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National Security Agency

Cypherpunks of the world, encrypt!

Enclosed below is a posting I made to debunk Denning's claim that the
proposed key registration is needed to thwart criminals.

P.S. I still need more comments on how the Hackers session on crypto
should go. I've gotten some good private e-mail, but little debate
here on the list itself.


Newsgroups: sci.crypt,comp.org.eff.talk,alt.conspiracy
Path: netcom.com!tcmay
From: [email protected] (Timothy C. May)
Subject: Re: A Trial Balloon on Registered Keys
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Organization: Netcom - Online Communication Services  (408 241-9760 guest) 
X-Newsreader: Tin 1.1 PL5
References: <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1992 02:28:42 GMT

Some comments about the National Security Agency (NSA) and why it
wants to restrict wide use of encryption.

George Mitchell ([email protected]) wrote:

: Now it's my turn to go out on a limb.  I believe that all the parti-
: cipants in this discussion would agree that: When the Government
: can show, through legitimately obtained evidence, that a particular
: encrypted communication relates to a crime, then they can, after
: the fact, subpoena the plaintext of that communication.  What
: most of us object to is having to yield the keys before the fact.

Agreed. The current procedure for subpoenaing documents works fairly

But Prof. Denning's comments clearly indicate the concern is with
catching terrorists, kidnappers, subversives, and other such types _in
the planning stage_. That is, wiretapping and surveillance.

And I'll got out on a limb, too. My suspicion, and that of many
others, is that the case of the FBI catching terrorists before the act
in the U.S. (and there's a well-known case of a Japanese Red Army
terrorist caught in the Midwest several years ago) reveals the sources
the FBI uses. The NSA is the likely source. Only the NSA listening in
on millions of telephone conversations (not banned by any law...the
laws you hear about on wiretapping and surveillance mostly deal with
the FBI, law enforcement, and, supposedly, the CIA. The NSA is almost
completely exempt from such laws.).

If you haven't yet read James Bamford's "The Puzzle Palace," run out
and get a copy and read it. You'll see why former DIRNSA General Odom
called Bamford "an unindicted felon." (Why in the eyes of the National
Security Establishment, that is.)

SIGINT OPERATION MINARET, begun in 1969 when Nixon declared the "War
on Drugs," brought the NSA together with the FBI, CIA, BNDD (Bureau of
Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, precursor to DEA) to launch a series of
new surveillance programs. In May 1970 the NSA extended routine
surveillance to _pay phones_ in suspect areas (sound familiar, with
the Digital Telephony Bill?). The release of the Pentagon Papers in
1971 revealed the extent of FBI and NSA elsur (electronic
surveillance) on U.S. citizens.

OPERATION SHAMROCK goes back even further. Beginning in 1945, the FBI
and NSA (its precursors, actually, such as Army Signal Corps, etc.)
cooperated to monitor dissidents, radicals, authors, etc. It was not
until October 1973 that about-to-be-fired Attorney General Elliot
Richardson (now fighting for INSLAW in a very similar case, which
Prof. Denning ought to read about) ordered the FBI and the CIA's
"Security Service" (aptly named SS) to stop requesting NSA
surveillance material. In 1977 the Justice Department recommended
against prosecution of the FBI and NSA employees engaged in Shamrock
and Minaret.

Few Americans understand how pervasive is the NSA's listening system.
COINTELPRO, Huston Plan, RCA Global (provided copied of all telegrams
for 40 years!), FINCEN, and so many other keywords! Huge antennas in
West Virginia, in Idaho, and elsewhere (mostly located near major
satellite downlinks). Read Bamford's book. Then be afraid....be _very_

Understand that there are virtually no laws governing the NSA's
surveillance of fax machines, modems, the Internet (including all of
these postings, obviously), voice phones, telex and TWX, and on and
on. Because of the "national security" role, wide lattitude is given. 

No doubt some criminal plans are uncovered. The NSA detected, it has
been admitted, the planned bombing of the Berlin discotheque that led to
the '86 raid on Libya. (However, the bombing still occurred...draw your
own conclusions.) But is it worth the price?

Now there is talk of using the NSA's formidable listening abilities
for economic espionage against our economic opponents! 

Is it any wonder the NSA is scared sh..less over the spread of secure
and untappable communications systems?

Be afraid, be _very_ afraid.
Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
[email protected]       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | PGP 2.0 and MailSafe keys by arrangement.