OPINIONS & Vii:ws~TnMindless IntelligencenJames Bamford: The Puzzle Palace:nA Report on America’s Most SecretnAgency; Houghton MifQin; Boston.nby Samuel T. FrancisnJames Bamford’s rather massive accoumnof the National Security Agencyn(NSA) is one of the most recent examplesnof a genre that was invented only innthe past generation but which has alreadynproduced small libraries. This genre maynbe called the “intelligence expose,” andnits characteristic conventions are: (1)nthe revelation of what was hitherto secretnor the confirmation of what had beennsuspected or alleged but not known forncertain; (2) the use of leaks from purportedlynknowledgeable or authoritative butnalways anonymous sources as the meansnof revealing or confirming the information;n(3) the allegation that what is revealednor confirmed is of unparallelednscandalous, criminal, or abusive nature;nand (4) the argument, generally insinuatednthroughout the text but explicitlyndeveloped in the peroration, that unlessn”real reforms” are forthcoming and thenrevealed abuses brought to a speedy termination,nthe republic w^iU be subvertednand the citizenry delivered to the mostndegrading servitude. Sometimes thosenwho excel in this genre do not allow itsnconventions to stand in the way of makingnvaluable contributions to publicnknowledge of what the intelligencencommunity is, what it is supposed to do,nand what it has or has not done. Often,nespecially in the early days of the genre,nthey dwelt simply on what the intelligencenagencies were not supposed tondo but allegedly did anyway, and the resultnwas a body of literature that wasnself-flagellant, sensationalist, and generallynnot very accurate. Another resultnwas the virtual ruination of the Ameri-nDr. Francis is with the office of SenatornJohn P. East, where he is a legislativenassistant for national security.n6 ^^^^B^^inChronicles of Culturencan intelligence community in the mid-n197b’s.nAlas, Mr. Bamford’s tome is not up tonsnufi’. In the gay old days of the 1970’s anjournalist could make his reputation andnhis fortune by revealing assassinationnplots, surreptitious mail-openings, surveillancenof celebrities, human-experimentationnprograms, and a surfeit ofnother penny-dreadfiil schemes at the expensenof the CIA and FBI as weU as at thenexpense of a serious regard for truth andnnational security. But those days are gonenforever, it seems. The best that investigativenjournalists can come up with nownis some rather hoary information aboutnthe CIA’s use of ex-nazis as intelligencenagents in the aftermath of World War IIn(that the CIA might have had a need fornagents who knew something about EasternnEurope and had recourse to thenpeople who had been tyrannizing largenportions of it for the preceding 10 yearsnor so is unthinkable to them). Mr. Bamfordnhas had to make do with the NSA,nthe largest, perhaps the most important,nand certainly the most boring componentnof the American intelligence community.nWhat the NSA does is collectnSignals Intelligence (SIGINT), which innturn is composed of CommunicationsnIntelligence (COMINT), Electronics Intelligencen(EUNT), and Telemetry Intel­nnnligence (TEIJNT). It does so throughnwhat is called “National Technical Means”n(NTM)—^the satellites, radar installations,nspy ships, giant antennae and platforms,ncomputers, and other highly sophisticated,nexpensive, and secret interceptionnand decipherment equipment thatnare centered at or commanded fromnNSA headquarters at Fort George Meade,nMaryland. What NSA does not do—^andnhere is Mr. Bamford’s problem—is collectnHuman InteUigence (HUMINT), intelligencenproduced by human beings.nBecause NSA has never been involved innHUMINT, it has never had to put up withnthe foibles of human agents (at least ofnour human agents) to the extent thatnthe CIA and FBI have, and consequentlynthere is very litde in the way of scandal,ncrime, or abuse in which Mr. Bamfordncan wallow. Because NSA’s activities involventhe development and use of somenof the most advanced technology in thenworld, it has long been the most secretivenand protected of the inteUigence services.nThe novelty of Mr. Bamford’snbook is that he has managed to put togethernsome 400 pages about an agencynof which almost nothing is publiclynknown. Quantity, of course, has nothingnto do with quality, or value.nNsA and other parts of the intelligencencommunity are said to be allnadither over The Puzzle Palace, andnrightly so. Regardless of how valuablenthe information in the book might be tonour enemies, the mere fact that Bamfordnwas able to get so much of it should benprofoundly disturbing to those whosenjob it is to prevent such informationnfrom getting out. It means that NSA,nwhose very charter in the form of a 1952nPresidential order was classified beyondnthe Top Secret Level, is full of securitynrisks and that some distinguished alumninof the agency have been talking aboutnthings they should not have.nThat NSA—^like most governmentalnorganizations these days in the Unitedn