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is the Department of Energy, in its nuclear weapons labs. One scientist
noted in the DoE employee newsletter that the expected error rate is
about 2 percent. "In our situation," he said, "that's 100 innocent people
out of 5,000 whose reputations and careers would be blemished."
After the polygraph, NSA applicants undergo a battery of
psychological tests to determine their suitability for both employment
and access to the agency's highly classified materials. A clinical
psychologist interviews 90 percent of all applicants.
All the information obtained about an applicant from the polygraph,
psychological testing, and the full field investigation is then put together
and brought before NSA's Applicant Review Panel, comprising
representatives from the personnel, medical, and security offices. The
board examines each applicant on what the agency calls the "total
person" principle and either gives the candidate a thumbs-up or refers
the case to the director of personnel for a "We regret to inform you" letter.


The second day of the two-day program for job applicants consists
mainly of more briefings, including a security briefing and an
unclassified operational briefing. A few of the most desirable prospects
may get a tour of an operational area. This, however, requires the
sanitizing of the entire area”everything classified must be removed”so
it is seldom offered.
Following their forty-eight hours at FANX, the recruits head back to
school to finish their last semester and, in the meantime, to sweat out


454
the background investigation.


For many years, NSA security officials rated homosexuality near the
top of its list of security problems to watch out for.
In 1960, during the Eisenhower administration, irrational fear of
homosexuality extended right into the Oval Office. "The Soviets seem to
have a list of homosexuals," Attorney General William P. Rogers
nervously told Eisenhower during a Top Secret National Security Council
meeting. What really concerned him, he said, was "the possibility that
there is an organized group of such people." Rogers, who would later
become President Richard Nixon's secretary of state, apparently feared a
worldwide conspiracy of homosexuals. "The Russians had entrapped one
individual," he told the president, "who, in his confession, had stated
that there was an international group of homosexuals."
A month before, two NSA cryptologists had appeared before cameras
on a stage in Moscow, asked for political asylum, and confessed the
agency's deepest secrets like sinners at a revival meeting. It was the
worst scandal in NSA's history. All evidence pointed clearly to ideology as
the reason for William Martin and Bernon Mitchell's drastic action. But
once it was discovered that one of the men had engaged in some
barnyard experimentation as a youth, sexuality was quickly seized on as
the real cause of the defections. According to documents obtained for
Body of Secrets, the fear of homosexuals caused by the men's defection
became pathological within the White House. The FBI secretly drew up a
nationwide list of everyone it thought might be gay and, in a throwback
to McCarthyism, Eisenhower ordered them blacklisted.
At the National Security Council meeting described above, Treasury
Secretary Robert Anderson was also concerned. He asked "how good a
list we had of homosexuals." J. Edgar Hoover replied that his bureau "did
have a list and that local authorities notified federal authorities when
they obtained such information." Eisenhower then ordered a secret,
systematic blacklisting of the listed individuals throughout the federal
government. "Such lists," he said, "should be given to someone who
would have responsibility for watching to ensure that such individuals
were not employed by other Government agencies. Everyone who applied
for a job should be fingerprinted. Then if you had a fingerprint and an
indication that the individual had been rejected for such reasons [as
homosexuality], you would have a basis for preventing his future
employment." Hoover agreed. "This was a useful idea." Eisenhower
concluded the meeting with the comment, "It was difficult to get rid of
such people once they were employed and that the time to catch them
was when they came into the Government."
The harsh attitude of the White House translated into a massive


455
purge at NSA. Anyone who showed even the slightest gay tendencies,
whether that person was actively homosexual or not, was out. Dozens
were fired or forced to resign. The fear would last for decades. But by
2001, the attitude had changed considerably. The most striking example
is the authorized formation within the walls of NSA of GLOBE, the group
for gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees, whose regular monthly
meetings, in NSA offices, are advertised in the NSA Newsletter.


