To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the NSA, which is responsible for eavesdropping on the rest of the world and breaking foreign crypto systems, is the nation's largest, most hidden, and most important intelligence agency. While hundreds of books have been written on the far smaller and more familiar CIA, only one previous book—James Bamford's The Puzzle Palace—has ever penetrated the National Security Agency. With the publication of his new book, Body of Secrets, many are saying that the agency's initials now stand for Not Secret Anymore.
Body of Secrets takes the reader into a world few have ever seen. It is a world where computer systems are measured by the acre. Where massive listening posts, like moon-bases, eavesdrop on foreign governments and terrorists—including suspected bomber Osama bin Ladin talking over the telephone to his mother. Where crewmembers on risky eavesdropping missions fly close to hostile lands, and sometimes never return. In his new book, James Bamford, for the first time, explores the vital role played by America's eavesdroppers and codebreakers during the tension-filled years of the Cold War. He also looks into whether the new telecommunications revolution is causing NSA to suddenly go deaf. And he addresses the issue of Echelon, the worldwide NSA operation that, many charge, is illegally eavesdropping on innocent citizens. Finally, he takes his readers on the first tour of the NSA's hidden, city-size complex, nicknamed Crypto City, and introduces them to the unique men and women who occupy that shadowy land.
Chatter (Video) by Robert Baer