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Mar 1933 to Apr. 1945, The Roosevelt Years 2nd Edition, part 10

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  • DickMcManus
    The existence of VENONA decryption became known to the Soviets within a few years of the first breaks. It is not clear whether the Soviets knew how much of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8, 2013

            The existence of VENONA decryption became known to the Soviets within a few years of the first breaks. It is not clear whether the Soviets knew how much of the message traffic, or which messages, had been successfully decrypted. At least one Soviet penetration agent, British Secret Intelligence Service representative to the US, Kim Philby, was told about the project in 1949, as part of his job as liaison between British and US intelligence. Since all of the duplicate one-time pad pages had been used by this time, the Soviets apparently did not make any changes to their cryptographic procedures after they learned of VENONA. However, this information did allow them to alert those of their agents who might be at risk of exposure due to the decryption.

           The decrypted messages gave important insights into Soviet behavior in the period during which duplicate one-time pads were used. With the first break into the code, VENONA revealed the existence of Soviet espionage at Los Alamos National Laboratories.  Identities soon emerged of American, Canadian, Australian, and British spies in service to the Soviet government, including Klaus Fuchs, Alan Nunn May, and Donald Maclean, a member of the Cambridge Five spy ring.

           The decrypts show that the US and other nations were targeted in major espionage campaigns by the Soviet Union as early as 1942. Among those identified are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg; Alger Hiss; Harry Dexter White, the second-highest official in the Treasury Department; Lauchlin Currie, a personal aide to Franklin Roosevelt; and Maurice Halperin, a section head in the Office of Strategic Services.

           The identification of individuals mentioned in VENONA transcripts is sometimes problematic, since people with a "covert relationship" with Soviet intelligence are referenced by code names. Further complicating matters is the fact that the same person sometimes had different code names at different times, and the same code name was sometimes reused for different individuals. In some cases, notably that of Alger Hiss, the matching of a VENONA code name to an individual is disputed. In many other cases, a VENONA code name has not yet been linked to any person. According to authors John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, the VENONA transcripts identify approximately 349 Americans whom they claim had a covert relationship with Soviet intelligence, though fewer than half of these have been matched to real-name identities.  It is also argued that in some cases the individual may have been an unwitting information source or a prospect for future recruitment by Soviet intelligence.

           The Office of Strategic Services, housed at one time or another between fifteen and twenty Soviet spies. Duncan Lee, Donald Wheeler, Jane Foster Zlatowski, and Maurice Halperin passed information to Moscow. The War Production Board, the Board of Economic Warfare, the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and the Office of War Information, included at least half a dozen Soviet sources each among their employees. In the opinion of some, almost every American military and diplomatic agency of any importance was compromised to some extent by Soviet espionage.

           VENONA has added information—some of it unequivocal, some of it ambiguous—to several espionage cases. Some known spies, including Theodore Hall, were neither prosecuted nor publicly implicated, because the VENONA evidence against them was not made public.

           Identity of Soviet source codename "19" is unclear. According to British writer Nigel West it was president of Czechoslovak government-in-exile Edvard Beneš. Military historian Eduard Mark and American authors Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel concluded that it was Roosevelt's aide Harry Hopkins. According to American authors John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, source codename "19" could be someone from the British delegation to the Washington Conference in May 1943.

           In addition to the British and Americans, VENONA intercepts were collected by the Australians at a remote base in the Australian Outback. However, the Russians were not aware of this base even as late as 1950.  The founding of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization by Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley was considered highly controversial within Chifley's own party.  Until then, the left-leaning Australian Labor Party had been hostile to domestic intelligence agencies on civil liberties grounds, and a Labor government actually founding one was a surprising about face.  It was the revelation of VENONA material to Chifley revealing evidence of Soviet agents operating in Australia that brought this about. As well as Australian diplomat suspects abroad, VENONA had revealed that Wally Clayton (codenamed KLOD), a leading official within the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), was the chief organizer of Soviet intelligence gathering in Australia. Investigation revealed he was forming an underground network within the CPA so that the party could continue to operate if it was banned.

