States—bleaks like the Titanic may be thensingle most useful piece of knowledgento be gleaned from The Puzzle Palace. Ifnone wants to know what color the corridorsnare at Fort Meade or how AdmiralnInman decorated his office or what kindsnof academic degrees various NSA administratorsnhave received, then Bamford’snis the book to read. If one wants spynstories or expects a train of previouslynunsuspected outrages to be revealed, henwill perhaps be titillated but not fiilfilled.nWhat passes for such abuses in the historynof NSA apparentiy consists of rathernmarginal involvement in the abortednHuston Plan, the interception of internationalncommunications from Americanncitizens, and participation in a plan toncollect information on foreign powersntrying to foment civil disturbance in thenUnited States in the 1960’s—^most ofnwhich was known years ago. Bamfordnhas litde to say about these activitiesnthat is new, significant, or useful.nThe serious student of intelligencenpolicy will be sorely disappointed withnThe Puzzle Palace, since what he wantsnfrom a book on NSA are answers to thenquestions: (1) What are the real capabilitiesnof National Technical Means, andn(2) What is actually done with the data^ncollected through NTM after it is passednthrough the analytical processes and onnto the policymakers? About these crucialnquestions Bamford is virtually mute.nThe capabilities of NTM are of crucialnimportance because, since at least thenearly 1970’s, when James Schlesingernbecame director of the CIA, there hasnbeen an ever-increasing trend towardnmore reliance on technical means ofncollection and less dependence onnhuman collection. The principal reasonsnfor this trend are (1) ideological: the intelligencenand defense establishments,nlike other policy organizations, have beennimmersed in a positivistic prepossessionnthat refuses to believe something is realnunless it can be precisely documentednor measured; and (2) bureaucratic: thenmore technical the means of collection,nthe more expensive it is—Whence, morenmoney, space, men, and resources fornthe agency. Unfortunately, it is knownnthat NTM has certain inherent limitations,nwhich Bamford seldom mentionsnand never discusses seriously.nAlthough the public has been repeatedlyntold of satellites that can photographnthe license plates of trucks, for examplen(thereby fostering the illusion that satellitesncan reveal all), it has not frequentlynbeen told that the higher the orbit of thensatellite, the smaller the resolution ofnthe camera, and the lower the orbit, thensmaller the area that can be photographed.nNor has the public been re-n’hanHiirilS hiiok ^ tiiiyildpetlU’…. nmrbklU I’;!.””!!!!;!!!!!);.’nor motivations of the target. Bamfordndiscusses how the NSA had the ability tonmonitor the radio conversations ofnKremlin leaders in their cars. A remarkablenability, indeed; but Soviet policiesnare not formulated in cars, and onlynhuman assets who know intimately theninstitutions, characters, procedures, constraints,ninterests, ideas, and values thatnconstitute Soviet policymaking are in anposition to report it reliably and evaluatenit responsibly. Not only is there no seriousndiscussion of these problems innBamford’s book, there is not even anyn—The Progressiven”M:inili[ir(.l IU-.SLTVO spi-ti;il priiisi- lor … ;i t() aihicvcmi-iit.”n—iVt’ii’ York Review oflttHtksnminded (by either Bamford or thosenofficials in the intelligence establishmentnwhom he discusses) that conventionalnphotographic equipment cannotnoften penetrate cloud cover and smoke,nsee inside buildings or weapons systemsnor beneath the earth, or be eflfective atnnight. Nor can satellites be everywherenat all times, and even if they could be,ntheir value would not be appreciably increased.nPhotographs, like even morencryptic data collected through NTM,nmust be interpreted, and the controversiesnsurrounding interpretation of COM-nINT, HUNT, and TEUNT would fiU atnleast one book.nThe controversies over the degree tonwhich NTM can be deliberately deceivednwould fiU another volume. The Sovietsnmay be able and willing to emit false signalsnto deceive us as to their capabilitiesnand to mix false signals with true signalsnto confuse us further. The false signalsnintercepted by NSA (or other servicesninvolved in NTM) would then be subjectnto all the controversies of interpretationnthat pertain to true signals as wellnas to the question of their truth or felsitynor the degree of mix and the purposesnfor felsity, truth, or a mixture. Most important,nhowever, is the limitation ofnNTM that it cannot reveal the intentionsnnnsignificant allusion to them.nIf the problems of NTM capabilitynare complicated, one can only guess atnthe problems encountered in informingnpolicymakers of the NTM product. Thenuse made of intelligence by policymakersnis one of the perennial problems ofnthe intelligence profession and its observers.nHow much was known ofnJapanese intentions before the PearlnHarbor attack, of Soviet missiles in Cubanbefore the crisis of 1962, of Cuban involvementnin Latin American insurgenciesntoday—and how policymakersnused or Med to use this information—nare among the most important historicalnand current questions posed to us. Mr.nBamford does not allude to them or tonthe even more crucial question of thenaccuracy of the Soviet estimate, thenchallenges to which in 1976 led to a revolutionnin American foreign-policynthinking.nThe overreliance on NTM, the incautiousnassumption that “scientffic” intelligencenis more reliable than human insightsnand knowledge, the downgradingnof HUMINT and the quite harmful effectnon human collection of Bobby Ray Inmannand CIA Director Stansfield Turner arenthe really important issues revolvingnAugust 1983n