Washington, D.C., March 11, 2005 - The
largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration
in its "Transition 2001" report
that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and
authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance
with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable
searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable
cause," according to an updated briefing book of declassified
NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web.
Wiretapping the Internet inevitably picks up mail and messages
by Americans that would be "protected" under legal interpretations
of the NSA's mandate in effect since the 1970s, according to the
documents that were obtained
through the Freedom of Information Act by Dr. Jeffrey Richelson,
senior fellow of the National Security Archive at George Washington
The NSA told the Bush transition team that the "analog world
of point-to-point communications carried along discrete, dedicated
voice channels" is being replaced by communications that
are "mostly digital, carry billions of bits of data, and
contain voice, data and multimedia," and therefore, "senior
leadership must understand that today's and tomorrow's mission
will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications
network that will host the 'protected' communications of Americans
as well as targeted communications of adversaries."
The documents posted today also include a striking contrast between
the largely intact 1998 NSA organizational
chart for the Directorate of Operations and the heavily
redacted 2001 chart for the Signals
Intelligence Directorate (as the operations directorate
was renamed), which contains no information beyond the name of
its director. "The 2001 organization charts are more informative
for what they reveal about the change in NSA's classification
policy than for what they reveal about the actual structure of
NSA's two key directorates," commented Dr. Richelson. The
operations directorate organization chart was provided within
three weeks of its being requested in late 1998. In contrast,
the request for the Signals Intelligence Directorate organization
chart was made on April 21, 2001, and NSA did not provide its
substantive response until April 21, 2004 - three years instead
of three weeks.
The National Security Agency (NSA) is one of the
most secret (and secretive) members of the U.S. intelligence community.
The predecessor of NSA, the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA),
was established within the Department of Defense, under the command
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on May 20, 1949. In theory, the
AFSA was to direct the communications intelligence and electronic
intelligence activities of the military service signals intelligence
units (at the time consisting of the Army Security Agency, Naval
Security Group, and Air Force Security Service). In practice,
the AFSA had little power, its functions being defined in terms
of activities not performed by the service units. (Note
The creation of NSA resulted from a December 10, 1951, memo sent
by Walter Bedell Smith to James B. Lay, Executive Secretary of
the National Security Council. The memo observed that "control
over, and coordination of, the collection and processing of Communications
Intelligence had proved ineffective" and recommended a survey
of communications intelligence activities. The proposal was approved
on December 13, 1951, and the study authorized on December 28,
1951. The report was completed by June 13, 1952. Generally known
as the "Brownell Committee Report," after committee chairman Herbert
Brownell, it surveyed the history of U.S. communications intelligence
activities and suggested the need for a much greater degree of
coordination and direction at the national level. As the change
in the security agency's name indicated, the role of the NSA was
to extend beyond the armed forces. (Note 2)
In the last several decades some of the secrecy surrounding NSA
has been stripped away by Congressional hearings and investigative
research. In the late 1990s NSA had been the subject of criticism
for failing to adjust to the post-Cold War technological environment
as well as for operating a "global surveillance network" alleged
to intrude on the privacy of individuals across the world. The
following documents provide insight into the creation, evolution,
management and operations of NSA, including the controversial
ECHELON program. Also included are newly released documents
(11a - 11g) that focus on the restrictions
NSA places on reporting the identities of U.S. persons – including
former president Jimmy Carter and first lady Hillary Clinton,
and NSA Director Michael Hayden's unusual public statement (Document
24) before the House Intelligence Committee.
Some of the documents that appear for the first time in this
update shed additional light on the history of NSA. They concern
the NSA's participation in the space reconnaissance program (Document
3), NSA's success in deciphering Soviet communications in
the 1960s (Document 4), the efficacy of NSA
activities in the late mid-to-late 1960s (Document
5), and Israel's attack on the USS Liberty during the 1967
war (Document 10). Others provide new insight
on NSA's assessment of key issues in the new century (Document
21, Document 23), on NSA's attempts to
adapt to the changing world and communications environment, (Document
22), on the agency's regression to old policies with regard
to organizational secrecy (Document 26a,
Document 26b), and on NSA activities before
and after the events of 9/11 (Document 25).
Several of these documents also appear in either of two National
Security Archive collections on U.S. intelligence. The
U.S. Intelligence Community: Organization, Operations and Management:
1947-1989 (1990) and U.S.
Espionage and Intelligence: Organization, Operations, and Management,
1947-1996 (1997) publish together for the first time recently
declassified documents pertaining to the organizational structure,
operations and management of the U.S. Intelligence Community over
the last fifty years, cross-indexed for maximum accessibility.
Together, these two sets reproduce on microfiche over 2,000 organizational
histories, memoranda, manuals, regulations, directives, reports,
and studies, totalling more than 50,000 pages of documents from
the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, the Central
Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National
Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, military service
intelligence organizations, National Security Council, and other
official government agencies and organizations.
Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe
Acrobat Reader to view.