           For much of its history, knowledge of VENONA was restricted even from the highest levels of government. Senior army officers, in consultation with the FBI and CIA, made the decision to restrict knowledge of VENONA within the government (even the CIA was not made an active partner until 1952). Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley, concerned about the White House's history of leaking sensitive information, decided to deny President Truman direct knowledge of the project.

           The president received the substance of the material only through FBI, Justice Department and CIA reports on counterintelligence and intelligence matters. He was not told the material came from decoded Soviet ciphers. To some degree this secrecy was counter-productive; Truman was distrustful of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, and suspected the reports were exaggerated for political purposes.

           Some of the earliest detailed public knowledge that Soviet code messages from World War II had been broken came with the release of Robert Lamphere's book, The FBI-KGB War, in 1986. Lamphere had been the FBI liaison to the code-breaking activity, had considerable knowledge of VENONA and the counter-intelligence work that resulted from it. MI5 assistant director Peter Wright's 1987 memoir, Spycatcher, however, was the first detailed account of the Venona project, identifying it by name and making clear its long-term implications in post-war espionage.

           Many inside the NSA had argued internally that the time had come to publicly release the details of the VENONA project, but it was not until 1995 that the bipartisan Commission on Government Secrecy, with Senator Moynihan as chairman, released the VENONA project materials. Moynihan wrote:

           "[The] secrecy system has systematically denied American historians access to the records of American history. Of late we find ourselves relying on archives of the former Soviet Union in Moscow to resolve questions of what was going on in Washington at mid-century. [...] the Venona intercepts contained overwhelming proof of the activities of Soviet spy networks in America, complete with names, dates, places, and deeds."

           One of the considerations in releasing VENONA translations was the privacy interests of the individuals mentioned, referenced, or identified in the translations. Some names were not released because to do so would constitute an invasion of privacy.

           According to Ellen Schrecker, "Because they offer insights into the world of the secret police on both sides of the Iron Curtain, it is tempting to treat the FBI and VENONA materials less critically than documents from more accessible sources. But there are too many gaps in the record to use these materials with complete confidence."



      The Signal Security Agency

           The United States' entry into World War II naturally imposed new demands on the Army's Signal Intelligence Service. Up to this point, the SIS had achieved its main successes against intercepted diplomatic communications provided by its 2d Signal Service Company, which manned seven small fixed sites located at Fort Hancock, New Jersey; Fort Hunt, Virginia; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; the Presidio of San Francisco, California; Corozal, Panama Canal Zone; Fort Shafter, Hawaii; and Fort McKinley, Philippine Islands. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Signal Intelligence Service had a strength of 331, almost equally divided between the field sites and its headquarters in the old Munitions Building in downtown Washington, D.C.

           The shift from peace to war transformed the nature of the Signal Intelligence Service, for it now had to provide military as well as diplomatic intelligence. Initially, the organization concentrated on deciphering Japanese Army cryptosystems, since the Japanese posed the immediate military threat to U.S. forces. To do this, the SIS analysts had to master the elaborate and intricate system of Japanese military codes, which worked on cryptologic principles completely different from those used in the Purple machine of the Japanese Foreign Office. This required not only the expansion of the SIS headquarters, but also the reconfiguration of its intercept network, and the most advanced outpost, Fort McKinley.

           The year 1944 saw the full maturation of SSA's activities. In January Australian forces captured the codes of the Japanese 20th Division at Sio on New Guinea. The find led to full exploitation of Japanese military communications and triggered another period of growth. By June 1944 over 5,100 civilians, most of them female, were working at Arlington Hall, assisted by 2,000 more military personnel. In the spring of 1944 the intercept facilities of SSA's 2d Signal Service Battalion were also extended when new fixed stations were established at New Delhi, India; Asmara, Eritrea; Fairbanks and Amchitka, Alaska; and Fort Shafter, Hawaii. In the fall the steady advance of American forces in the Pacific allowed another fixed site to be established on the island of Guam. Additionally, the 2d Signal Service Battalion assumed control over former Office of Strategic Services "listening posts" at Bellmore, New York, and Resada, California, converting them into security monitoring stations.

