No Such Agency Cryptologic Museum & Reconnaissance Airfield Tour - With Lunch

  • February 16, 2013 · 10:00 AM
  • Canine and Savage Roads

IMPORTANT:

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:

http://www.mammaromarestaurant.com/odenton....

BRING CASH FOR THE RESTAURANT IF YOU ARE JOINING US FOR THIS MEAL

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  • Elise

    This was my first event with the group. Bob did a terrific job organizing the event and keeping us informed. Thoroughly enjoyed the museum tour, lunch and visiting with the great people in the group! Looking forward to doing more outings with this group!

    February 17, 2013

  • Linda

    This was my first meetup ever, and I enjoyed it a lot. The museum was so interesting and Momma Roma's was yummy! I enjoyed getting to know some of the group members at the restaurant. Thanks Bob!

    February 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Glad I finally made it to the museum and, as usual, meeting people for a meal afterwards is always enjoyable.

    February 16, 2013

  • Howard

    Thanks for making the arrangements for this great historical experience. I was disappointed to not be able to stay for the lunch event to be able to chat more with the group.

    February 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    This was a first-rate educational experience. While the exhibits are amazing, as they show original and one-of-a-kind items from the history of intelligence communications, it is very important to note that many men and women died while protecting those secrets. And the Italian meal at Mamma Roma's was fabulous. It was good to socialize after our meal, and the event was excellent primarily because of the great people who attended it.

    February 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks again Bob for a wonderful time!

      February 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks Bob - great fun and cool museum!

    February 16, 2013

  • Yoshiko

    As always this event was interesting,too

    February 16, 2013

  • martha

    thanks Bob, it was fun and informative! Good to see you and SB (BTW, I made it home with no wrong turns and in 38 mins!)

    February 16, 2013

  • jeff

    hey bob, thanks so much for organizing this tour...it was most interesting!

    February 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Bob - Thanks for setting up the tour. Enjoyed it!

    February 16, 2013

  • Yoshiko

    Bob, Than you so much for the intereting tour of NSA musium.
    Unfortunately, we can not make for the lunch. But hope to see you all again soon. Thanks again,

    February 16, 2013

  • Robert

    I am sick today.

    February 16, 2013

  • Robert

    I was looking forward to this but I woke up with a headache and fever this morning, so I must cancel. Sorry.

    February 16, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    We are meeting inside the door. If you arrive late, tell the individual seated there that you are with us, and you will be sent on your way.

    February 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My son can't come, so we have one extra spot (I don't know if it's too late for somebody else to fill his spot but I wanted to let you know.

    February 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Tatyana, I am in Falls Church/Merrifield and can give you a ride. Rather than have you suffer through the Orange Line construction challenges I can pick you up. I will send you an email with my contact information so we can coordinate.

    February 13, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Charlene! My tel is[masked], email [masked]

      February 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Where exactly are we meeting? At the museum?

    February 14, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Take a look at your email. You actually live up the road from it......

      February 14, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Sometimes I don't always get the emails from meetup; therefore, I posted the above. I received your email late last night. Thanks Bob.

      February 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Good news got a promotion bad news cant attend

    February 14, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Congratulations.

      February 14, 2013

  • Dana

    Anyone want to ride share from Wheaton MD?

    February 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can't make it back to VA by then. So bummed! Enjoy

    February 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi everybody! My car broke down - I need a ride!!! I live in Crystal city (Arlington) area but can take a metro to your location. Anybody wants to give me a ride? Thanks beforehand!

    February 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Folks - Remember that this is not a private museum like those "Spy Museums" where the tourists go; this is on Department of Defense property and it is the real deal. You are welcome to bring cameras and take pictures. The sole requirement is that under no condition can you point your camera (much less take photos) towards the two large operations buildings located behind the spy airplanes while we are outside in the reconnaissance airfield. The buildings look like they are made of glass but are really made of copper. They are very strict about that part of our visit.

    February 13, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Have to work .... :(

    February 12, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Well, at least some of us are working on this day......

      February 12, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi. Was waiting for confirmation, made other plans to visit mom. Wish I could go, but someone else can have a nice time in my place. Thanks, Bob.

    February 12, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      No problem; thanks for the heads up!

      February 12, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looking forward to going. I will be traveling from Southern Maryland and willing to meet/caravan on the way. But going to DC afterwards to watch the documentary "56 Up' so carpooling would not be possible.

    February 12, 2013

  • Mike S.

    Will not be able to make it.

    February 12, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Mamma Roma information: http://mammaromas.com/?page_id=403

    February 12, 2013

  • Elise

    Anyone going from the Reston/Herndon area that wants to carpool? I am planning on staying for lunch.

    February 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just like in the Exorcist, when we were presented with a young priest and an old priest, we will get a young docent and an old docent. One group will go one way, and the other group will go the other way, so that the crowd is not teeming. I warn you that the old docent is a veritable comedian, but it is a relative nomenclature. There's an old joke at NSA: How do you tell the extroverted NSA employee? He's the one looking down at another person's shoes.

    February 11, 2013

  • Gregory D.

    Can we bring a teenage guest?

    January 17, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Yes. Just add the +1 on your RSVP and then list the name on the supplemental question that only I see.

      January 17, 2013

42 went

  • Linda +1
  • Yoshiko +1
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
    +1 guest
  • A former member
  • A former member
    +1 guest
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

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