1: NSCID 9, "Communications Intelligence," March 10, 1950
National Security Council Intelligence Directives have provided
the highest-level policy guidance for intelligence activities
since they were first issued in 1947.
This document establishes and defines the responsibilities of
the United States Communications Intelligence Board. The Board,
according to the directive, is to provide "authoritative coordination
of [the] Communications Intelligence activities of the Government
and to advise the Director of Central Intelligence in those matters
in the field of Communications Intelligence for which he is responsible."
The particularly sensitive nature of communications intelligence
(COMINT) activities was highlighted by paragraph 6, which noted
that such activities should be treated "in all respects as being
outside the framework of other or general intelligence activities."
Thus, regulations or directives pertaining to other intelligence
activities were not applicable to COMINT activities.
2a: Memorandum from President Harry S. Truman to the Secretary
of State, the Secretary of Defense, Subject: Communications Intelligence
Activities, October 24, 1952
2b: National Security Council Intelligence Directive No.
9, Communications Intelligence, December 29, 1952
President Truman's memorandum revokes the provisions of NSCID
9 with regard to the composition, responsibilities, and procedures
of the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board. It establishes
the USCIB as an entity "acting for and under" a newly created
Special Committee of the National Security Council for COMINT,
consisting of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
More significantly, Truman's memo, along with a Department of
Defense directive, established NSA, and transformed communications
intelligence from a military activity divided among the three
services to a unified national activity. (Note 3)
Thus, the first sentence states that "The communications intelligence
(COMINT) activities of the United States are a national responsibility."
The memorandum instructs the Special Committee to issue a directive
to the Secretary of Defense which defines the COMINT mission of
NSA as being to "provide an effective, unified organization and
control of the communications intelligence activities of the United
States conducted against foreign governments." Thus, "all COMINT
collection and production resources of the United States are placed
under his operational and technical control."
The directive provided the NSA director with no authority regarding
the collection of electronic intelligence (ELINT)—such as intelligence
obtained from the interception of the emanations of radarsor of
missile telemetry. Responsibility for ELINT remained with the
NSCID 9 of December 1952 replaces its 1950 predecessor as mandated
by Truman's directive. Often using identical language to that
in the Truman directive, it revises the responsibilities of the
United States Communications Intelligence Board as well as defining
the role of the newly created National Security Agency and enumerating
the responsibilities of its director.
Document 3: Memorandum
of Agreement Concerning NSA Participation in the (S) National
Reconnaissance Office, August 1, 1962. Top Secret
The National Reconnaissance Office was established in September
1961 to provide a central coordinating authority for the nation's
overhead reconnaissance activities, which included efforts by
the Central Intelligence Agency, Air Force, and Navy. An early
issue was the division of responsibilities for the development
and operation of satellite systems. At a conference in May 1962,
it was agreed by CIA and NRO officials that the National Security
Agency, despite its responsibility for signals intelligence activities,
would not be allowed to develop SIGINT satellites as part of the
national reconnaissance program. Herbert Scoville, the CIA's deputy
director for research, argued that the Secretary of Defense was
the government's executive agent for SIGINT activities and since
he had chosen to assign the mission to the NRO, the NSA was excluded
from undertaking such development activities. (Note
The Secretary's decision did not mean, however, that NSA, was
to play no role in the development and operation of signals intelligence
satellites. This represents the first agreement specifying how
NSA would be permitted to participate in the National Reconnaissance
4: Richard Bissell, Review of Selected NSA Cryptanalytic Efforts,
February 18, 1965 Top Secret Codeword
Richard Bissell joined the CIA in 1954, serving first as the
special assistant to CIA Director Allen Dulles, and then as the
agency's Deputy Director (Plans). He left the agency in February
1962, as a result of the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion of
April 1961. Before and during his tenure as the CIA's operations
chief Bissell directed the development and operation of several
key technical collection systems - including the U-2 and OXCART
aircraft, and the CORONA reconnaissance satellite.
In his memoirs he reported that, in October 1964, "I accepted
a brief assignment from John McCone at the CIA, which involved
looking into very highly classified business of another agency
of the government. My job was to write a report on what I had
learned from visits and interviews with authorities on the problem."
(Note 5) Bissell provided no further information.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA
provided a copy of this document - which is Bissell's report of
his investigation of the National Security Agency's efforts to
crack certain high-grade cipher systems. Although the identity
of the nation whose ciphers were being attacked is deleted throughout
the report, the target country is clearly the Soviet Union. The
report discusses the prospects of breaking into high-level Soviet
codes and concludes with three principal recommendations - which
concern the extent of the overall cryptologic effort, the desirability
of reallocating some cryptologic resources, and the possibility
of a systematic comparison of the intelligence produced via the
successful exploitation of two different components of the cryptanalytic
5: Letter, Frederick M. Eaton to Richard M. Helms, Director of
Central Intelligence, August 16, 1968, Top Secret Codeword w/TS
This letter, along with the attachment, represents the report
of the four-member group, which included Eaton, a New York lawyer
and banker, General Lauris Norstad, the Defense Department's Eugene
Fubini, and ambassador Livingston T. Merchant, that was commissioned
by DCI Richard Helms in September 1967 to examine the national
signals intelligence effort.