Less than a year after the Berlin Wall crumbled, the first post”Cold
War conflict erupted. Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, U.S. and
coalition forces launched the Desert Storm operation against Saddam
Hussein. As the smoke began to clear, NSA director Studeman rated the
performance of U.S. spy agencies during the conflict as mixed”except for
what he called the excellent monitoring of sanction-busters. The
principal problem, he said, was converting a former friend into an enemy
almost overnight. "Clearly during the Iran-Iraq war," Studeman said, "we
viewed Iraq as an ally. So, Iraq was an area where we didn't have a lot of
basic collection, or a lot of idea of the depth and breadth of the Iraqi
capabilities. We had that on a monitoring basis, but few would call it in-
depth knowledge of the target, the kind you would want to have if you go
to war. We simply didn't have that."
Studeman also said that because Saddam Hussein had been an
intelligence partner, NSA was now at a disadvantage. "Having had about
four years' or more worth of U.S. delivering intelligence to it with regard
to Iran's conduct of the war, Iraq had a substantial knowledge and
sensitivity of our capabilities in the area of imaging and other intelligence
collection methods such as signals intelligence. If you go back to the
fundamental principles of intelligence, we had already failed on the first
count. That is, our security had been penetrated because we were
dealing with this target to whom we had spent so many years displaying
what our intelligence capabilities were. Add the fact that Iraq is a very
secretive country itself and places a great premium on security, and you
then have a target that is probably the most denial-and-deception-
oriented target that the U.S. has ever faced. It is a country that goes out
of its way to create a large number of barriers to allowing any Western
penetration of its capabilities and intentions."
Especially troublesome during the war were such areas as intelligence
"fusion"”bringing all the U.S. intelligence organizations together”and
information management. A key problem for NSA was getting intelligence
from the intercept operators to the codebreakers to the analysts to the
commanders in desert tents in time for it to be useful. "Essentially, from
the threat of the invasion of Kuwait in late July until the outbreak of
hostilities on 15 January," Studeman said, "the time was spent creating
the environment for collection, processing and analysis, and the


456
connection between the national side of it and the theater side."
As troops began boarding planes for the trip back home, Studeman
looked ahead to the long decade leading up to the new century. "The
world of the future is going to be an entirely different intelligence world,"
he said. By 1990 the fat years for NSA and its partners had come to an
end. The Cold War had been won and it was time for the soldiers to
return home. Suddenly a group that had known only growth was faced
with cutbacks, budget slashing, and layoffs.


At an intercept station in Marietta, Washington, the gray operations
building lies abandoned and ghostlike. "While standing amongst the
weeds, trash, and wrecked automobiles," said a former technician who
decided to return for a visit, "my ears caught a faint sound coming from
the remains of the ops building." Then he realized what he was hearing:
"Several hundred rats rummaging through the piles of garbage."
The powerful wave of Cold War fears that decades earlier had swept
listening posts onto remote mountaintops and Arctic wastelands and into
hidden valleys was now receding like a fast-falling tide.
During deactivation ceremonies at Edzell, Scotland, near the elephant
cage that had captured so many Soviet voices, the only sound was the
piercing skirl of a lone bagpipe playing the haunting farewell "We're No'
Awa' Tae Bide Awa'."
At Key West, Florida, where reports had flashed to the White House
during the Cuban missile crisis, a bugler sounded "Taps" and an NSA
official watched the flag descend for the final time.
In the Command Conference Room at Kamiseya, Japan, once the
Navy's largest listening post, the commanding officer solemnly read from
a classified message ordering the station's closure.
At Skaggs Island, California; Karamürsel, Turkey; and dozens of other
listening posts around the world, massive antennas were disassembled
as quietly as they had been built.
Once a forbidden and frozen land populated exclusively by
eavesdroppers, the Alaskan island of Adak was put up for sale on the
Internet. Satellite dishes, power plant, the Adak museum, schools, even
the church were to go to the highest bidder.
After seventy-nine years of operation, the last watch was stood at the
naval listening post at Imperial Beach, California, near San Diego.
Many listening posts not closed were virtually abandoned and turned
into remotely controlled operations. At the small monitoring station atop
Eckstein, a high German peak overlooking what was once
Czechoslovakia, the intercept operators were replaced with automatic


