and the new york times. i told stephen right before we started that besides enjoying his book very much that one reason i wanted to introduce him was that when i was a senior in college, trance trance they were going and i interviewed with anna. yes. a. a.
a few weeks later i got a formal letter from them as a beginning cryptographer. i mulled that over for probably a month, maybe a little longer but then i turned them them down and accepted a job with national geographic instead. so if i had taken that job i may have been in stephen's book, but none of that came true. so so stephen will tell us about the history of an essay, -- of trance nsa. here is stephen to tell us about "code warriors". [inaudible] [applause].
>> in the wake of the revelations of edward snowden which focused unprecedented attention in nsa. this couldn't be a better time to spring on the book by masses, a series account of cold war. on the other hand, it probably wouldn't have been a worst time to try to research a serious account. back in 1999 when i wrote my book about cold breaking in world war ii. nsa was at the time unprecedented openness, releasing the historical documents and retired code breakers who had worked on the
japanese and german were thrilled on giving the green light for the first time to speak publicly of their wartime points and were even allowed to go into considerable technical detail about the historical story behind remarkable achievements, but in the post snowden war as officials note our present moment on earth, i found almost no one willing to say anything about anything they did at nsa or its predecessors even during the first years of the cold war some 70 years ago. to be sure relying on the reckulations and participating is always a risky business when it comes to history. i recently reviewed hastings' book.
he quotes the cautionary words of malcolm muggerage who worked before going on distinguished career as a man of letters and broadcaster. intelligence work necessarily involves such cheating, lying and betraying that it has effect on character. i never met anyone professionally engaged in it whom i could trust in any capacity. the temptation to exaggerate particularly goes with the territory as he rather more put it writers of thrillers tend to good afternoon at a time to the secret service as surely as the mentally unstable become psychiatrists and pornographers. my apologizes to psychiatrists and pornographers. [laughter]
>> i'm going to try to tell the story of the most recent period of nsa's history as much as i can just using the documentary evidence that had been official declassified and release, combined only with my general understanding of codes and code-breaking and computing to help piece together what is admittedly often a very fragmentary public record. there is a lot of out there now from the cold war, period, but as anyone who has worked in declassified materials knows it's a real prove to figure out any rime or season why something gets released and other replains classified. description of soviet cipher machines that were used in 1946, 70 years ago.
the devices had mechanical rotors that turned like the nizzies machine. if you owned a cell phone, you now have an encryption device that is is a more powerful and resistant to desieferring from the cold war. some have come in the collector's market. nsa treats secret and information. it's word emphasizing that the cold era war machines are ancient history.
i was talking to someone in nsa once, you know that's the same time that separates tend of the civil war and the start of world war ii during which time a few innovations such as electricity, the automobile, appear and -- airplane and the radio appeared. again, another example, for the longest time nsa stuck to a fast rule which might be okay how we beat germans and japanese in world war ii it was forbidden to ever breath a hint that the u.s. ever, ever listened in on the communications of the nation that it was not actually at war with and this included even france during world war ii, we couldn't admit we were monitoring communications and even japan before world war ii. i was very puzzled in the course
of my research in this book when i started red reading an nsa study on signals intelligence during the vietnam war that was released not too long ago and i saw that they had repeated cut out from the declassified version what were apparently references to dates when certain u.s. intelligence gathering operations began in southeast asia. and i was wondering what are these dates and why did they cut this out, well, a few years later in response to an appeal that was filed by someone, a less version released and low and behold it turned out that the nsa censors had gone out and submit out anything that might give secret that the united states was monitoring north vietnamese communications which was when the first u.s. sold yers set foot in region.
it's a sight to be hold. this, of course, resulted in the scary looking pages with the big blacked out things, sometimes the whole page would be completely black that you get but now thanks to the wonders of modern technology, they produce the nice tasteful whited out boxes with thin pencil rules around them, but the result either way is enough to drive a researcher to distraction. you know, you keep thinking, oh, i've got something great in my hands and i find every other word has been chopped out and it's like trying to cross a cross-word puzzle. for a while i kept redacted information i received. there's one i don't have it
anymore exactly, there was the one sentence that read something like blank was the most blank sourceses of blank during the period blank to blank. [laughter] >> okay. someone worked hard at this one. nonetheless, i had some triumphs . each of whom had different ideas about 65-year-old secret would imperil nation security were to be revealed. in 1950, nsa review cut out locations of u.s. intercept stations that had been picking up soviet radar signal but left in protect chris they were operating on. in another it cut out frequencies but left locations. there was one historical study from which the declass office had carefully cut out most of
the entries from a table showing the numbers of u.s. and british analysts working on russian codes from 1948 to 29 but they left uncensored and it ended up providing two equations and i was happy to put my junior high school algebra solving for the unknown quantities. all right, let me speak about what i was able to find out of this swiss cheese collection materials. following the great triumph of u.s. and british code-breaking in world war ii, it quickly became apparent that code-breaking and signals intelligence was going to be crucially in the cold war against the soviet union.