           Arlington Hall thus became the center of an enormous web of collection activity Intercept was provided not only by the fixed stations of the 2d Signal Service Battalion, but also by Signal Corps tactical units under theater control in the field. By the end of the war, 26,000 American soldiers were involved, one way or another, with the intercept and processing of signals intelligence. In addition, U.S. Army collection efforts were supplemented by material forwarded to Arlington Hall by MacArthur's multinational center and by British, Canadian, and Indian sources. To process the material, which came by courier pouch and through forty six teletype lines at Arlington Hall, the Signal Security Agency's military and civilian work force of 7,000 was supported by a battery of 400 IBM punch-card machines.

           All this was conducted under the tightest secrecy, which would be maintained for thirty years. The stringent security measures that cloaked the Army's signals intelligence organization, however, denied it the credit and stature it deserved. That the positions of chief of the Signal Security Agency and commander of the 2d Signal Service Battalion continued to be combined under one colonel throughout most of World War II indicates something of the nature of the problem. Col. Preston W Corderman, who had commanded the agency since 1943, finally received a brigadier general's star in June 1945.

           In early 1944 the Signal Security Agency and its Navy opposite number, OP-20-G. However, the new head of the Military Intelligence Division, Maj. Gen. Clayton Bissell, vetoed the idea on the grounds that "the Army cannot participate on an inter-service project of this sort as long as its own signal intelligence efforts remain as decentralized as they now are."

      Communications Security

           The Signal Security Agency was shield as well as sword in World War II, since the agency had the duty of protecting Army communications in addition to exploiting those of other nations. Army communications security had already been secured by the development of various kinds of cipher machines.

           By June 1943 new crypto-communications devices produced by the Signal Security Agency agency had developed a secure telephone apparatus used for transatlantic conversations between Roosevelt and Churchill and later employed to link theater commanders with Washington. The SIGSALY, as it was called, afforded high security although with the device weighing 90 tons, its use was obviously confined to major headquarters

           In addition to producing and distributing various types of cipher machines, the Signal Security Agency supplied the Army with huge quantities of codes, strip ciphers, and key lists. It also monitored military communications to guard against security violations and disguised major military movements by creating false patterns of message traffic. The multifaceted communications security (COMSEC) operation absorbed the efforts of a sizable portion of agency personnel.

      The Electronic Battlefield

           In addition to its traditional cryptographic functions, the Signal Security Agency assumed new responsibilities in the fields of electronic warfare and electronic intelligence. After Pearl Harbor the Signal Corps had transferred its Air Warning Service radar companies to the control of the Army Air Forces, ultimately turning over all responsibilities in radar development to the air arm. However, the Signal Corps continued to exercise staff supervision over Army radio countermeasures and "radio or radar deception" through a newly formed Protective Security Branch, which was reassigned to the Signal Security Service at Arlington Hall in December 1942.

           Although the initial concern of the Protective Security Branch was to protect the Army's own communications from enemy jamming, it began to consider a more positive role as the balance of the war started to shift. In June 1943 the branch laid down the first guidelines for the use of countermeasures in the field. Only theater commanders could authorize the use of radio or electronic countermeasures, although task force commanders might be delegated this authority when actually engaging the enemy. At the same time, Army Ground Forces fielded two provisional countermeasures detachments to provide support in the 1943 summer maneuvers. In practice, however, American forces did not attempt communications jamming to any extent in World War II, since it would risk interfering with the vital flow of communications intelligence. The Americans made one significant attempt to disrupt enemy communications circuits during the Ardennes campaign, using electronic jamming equipment mounted in aircraft to interfere with the radio transmissions from German tanks.

