- Tapa blanda: 655 páginas
- Editor: Penguin Books Ltd; Edición: Reprint (29 de septiembre de 1983)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0140067485
- ISBN-13: 978-0140067484
Detalles del producto
Even though PUZZLE PALACE has been around for eighteen years, it still seems to be the best researched book on NSA that's available. It would be nice if Bamford could update us on what has happened in those intervening years.
None of the following is classified information. I was an enlisted man in the Army Security Agency, stationed in the Philippines, from 1955 to 1957. I had been trained as a French Linguist at the Army Language School. It wasn't until I got to the Philippines that I even knew that there was an organization known as the National Security Agency (NSA). Even more amazing is the fact that, until I read Bamford's book, I had no idea how what I was doing fit into the scheme of things. Thanks, James Bamford, for clearing that up for me some forty five years later. Better late than never, they say.
What I think that Bamford has done so well is to tell the true story of the creation of a modern "Frankenstein's Monster." He presents a cogent case for the very real need for communication interception and code breaking in the early days of NSA's existence. He proceeds to take us through, step by step, the process whereby a protector of our freedoms seems to have evolved into a threat to those very freedoms.
According to Bamford, the communications security community seems almost paranoid in their fears that "unless we absolutely control it, it's dangerous." They are devious enough to get around any and every safeguard to the privacy of the individuual that might be established. To wit: Jimmy Carter, when he was President, put a few safeguards in place. With time on their side, the NSA waited until Ronald Reagan was President and got him to remove those safeguards. (See page 374 of the 1982 hardback edition.)
It makes one wonder: In today's world of e-mail, high speed faxes, cel phones, etc., all using the air waves, is anything sacred or has Orwell's prediction come true. As I mentioned above, I'd really like for Bamford to bring us up to date.
A few reviewers have complained about problems keeping up with all the initials used in PUZZLE PALACE. One has to understand that no discussion of the magnitude of the situation can be held without mentioning all of the organizations and committees involved.
It is true that a bit of hard work on the part of the reader is necessary to get all, or most, of the impact of the information contained in PUZZLE PALACE, but I think that the knowledge gained is definitely worth the effort.
In the 1980s I wished that "The Puzzle Palace" had not been written; it seemed to me to contain considerable material that would have best been left unpublished (and would have been if the United States had anything like the British Official Secrets Act.) Looking back from the vantage point of 2001, I note only one brief item in "The Puzzle Palace" that I know harmed the United States, and in that case the harm was minor. (Furthermore, Bamford got that item from a senior NSA official, and may not have know that it was sensitive.) And I note several places where Bamford must have known certain things he chose to omit from "The Puzzle Palace" that might indeed have imperiled some aspect of national security, even though they were not, are not, and never have been classified. So, overall, I consider that Bamford walked the tightrope quite well in "The Puzzle Palace."
It will be interesting not only to read his new book when it comes out, but also to compare the new book with "The Puzzle Palace." I intend to keep them side by side on my bookshelf.