even the most basic facts about the soviet government's organizations, the country's economy and military were considered state secret under stalin's regime n. the early years of the cold war, the cia kept dropping and later learned virtually 100% of them were captured, shot or played back as double agents against the west. the only thing you're proving by parachuting agents into soviet control territory, one u.s. army official told the cia station in berlin, it's the law of gravity. [laughter] >> well, the soviets' development of atomic bomb in 1949 gave signals intelligence an even greater urgency. as signals were almost the only
plausible source that could detect military preparations within the soviet union and the biggest challenge in november 1948 the soviets abrupted change in all of military systems and it was unprecedented development that washington and london briefed that the soviets were about to talk a military attack on the west. new soviet codes proved far more challenging and, indeed, most of the high-level soviet codes would remain unbroken probably in 1979 when super computers and advanced mathematical researched what one nsa paper referred to height of
american in the cold war around the time of soviet invasion of afghanistan. nsa brought in outside panels of leading mathematical and experts to review the state of the russian possible and possible solutions and evaluations are almost nothing of a tale and pes missism. no national strategy should be based on the hope that we will be able to read -- the rest of the sentence was redacted but it was pretty obvious it was referring to high-level encrypted traffic. at one point in the 1950's, nsa had five purpose computers
trying to find any flaw that could be exploited and the project ended in failure. one thing they questionably did is provide huge stimulus to the u.s. computer industry. the first magnetic drum memory, the first magnetic core memory, first high-speed tape drives, first computer workstation, the first desk top computer, the first high-speed mod eems and super computers were all built to meet nsa contracts and requirements and only later made their way to the commercial market. now one other consequence of this difficulty in breaking soviet codes was reinforcement of institutional belief that quantities of data could make up for a multitude of failings elsewhere and this was certainly
seen in action in recent controversies over telephone and internet data collection efforts. now, this belief in trying to get everything goes back even to the prensa days. it was really striking to come across memos written in 1943 in mist of world war ii. they would argue that their job literally was to get everything, to come as close as humanly possible as one official put it to collecting every signal transmitted by all those associated with us and against us. well, this frequently led to nsa simply being overwhelmed with more intercepts than it could receive and even physically store and much less analyze. even as early as 1955nsa was receiving prirp prints from intercept stations around the world among with 30 million
words a month that was sent to teletype. nsa was rekennedding traffic going into and out of washington. yet on occasions quantity could indeed make up for quality. in the aftermath of these 1948 soviet changes that i mention that shut off the u.s. ability to break high-level soviet codes, a huge effort was put in by nsa to go through plain language, unencoded cables sent on the soviet radio networks. this was a real needle in the hay stack effort. by the early 50's nsa was processing 1.3 million messages in a month. most of them just dealt with
mundane things. links of bank accounts, nsa's analysts working on plain-language cables were able to establish locations of arms factory in the soviet union, basic statistics on soviet steel and for years this source provided the only reliable information on the soviet atomic weapon's program and reliable set of warning indicators that could signal soviet mobilizations for a full-scale war. these techniques would allow nsa to offer accurate intelligence
about china's eminent intervention in the korean war, the soviet invasion of hungary in 1956 and the crucial information during the cuban missile crisis that soviet had received to stop heading towards cuba and not challenge president kennedy's naval block aid. even for long hope of breakthrough by the mid-1960's something like 80% of u.s. intelligence of soviet union was coming from nsa and signals. during the cold war a fundamental change was occurring in the nature of electronics spying in another way. it was increasingly the case that encrypt analysis in general practiced in the golden era in world war ii was being superceded by what old-timey code records used to call second story eencrypt analysis.
it was quite clear from the documentary evidence and that it was such a growth industry for the u.s. that the cia and nsa both try today claim the jobs for themselves resulting in turf battle and resolved when bobby became director of nsa in 1980 and came to known as the peace treaty between the two agencies. he told me about this episode and he said, he went onto explain that even after the peace treaty had been negotiated, there were still some problems to be worked out but for a brief period during spring of 1981 inman was serving nsa director and cia director.
he just sent memos back and forth to himself approving his solutions. [laughter] >> never had the two agencies worked so well together, he told me. [laughter] >> well, one of the most important consequences of the late cold war successes both the soviets and the u.s. had in bugging each other's communications was that it actually produced a kind of ironic transparency. it offered both sides regular reassurance that the other side was not about to launch a full-scare -- full-scale war. actually worked to limit the natural predisposition of the kgb toward interpretations of u.s. policy which is an interesting moral to the whole story. back at the very end in world war ii one of the leading code breakers wrote a long and very
interesting analysis i found in the british archives of setting out what's going to be the future of communications intelligence in the post war world. he began by putting the countertu -- would contribute more to a permanent piece than any other measure. that was probably a council of perception. the u.s. and the soviet union, i think, found the germ of truth in the idealistic vision, well, ironic note as i pose always a good place to end on and i thank you all very much for coming and i would be delighted to try to answer your questions. >> thank you. [applause] >> okay, we have one mic here. if people with questions please go to the mic.