The topics examined by the group included program guidance, the
DCI and the National Intelligence Resources Board, central review
and coordination, management of the cryptologic community, NSA
staff organization, COMINT, Telemetry, and ELINT resources, and
the communications and dissemination of the information. The letter
from Eaton to Helms conveys the group's nineteen recommendations
and the conclusion that
"there must be no slackening in the US cryptologic effort
if essential military and other national needs are to be met."
According to James Bamford's The Puzzle Palace, Eaton
was forced to write the conclusions himself when "many of
the staff turned in their pens" because Eaton "recommended
no reductions and concluded that all of NSA's programs were worthwhile,"
despite "accumulated substantial evidence that much of the
NSA's intelligence collection was of little or marginal uses to
the various intelligence consumers in the community." (Note
6: Memo to President Johnson, September 6, 1968
This memo, from national security adviser Walt Rostow to President
Johnson, provides information concerning North Vietnamese/Viet
Cong military and political strategy during the last months of
Johnson's presidency. The last item in the memo notes that its
conclusions were partly a function of the author's access to relevant
The memo specifically notes unusual, high-priority message traffic
between Hanoi and subordinate units directing forces in South
Vietnam as well as urgent messages from the Military Affairs Committee
of COSVN (Central Office for South Vietnam) to subordinates. It
does not reveal how extensively the U.S. was able to decrypt the
7: Department of Defense Directive S-5100.20, "The National
Security Agency and the Central Security Service," December 23,
Originally classified Secret, this directive remains in effect
today, with minor changes. Key portions of the directive specify
the NSA's role in managing the signals intelligence effort for
the entire U.S. government, the role of the Secretary of Defense
in appointing and supervising the work of the NSA's director,
the authorities assigned to the director of NSA, and the relationships
that NSA is expected to maintain with other components of the
Among the specific responsibilities assigned to the director
are preparation of a consolidated SIGINT program and budget for
Defense Department SIGINT activities, the "exercise of SIGINT
operational control over SIGINT activities of the United States,"
and the production and dissemination of SIGINT "in accordance
with the objectives, requirements, and priorities established
by the Director of Central Intelligence."
The directive reflects the 1958 addition of electronic intelligence
to NSA's responsibilities, making it the national authority for
both components of signals intelligence.
8a: NSCID 6, "Signals Intelligence," February 17, 1972
8b: Department of Justice, "Report of the Inquiry into CIA-Related
Electronic Surveillance Activities," 1976, pp. 77-9
NSCID 6 is the most recently available NSCID concerning SIGINT.
It was still in effect at least as late as 1987. An earlier version
of the directive was issued in 1958, when NSA was first assigned
responsibility for electronics intelligence.
The version released by the NSC in 1976 contains little more
than the definitions for COMINT and ELINT. However, a Justice
Department report obtained by author James Bamford while researching
his book, The Puzzle Palace, quoted additional portions
of the directive.
The directive specifies that the Director of NSA is to produce
SIGINT in response to the objectives, requirements and priorities
of the Director of Central Intelligence. It also empowers the
director to issue direct instructions to any organizations engaged
in SIGINT operations, with the exception of certain CIA and FBI
activities, and states that the instructions are mandatory.
9a: NSA COMINT Report, "Capital Projects Planned in India,"
August 31, 1972
9b: NSA, "India’s Heavy Water Shortages," October 1982
These two documents provide examples of NSA reporting, as well
as demonstrating that NSA’s collection targets have included Indian
atomic energy programs. Portions of each document that discuss
or reveal the contents of the intercepts have been redacted. However,
the classification of the documents indicates that high-level
communications intelligence was used in preparing the report.
UMBRA is the highest-level compartment of the three compartments
of Special Intelligence—the euphemism for COMINT. The lower level
compartments are MORAY and SPOKE.
The classification (either TSU [TOP SECRET UMBRA] or MORAY) of
the 25 reports which Document 6b was derived from indicate that
the report relied extensively on COMINT. The report also demonstrates
how NSA, often to the annoyance of the CIA, has gone far beyond
its formal collection and processing responsibilities and into
the analysis of the data it has collected. (Note
10: William D. Gerhard and Henry W. Millington, National Security
Agency, Attack on a SIGINT Collector, the USS Liberty,
1981. Top Secret Umbra
One of the most controversial events in the history of U.S.-Israeli
relations was the attack by Israeli aircraft, during the midst
of the Six-Day War of June 1967, on the USS Liberty,
a ship assigned to gather signals intelligence on behalf of the
National Security Agency. The attack left thirty-four Americans
dead and 171 wounded.
