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[Hoert! Hoert! Hier wird (ausnahmsweise) mal die Wahrheit gesagt -
es geht zuvorderst um die NSA, nicht um die Bekaempfung der
Kriminalitaet. (ECHELON gehoert zu SIGINT)                --AHH]


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5 March 1999

USIS Washington File

04 March 1999 


(McNamara cites risk to intelligence gathering)  (850)

Washington -- A National Security Agency (NSA) official says
legislation that would essentially eliminate export controls for
commercial encryption software would place U.S. national security at
risk by preventing timely gathering of intelligence.

In March 4 testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary
subcommittee, NSA Deputy Director Barbara McNamara explained how her
agency intercepts encrypted communications signals from foreign
adversaries, unscrambles them and prepares intelligence reports for
U.S. decision makers and military commanders.

"Very often, time is of the essence," she said. "Intelligence is
perishable; it is worthless if we can not provide it in time to make a
difference in rendering vital decisions."

McNamara said the bill would accelerate widespread proliferation of
encryption software of strength impossible for NSA to decrypt.

The bill, which has 205 House cosponsors, is called the Security and
Freedom Through Encryption (SAFE) Act.

Following is the text of McNamara's text as submitted for the
subcommittee's record:

(begin excerpt)

It is the signals intelligence (SIGINT) role that I want to address
today. Our principal responsibility is to ensure a strong national
security environment by providing timely information that is essential
to critical military and policy decision making. NSA intercepts and
analyzes the communications signals of our foreign adversaries, many
of which are guarded by codes and other complex electronic
countermeasures. From these signals, we produce vital intelligence
reports for national decision makers and military commanders. Very
often, time is of the essence. Intelligence is perishable; it is
worthless if we can not provide it in time to make a difference in
rendering vital decisions.

For example, SIGINT proved its worth in World War II when the United
States broke the Japanese naval code and learned of their plans to
invade Midway Island. This intelligence significantly aided the U.S.
defeat of the Japanese fleet. Subsequent use of SIGINT helped shorten
the war. NSA continues today to provide vital intelligence to the
warfighter and the policy maker in time to make a difference for our
nation's security. Demands on us in this arena have only grown since
the break-up of the Soviet Union and have expanded to address other
national security threats such as terrorism, weapons proliferation,
and narcotic trafficking, to name a few.

Please do not confuse the needs of national security with the needs of
law enforcement. The two sets of interests and methods vary
considerably and must be addressed separately. The law enforcement
community is concerned about the use of non-recoverable encryption by
persons engaged in illegal activity domestically. At NSA, we are
primarily focused on preserving export controls on encryption to
protect national security.

While our mission is to provide intelligence to help protect the
country's security, we also recognize that there must be a balanced
approach to the encryption issue. The interests of industry and
privacy groups, as well as of the Government, must be taken into
account. Encryption is a technology that will allow our citizens to
fully participate in the 21st Century world of electronic commerce. It
will enhance the economic competitiveness of U.S. industry. It will
combat unauthorized access to private information and it will deny
adversaries from gaining access to U.S. information wherever it may be
in the world.

To promote this balanced approach, we are engaged in an ongoing and
productive dialogue with industry. The recent Administration update to
the export control regulations addresses many industry concerns and
has significantly advanced the ability of U.S. vendors to participate
in overseas markets. Of equal significance, the Wassenaar nations,
representing most major producers and users of encryption, agreed
unanimously in December 1998 to control strong hardware and software
encryption to be exported for foreign financial institutions. The
criteria for exporting encryption to these institutions should not be
the basis for decontrolling other encryption exports. Allowing
favorable treatment for specific classes of end-users may be
appropriate in cases such as those involving banks and other financial
institutions which are well regulated and have a good record of
providing access to lawful requests for information. Requiring the
blanket approval of exports to all other end-users in a country would
eliminate important national security end-use considerations for these

In summary, the SAFE Act will harm national security by making NSA's
job of providing vital intelligence to our leaders and military
commanders difficult, it not impossible, thus putting our nation's
security at some considerable risk. Our nation cannot have an
effective decision-making process, or a strong fighting force, or a
responsive law enforcement community unless the intelligence
information required to support them is available in time to make a
difference. The nation needs a balanced encryption policy that allows
U.S. industry to continue to be the world's technology leader, but
that policy must also protect our national security interests.

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Subcommittee and I would
be happy to answer any questions you may have.

(end excerpt)

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