Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

FC: NSA abandons pizza box info-delivery, switches t

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Date:          Tue, 06 Apr 1999 09:00:30 -0400
From:          Declan McCullagh <>
Subject:       FC: NSA abandons pizza box info-delivery, switches to Intelink

Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 08:35:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: Roland Grefer <>
Subject: No more top-secret pizza boxes (fwd) 



Headline: No more top-secret pizza boxes
Subhead: Spies: A book by a former National Security Agency official
 an unprecedented look at the super-secret agency and tells of
 NSA's development of a computer network. 

By Neal Thompson


"A book about NSA has never been written by an insider. 
It was tough getting through the system because people were opposed to
it. There is a school of thought that says you wear your trench coat
and your dark glasses and you don't say anything." Tom Martin,author
of "Top Secret Intranet"

  Espionage watchers consider the early 1990s a low point for 
the National Security Agency.

Around that time, the Internet was beginning to change how people
communicate, becoming a new tool for everyday life. But while the rest
of the nation was e-mailing each other, NSA was still delivering
top-secret intelligence reports to Washington inside pizza boxes.

An agency that in its heyday had helped create the first computers had
become appallingly low-tech. Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf even
complained about it during 1991's Persian Gulf war when he said
intelligence reports on Iraq's military were taking too long to reach
his hands.

That has all changed recently with the development of an internal
computer network for spies called Intelink, which brings
up-to-the-minute spy data to hundreds of thousands of spies, diplomats
and soldiers in the field, as well as Congress and the White House.

Completed in 1996, Intelink has become an invaluable tool for 
the 13 intelligence community agencies that use it to disseminate and
share their secret information.

Intelink consists of highly classified data that users access 
at the click of a button. Data that once took hours to reach 
Washington now cross the globe in a second.

Just like logging onto America Online or the World Wide Web, 
intelligence analysts and military personnel log on to Intelink's home
page, where they see a map of the world and can click, say, Bosnia to
access intelligence reports, video clips, satellite photos, databases
and status reports. Users can "chat" online with other spies or
exchange e-mail on a topic.

The evolution of NSA's in-house Internet coincides with 
a new philosophy: Why struggle to be a technological leader when it's
easier and cheaper to buy all the cutting-edge software we need from
Microsoft and others?

How the NSA changed

The story behind that transformation is detailed in a new book 
by a former top NSA official -- a book noted as much for the 
fact that it was published at all as for its content.

When Tom Martin started working for NSA in 1960, he signed a 
letter promising never to write a book about his super-secret 
employer. In a sign of changing times in the intelligence community,
Martin unveils previously classified details about how NSA spies on
the world.

And he does so with NSA's approval. Martin's book pulls 
back the curtain on the gears of NSA's machinery, providing 
a rare nuts-and-bolts look at how today's high-tech spies 
do their job.

"Top Secret Intranet: How U.S. Intelligence Built Intelink 
-- the world's largest, most secure network" is also 
a fascinating glimpse at the slow and sometimes reluctant thawing of
an obsessively secretive agency that once denied its own existence.


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