           In other areas, the activities of the Protective Security Branch were more fruitful. The branch supported the Signal Security Agency's communications security program by monitoring traffic patterns on the Army's radio teletype links to ensure that pending military operations would not be compromised by a sudden surge of message traffic between two points. Additionally, the branch played a role in Army radio deception operations, training personnel, procuring equipment, and providing technical data. The 3103d Signal Service Battalion, activated in December 1943 for deployment in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), could simulate the communications nets of large formations. It played an important role in diverting the Germans from the real locations of American troop concentrations before the invasion of Normandy A smaller deception unit, the 3153d Signal Service Company, went to the Pacific in 1944.

           The branch's activities in electronic intelligence and electronic countermeasures-jamming enemy radars-were of even greater future significance. The rapid developments of radar technology in World War II and the employment of radar by both Germany and Japan meant that the new device became both an important new intelligence target and an object suitable for electronic countermeasures. In this exotic war, the Protective Security Branch, along with the rest of the Army's ground elements, played only a small role. The civilian Radio Research Laboratory of the National Defense Council conducted the initial research on methods of blinding enemy radar. The Army Air Forces generated the requirements in this field, since the threat posed by the early-warning and gun-laying radars of the day was against aircraft. Similarly, the Army Air Forces initially employed the first radar jammers and engaged in the first electronic intelligence operations from aircraft.

           However, there proved to be a role for ground-based electronic countermeasures also. Under the aegis of the Protective Security Branch, a provisional unit, the 1st Signal Service Platoon (Special) was organized at Arlington Hall in July 1943 to find and jam enemy radar and moved almost immediately to Amchitka in the Aleutians. Since the Army could find no Japanese radars in the area, the unit subsequently redeployed to the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean and operated against German targets. Additional specialized companies and detachments were formed later, operating mainly in the Pacific. The Signal Security Agency continued to exercise staff supervision over such units until April 1945, when most of the functions of the Protective Security Branch were transferred to other Signal Corps agencies. It would take another decade for electronic warfare and electronic intelligence to be reintegrated into the Army's communications intelligence organization.



          During World War II, all US telegraph companies forwarded copies of international cables to the federal government.  One of the little-known features of (British and USA agreement) BRUSA was that President Roosevelt agreed that the two governments could spy on each others' citizens, without search warrants, by establishing "listening posts" on each others' territory.


            United Kingdom and US agreement is the agreement that has its roots in the BRUSA communications intelligence alliance (COMINT) formed in the early days of World War II and ratified on May 17, 1943 by the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commonwealth Signal Intelligence (SIGINT or monitoring radar or radio and telephone electro-magnetic energy) Organization formed in 1946-1947 brought together the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand post-war intelligence agencies.  Forged in 1947 between the US and UK, the still-secret UKUSA agreement defined the relations between the SIGINT departments of those various governments. Direct agreements between the US and these agencies also define the intricate relationship that these organizations engage in.


           President Truman issued a secret order creating the National Security Agency, (NSA).


            The NSA and Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) through the BRUSA-UKUSA pacts, agreed to share the wealth of each other's cable intercept programs. What this meant was that, in addition to collecting all the cable and telex traffic from the three U.S. telegraph companies (ITT, RCA Global, and Western Union /2/) under its Shamrock program in 1945, NSA would now also have access to the traffic flowing in and out of the British commercial telegraph system.


          Once received, the British tape recordings would be processed through NSA watch list-alerted computers. Thus, NSA would be able to ransack the entire United Kingdom telex and cable systems to locate a reference to Jane Fonda or Muamma Qaddafi, oil or drugs, IBM or British Petroleum.   At the height of Project SHAMROCK, 150,000 messages a month were printed and analyzed by NSA agents.


           That the NSA used the British intercepts to search for protesters in its domestic Minaret program was discovered by the special Justice Department task force that investigated the eavesdropping policies of the intelligence community. Project MINARET involved the creation of "watch lists" by each of the intelligence agencies and the FBI of those accused of "subversive" domestic activities. The watch lists included such notables as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Jane Fonda, Joan Baez and Dr. Benjamin Spock. 