In additional to internal studies conducted by both countries
there have been numerous books, portions of books, and articles
that have sought to review the events and assess blame. The most
controversial issue has been whether Israel knowingly attacked
a ship it knew to belong to the U.S., which was cruising in international
waters off the Sinai Peninsula, to prevent it from monitoring
Israeli actions in the midst of the war. Authors have reached
diametrically opposite conclusions on this issue. (Note
This extensive report, written by a former head of the NSA element
that produced studies of SIGINT crisis situations and the former
head of the NSA library, examines the political-military background,
consideration's leading to the ship's deployment, deployment to
the Mediterranean, the attack, Israel's explanation, recovery
and initial assessment, reviews of the incident, and "a final
look." In their conclusion, the authors deal with the issues
of possible Israeli foreknowledge of the ship's nationality and
possible Israeli motivations for an attack. They report that a
CIA assessment prepared within week of the attack, drawing heavily
on communications intercepts, concluded (p. 64) that Israeli forces
had not deliberately attacked a ship they knew to be American.
11a: United States Signals Intelligence Directive [USSID]
18, "Legal Compliance and Minimization Procedures," July 27, 1993
While NSCIDs and DoD Directives offer general guidance on the
activities of NSA and the United States SIGINT System (USSS),
far more detailed guidance is provided by the director of NSA
in the form of United States Signals Intelligence Directives (USSIDs).
The directives fall into at least nine different categories: policy,
collection, processing, analysis and reporting, standards, administration,
training, data processing, and tasking.
In the aftermath of revelations in the 1970s about NSA interception
of the communications of anti-war and other political activists
new procedures were established governing the interception of
communications involving Americans. (Note 9)
The version of USSID 18 currently in force was issued in July
1993 and "prescribes policies and procedures and assigns responsibilities
to ensure that the missions and functions of the United States
SIGINT System (USSS) are conducted in a manner that safeguards
the constitutional rights of U.S. persons." Section 4 ("Collection,"
pp.2-6) specifies the circumstances under which U.S. SIGINT activities
may intercept communications of or about U.S. persons, as well
as the authorities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,
the Attorney General, and the Director of NSA to approve the collection
of such information.
Section 5 ("Processing," pp.6-7) focuses on the restrictions
on processing intercepted communications involving U.S. persons--including
domestic communications collected during foreign communications
collection operations. Section 6 ("Retention," p.8) deals with
the retention of intercepted communications about U.S. persons.
Section 7 ("Dissemination," pp.8-10) concerns restrictions on
dissemination. It requires that all SIGINT reports be written
"so as to focus solely on the activities of foreign entities and
persons and their agents." It also specifies some of the conditions
under which U.S. persons can be identified in SIGINT reports--for
example, when the communications indicate the person is an agent
of a foreign power.
11b: NSA, "USSID 18: Dissemination of U.S. Government Organizations
and Officials (U)--INFORMATION MEMORANDUM," February 5, 1993
This NSA memo indicates that the conditions for identification
of U.S. officials by title in NSA reporting varies depending on
whether or not the individual is a member of the executive branch.
Senior officials of the executive branch may be identified by
title, without prior approval from higher authority, when the
official's title is necessary to understand or assess foreign
intelligence. In contrast, officials from the legislative and
judicial branches cannot be identified by title, even if that
information is necessary to understand foreign intelligence, unless
approval is obtained from higher authority. The memo implies that,
under the assumed conditions, the use of names is not permitted.
11c: NSA, "USSID 18: Reporting Guidance on References to
the First Lady," July 8, 1993
This memo followed a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that
Hillary Clinton was a full-time government official. It notes
that she could be identified in reports by title (Chairperson
of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform)
without prior approval when that title was necessary to understand
or assess foreign intelligence and when the information related
to her official duties. The memo also contains guidance on reports
containing information about information concerning Mrs. Clinton
that is not clearly foreign intelligence.
11d: National Security Agency/Central Security Service,
"U.S. Identities in SIGINT," March 1994
This 48-page document is intended to provide detailed guidance
concerning on the use of U.S. identities in SIGINT reports as
well as the dissemination of U.S. identities to consumers outside
the United States SIGINT System. It consists of 12 sections (including
ones on requests for U.S. identities, accountability, dissemination,
and collection and processing), and five appendices (including
those on approved generic references and USSID 18 criteria for
No. 11e: NSA, USSID 18: Reporting Guidance on Former President
Carter's Involvement in the Bosnian Peace Process (U)-- Information
Guidance, December 15, 1994
The issue of when the identity or even title of a U.S. citizen
can be included in reporting based on communications intercepts
is a major focus of USSID 18. This NSA memo was prepared in response
to the invitation to former President Carter to travel to Bosnia
and Herzegovina to participate in efforts to end the war. It specifies
that as long as Carter is acting as a private citizen he may be
referred to only as a "U.S. person" in any reports.
