Jim Risen Writes about Reporting Government Secrets

Jim Risen writes a long and interesting article about his battles with the US government and the New York Times to report government secrets.

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 6:58 AM • 37 Comments


JG4January 16, 2018 9:04 AM

"abandon all hope, ye whistleblowers who enter here"



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DavidJanuary 16, 2018 9:23 AM

"Keller later said that Bush told Sulzberger he would have “blood on your hands” if he published the NSA story."

Well, Bush knows a lot about having blood on one's hands. The tangled web that Bush/Hayden wove seems to have started unravelling pretty early.

Petre PeterJanuary 16, 2018 9:41 AM

You'll furnish the pictures, I'll furntsh the war
The source told me that the NSA had been wiretapping Americans without search warrants, without court approval.

I hope The War On The Press is not a case of furnishing the pictures for a cyberwar.

bttbJanuary 16, 2018 10:06 AM

regarding last weeks House vote and a potential upcoming Senate vote on Section 702 reauthorization

“There were two details of the Section 702 reauthorization in the House that deserve more attention, as the Senate prepares for a cloture vote today at 5:30.
First, in the Rules Committee hearing for the bill, Ranking House Judiciary Committee member Jerry Nadler revealed that the FBI stopped engaging with his staffers when the two sides reached a point on negotiations over the bill beyond which they refused to budge.
Effectively, FBI just used the dual HJC/House Intelligence jurisdiction over FISA to avoid engaging in the legislative process, to avoid making any concessions to representatives supposedly overseeing this program.”

Also Edward Snowden Retweeted
“ @emptywheel
1 hour ago
Reminder: The Section 702 bill the Senate will vote cloture on today gives criminal suspects more protection than it gives people against whom the FBI has no evidence of wrong-doing.

Call your Senator and tell them to vote no.”

You might consider email or fax, too. Snail mail probably couldn’t be screened soon enough, biohazards, for an impact.

hmmJanuary 16, 2018 11:35 AM

Serendipity, I just read this a day ago. There's no HBO minidrama nearly as compelling as real life.

" Snail mail probably couldn’t be screened soon enough, biohazards, for an impact. "

You're talking about mailing them your opinion.

Read that article, the only "impact" that's going to have is if you're an ironclad-repute journalist will a bulletproof list of sources who aren't afraid of being disappeared or considering imminent suicide - and you then put your freedom and career and friends' careers on the line. THEN you'll have an impact, and that's if they don't just wear you down over a decade or so as they monitor your doings while refusing to allow you to publish. And when/if you finally do, they're sure to smear you as a bumbling mischief-maker whose brash idealism clouded out better judgment as you recklessly self-aggrandized using government secrets as props.

But yeah, be sure to email them your opinion about it all, because they give a _R_E_D_A_C_T_E_D_

fredJanuary 16, 2018 1:24 PM

Thanks for proving propaganda works!

Rep: "Obama said JV team...", "Clinton did nothing to help Benghazi ..."
Dem: "Bush did said WMDs....", "Trump is a Raciest ...."

Both political sides respond with the dug in positions that where handed to them via CNN or Fox News, while nether side will looking at the bigger picture of how they were manipulated into these positions for the sake of votes.

When you hear the same thing over and over again, you believe it. Then you seek it out for "Belief Reinforcement". Our politicians and news outlets know this and use this propaganda technique all the time.

Instead of watching the National News endlessly to form vicious opinion of people, take time to get to know your neighbors and there family. You maybe surprised that they are neither socialist nor raciest.

DamoclesJanuary 16, 2018 1:51 PM

If you're going attempt to deny Trump is a racist that's not going to work. Just FYI.
You can say you aren't personally racist -t here's likely less of a mountain of evidence there.

But Trump didn't just spring out of "working class America" and get attacked by the big bad media.
He's not being unfairly judged. The man complained about golfing too much - he's 4-5x that already.

He's been a fraud his whole life. This is known, people didn't just make it up for politics. He ran a fraudulent "real estate University" that bilked people, he cheated contractors, he hired illegal Polish immigrants to build his tower for under $5 an hour, then cheated them out of even that.

The "big bad" media has been reporting Trump's frauds since I was young, well before his political debut.
To pretend all of this is some Inhoffe snowball exhibition is to misunderstand the facts :

The President is strongly accused of treason, obstruction, and money laundering for the Russian mob.
For decades.

This didn't all just come out of Oprah. Pay attention, you're saluting money, not the flag.

fredJanuary 16, 2018 2:09 PM

Thanks for reinforcing my point.

Re read what I wrote calmly. You might be surprised to notice that I didn't argue Trump is or is not a racist. You just jumped to that conclusion like Pavlovas dog when you heard the work Trump.