           Several former GCHQ officials confidentially told the London Observer in June 1992. Among the targeted organizations they named were Amnesty International, Greenpeace and Christian Aid, an American missions organization that works with indigenous pastors engaged in ministry work in countries closed to Western, Christian workers.


           The task force report concluded that "MINARET intelligence, except one category of international voice communications involving narcotics, was obtained incidentally in the course of NSA's interception of aural and non-aural (e.g., telex) international communications, and the receipt of Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) (England) -acquired telex and ILC [International Licensed Carriers] cable traffic (SHAMROCK)." (Emphasis in original) Thus, wittingly or unwittingly, the British government became a co-conspirator in one of the NSA's most illegal operations.


            GCHQ, almost certainly runs the cable and telex intercepts supplied by NSA through its own domestic watch list.    Just as UKUSA provides for the exchange of intercepted cable and telex, it also probably provides for the exchange of aural, or telephone intercepts. Duncan Campbell, an editor of the British magazine New Statesman, and Linda Melvern, a veteran reporter for the Sunday Times of London, suggested in a New Statesman article in July 1980 that one of the principal targets of the NSA's Menwith Hill Station in Harrogate, Yorkshire, is British international and domestic telecommunications.


      "Operation Shamrock" ended in the May 1975 (Watergate).

      The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency, James Bamford, Penguin Books, 1983. ISBN 0 14 00.6748 5. Pages 391-425.


      The Ties That Bind : Intelligence Cooperation Between the UK/USA Countries, by Desmond Ball and Jeffrey Richelson, (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1985) pp. 137-8.



          The Battle of the Atlantic really gained pace after 1941 when the U-boat captains began to expand operations. The conquest by Germany of Norway and France gave the Germans forward bases, increasing the U-boats' range and enabling long-range aircraft to patrol over the Atlantic, carrying out reconnaissance for the U-boats. As the U-boats became more successful they were put into wider use. The British were consequently forced to divert their own shipping away from vulnerable UK ports, and needed to provide naval escorts for convoys for greater stretches of the journey to North America. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Rainsford_Stark


           It appeared in January 1942 that the defenses of the west coast had been breached by the attack on the US Pacific Fleet and the Hawaiian Islands. Two weeks of panic followed the Pearl Harbor attack as anxious citizens made many erroneous "sightings" of the Japanese fleet. The Army rushed anti-aircraft units to defend the California oil industry; critical aircraft plants at Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle; and naval shipyards in the Puget Sound, in Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. By the end of February almost 250,000 troops had arrived to defend vital installations on the west coast, a task for which Army ground combat units were neither intended nor trained. General Marshall's chief concern was that the public fear of imminent invasion would freeze this force in a perimeter defense of the coast at a time when these regulars were desperately needed to train the citizen army being mobilized by the Selective Service System. Within six months, however, the demand for such defenses abated as Japanese intentions became clearer. If there had ever been a risk of west coast invasion, it disappeared after the Battles of the Coral Sea (May 6-8, 1942) and Midway (June 3-6, 1942), which crippled the Japanese aircraft carrier force. After the results of Midway became clear, the Army began to stand down its defenses on the west coast, reassigning its Air Forces units and anti-aircraft forces to other duties. Thereafter, the War Department adopted a "calculated risk" policy that gave priority to mobilization duties rather than to passive defense.

