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used in the country's most sensitive encryption equipment. Among those
special chips is the CYPRIS microprocessor, designed to operate at 40
megahertz and able to obtain nearly 35 MIPS (million instructions per
second). At one time NSA accounted for 50 percent of the world's
integrated circuit market. Other scientists regularly attempt to redefine
the limits of an array of key technologies”from electron-beam
maskmaking to "direct write" wafer lithography.
Another windowless building a few blocks away, the Systems
Processing Center, houses a series of bizarre anechoic chambers. Like
something out of a nightmare, every inch of these vast baby-blue rooms
is covered with giant dagger-shaped cones of various sizes”up to eight
feet high. The chambers are used to test intercept antennas designed
and built in the City. Chamber A, the largest, measures 42 feet wide, 42
feet high, and 90 feet long. It was designed to test antenna frequencies
up to 26.5 gigahertz. A transmitting antenna is placed on a raised
platform at one end of the chamber and a receiving antenna is installed
at the opposite end. Each of the cones, which are composed of special
foam impregnated with chemicals, is sized to absorb different
frequencies.
A little further on is the Research and Engineering Building, a
massive, handsome, dark-gray mausoleum dedicated to advanced
eavesdropping. It houses the agency's Technology and Systems
Organization, which is responsible for the design, development, and
deployment of signals intelligence systems at NSA headquarters and
worldwide.
Among the projects worked on was one to greatly extend the life of
batteries needed to run eavesdropping equipment hidden in foreign
countries. "The problem of providing power for years or decades for
electronics in harsh environments remains an unsolved dilemma," said
one NSA technical report. One possibility was the microencapsulated
betacell, or "beta battery," which is a nuclear battery. Beta batteries
operate by converting the electrons from beta radiation into light and
then converting the light into usable electric energy with photovoltaic
cells. Such batteries are now in use.
Most of the Technology and Systems Organization's several thousand
employees are computer scientists and engineers. The deputy director for



437
technology and systems in 2000 was Robert E. Stevens. High on his list
of priorities was pushing signals intelligence technology well into the
twenty-first century. Known as the Unified Cryptologic Architecture, it is
a blueprint for taking NSA's technology up to the year 2010.
Within the Research and Engineering Building is NSA's
Microelectronics Research Laboratory, which works on such projects as
thinning technology to reduce the thickness of circuitry on computer
wafers to half a micron, so that the circuits virtually vanish.
Across the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is another tall glass office
building belonging to the Technology and Systems Organization. Known
as NBP-1, for National Business Park, it is the centerpiece of NSA's
highly secret crypto-industrial complex. Stretching out below NBP-1,
hidden from the highway and surrounded by tall trees, National
Business Park is a large compound of buildings owned by NSA's
numerous high-tech contractors, such as Applied Signal Technology,
which builds much of NSA's sophisticated satellite eavesdropping
equipment. The crypto-industrial complex, like the military-industrial
complex of the Cold War, is a cozy fraternity of business executives with
close, expensive contractual ties to NSA. According to one study, signals
intelligence is a $2 billion market. In just one year (1998) and in
Maryland alone, NSA awarded more than 13,000 contracts, worth more
than $700 million.
A quick-turning revolving door allows frequent movement of personnel
between the agency and industry. To help swing even more NSA
contracts their way, Applied Signal Technology in 1995 named John P.
Devine, just retired as NSA's deputy director for technology and systems,
to its board of directors. Likewise, TRW hired former NSA director
William Studeman, a retired Navy admiral, as its vice president and
deputy general manager for intelligence programs. The massive
consulting firm Booz-Allen & Hamilton, which frequently bids for NSA
contracts, hired Studeman's successor as director, retired vice admiral J.
Michael McConnell. And McConnell's former deputy director, William P.
Crowell, left NSA to become vice president of Cylink, a major company
involved in encryption products. Crowell had been through the revolving
door before, going from a senior executive post at NSA to a vice
presidency at Atlantic Aerospace Electronics Corporation, an agency
contractor, and then back to NSA as chief of staff. Another deputy
director of the agency, Charles R. Lord, left NSA in 1987 and immediately
became a vice president at E-Systems, one of NSA's biggest contractors.
Headquarters of the crypto-industrial complex is in a white two-story
office building at 141 National Business Park, just down the street from
NSA's Technology and Systems Organization in NBP-1. Behind the
double doors to Suite 112 is a little-known organization called the
Security Affairs Support Association (SASA), which serves as the bridge


