We've been extended an exclusive opportunity to publish a free preview chapter from the book by NSA Insider, Greg Hansen, "In The Crosshairs: How I
Became the Target of an NSA Power Struggle." While the book doesn't blow the type of whistles blown by Edward Snowden, it's still a strong
condemnation of the US's intelligence organizations, and blows a softer whistle, perhaps just as important as Snowden's revelations, but for different
reasons. The book gets into specific detail about the political infighting, backstabbing, agendas, and ineptitude which come a tremendous taxpayer
expense and an incalculable impact on national security. From Greg's introduction in the book...
We have all heard the expression, "No good deed goes unpunished." Normally this line is uttered in jest. However, as I describe my experiences with
the NSA you will see that, when it comes to politics in the Intelligence community, it is not a laughing matter. My creation of the analytic tool at
virtually no cost was a good deed, but one that offended certain NSA personnel who were guilty of self-promotion and self-denial both. In order to
promote themselves they had to somehow diminish what I had done or, better yet, eliminate my work altogether.
My book will demonstrate how the combination of fear of failure, self-promotion, self-denial and organizational self-deception can put the success of
an operation or new initiative at risk. Furthermore I will detail the costly effect of the actions of the NSA personnel I offended not only in
financial terms but also in terms of the impact on the ability of the Intelligence Community agencies to collaborate and cooperate with each
Enjoy this sample chapter...
The NSA Trailblazer Program
Based at Fort Meade, Md., with field offices around the world, the NSA harvests virtually every form of electronic communication -- including phone
calls, e-mails and video links -- through a vast array of satellites, ground-based listening stations and military airplanes and ships. But there were
huge holes in the agency's information filter and, as a result, a congressional report on Sept. 11 intelligence failures found that "potentially
vital" information was lost, particularly with regard to terrorist groups.
That is what Trailblazer, launched in November 1999 by then-NSA Director Michael Hayden, was designed to address. The program was launched in 1999 was
to enable NSA analysts to connect the 2 million bits of data the agency ingests every hour and enable analysts to quickly pick out the most important
information. The advent of the Internet, cell phones, and instant messaging, however, made that task increasingly complex. Trailblazer was intended to
be NSA's state-of-the art tool for sifting through the ocean of modern-day digital communications and uncovering key nuggets to protect the nation
against an ever-changing collection of enemies.
As initially envisioned Trailblazer would have translated all digital computer language into plain text or voice. The data would have been analyzed to
identify new patterns of activity or connections among people whose communications are intercepted, then stored in an easily searchable database. Key
communications automatically would have been forwarded to the appropriate analysts, who for the first time could have followed up with their own
searches of the database.
NSA, however, already had a program that accomplished what Trailblazer was intended to accomplish. That program was called ThinThread. ThinThread
could theoretically ingest and correlate data from financial transactions, travel records, Web searches, G.P.S. equipment, and any other "attributes"
that an analyst might find useful in pinpointing "the bad guys." In addition, ThinThread processed information as it was collected—discarding
useless information on the spot and avoiding the overload problem that plagued centralized systems. Pilot tests of ThinThread proved almost too
successful, according to a former intelligence expert who analyzed it. "It was nearly perfect," the official says. "But it processed such a large
amount of data that it picked up more Americans than the other systems." Though ThinThread was intended to intercept foreign communications, it
continued documenting signals when a trail crossed into the U.S. This was a big problem: federal law forbade the monitoring of domestic communications
without a court warrant. Privacy controls were implemented and an "anonymizing feature," added so that all American communications would be encrypted
until a warrant was issued. The system would indicate when a pattern looked suspicious enough to justify a warrant. But this was before 9/11, and the
N.S.A.'s lawyers deemed ThinThread too invasive of Americans' privacy. In addition, concerns were raised about whether the system would function on a
huge scale, although preliminary tests had suggested that it would. In the fall of 2000, [General Michael Hayden, the director of the N.S.A.] decided
not to use ThinThread, largely because of his legal advisers' concerns.27
Thus the Trailblazer program was born. The initial Trailblazer plan called for more than 1,000 priority items, and ballooned as it was passed through
three separate NSA divisions, each with its own priorities.
On 29 March, 2001, the National Security Agency (NSA) awarded three prime contracts for concept studies, launching the Agency's transformation
efforts. The studies will define the architecture, cost, and acquisition approach for "Trailblazer 1", the NSA program to develop analytic
capabilities to meet the challenge of rapidly evolving, modern telecommunications. The prime contracts were awarded to Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc.
(Annapolis Junction, MD), Lockheed Martin Corporation (Hanover, MD), and TRW (Systems & Information Technology Group, Columbia, MD). These prime
contractors will have over thirty industry partners, in total, associated with their efforts. "Trailblazer 1" was known as the Concept Development
edit on 8-4-2015 by SkepticOverlord because: (no reason given)