The "Big bad media" reports their political parties agenda ON BOTH SIDES!!!

CNN: Russian Collusion
Fox New: Uranium One

I've never met Bush, Obama, Clinton or Trump. (I suspect you haven't' either.) So the only think we know about these people is what the News and army campaign PR people want you to know. All your thoughts on these people were fed to you. just acknowledge that.

DamoclesJanuary 16, 2018 2:48 PM

What greater distraction? What worse environment for oversight and accountability possible?

If Trump's presidency wasn't so tightly tied to self-enrichment via Putin he could have made a very useful idiot for the CIA's plan of doing whatever they wanted. In a way we should all be grateful he was such an incompetent operator! Any guile or tact on his part could well have achieved silently a very dangerous and ongoing agenda. It's instead once again exposed the massive power of the Executive that, with even the slimmest majority of cowards in Congress looking the other way, can achieve almost anything our Constitution specifically prohibits - even as the outraged public watches in disbelief.

The judiciary is being stacked with cronies without a whit of legal experience - pure straw ideologues. It's amazing the branch overall has held their ground as well as they have so far under this treasonous assault. It's beyond politics. They're firing US prosecutors and replacing them with party-loyal lobbyists. Yes literally.

"Fascism denies, in democracy, the absurd conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of "happiness" and indefinite progress."

-Someone the sitting President quoted by 'accident', between praising fascism generally.

Who can pretend to be serious in holding our IC accountable under this cloud of actual treason?
Any kind of discussion about "overreach" or "Constitutional limits" is moot, surpassed already.
The wheels of justice didn't turn fast enough to cope if ever they barely did.
And now the wheels are being replaced with bricks, one by one.

Accountable representative government is perhaps further from us in the future than in the past.
Imagine a world where Watergate was a nothing-burger, Iran-Contra hushed, Iraq a "great victory"?

That world is being built right around you now Montressor. Unaccountability begins with you, Fred.

DamoclesJanuary 16, 2018 2:58 PM

"You might be surprised to notice that I didn't argue Trump is or is not a racist"

We know tap-dancing when we hear it.

CNN: Russian Collusion
Fox New: Uranium One

NOT COMPARABLE, unfortunately, so you're proving my point.

Russian collusion has resulted in guilty pleas by high-ranking administration officials, and the President himself along with his sons, lawyers, staffers and since-fired campaign managers are all facing a hot light in their face - and potentially prison.

"Uranium One" has so far resulted in bupkis, because it was duly signed off on by all appropriate US agencies as opposed to the Fox News narrative that it was somehow secretly illegal - none of that turned out to be true. Yet you just compared them as if 1:1 true.

Fred, unaccountability begins with you. If you can't separate accusations made against Hillary by a single news outlet (designed since Nixon times as a propaganda outlet, in fact, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/richard-nixon-and-roger-ailes-1970s-plan-to-put-the-gop-on-tv/2011/07/01/AG1W7XtH_blog.html) and the multiple ongoing investigations into Trump's treasons and provable lies that have resulted in his campaign chairman under house arrest, his high-ranking senior advisers pleading guilty and turning state's evidence...

Well, maybe a lack of verifiable evidence isn't the problem you're experiencing, Fred.
Maybe the problem is in the critical reasoning areas of your brain.

I mean that in the nicest possible way, but I seriously suggest you look at it.
This isn't a witchunt. This is Watergate II, unfolding in realtime, tapes included.
Imagine Nixon couldn't shut up and had Twitter, this is basically that.

If after Trump is impeached and indicted and eventually imprisoned you want to go back and investigate the Clinton Foundation, absolutely I'll be right there with you. To use that as a distraction to walk away from the pressing treason, however, is complicity in it.

Accountability or unaccountability begins with you, Fred. Decide more carefully please.

fredJanuary 16, 2018 3:55 PM


I'd love to do a study on why, when I'm neutral on politics talking about propaganda, it brings out Trump haters and it is assumed I'm a Trump supporter.

I have no horse in this race. I didn't like any candidate. I thought they all sucked and were full of shit. Again, you've never met me so you don't know where I stand. I'm hate politicians spending Billions of dollars on wedge issues, using data mining and social sciences to craft messages to manipulate the public into anger just to ensure their own power.

"..Accountability or unaccountability begins with you..." FOR BOTH PARTIES!!

damoclesJanuary 16, 2018 4:07 PM

Is Jim Comey a "Trump hater" in your estimation, Fred?

Was the Washington Post motivated by "hatred" for Nixon?

Just so you're aware, because you're pretending now not to be, someone in this blog has used the name "Fred" to defend Trumpism generally and JUST NOW push Uranium One as if it were a 1:1 equal to the multi-year investigation into known and proven Russian meddling / collusion with same.

