A document recently declassified by the National Security Agency is revealing details about how the government as early as the 1930s was beginning to pioneer the development and use of specially built computers for spying.
The document — “It Wasn’t All Magic: The Early Struggle to Automate Cryptanalysis, 1930s – 1960s” — by Dr. Colin Burke provides a history on code-breaking by the NSA and its precursor organizations (the NSA wasn’t formally established until 1952), showing its successes and failures in this field.
The document, which is dated from 2002, was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request made by Government Attic and posted on its website, which is currently down. The establishment of the independent website in April stated that it would serve to announce publication of thousands of government documents obtained legally through laws like FOIA.
Writing a book about the Navy’s cryptanalytic machine — the computer — in WWII, Burke wrote in the introduction of “It Wasn’t Magic,” that he was later approached by the NSA to “see if it was possible to write complete history of computers at the Agency.”
“The goal was a monograph that covered the entire life of the NSA and its predecessors. The thought of finally being able to see the many highly classified documents that had been withheld from me more than balanced the pledge I had to give: I had to promise to refrain from publishing without approval of NSA’s censors,” Burke continued.
We’ve pulled out a few interesting excerpts from the early years of the more than 300-page document:
Check out the full document for more, which has been reposted by Archive.org while Government Attic’s website remains down.
The NSA has been under fire this month after two classified programs detailing its surveillance of communications of citizens were leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden. The exact whereabouts of the 29-year-old whistleblower is currently unknown. He was thought to be in Russia, and Tuesday Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would not extradite him to the U.S.
(H/T: Fox News)