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[] die NSA wird 50,

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 110
November 4, 2002


The National Security Agency observed its fiftieth anniversary last
weekend in a characteristically low key manner.

("How you can tell an extrovert from an introvert at NSA?  In the
elevators, the extroverts look at the OTHER guy's shoes."  Or rather,
the NSA extroverts are the ones that were telling that joke last

NSA, the nation's codemaking, codebreaking and signals intelligence
organization, was established on October 24, 1952 by President Harry
S. Truman in a top secret, 8-page presidential memorandum.  Formal
announcement of the new agency was delayed until November 4, 1952 --
Election Day -- in order to keep the creation of the Agency out of the
news, according to NSA.

Speaking at a November 1 anniversary ceremony at NSA headquarters at
Fort Meade, Maryland, historian David Kahn offered his thoughts on
"the death of cryptanalysis."

Kahn, author of The Codebreakers and other pioneering histories of
cryptography, noted the technological challenges confronting NSA and
observed that it is far from the omniscient, omnipotent entity that
outsiders sometimes imagine.

"NSA doesn't know or control everything, as shown by public-key
cryptography and the beating NSA took on key escrow and the fact that
U.S. Navy submarines use Microsoft Windows," he said.

See David Kahn's invited remarks here:

President Truman's 1952 memorandum establishing the NSA is available on
the website of the National Security Archive here:

A January 2001 Congressional Research Service report entitled "The
National Security Agency: Issues for Congress" by Richard A. Best Jr.
may be found here:

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