You can't just walk that back and pretend it wasn't just said before us. That's a Trump tactic itself.

You want to decry falsehood in media, but you push a KNOWN FALSE STORY from a single source of information that was contrived from the inception as a PROPAGANDA OUTLET. You pretend everyone else is lying about people under looming indictment as we speak.

And when I call you out on these obvious shenanigans, you wave the bipartisan white flag?
How drole.

Fred you have some soul searching to do if you want less "wedge issue" media manipulation.

Accountability begins with YOU.

echoJanuary 16, 2018 4:45 PM

That article was a long read! It seems Jim Risen's writing was very secure and accessible and avoided leaking information to betray sources, avoiding the mistakes outlined by a blog this past week highlighting how documents could be fingerprinted. It was all very exciting on the surface but crikey! Americans know how to create their own entertainment! Another observation I note was how off the record comments which were mostly not reported were a useful way to both keep journalists informed about the tone of political direction and allowed right thinkign people within agencies to influence positive change from within otherwise opaque organisations. While some would say the glory days of the press are behind them and too many social interest stories fill newspapers others would disagree even if the focus of technical and political security is defused away towards more social and economic security and resilience. I really liked the comment of social interactions, and the fears and characters and quirks in this article.

The Guardian has published a brief conversation about whistleblowing including issues like changing technology, the positive role of cinema for audiences who don't follow the news, the personal cost of getting the truth out and the satisfaction of knowing the truth speaks for itself.


The two most famous whistleblowers in modern history discuss Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Post, about Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers, the personal cost of what they did – and if they’d advise anybody to follow in their footsteps.

DamoclesJanuary 16, 2018 5:07 PM


The Panama Papers are pretty interesting too re: the previous topic.

I'm struck by how often the journalists were in direct contact with people in the know who would simply say "nyet" and offer the rubber stamped boilerplate excuse that what they were reporting on was a matter of national security and so they should forget it.

Nixon no doubt made similar arguments about the tapes implicating him directly.


Journalists reported on it despite threats of censorship or worse. Fox News wasn't invented yet.
Ailes and Kissinger and others were just kicking the idea around about how useful that could be.

Is it any wonder that Kissinger and Oliver North both got jobs there? Isn't that a bit obvious?
Or are we expecting too much of the intended audience? They simply follow orders for the party.


fredJanuary 16, 2018 6:50 PM

LOL You are really really good a proving how good hype can make someone so angry. Or "motivated to get out to the polls"

If you really need to put me in a political party it would be Libertarian but they always put complete nut job up for election so I'm S.O.L.

65535January 17, 2018 12:51 PM

I read most of the 16,500 word [251,000+ characters] article. After that long read I got the central theme:

“Obama administration used my case to destroy the legal underpinnings of the reporter’s privilege in the 4th Circuit, which means that if the government does decide to go after more reporters, those reporters will have fewer legal protections in Virginia and Maryland, home to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, and thus the jurisdiction where many national security leak investigations will be conducted…In the end, the prosecutors had backed down and followed Holder’s instructions[to give up the case - ed]

I think the story would get better coverage if it were a bit shorter.

Fred PJanuary 17, 2018 3:33 PM

@65535 - That was an important point, but if you want his view on what the article is about, he summarizes the article in the last 4 paragraphs, from "I believe my willingness to fight the government for seven years may make prosecutors less eager to force other reporters to testify about their sources." to "The greatest shame of all is that Jeffrey Sterling was convicted and sentenced to 42 months in prison."

65535January 17, 2018 5:23 PM

@ Fred P

"I believe my willingness to fight the government for seven years may make prosecutors less eager to force other reporters to testify about their sources." to "The greatest shame of all is that Jeffrey Sterling was convicted and sentenced to 42 months in prison."- Fred P, referencing the intercept article in this thread.

He is a fighter which is always good [and it is his opinion]. But, I still think he can get his point out with less than 16,000+ words. I am sure some people will just say "TL;DR" and skip his whole piece which does have some very good points.

justina colmenaJanuary 17, 2018 6:38 PM

Chelsea Manning is running for U.S. Senate.

Now we need to look not only into the relationship of Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden, but into some real hard-core Russian interference not only with elections but with the executive branch decisions of both the Obama and Trump administrations, as well as numerous doubtful foreign-influenced judicial-branch decisions.

All three branches of the U.S. government, executive, legislative, and judicial, are being actively and covertly subverted by Russia and China.

same old tedious shitJanuary 17, 2018 8:57 PM

So, Bruce, what would it take for you step in and enforce your commenting policy against someone who is anti-Trump? I know you don't like him, but surely everyone sees how transparent your one-way civility policy is.