11f: NSA, "Understanding USSID 18 and Contextual Identifications,"
September 30, 1997
The issue of identification by context is the subject of this
memo. It notes that, in describing U.S. entities, analysts are
required, in general, to substitute sufficiently generic terms
for the entities--terms that do not "directly lead to the identification
of a U.S. entity even though the identity has been obscured in
the report." Violation of the "contextual identification rule"
requires that the report "must be cancelled, reworded and reissued
to eliminate the identifying information." The guidance clearly
does not apply to those cases where inclusion of more specific
information is necessary to evaluate foreign intelligence.
11g: NSA, "USSID 18 Guide," February 1998
The introduction to this document notes that it is an informal
guide to the provisions of USSID 18 with respect to the issue
of the COMINT collection and and dissemination of U.S. identities.
One section focues on USSID 18 issues with respect to threat situations,
including when an individual is held captive by a foreign power
or group or when an intercept reveals a threat to a U.S. person.
The section on non-threat situations contains guidance on the
disposition of the inadvertent intercept of communciations between
U.S. persons, on processing and reporting of incidentally intercepted
communications of a U.S. person during foreign intelligence collection,
and the handling of U.S. identities in reports.
12: Director of Central Intelligence Directive (DCID) 6/1,
"SIGINT Committee," May 12, 1982
The SIGINT Committee, now known as the National SIGINT Committee,
was first established in 1958 to oversee key aspects of U.S. SIGINT
activities—the identification of collection requirements, evaluation
of how well U.S. and allied SIGINT activities satisfy requirements,
and the production of recommendations concerning SIGINT arrangements
with foreign governments. This directive is the most recent available
version of DCID 6/1. While the directive remains formally classified,
the full text of the document has been published previously in
scholarly works and on the world wide web. (Note
The SIGINT Committee operated for many years with two permanent
subcommittees—the SIGINT Requirements Validation and Evaluation
Subcommittee (SIRVES) and the SIGINT Overhead Reconnaissance Subcommittee
(SORS). In the mid-1990s two new groups were established: The
Weapons and Space Systems Advisory Group, to "coordinate SIGINT
on foreign weapons and space systems," and the National Emitter
Intelligence Subcommittee, which focuses on SIGINT production
concerning foreign radars and other non-communications signals.
13: NAVSECGRU Instruction C5450.48A, Subj: Mission, Functions
and Tasks of Naval Security Group Activity (NAVSECGRUACT) Sugar
Grove, West Virginia, September 3, 1991
While NSA directs and manages U.S. SIGINT activities, almost
all collection activity is actually carried out by the military
service SIGINT units—including the Naval Security Group Command.
The role of the unit at Sugar Grove in intercepting the international
leased carrier (ILC) communications passing through INTELSAT satellites
was first revealed in James Bamford's The Puzzle Palace.
The regulation reveals that Sugar Grove is associated with what
has become a highly controversial program in Europe, North America,
Australia, and New Zealand. The program, codenamed ECHELON, has
been described as a global surveillance network that intercepts
and processes the world's communications and distributes it among
the primary partners in the decades-old UKUSA alliance—the United
States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
In reality, ECHELON is a more limited program, allowing the UKUSA
allies to specify intelligence requirements and automatically
receive relevant intercepts obtained by the UKUSA facilities which
intercept satellite communications (but not the U.S. facilities
that receive data from SIGINT satellites). It is also limited
by both technological barriers (the inability to develop word-spotting
software so as to allow for the automatic processing of intercepted
conversations) and the limitations imposed on collection activities
by the UKUSA allies—at least as regards the citizens of those
countries. (Note 14) Thus, the NAVSECGRU instruction
also specifies that one of the responsibilities of the commander
of the Sugar Grove site is to "ensure the privacy of U.S. citizens
are properly safeguarded pursuant to the provisions of USSID 18."
14: Farewell from Vice Admiral William O. Studeman to NSA
Employees, April 8, 1992
This address by the departing director of NSA, William Studeman,
examines NSA's post-Cold War mission, likely budgetary limitations,
and other challenges facing the agency. Reflecting the increasing
emphasis on "support to military operations," Studeman notes that
"the military account is basic to NSA as a defense agency, and
the lack of utter faithfulness to this fact will court decline."
He also observes that "the demands for increased global access
are growing" and that "these business areas (SMO and global access)
will be the two, hopefully strong legs on which NSA must stand."
He also argues that "technical and operational innovation to deal
with a changing and changed world must continue to dominate."
15: Letter, Stewart A. Baker, General Counsel, NSA to Gerald
E. McDowell, Esq., September 9, 1992
In the wake of disclosures about the role of the Banca Nazionale
del Lavoro (BNL), particularly its Atlanta branch, in the provision
of financial assistance to the regime of Saddam Hussein, questions
were raised about whether the intelligence community was providing
sufficient support to law enforcement.