438
between the intelligence and industrial communities. SASA's president is
Lieutenant General Kenneth A. Minihan, who retired as director of NSA
in 1999. Its executive vice president for many years was retired Air Force
Major General John E. Morrison, Jr., a former head of operations at NSA
and long one of the most respected people in the intelligence community.
SASA holds symposiums and lectures throughout the year, and every
May its awards gala attracts a Who's Who of the intelligence community
and the blacker parts of private industry. In April 1997 SASA held a two-
day symposium at NSA to discuss the agency's cryptologic strategy for
the next century. SASA's 1999 Awards Dinner, which honored former
NSA deputy director Ann Caracristi, attracted senior executives from over
eighty companies involved in technical intelligence, and scores of officials
from NSA, the National Sigint Committee, and other intelligence
agencies.
The new century promises to be good to NSA's contractors. In its 2001
budget authorization, the House Intelligence Committee recommended
that NSA begin reaching beyond its high fences. Listing the agency's
many new problems”fiber optic communications, the Internet, and so
on”the committee practically ordered NSA to begin bringing in more
expertise from the outside. "During the 1980s budget increases," said the
committee, "NSA decided to build up its in-house government scientists
and engineers and the agency now seems to believe that in-house talent
can address the rapidly evolving signals environment better than
outsiders can. . . . The culture demanded compartmentation, valued
hands-on technical work, and encouraged in-house prototyping. It placed
little value on program management, contracting development work to
industry, and the associated systems engineering skills."
The House committee believed it was time for a change. "Today, an
entirely new orientation is required," said the 2001 budget report. "The
agency must rapidly enhance its program management and systems
engineering skills and heed the dictates of these disciplines, including
looking at options to contract out for these skills." According to Michael
Hayden, "The explosive growth of the global network and new
technologies make our partnership with industry more vital to NSA's
success than ever before."


Like many large communities, NSA's secret city has its own
university, the National Cryptologic School. It is located a short distance
to the north in the NSA compound called FANX.
"The magnitude of their education, of their mental capacity was just
overwhelming to me," former director Marshall Carter recalled of the
people he found himself surrounded with when he left the CIA to direct
NSA. "I made a survey . . . when I got there and it was just unbelievable,


439
the number of Ph.D.s that we had at the operating levels” and they
weren't sitting around glorying like people do."
To channel all that mental power in the right direction, NSA
established what must be the most selective institution of higher learning
in the country: the National Cryptologic School. The NSC was the final
metamorphosis of the Training School, which started out on the second
floor of a rambling wood-frame building known as Temp "R" on Jefferson
Drive between Third and Fourth Streets in southwest Washington. There,
in the early 1950s, the students would clamber up the creaking stairway
between Wings 3 and 4, past the guard post, and disperse into the five
wings of the school.
Opened on November 1, 1965, the NCS is located in a two-story
building containing more than 100 classrooms. Over 900 courses are
offered, from Basic Sigint Technology to three years of intensive technical
training in the Military Elint Signal Analysis Program. Also offered is the
advanced National Senior Cryptologic Course (Course No. CY-600), a
seven-week, full-time course for senior signals intelligence managers.
At Crypto City's new NSA Graduate Studies Center, students can even
obtain a "master of eavesdropping" degree”actually a master of science
in strategic intelligence, with a concentration in Sigint. The program,
which consists of two years of part-time study, includes ten prescribed
intelligence core courses and four Sigint-related electives, along with a
thesis. The NSC also boasts what is believed to be the largest
computerized training facility in the country. Tests in 154 languages are
available on new state-of-the-art machines.
For the most advanced students of cryptology there is the Senior
Technical Development Program, which exposes a select group of
employees to advanced cryptanalysis and other specialized fields. The
program may take up to three years to complete. The seventeen
graduates of the class of 1998 held their commencement ceremony in
OPS 1's Friedman Auditorium, with Director Minihan calling them the
"best of the best."
Following a brain-cracking exam on the latest Sigint applications for
high-temperature superconductivity, or a quiz on local dialects of
Lingula, students can go down the hall to the Roadhouse Caf© for a quick
gourmet coffee and a focaccia sandwich.
In 1993 the NCS awarded certificates to over 38,000 NSA students. It
also paid colleges and universities around NSA $5 million for additional
courses taken by NSA employees. Additional contracts were awarded in
other parts of the country. During the 1980s, for example, the University
of Wisconsin at Madison was awarded more than $92,000 to develop
proficiency tests in modern Hindi. University officials were warned to
keep their eyes out for anything or anyone that might "have the potential


