- Paperback: 784 pages
- Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (April 30, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385499086
- ISBN-13: 978-0385499088
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 212 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency Reprint Edition
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Everybody knows about the CIA--the cloak-and-dagger branch of the U.S. government. Many fewer are familiar with the National Security Agency, even though it has been more important to American espionage in recent years than its better-known counterpart. The NSA is responsible for much of the intelligence gathering done via technology such as satellites and the Internet. Its home office in Maryland "contains what is probably the largest body of secrets ever created."
Little was known about the agency's confidential culture until veteran journalist James Bamford blew the lid off in 1982 with his bestseller The Puzzle Palace. Still, much remained in the shadows. In Body of Secrets, Bamford throws much more light on his subject--and he reveals loads of shocking information. The story of the U-2 crisis in 1960 is well known, including President Eisenhower's decision to tell a fib to the public in order to protect a national-security secret. Bamford takes the story a disturbing step forward, showing how Eisenhower "went so far as to order his Cabinet officers to hide his involvement in the scandal even while under oath. At least one Cabinet member directly lied to the committee, a fact known to Eisenhower." Even more worrisome is another revelation, from the Kennedy years: "The Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba."
Body of Secrets is an incredible piece of journalism, and it paints a deeply troubling portrait of an agency about which the public knows next to nothing. Fans of The Sword and the Shield will want to read it, as will anybody who is intrigued by conspiracies and real-life spy stories. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The National Security Agency (NSA), writes Bamford, has made the United States an "eavesdropping superpower," capable of capturing, deciphering and analyzing "signal intelligence"communicationsin whatever form it may exist and from whatever nation it may be transmitted. Yet with a budget ($4 billion a year) and staff (numbering in the tens of thousands) that dwarf its more famous cousin, the CIA, and with a headquarters, known as "Crypto City," that is its own self-contained community, little is known of NSA among the public and, more troublingly, even within other parts of government. Uncovering the secrets of NSA, its history and operations, has become Bamford's life's work, first begun in his now classic The Puzzle Palace (1982) and continued in this significantly revised and expanded present volume. With remarkable access to highly sensitive documents and information, Bamford takes the reader from the beginnings of NSA during the early cold war, through its roles in such watershed events as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War, to the amazingly sophisticated developments in information technology taking place within NSA today. What Bamford discovers is at times surprising, often quite troubling but always fascinating. In his conclusion, he is at once awed and deeply disturbed by what NSA can now do: ever more sophisticated surveillance techniques can mean ever greater assaults on the basic right of individual privacy. In a computer system that can store five trillion pages of text, anyone and everyone can be monitored. Writing with a flair and clarity that rivals those of the best spy novelists, Bamford has created a masterpiece of investigative reporting. (On-sale date: Apr. 24)Forecast: Bamford will be doing national media, including NBC's Today show and NPR's Fresh Air. This is the stuff spy thrillers are made from: The Puzzle Palace was a bestseller, and this will be, too.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The best parts of the book are about the agency's involvement in certain geopolitical events. The most damning was Israel's murderous attack on the USS Liberty during the '67 War, including the failure of Congress, or anyone else in D.C., to hold the Israelis to account to this day. Eisenhower's use of electronic eavesdropping and over flights of the USSR is covered in great detail, including a seemingly very provocative flight of multiple RB-47 aircraft over the Soviet's northern regions, a move that could easily have been interpreted as a surprise nuclear attack - had the Soviets had radars in that region, that they didn't. Ike comes across as a bit of a madman with his constant probing of Soviet air defenses and here I'd be a bit critical of what the author left out: Eisenhower did not believe the reports he was getting from the U.S. military about the Soviet's bomber or ICBM nuclear capabilities; the country simply didn't have the economic capacity to carry out such an effort, something that was becoming increasingly clear from photographic over flights of various air bases and missile sites. Once Ike had sufficient proof about the inadequacies of the Soviet threat he planned on launching a peace offensive, basically telling the Soviets to get real. One more mission was required to make this case, and it was flown by Gary Powers. One final nail in the coffin of our Vietnam disaster was the total disregard Westmoreland & Co had for the NVA's signals intelligence program, one that was quite sophisticated. The U.S. military refused to believed the gooks had this capacity and broadcast the details of upcoming missions, including B-52 strikes, in the clear with disastrous results.
- Eisenhower frequently sent fighter/bomber formations into Soviet airspace to see how far they could get before being detected, and how quickly the Soviet air defenses could react. This provocative action led to aircraft being shot down on several occasions before they could get out of Soviet airspace, and lives were lost. This finally ended when Gary Powers' U-2 was shot down.
-The reason we wanted the UN in New York? To make spying on everyone easier!
-The USS Liberty saw Israelis massacre 150 Egyptian POWs... so the Israelis tried to sink it, fully knowing it was a U.S. gov't ship.
All in all, a very readable, very informative book. While every page doesn't have jaw-dropping secrets from US history, there are enough to ensure you'll have fun while learning a bit of history.
One excellent point of education was the many disasters in our history resulting from agencies not sharing information. One thing Bush did right was making sure that something like 9/11 will never happen again because of this inter-service rivalry.
A very enjoyable book. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that it's not as cutting edge as when I first read it. (Body of Secrets was published within one-two years of many classified documents being made public.)
Most recent customer reviews
All of James Bamford works need to be read.