This letter, from NSA's general counsel, answers a series of
questions from the Justice Department pertaining to NSA's knowledge
of, or involvement in, BNL activities. The responses appear to
indicate that NSA had not derived any intelligence concerning
BNL activities from its intercept operations. The letter also
stresses NSA's sensitivity to the issue of the privacy of American
citizens (noting that "NSA improperly targeted the communications
of a number of Americans opposed to the Vietnam War") and the
restrictions on reporting information concerning U.S. citizens
16: "Activation of Echelon Units," from History of
the Air Intelligence Agency, 1 January - 31 December 1994, Volume
I (San Antonio, TX: AIA, 1995)
The first extract from the Air Intelligence Agency's 1994 annual
history provides additional information on the ECHELON network.
ECHELON units include components of the AIA's 544th Intelligence
Group. Detachment 2 and 3 are located at Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico
and Sugar Grove, West Virginia respectively. The second reference
to Detachment 3 is apparently a typo that should read Detachment
4 (located at Yakima, Washington). The deleted words appear to
be "civilian communications," "NAVSECGRU" and "NSA."
The second extract notes that AIA’s participation in a classified
activity "had been limited to LADYLOVE operations at Misawa AB
[Air Base], Japan." The Misawa LADYLOVE activity was initiated
during the Cold War to intercept Soviet military communications
transmitted via satellite—along with similar operations at Menwith
Hill, UK; Bad Aibling, Germany; and Rosman, North Carolina. This
extract suggests that both Guam and Misawa have, at the least,
been considered as possible sites for ECHELON operations.
17: NSA Point Paper, "SIGINT Reporting on Murders of Michael
DeVine in 1990 and the Disappearance of Efraín Bamaca in
1992 in Guatemala," March 24, 1995
On March 23, 1995, Rep. Robert Torricelli, a member of the House
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, charged that the CIA
had been withholding from Congress information it had obtained
regarding the deaths of Michael DeVine, an American innkeeper
living in Guatemala, and Efraín Bámaca Velásquez,
a Guatemalan guerrilla leader and husband of an American lawyer.
Both murders, according to Torricelli, were linked to a Guatemalan
army colonel, Julio Roberto Alpírez, a paid intelligence
asset of the CIA. (Note 15)
The revelations set off a firestorm of criticism and caused the
Clinton administration to order a government-wide investigation
over these and other cases of torture and murder attributed to
Guatemalan security forces. While the CIA was the main target
of such criticism, Torricelli had also reportedly received an
anonymous fax from someone inside the NSA alleging that documents
pertaining to the Bámaca and DeVine cases were being destroyed.
This Top Secret NSA position paper responds to these allegations.
NSA claims that SIGINT reporting related to these cases is limited
to "Guatemalan government reaction to U.S. and international human
rights concerns," and does not include specific information regarding
the circumstances of death or the involvement of Colonel Alpírez.
The document is one of only a handful of declassified records
in which the NSA even acknowledges specific SIGINT activities
18: Memorandum, Daniel C. Kurtzer, Acting Assitant Secretary,
Bureau of Intelligence and Research to Vice Admiral J.M. McConnell,
Director, National Security Agency, Subject: Proposed Declassification
of the "Fact of" Overhead SIGINT Collection, September 6, 1995
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that the U.S. employed
reconnaissance satellites to collect imagery of foreign targets.
Early in 1995, President Clinton declassified details concerning
early satellite imagery programs such as CORONA. However, even
the existence of SIGINT satellites remained classified until late
1995 when Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch authorized
the official acknowledgement of space-based SIGINT operations.
The process involved soliciting the opinions of U.S. government
departments whose interests might be affected by disclosure. The
State Department's memo expressed concern about the impact in
certain countries. Despite the deletions, it is clear that the
department was anxious about the impact in the foreign countries
where the U.S. operates ground stations for SIGINT satellites—the
United Kingdom (at Menwith Hill), Germany (at Bad Aibling), and
Australia (at Pine Gap). The memo also indicates that the proposal
for declassification emanated from the National Reconnaissance
19: NSA, Recent Classification Decisions, June 2, 1998. Confidential
The increased openness at NSA in the late 1990s extended to historical
as well as contemporary matters. In addition to memos announcing
individual declassification decisions, summary memos were also
issued on occasion. This one covers declassification decisions
with regard to a number of categories, including signals intelligence
targeting, NSA's presence abroad, the use of airborne platforms
for SIGINT collection, and the codenames used to indicate intelligence
obtained from communications or electronic intelligence collection.
20: Organization Chart, NSA Operations Directorate, November 6,
The organization chart of NSA's Directorate of Operations is
notable for several reasons. Traditionally, such information was
not released by NSA, which under the provisions of Public Law
86-36 is not required to release even unclassified organizational
information. In recent years, however, NSA has released more information
about organization and administrative matters, and acknowledged
the use of a variety of aircraft for SIGINT collection.
The organization chart also shows how the operations directorate
has been reorganized since the end of the Cold War. Throughout
much of the Cold War, the directorate consisted of three key regional
groups—A (Soviet Bloc), B (Asian Communist), and G (All Other).
After the Soviet collapse the regional groups were reduced to
one for European nations and one for all other. The new organizational
structure reflects the increasing empahsis on transnational activities,
which cut across nations and regions.