440
for adversely affecting the national security"”i.e., spies.
The first "dean" of the National Cryptologic School was Frank B.
Rowlett, Friedman's first employee in the newly formed Signal
Intelligence Service in 1930. In 1958, after five years with the CIA, he
replaced the retiring Friedman as special assistant to the director, a
position Rowlett held for seven years under four directors. While there,
he led the study group that prepared the way for the National Cryptologic
School's founding and stayed on as commandant to give it some
direction. He retired two months later, on December 30, 1965.
On March 2, 1966, Rowlett became the third NSA employee to win the
intelligence community's top award when President Johnson presented
to him the National Security Medal during a ceremony at the White
House. If the surroundings looked familiar to him, it was because he had
been there a brief nine months earlier to receive the President's Award for
Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, the highest award given to a
civilian in the federal government. "His brilliant achievements," read the
presidential citation, "ranging from analyses of enemy codes to
technological advances in cryptology, have become milestones in the
history of our Nation's security."
Rowlett, the last of the original band of codebreakers who started the
SIS with Friedman in 1930, died on June 29, 1998. On January 27,
1999, Kenneth Minihan stood in the late-morning sun near a large
canopy in Crypto City. Behind him was the boxy, chocolate-brown
headquarters of NSA's Information Systems Security Organization, the
agency's codemakers. As a small group watched, shivering in the chill,
Minihan unveiled a large granite boulder that resembled a grounded
meteorite. On the flat face of the stone was a large brass plate with an
inscription. "This building," it said, "is dedicated to Frank B. Rowlett”
American Cryptologic Pioneer”Head of the team that broke the Japanese
'PURPLE' cipher device in 1940”Principal inventor of SIGABA, the most
secure cipher device used by any country in World War II."
It was only the second building in the city to be named for an
individual, the first being the Supercomputer Facility named after Dr.
Louis Tordella. The effort to name buildings is part of a new trend to
bring a sense of history to the residents of Crypto City. A by-product of
NSA's preoccupation with secrecy is a lack of knowledge of the agency's
past. What few histories exist are so highly classified with multiple
codewords that almost no one has access to them. The author of an
article in the Top Secret/Umbra Cryptologic Quarterly emphasized the
point. "Despite NSA's size and success," he wrote, "its sense of its own
history (an important part of any organizational and professional culture)
is astonishingly weak. . . . Where clues to the Agency's past are not
absent altogether, they are in some cases seriously misleading." The
author had a recommendation: "We need to name our buildings for our


441
heroes; we need their photographs and plaques commemorating their
efforts in the corridors or our buildings. . . . We simply must do a better
job indoctrinating our people with the history and traditions of the
cryptologic service."
But in 2001, the light of the outside world was pushed even further
away as construction continued on one more high fence stretching for
miles around the entire city. By then Crypto City had become an avatar
of Jorge Luis Borges' "Library of Babel," a place where the collection of
information is both infinite and monstrous, where all the world's
knowledge is stored, but every word is maddeningly scrambled in an
unbreakable code. In this "labyrinth of letters," Borges wrote, "there are
leagues of senseless cacophonies, verbal jumbles and incoherences."




CHAPTER THIRTEEN SOUL


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As mysterious as the agency itself are the tens of thousands of
nameless and faceless people who populate NSA's secret city. According
to various agency statistics, the average employee is forty-three years old,
with between fourteen and eighteen years of experience. About 59
percent of the workers are male and 10 percent are members of racial
and ethnic minorities. Sixty-three percent of the workforce has less than
ten years' experience; 13 percent are in the military (including four
generals and admirals), 27 percent are veterans, 3.3 percent are retired
military, and 5 percent are disabled. In addition to civilian and military
employees, 2,300 contractors are employed full-time at the agency.
If NSA were considered as a corporation, then, in terms of dollars
spent, floor space occupied, and personnel employed, it would rank in
the top 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies. In 1993 NSA spent over
$9.4 million on air travel; more than 90 percent of the flights originated
at nearby Baltimore-Washington International Airport. On behalf of NSA
employees residing in Maryland, NSA paid approximately $65 million in

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