Re: [Clips] Venona Ten Years Later: Lessons for Today

2005-07-22 Thread John Gilmore
  one that is all too relevant today. The pertinent question is no longer
  whether Americans spied, but rather how highly educated, intelligent men
  and women failed to comprehend the true nature of Stalinist communism, and
  why they were willing to risk their lives and imperil the security of their
  families, neighbors and friends to commit crimes on behalf of a foreign
  power opposed to the basic tenets of modern society. 

This was a good observation, but the next sentence muddled it with 
typical American self-blindness. 

  Answers to similar
  questions, regarding educated Muslims with experience of life in Europe and
  the U.S. like those who led the 9-11 and Madrid attacks, are essential to
  constructing a defense against 21st century terrorism.

I want the same answer about how not just the Washington elite, but
even army kids from Iowa, fail to comprehend WHY we prohibit torture,
provide fair trials and legal representation, due process of law, and
why we have a constitution or civil rights at all.  Do they not
comprehend the true nature of a United States with arbitrary searches,
travel papers, pervasive surveillance, no effective Leg. or
Jud. checks on arbitrary executive power, no federalism checks on
unlimited federal power, indefinite imprisonment of US citizens at the
will of the President, indefinite imprisonment without trial of
non-citizens seized by force anywhere in the world, and wars of
occupation?  It's caled an expanding totalitarian state, kiddies, and
every totalitarian stste tells its citizens how they are the freest
country in the world.  Get out and compare for yourself!

Then tell me what the basic tenets of modern society are.

John Gilmore (posting from Greece)

PS:  Add in a lapdog press too.  Try reading the foreign press on the web.
They actually ask hard questions of pols and slam them for evading.  And 
all their sources aren't anonymous highly placed govt officials.

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[Clips] Venona Ten Years Later: Lessons for Today

2005-07-19 Thread R.A. Hettinga

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 Subject: [Clips] Venona Ten Years Later: Lessons for Today

 History News Network

 July 17, 2005

 7-18-05: News at Home

 Venona Ten Years Later: Lessons for Today
 By Steven T. Usdin
  Mr. Usdin, senior editor, BioCentury Publications, is the author of
 forthcoming book Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied For Stalin
 and Founded The Soviet Silicon Valley, Yale University Press).

 Ten years ago, on July 11, 1995, the U.S. intelligence community held an
 extraordinary press conference at CIA headquarters to break the seal on one
 of the most closely held secrets of the Cold War. The world learned that
 starting in 1946 American cryptologists had cracked Soviet codes and read
 portions of thousands of messages Soviet intelligence operatives sent each
 other during World War II. Most of the cables decrypted in a program that
 came to be known as Venona, one of numerous codenames used to cloak its
 existence, were sent or received by the Soviet head of foreign intelligence.

 Just as the ability to read Stalin's spymaster's correspondence
 dramatically altered the course of the Cold War, public release of the
 cables a half-century later altered our understanding of the dynamics of
 the conflict between the USSR and the West. Coupled with revelations from
 Soviet bloc archives, release of data gathered in the Venona program led to
 dramatic reassessments of decades of history. The revelations reverberated
 worldwide as members of the British, Australian and, above all, American
 communist parties who had protested their innocence were exposed as spies
 and liars. Two generations of Americans for whom the innocence of Julius
 Rosenberg and Alger Hiss was an article of faith were compelled to
 reconsider their mockery of those who had warned about widespread Communist

 Venona not only produced lessons about the past -- it also illuminated
 issues that governments and the public are grappling with today, including
 the risks and benefits of the disclosure of intelligence, the dangers of
 bureaucratic tunnel vision, and the ease with which ordinary people will
 commit crimes to advance Utopian ideologies.

 Venona was made possible because in 1942--during the darkest days of the
 war in Russia, when everything, including skilled manpower, was in short
 supply--Soviet code clerks produced and distributed to agents around the
 globe thousands of duplicate copies of one-time pads used to encrypt
 communications. As is clear from the name, the code tables were supposed to
 be used only once, and if this simple precaution had been heeded, the
 encryption system would have been impenetrable. But with Germans at the
 gates of Stalingrad, punctilious adherence to apparently arcane security
 rules must have seemed an unaffordable luxury. The chances of the shortcut
 being detected must have seemed vanishingly small.

 The Venona secrets were disclosed at the July 1995 press conference largely
 as a result of prodding from the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who
 learned of the program when he headed the Commission on Protecting and
 Reducing Government Secrecy. The story of how a combination of
 extraordinary luck and tremendous talent led a small team working at a
 former girls' boarding school outside Washington, D.C. to detect and
 exploit the opportunity presented by the replicated one-time pads has been
 described in several books, notably Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes's
 Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (Yale University Press, 2000).

 That first batch of Venona decrypts released a decade ago included cables
 between Pavel Fitin, the Soviet head of foreign intelligence, and his
 officers in New York describing the espionage activities of an American
 engineer codenamed Liberal who worked for the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
 These cables were among the first that the Army Security Agency (ASA),
 which was later folded into the National Security Agency, partially
 decrypted and shared with the FBI. It took the FBI a couple of years to
 discover that Rosenberg was Liberal, and another four decades for the
 National Security Agency to share with the American public the documents
 that removed all doubt that he was a spy.

 A 1956 internal memo to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover revealed three major
 reasons why the Bureau didn't reveal its smoking-gun evidence during the
 Rosenbergs' 1951 trial. There was a fear that disclosing the existence of
 the Venona program could help the Russians minimize the damage to its U.S.
 spy networks. Although Hoover didn't know it at the time, this concern was
 largely unwarranted because Fitin and his colleagues already knew a great
 deal about the Venona program