           The west coast actually saw a limited amount of warfare. Submarines of the Japanese 6th Fleet performed reconnaissance and struck the sea lines of communication. Around the middle of December 1941, nine submarines arrived in American waters for the start of what was to be eight months of operations. Four of these boats eventually made attacks on coastal shipping, sinking two tankers and damaging one freighter. On February 23, 1942 the Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced near Santa Barbara and used its deck gun to fire thirteen 5.5-inch shells into oil installations, although with negligible damage. On the night of  June 21-22, 1942, a submarine rose to the surface at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon and fired about a dozen 5.5-inch shells at Fort Stevens, a coast artillery fort. Militarily insignificant, that attack marked the first time since the War of 1812 that a foreign enemy had fired on a military installation in the continental United States. In early September 1942 the final Japanese submarine attack on the American coast during the war took place in reprisal for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo the previous April. The submarine I-25, which carried a float plane, launched its aircraft off the Oregon coast on the 9th of the month. The airplane dropped an incendiary bomb on a forested mountain hill near Brookings, starting a small forest fire that local authorities quickly extinguished. The I-25 then sank two tankers before leaving for Japan. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/war-plan-orange.htm

           In 1942, Japanese sent 9,000 to 10,000 balloon bombs from Japan to the west coast of the US.  About 1,000 are estimated to have landed in Washington and Oregon, but only 389 are accounted for.  Unexploded bomb killed a woman and a child in Oregon.   One bomb knocked out power to the Handford Nuclear reactors.  The US military flew, P-61 with radar to search for and knock them out of the sky.   The US had a disinformation program to try and keep the fact that these balloons had made it all the way to the west coast.  The US feared the Japanese may then use them to spread germ warfare agents in the US.   http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigations/603_warballoon.html

           When the Allies invaded North Africa on November 8, 1942, the Germans and Italians immediately occupied the remaining free part of France.

           During the fall of 1942, German submarines were ordered into the mid‐Atlantic, where US land‐based airplanes and blimps didn't have the range to patrol and provide air cover to US shipping.  In early 1943, Britain was running out of fuel and the number of operational U-boats had increased from 47 to 200. This changed when the Allies used radio (signals) intelligence and decoded German Navy messages that enabled them to anticipate the locations and maneuvers of U-boats. This intelligence (ULTRA) saved the situation, along with aggressive anti-submarine tactics, better weapons and the development of long-range Ally aircraft (Liberator) equipped with radar.

            By April 1943 the U-boats were clearly struggling to make an impact and Allied destruction of German submarines began to escalate: 45 were destroyed in April and May. On May 23, 1943, the German Navy decided to stop U-boat operations.

           On December 2, 1943, 100 German bomber aircraft surprised the Allies in an attack that ultimately left more than fifteen merchant marine vessels at the bottom of the harbor of the City of Bari, Italy.  The American military shipped mustard gas to the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) via the merchant marine. The named SS John Harvey, reportedly was carrying  more than one hundred tons of mustard gas. As a result at least sixty-nine men died, and another 628 people were exposure to mustard gas of.  Eighty three US troops die in the poisoned sea waters. http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/cw/cwindex.html


            It is an accepted fact today that the true death toll will never be known for several reasons, among them the fact that many Italians, including physicians at local hospitals, were never informed that mustard gas had been released over the city, and that the pernicious and persistent nature of mustard would affect the region over the decades to come.    Mustard is an oily brownish liquid that evaporates slowly. This liquid (or gaseous) chemical agent is incredibly persistent and has been known to cause burns after more than twenty years under certain circumstances. It will kill anyone who breathed its fumes or came into contact with its droplets one the skin. Mustard is a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, and it is thought that many Italians may have succumbed to its effects years after the fact.


           The American military leadership under General Dwight D. Eisenhower covered up this incident for over a decades. The motivating factor behind the secrecy applied to Bari, is that public opinion, not only during the war, but after as well.  It is a war crime dangerous stuff to remain in a battle field after the war harming civilians. 


           It would not have been beneficial for the Allies to provoke a German response with their own gas should it have been discovered that the Allies were stockpiling chemical munitions in Italy. Additionally it was thought that the Nazi propaganda ministry might be able effectively to use this incident against the Allies, and perhaps sway world opinion against them.

           The Germans possessed gas weapons, including three particularly terrible nerve agents known as Tabun, Sarin, and Soman. The Allies had not invented nerve agents until after the war.

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