>> i had a autolook through your book and you went into detail about ronnie, can i ask why? >> my focus was on the soviet union, that was why. the u.s. versus the soviets. >> but they. >> all -- okay. i see. >> yeah. >> all right. >> pollard was fine -- a spy for israel. [laughter] >> okay. [inaudible conversations] >> the question was about what
was considered secret under stalin's regime. i can't member my exact words but even the most basic statistics about economic production, the organization of the government, the names and locations of ministries, the names of officials, all of this was literally a state secret and this effort by nsa by reading plain language unencoded telegram which were able to intercept provided an enormous amount of this kind of very basic information about what was happening. the location of arms industries, location of military facilities, and the whole soviet atomic program. most of what we knew at that time came from signals intelligence, which meant the unencoded telegrams and it was a matter of piecing together tinny things. >> during -- >> go ahead.
>> during the negotiations for the salt and start treaties, one of the big things that was able to be a breakthrough was the use of national technical means which is generally considered to be geospakial, in your research did you come across anything that would be comparable to that that was used as far as signal intelligence as oppose today overhead imagery? >> a couple of points there. there was a huge effort to collect -- to collect telemetry data and there was a guy at the last nsa history conference a couple of years ago who had worked on this and described -- he said the soviets tried to hide the signals by putting them very close to television channels and described in the challenge of this, so i mean,
this was clearly a major part of nsa's efforts at the time and eventually we had geostation satellites that were collecting signals that parked and there was one reference to the fact that we were able to learn -- and i can't remember, i think it's in the book somewhere, kissinger was able to obtain some important information on the soviet's treaties which were quite significant in the final negotiations. >> thank you. >> most of your book was, i guess, about russia. do you have any feelings about certain events like to south african atomic bomb, explosion or indian, the pakistan. >> i didn't go into that. [laughter]
>> did anyone ever admit to that? is that still classified. we don't listen to our friends. >> no, i'm sorry. i wish i knew something about that, but that was not in the spirit of what i was researching, yeah. >> i have a question -- can you use the mic. thank you. >> my question is how does the nsa feel about the big internet providers? did they use their information as well? [laughter] >> oh, man. in 1989 almost deliberately so i wouldn't have to engage in the controversy that are complex. technichally they raised questions. i know there's many people more qualified than i am to discuss
the current controversies over nsa east and the internet traffic. >> okay, well, thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> if people would hold up and fold the chairs. thank you for coming and thank you. >> this week's trip to denver, colorado continues with a tour of denver press club and we learned about the history of the newspapers in the region. >> when i was a kid my father worked at the denver post and we use today come here maybe once a month. that was a night on the town with the wynn family.
you couldn't hear anybody from the side of cocktail glasses, you can imagine that scenario. that's where journalists from competing papers or the occasional personnel would be here exchanging ideas. it was a place to get things off the record, perhaps and to establish relationships that would lead to stories down the road. the difference has been the only tentant of the building. the purpose was a gathering place for politicians. the original footprint included room for four billiards table, drinking, chatting what they're going to write about, locally was the point of being a member
of the press club. one of my favorites is that during the eisenhower administration in the 50's as most people know he married mary don and so she wanted a summer white house in colorado which turned out to be lowery air force base. a manager at the time jimmy phillies without much on-- ontorage, they had nice lunch, what small number of people that president eisenhower brought, they would wait for many . he would leave probably to go play gulf because he did that in colorado probably in summer. i was told that was a place for people who.
>> going to be interviewed but didn't want to be seen that was originally the purpose of that, you will step in here mr. dig mr. dignatary . this is for reporting for the massacre that took place on april of 19899. the local press did such a good job that they. >> within horred with the reporting. across the room is another pulitzer. this one is for photography. that image right there has quite a bit to say without need to go write any words that go with it. another pulitzer was awarded to craig walker. he did an entire series of returning iraqi war veteran who
had a difficult time. very powerful. my favorite is over here. it's also a pulitzer for photography, but these are commercial airline passengers looking out over the drape remains of iraqi war veterans, very powerful, indeed. the stories told by the pulitzers, people who have never seen a pulitzer and probably never going to go some place else or might see one. it makes the press club special. from my perspective when things started to change it was when leadership for both local started to dwindle and the digital age had some impact on people picking up a paper and