457
antennas controlled in Augsburg, more than five hours away by car. The
only people left were a few security guards and several maintenance staff.
The drawdown was not limited to NSA. In the far north, on the
doorstep of the North Pole, several hundred people were cut from the
Canadian listening post at Alert, the most important in the country. As
with Eckstein and many other listening posts around the world,
technology now permitted the station to be operated remotely from
thousands of miles away.
Across the Atlantic, Britain's GCHQ was going through the same
post”Cold War trauma. In 1995, 900 of 6,000 jobs were ordered cut
from the headquarters in Cheltenham over four years. Listening posts
were also nailed shut, including the monitoring station at Culmhead in
Devon, cutting 250 jobs.
As at NSA, a number of GCHQ's overseas stations switched to remote
control. Perched high on a cliff in Hong Kong, the joint British-Australian
Chung Horn Kok listening post had long been one of the most important
in the Far East. But all except a skeleton crew pulled out and moved
thousands of miles away, to downtown Melbourne. There, in a
windowless two-story gray stone building, intercept operators from
Australia and New Zealand eavesdropped on Chinese and Russian
communications picked up by British antennas in Hong Kong. "Most of
the [intercepted information] went back to the NSA," said one of the staff.
Among the key targets were Chinese testing of nuclear and other
advanced weapons, and of space flight and military activities on the
troublesome Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Melbourne also
monitored Russian communications from Vladivostok to the Russian
base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.
But that all came to an end in the mid-1990s as Britain prepared for
the return of Hong Kong to China. GCHQ officials ordered all its Hong
Kong buildings razed to eliminate any chance that secrets would be
compromised. By July 1997, when the handover took place, the
windowless operations buildings had been reduced to rubble and the
guard post was occupied by a vagrant sheltering from the rain. GCHQ
did leave some equipment behind, however. Planted in the walls of the
British army's former Prince of Wales barracks, which was turned over to
the Chinese, was an assortment of listening devices.
Some at GCHQ feared that if staff numbers dropped below 4,500, the
agency would begin to seem minor in the eyes of NSA. "If we can stay at
4,500 we can be a vibrant and effective organization," said Brian Moore,
a GCHQ staff officer. "If we don't stabilize at 4,500, there must be a
question mark over GCHQ's core business." But for the first time an
outsider”and one known for his budget cutting”was appointed director.
David Omand, deputy undersecretary of policy at the Ministry of



458
Defence, had made his name by championing a series of initiatives
designed to cut costs and boost the efficiency of the U.K.'s armed forces.
For many cryptologists, watching their secret world vanish into thin
air was a difficult and painful experience. In the Texas hill country, just
north of Austin, Robert Payne sat on his porch beneath an umbrella of
stars. In the cool night, as fireflies danced, he puffed on a long cigar and
took sips from a pale green coffee cup. "Who remembers what we did,
how we did it, and why?" he once wrote.


We were young sailors and marines, teenagers, sitting
with headphones and typewriters copying and encrypting
and decrypting and sending and receiving. Always on the
alert, ever vigilant . . . Who understands the contributions
we made in those far-flung outposts where we listened and
watched through the endless days and nights of a very real
Cold War? Who knows, for certain, what our work
accomplished? I wonder what difference we made in the
overall scheme of things.
I sit here in the soft summer darkness and try to
remember the names of all the places, and ships, and
stations where we served. And I wonder if somewhere down
the long, cold corridors of history, there will be monuments
or memorials to these special ships and secret places that
have served their country so well. . . . Places with strange-
sounding names, surrounded by fences, gates, armed
Marines, and signs that warned "Authorized Personnel Only."
Secret places with funny-looking antenna arrays called
"giraffe" or "dinosaur cages." Places with names people have
never heard.


Another former intercept operator lamented, "Technology has
progressed, so yesterday's way of doing business is no longer today's
way. ... The circle tightens and grows smaller; our bases in the
Philippines are gone. Keflavik, Iceland, is gone. San Vito, Italy, is gone.
Galeta Island, Panama, is gone. Pyong Taek, Korea, is gone. Adak,
Alaska, is gone."
On the pages of the prestigious Naval Institute Press, a retired Navy
cryptologist wrote that the Naval Security Group had outlived its
usefulness and that the precious money used to run it would be better
spent elsewhere in the Navy. The future looked so dim that Rear Admiral
Isaiah Cole, the Security Group's director, was forced to reassure worried
cryptologic veterans that their organization was not going to fold. "There
will continue to be a Naval Security Group," he bravely asserted. But he


459
had to admit that because of budget cuts "these are troubled times."
As the Cold War passed, so did NSA's boom years. In the early 1980s,
"people [were] stacked almost three deep," said one congressional aide. In
1983, NSA building projects (totaling $76 million, with another $212
million slated for the following year) accounted for almost 20 percent of
the Pentagon's entire construction budget worldwide. The addition of two
new operations towers provided the agency's headquarters complex with

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