21: James R. Taylor, Deputy Director of Operations, Subject: Thoughts
on Strategic Issues for the Institution, April 9, 1999. Secret
This memorandum was written early in the tenure of NSA Director
Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, when much attention was being directed
to the requirement for NSA to adapt to a new environment - which
included new targets, communications technologies, and the availability
of advanced encryption techniques.
Taylor notes that money and technology, while among the top five
issues facing NSA, are not among the first three. The first and
most important issue, according to Taylor, was NSA's need to reform
the management and leadership system. His discussion foreshadowed
Hayden's reorganization of NSA to clearly establish the primacy
of the two components - the directorates for signals intelligence
and information assurance - responsible for carrying out NSA's
A second key issue identified in the memo is the "strengthening
and leveraging of [NSA's] strategic alliances." This includes
NSA's relationships with foreign SIGINT services, the CIA, and
the service cryptologic elements (SCE's) that carry out much of
the collection work for NSA. The discussion of NSA's relationship
with the CIA indicates the increasing importance of human intelligence
support to NSA - which can come in the form of acquisition of
cipher materials or the clandestine placement of eavesdropping
The third issue identified is the need to properly staff "our
two missions and to spot and nurture talent and leadership for
22: Lt. Gen. Jim Clapper, NSA Scientific Advisory Board, Panel
on Digital Network Intelligence (DNI), Report to the Director,
June 28, 1999, Secret Comint
This study, a complement to another study on conventional collection,
is another example of NSA's attempt to address the changing communication
environment. Digital network intelligence is defined as "the
intelligence from intercepted digital data communications transmitted
between, or resident on, networked computers."
The study, which has been heavily redacted prior to release,
notes an imperative to "re-tool: organizationally, programmatically,
and technologically" and examines issues concerning the access
and collection of digital network intelligence, processing and
extraction of intelligence from the data collected, analysis and
reporting, and dissemination.
23: SSO [Special Security Office], DIA Subject: Implementation
Guidance for Elimination of Codewords, October 22, 1999. Unclassified
During the Cold War, as an extension of the system developed
in World War II to protect the security of communications intelligence
operations, the U.S. established the category of Special Intelligence
(SI). Within SI were a number of compartments, which corresponded
to the different degrees of sensitivity attached to communications
intelligence activities and products. In 1960, with the launch
of the first reconnaissance satellites, the U.S. also established
the TALENT-KEYHOLE (TK) system, with compartments for satellite
imagery (RUFF), satellite ELINT (ZARF), and aerial imagery from
the U-2, and later, SR-71.
This message reflects the attempt to simplify the system by eliminating
three key codenames from the SI category and one from the TK system.
24: Statement for the Record of NSA Director Lt Gen Michael V.
Hayden, USAF before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,
April 12, 2000
In a rare public appearance by the NSA director, Lt. Gen. Michael
Hayden outlines the regulatory safeguards and oversight mechanisms
that are in place to ensure that the agency's electronic surveillance
mission does not infringe upon the privacy of U.S. persons, and
to respond to recent allegations that NSA provides intelligence
information to U.S. companies.
The agency may only target the communications of U.S. persons
within the United States after obtaining a federal court order
suggesting that the individual might be "an agent of a foreign
power." The number of such cases have been "very few" since the
passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. In
cases where the NSA wishes to conduct electronic surveillance
on U.S. persons overseas, the agency must first obtain the approval
of the Attorney General, who must have probable cause to believe
that the individual "is an agent of a foreign power, or a spy,
terrorist, saboteur, or someone who aides or abets them." With
regard to the unintentional collection of communications to, from,
or about U.S. citizens, Hayden stresses that such information
is not retained "unless the information is necessary to understand
a particular piece of foreign intelligence or assess its importance."
In response to other allegations, Hayden asserts that NSA cannot
request that another country "illegally" collect intelligence
on U.S. persons on their behalf, and also that the agency "is
not authorized to provide signals intelligence information to
private U.S. companies."
25: National Security Agency, Transition 2001, December
This document, prepared for the incoming administration of George
W. Bush, was intended to provide a background on NSA's organization
and mission, as well as of the issues facing NSA in the years
ahead. Its main sections include those devoted to management,
external process, budget, and personnel, policy/issues.
In the discussion of major policy issues, the document notes
the changing environment in which the "analog world of point-to-point
communications carried along discrete, dedicated voice channels"
is being replaced by communications that are "mostly digital,
carry billions of bits of data, and contain voice, data and multimedia."
In addition, it states that "global networks leave US critical
information infrastructure more vulnerable to foreign intelligence
operations and to compromise by a host of non-state entities."
The creation of global networks also requires, according to the
transition book, that "senior leadership understand that
today's and tomorrow's mission will demand a powerful, permanent
presence on a global telecommunications network that will host
the 'protected' communications of Americans as well as targeted
communications of adversaries."
