Attendees need to have a profile photo showing their likeness, and, on the supplemental question, they must provide their full legal name as well as an email address at the time of their RSVP for themselves; and, for their one guest (if applicable), only the full legal name is required.
This is what we will be greeted with as we enter the portal at the beginning of our tour.
Please read the entire activity write-up before you RSVP, and only RSVP if you can definitely attend. Those who do not follow the outlined directions will be removed from the RSVP list with no further communications. You must stay with the group at all times. This unclassified private tour will be completely on NSA property, at Fort George Meade, Maryland. This area is controlled by the Department of Defense. The Agency is Maryland's biggest employer, and, budget-wise, it is the largest intelligence agency in the world. The facility we will visit was originally designed to house artifacts from the Agency and to give its employees a place to reflect on past successes and failures. The Cryptologic Museum is now a priceless collection of the nation's intelligence history. We are going to be assigned a set of "docents" from the Agency and shown cryptologic equipment and provided with first-hand information on how the NSA does its work.
One wondered about the strange radio emissions coming from this Great Seal located in our Moscow Embassy.
Well, well, well; look what the Russians placed inside our Great Seal.
We'll see the released Venona documents, the various cryptologic systems used to break codes in the world wars, get a presentation on Navajo code talkers, get a briefing on the history of cryptography, and much more. During our tour, we will see the "Jefferson Cipher Wheel" named after Thomas Jefferson; learn about Civil War encrypted visual communications; see the biometrics exhibit used in law enforcement support and intelligence gathering; learn about wordless Hobo sign communications used during the Depression; tour the galactic radiation satellite exhibit; witness cold war items that superpowers used to spy on one another, including a special gift from Moscow: the only known piece of Gary Power's aircraft; we will learn about cryptologic items related to the USS Liberty that was attacked by Israel; view items related to the USS Pueblo that was attacked by North Korea; learn about the Great Seal microphone that was hidden in the bugged carving the Soviets gave us (and which NSA found); see the entire decrypted Venona documents that show KGB tradecraft in detail; in the Cray supercomputer section, we will see the XMP-24, as the NSA is the world's largest supercomputing facility (NSA inventories its computers in acres rather than by an actual count); and telemetry processing will also be covered. We will see how sound detecting intelligence against North Korea is done; get a glimpse of post cold-war COMSEC developments for US communications systems; view the Kahn collection (Dr. Kahn's seminal work, The Codebreakers, is one of the world's greatest books on cryptography, and he donated his entire work to NSA).
So simple to use yet so complicated to break. The Cypher Disk was invented in Italy in 1470, and used ever since.
We will see Purple cypher switches, enigma machines, ultra machines; appreciate the American Black Chamber (codenamed MI-8) which broke the Japanese code; view the Zimmerman Telegram that changed the course of one world war, and you'll learn about the cryptologists breaking "JN-25" Japanese message that revealed that Midway would be attacked, providing us with a turning point in the war in the Pacific. We will reach a somber moment when we see the double black wall reflecting "Those Who Served In Silence" being a testament to the 153 cryptologists, the silent warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice in their field against the enemy.
Those that gave their lives for our nation's secrets
And then there is what Germans called "The Big Machine," being the only cryptographic system whose codes remained unbroken during the world war as its rotors could go forward and backwards with each key stroke. The Germans never broke it albeit they tried relentlessly and the Japanese gave up after trying. By contrast, our own cryptanalysts broke the German Enigma because the rotors of the enemy cryptography machines stopped at each key stroke and only went in one direction. This is how America knew that the Germans did not know about the final, massive invasion we would conduct in Europe. You will see the analog machine that broke the "Purple" Japanese code and why it is considered the greatest feat in cryptologic history. Sadly, this also comprises the famous message that told the Japanese ambassador to break all relations with the US just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our cryptologists had fully decrypted the message that Japan was ready to go to war - 9 hours before the Japanese ambassador even received his own copy - but no senior US military official acted on the message until it was too late, as it was judged to contain no true military information.
The famous and rugged Nestor.
My favorite section is that showing the Navajo code talkers, whose legacy began when an army captain overheard two Choctaws speaking in their own language. The language was unknown outside of the Navajo nation, so the enemy could never decipher the communications. The rest is history. And then there is the Enigma Machine on display, an electromechanical apparatus created by the Germans that was said to be impregnable. With each key stroke, the letter would change into a new one. But three brilliant Polish mathematicians were able to beat the machine. After that, we knew where the German U-Boats would be, which saved many thousands of American lives, and we were able to resupply Europe. Germany preferred to lose its boats than to believe Enigma was broken. Then there is the SIGSALY exhibit whose systems are used in secure telephones.
During a prior visit, some of our members pose in front of one of NSA's SIGINT aircraft.
Finally, after we learn about spycraft, we will go outside to the airfield, and we will see specialized reconnaissance aircraft used for photographic and signals intelligence. There will be a refurbished C-130 used for intelligence gathering over the Soviet Union, an RU-8D Seminole used in SE Asia, an EA-3B Ranger 12 aircraft assigned to the Navy's Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron. And then there are the two huge satellite dishes that can be seen way beyond the treeline, one pointing over the Atlantic and another pointing over the Pacific, no one will tell you what they are for, but by that time you should know.
Go ahead; make the call......
We will see the Washington-Moscow Hotline. This telecommunications system was one of the Agency's creations meant to keep the world safe from an all-out nuclear war.
This mainframe has 45 miles of wiring inside it. It also requires a 50-ton refrigeration unit to keep it cool when it is processing data.
Biometrics were used to locate a particular individual who was on the most wanted terrorist list for the past decade; it was a cellular phone emission identified using biometrics that played a pivotal role in the mission's success.
There's a lot of phone records here.
Bring a camera and you can take pictures in the designated area where we will be. Under no conditions can you take photographs of the operations building behind the parking area and the military airfield.
Those going will be told where to go. Of course, this entire event is free, as your taxes already paid for it. After the tour, we will make a noble attempt to get everyone or most of us to share a late lunch in the area. The plan is to go to an area restaurant on the other side of the military base where they will have an area reserved for us. This is a place with excellent food at reasonable prices:
Mamma Roma at 8743 Piney Orchard Parkway in Odenton, Maryland, 21113
Here is the web site:
BRING CASH FOR THE RESTAURANT IF YOU ARE JOINING US FOR THIS MEAL