Friday, July 1, 2011

The NSA Public History Reader

Its initials mocked as standing for No Such Agency” and “Never Say Anything” and an established history of employing almost any means - technological, legal, and monetary- necessary to secure its anonymity and mission from hostile scrutiny,  it seems both ironic and laughable that one of the United States government’s most robust and publicly assessable public history programs is operated by the National Security Agency. Staffed at the time of this writing with , the National Security Agency’s public history program, operated under the auspices of the Center for Cryptologic History and the NSA’s Public Affairs Office has produced over a thousand oral histories, dozens of classified and unclassified monographs, and operates the only museum maintained by a member of the American Intelligence Community opened to the public. It has even produced a three part history of history at the National Security Agency, essentially an autobiography of the history program at the  Internally, the Center for Cryptologic History is tasked with providing support for and does so by providing history classes for the National Cryptologic School, educating “new hires” at NSA, and to create camaraderie within NSA ranks through the use of history. 

Below are seven documents relating to the public history programs with some links to follow-up resources.

National Security Agency/ Central Security Service- NSA/CSS POLICY I-55 was issued on 9/I9/ 2007 and the last revised on 6/10/201. This fifteen page document governs all aspects of the Center for Cryptologic History's activities including its oral history program, its publication of books and the Cryptologic Quarterly, and its the NSA's Memoralization programs.
National Security Agency/ Central Security Service- NSA/CSS POLICY I-55                                                            
Founded at the command of the first director of the National Security Agency Ralph Canine, the Technical Journal was a print publication designed to allow NSA staff to discuss technical problems, issues, and solutions amongst themselves. The Technical Journal was supplemented in 1968 with the creation of the Cryptologic Spectrum, a publication whose focus was to be less on technical issues and more the history and social science aspects of cryptography. As shown by articles posted by the National Security on its website, this separation of technical and social was more a fuzzy guideline and then a firm, enforced policy.
To the left, is the last publication guideline for the Technical Journal. According to the final response letter, they could not locate the publication guidelines for the Cryptologic Spectrum.

In 1981, the Cryptologic Quarterly was created and both the Technical Journal and the Cryptologic Spectrum were subsumed into this publication which is still produced by the NSA. It is occasionally supplemented by the Cryptologic Almanac, which is a specially produced publication that focuses on a specific topic. 

      Contributor Guidelines for the NSA's Crypytologic Quarterly                                                            

Currently, (according to their organizational chart) the Center for Cryptologic History produces all of this with a staff of just five people. Heading the effort is Dr. William Williams who heads the Center for Cryptologic History and is described by Matthew Aid as, "

The first page is a copy of the most recent (at the time of post) customer satisfaction survey. The next four are a compilation of statistics from the last review of complete customer surveys. From the available date, it seems that the visitors who completed the survey were generally civilian or prior-service and enjoyed their visit to the NCM. 

NSA Museum Survey Results

The first two pages of the next document are a memo on the presentation of a proposal for a National Security Agency museum. The current museum has its origins in this proposal despite the significant differences between it and the National Cryptologic Museum as it now exists.

The Initial NSA Museum Proposal                                                           

This five page document is NSA/CSS Regulation No. 10-63 NSA/CSS Prepublication Review Procedure. Dated 12/15/1992, this is the regulation that governs the procedures and policies that allow NSA employees to publish while protecting American national security.

NSA Prepublication Review Regulation                                                           

Further Reading- The Center for Cryptologic History has produced a wonderful three part series on the History of History at the NSA

The Central Intelligence Agency's Center for the Study of Intelligence has produced two articles on the National Cryptologic Museum:

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