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NSA Cryptologic Museum Tour followed by Lunch in Hanover, MD

  • December 3 · 10:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

*****This is a no no-show event so please update your RSVP if you are not able to attend so that someone else may attend.*****

Multi-meetup free 90 minute Guided Tour of NSA Cryptologic Museum followed by lunch on Saturday, December 3rd. Group will be broken into 2 groups of 20 persons. First 20 to arrive and then second 20 to arrive or when we give up on those not there on time. Please be on time. After tour will have little time to look around further before drive to lunch (order what you want off menu and pay for self) at Green Turtle Restaurant at 7556 Teague Rd #100, Hanover, MD 21076. We have private room for our group from 12:15 to 2pm.

We will get a first-hand look at NSA's one-of-kind cryptologic collection and get a peripatetic presentation by NSA staff members on the history of cryptography in war and in peace.

On the supplemental RSVP question (using your computer rather than a cellular phone when you RSVP), please indicate if you are attending Brunch by writing either YES or NO in the box. Do not use the Meetup app; use the desktop version instead. If you do not provide the required monosyllabic response, your RSVP will be deleted.

You may photograph the surveillance planes with your back towards the two Ops buildings and you may photograph all items inside the Crypto Museum (except by the classified documents library located by the fire exit). Do not use a flash on the documents, however. When we go by the two Ops Buildings, no photographic equipment (including cellular phones ) can be pointed towards the Ops buildings (the DOD Police will confiscate any such instruments that are pointed towards the two Ops Buildings).

THERE IS NO COST FOR THIS EVENT, AND GUESTS ARE WELCOME. 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" who are long-time NSA employees and we will be shown cryptologic equipment and provided with first-hand information on how the NSA does its work.

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). 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.

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.

A 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. Amazingly, 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.

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. 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.

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. Bring a camera and you can take pictures in the designated area where we will be. Remember, however, that under no conditions can you take photographs of the Operations Buildings behind the parking area and the military airfield.

Go to the building that has this sign on it: http://files.meetup.com/1415650/NCM.JPG Here is the address for mapping purposes: 8290 Colony Seven Rd, Annapolis Junction, Maryland Below are the general directions. Park next to the National Cryptologic Museum, and then enter the Museum's single entrance. Be aware that GPS systems may become inoperable in the general area: http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/museum/map/index.shtml Parking and admission are free. Of course, this entire event is free, as your taxes already paid for it (except for the food, that is). Attendance for all or any part of this meetup is at your own risk.

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  • Lucy

    Kim, thanks for organizing this neat tour & lunch at the Green Turtle for us. I really enjoyed the tour.

    5 days ago

  • Ellell

    This was a nice Meetup. It's great to go some place that I probably would not have gone on my own and learn in the process. Also, first time at the Green Turtle. Really enjoyed my meal and the conversation. Thanks Kim for organizing this outing!

    5 days ago

  • Mark

    What a truly nice Meetup

    December 3

  • ph

    I was looking forward to this field trip excursion but my uncle passed away and I will be at services all day Saturday. I look forward to seeing the pictures. Have fun!

    November 27

    • Lucy

      I'm really sorry!

      1 · November 27

    • Kim N.

      So sorry to hear that.

      1 · December 3

  • Meg S

    It was great

    December 3

  • Kim N.

    Excellent museum. I could have spent more time there but I waited 15 minutes for 17 FOLKS WHO DID NOT SHOW. That was really disrespectful of the effort that I put into planning this and to the other folks who wanted to go but could not RSVP.

    December 3

  • Meg S

    This was so much fun. Thank you again for organizing it.

    1 · December 3

  • Dave

    Thank you for organizing this Kim. My first time after wanting to go here for many years. Guided tour was a big plus. Great meeting very interesting people too!

    December 3

  • Cindy

    Very interesting tour! Fun group!

    1 · December 3

  • Kim N.

    The entrance to get to the restaurant is off of Teague road. The first legal left at a low Brick wall with sign covered largely by shrubs. Then go straight and you'll see green turtle on left.

    December 3

  • Eleanor

    I'm not going to be able to make it to lunch after all. The museum was interesting. Thanks for organizing!

    December 3

  • Monica & J.

    Running late go ahead
    I'll catch up.

    1 · December 3

  • Lucy

    Hello everyone, please update your RSVP if you are not attending if you haven't already done so. We have 13 people that would like to go. Thanks!

    November 27

    • Meg S

      Hi Lucy. Where should I look for everyone when I arrive?

      December 2

    • Kim N.

      We will meet at The entrance. See you there.

      December 3

  • Meg S

    I am in Rockville

    December 2

  • Meg S

    I am coming from Rockville, Aspen Hill area if anyone needs a ride, just message me

    2 · December 2

    • Evan S.

      So your in Rockville or Germantown??

      December 2

  • Sarah

    I can't remember my response but I won't be able to make it for lunch but I am looking forward to the tour

    December 2

  • Debbi M.

    I won't be able to make lunch, but I look forward to the tour! :)

    December 2

  • GG

    I will not be able to join for lunch. I am lookibg forward to it.

    December 2

  • Rich

    Sorry I had to cancel my RSVP so late. My schedule for tomorrow (Saturday) is just too busy.

    December 2

  • Michelle

    I'll be out of town now that date so giving up my spot. Sounds like fun, enjoy!

    November 22

  • Jeff C.

    I will also attend the lunch at Green Turtle.

    November 20

  • Sharon P.

    If I get a spot ...
    Can anyone carpool ? I live in Frederick

    November 20

  • Monica & J.

    I will be attending lunch. Just wanted to be sure since I don't remember if I said yes when I signed up. Thanks.

    November 20

  • Kim N.

    There are many who are on the waitlist for this event. If you are among them still on the day the tour is to take place - and live near to the Cryptologic museum, you are welcome to let me know you will come that morning in case someone going does not show up, and you can take their palce. In any case, the museum has other times you can visit on other days and I've seen some other meetups for an organized visit like this one, too. Hope this helps.

    November 19

    • Lucy

      Also if you know you are not able to attend, please update your RSVP so that someone else can attend. I'm making this meetup a no no-show event.

      November 20

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