26a: Organization Chart, Signals Intelligence Directorate
26b: Organization Chart, Information Assurance Directorate
These two heavily redacted organization charts are more informative
for what they reveal about the change in NSA's classification
policy than for what they reveal about the 2001 organizational
structure of NSA's two key directorates.
In contrast to Document 19, the largely
intact 1998 organization chart for the Directorate of Operations,
Document 26a, the chart
for the Signals Intelligence Directorate (as the operations directorate
was renamed) contains no information beyond the name of its director.
The late 1990s was a period when NSA significantly loosened restrictions
on information - not only historical information, but then current
organizational information. As a result the operations directorate
organization chart was provided within three weeks of its being
requested in late 1998. In contrast, the request for the Signals
Intelligence Directorate organization chart was made on April
21, 2001 and NSA provided its substantive response on April 21,
Similarly, in the late 1990s, NSA released detailed organizational
information on its Information Security directorate, in contrast
to the small amount of it detail it has released on the successor
Information Assurance Directorate.
27: Statement for the Record by Lieutenant General Michael
V. Hayden, Director, National Security Agency/Central Security
Service Before the Joint Inquiry of the Senate Select Committee
on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,
October 17, 2002, Unclassified
Hayden, in his testimony to the joint committee intelligence
performance prior to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington
of September 11, 2001, addresses three major questions: what did
NSA know prior to September 11, what did NSA learn in retrospect,
and what had NSA done in response? In his conclusions, Hayden
addresses a number of issues - including the relationship between
SIGINT and law enforcement, and the line between the government's
need for counterterrorism information and the privacy interests
of individuals residing in the United States.
1. Report to the Secretary of State and the Secretary
of Defense by a Special Committee Appointed Pursuant to Letter
of 28 December 1951 to Survey Communications Intelligence Activities
of the Government, June 13, 1952, pp. 47-48, 119; RG 457, SR-123,
Military Reference Branch, NARA; The National Cryptologic School,
On Watch: Profiles from the National Security Agency's Past 40
Years (Ft. Meade, Md.: NCS, 1986), p. 17.
2. Walter Bedell Smith, "Proposed Survey of Communications
Intelligence Activities," December 10, 1951; Report to the Secretary
of State and the Secretary of Defense by a Special Committee,
p. 118; U.S. Congress, Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Final Report,
Book III: Foreign and Military Intelligence (Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976), p. 736; National Security
Agency/Central Security Service, NSA/CSS Manual 22-1 (Ft. Meade,
MD: NSA, 1986), p. 1.
3. National Security Agency, NSA/CSS Manual 22-1
(Ft. Meade, Md.: NSA, 1986), p. 7.
4. Jeffrey T. Richelson, The Wizards of Langley:
Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology (Boulder,
Co.: Westview, 2001), p. 60.
5. Richard M. Bissell Jr. with Jonathan E. Lewis
and Frances T. Pudlo, Reflections of a Cold Warrior: From
Yalta to the Bay of Pigs (New Haven, Ct.: Yale University
Press, 1996), p. 239.
6. James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace: A Report
on NSA, America's Most Secret Agency (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin,
1982), p. 334.
7. Stansfield Turner, Secrecy and Democracy:
The CIA in Transition (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1985), pp.
8. James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy
of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (New York: Doubleday,
2001), pp. 185-239; A. Jay Cristol, The Liberty Incident:
The 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship (Washington,
D.C.: Brassey's 2002); James M. Ennes Jr., Assault on the
Liberty: The True Story of the Israeli Attack on an American Intelligence
Ship (New York: Ivy, 1979).
9. Bob Woodward, "Messages of Activists
Intercepted," Washington Post, October 13, 1975, pp.
10. See Jeffrey T. Richelson, The
U.S. Intelligence Community (Cambridge: Ballinger, 2nd ed.,
1989/Boulder: Westview Press, 3rd ed., 1995; 4th ed., 1999); See
also the World Wide Web site of the Federation of American Scientists,
11. Lois G. Brown, "National SIGINT
Committee," NSA Newsletter, February 1997, p. 2.
12. James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace:
A Report on NSA, America's Most Secret Agency (Boston, MA:
Houghton-Mifflin, 1982), p. 170.
13. Patrick S. Poole, ECHELON: America's
Secret Global Surveillance Network (Washington, D.C.: Free
Congress Foundation, October 1998).
14. Duncan Campbell, Interception
Capabilities 2000 (Luxembourg: European Parliament, 1999);
T. Richelson, "Desperately Seeking Signals," Bulletin of
the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 47-51.
15. Dana Priest, “Torricelli Admits
Violating House Secrecy Oath,” Washington Post, April
8, 1995, p. A7.
16. Kim Masters, “Truth or Consequences;
Rep. Bob Torricelli Leaked the Goods on the CIA. Was It Loyalty
or Betrayal?” Washington Post, April 17, 1995, p. C1.
17. DIRNSA, "Fact of Overhead SIGINT
Collection," January 4, 1996.