I tire of seeing the same hateful crap come up in every topic, while you hold your tongue. This Damocles is the final straw -- I actually found myself wondering if you're sock-puppeting these accounts.

So I'm out. I know, probably no reason for you to care. But I won't be buying any more of your books. I'm disgusted with your behavior.

ModeratorJanuary 18, 2018 2:00 AM

@Damocles, enough soapboxing, enough badgering, enough insults, please move on. @same, there is no skullduggery going on here. We don't micromanage discussions, and disputes usually lose steam without intervention, but yes, in this case it's called for.

ModeratorJanuary 18, 2018 3:36 AM

@Damocles, enough sockpuppeting, no more posts under any handle, no matter how relevant they might seem.

echoJanuary 18, 2018 8:05 AM

@65535 @ Fred

Yes this article was long. I began to flag and speed read content about half to three quarters through.

I watched "The Post" this week. It's not as exciting as "All the Presidents Men". It had a different focus which was more desperate and also brought the role of Katherine Graham more to the front and respected her place in history too. It was also interesting to experience a more analogue experience with the movie showing CRT style screens and dial phones much like "All the Presidents Men" used Telex machines in the end titles, and reflecting on how drama has adapted around changing technology.

TatütataJanuary 19, 2018 12:49 AM

much like "All the Presidents Men" used Telex machines in the end titles

Technically speaking there were no Telex machines shown. Telex was a Baudot based circuit switched service. Press were normally receive only apparatus, without a keyboard, tape reader, or dial, and all machines were connected to a broadcast circuit.

The epilogue sequence is played on a Teletype model 35, a machine initially developed for the Bell System around 1960. It too ran a 5-bit based service at 45 baud, until all machines were replaced in one day with a new service called "TWX", using an 8 bit code running at 110 baud. The TWX code was eventually standardized as *the* ASCII.

I believe very unlikely that such TWX/ASCII machines would have been used in wire services as of 1974. My take is that the closing sequence was probably filmed on the studio's TWX machine for questions of timing.

At about 1h15 minutes into the film there is however a sequence on a much slower Baudot machine, a Teletype model 28, which shares the same general operating principles as its model 35 sibling.

I must have watched All the president's men dozens and dozens of times. I don't quite understand why it resonates so much with me, as upon closer examination the Woodstein characters don't come across as being overly sympathetic, especially in their interaction with the female characters including Kay Eddy, the CReeP bookkeeper, and Sally Aiken.

Maybe it's the very soft music score by David Shire?

I plan to see the Hanks flick, but I'm afraid of being disappointed. Already "Spotlight" (2015) felt extremely close to the Pakula film in its narrative structure and tropes. Looking at the trailer, I found myself comparing the limited glimpses of the WaPo newsroom with that of the All the president's, and couldn't help notice that the indicator lights on the key telephone sets were actually connected and flashing. Kudos to the props team.

From the Intercept article:
As a small protest, I put a sign on my desk that said, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” It was New York Journal publisher William Randolph Hearst’s supposed line to artist Frederic Remington, whom he had sent to Cuba to illustrate the “crisis” there before the Spanish-American War.

I always thought that line had been invented for Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane, dictating a telegram: "Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war."

echoJanuary 19, 2018 9:58 AM

@ Tatütata

Thanks. I was trying to remember 'teletype' but had a memory block so used 'telex' instead but I would still have missed the 'receive only' nature of press machines.

I bet the practical effects staff would have loved you noticing the blinking phones.

I'm not sure about this but think that 'The Post' and 'All the Presidents Men' use different focal length lenses while shooting? My memory remembers 'All the Presidents Men being wider while 'The Post' seemed more cramped. This is also true (or has been true) of US versus UK television. During a US made documentary in the UK of Jack the Ripper the US film crew had difficulty composing shots because they couldn't fit the relatively cramped street planning into frame. The UK made for television thriller 'Codename Kyril' (starring Edward Woodward) very deliberately made cinematography decisions to emulate the broader US style canvas by careful location choice and shooting.

'All the Presidents Men' and movies like 'The Parallax View' were all part of the early 1970s wave of cinema which explored highly challenging stories and cinematic techniques.

While movies can be very visual and attempt to carry intellectual ideas studies suggest that how a movie resonates emotionally is the key influencer.

65535January 19, 2018 10:54 AM

@ Tatütata

“The epilogue sequence is played on a Teletype model 35 a machine initially developed for the Bell System around 1960. It too ran a 5-bit based service at 45 baud, until all machines were replaced in one day with a new service called "TWX", using an 8 bit code running at 110 baud. The TWX code was eventually standardized as *the* ASCII.”

I agree with the trust of your post.

That 110 baud is fairly fast compared to the v90-v91 limited to 56k by rules… if we are talking about equivalent rates in the late 80s baud to the 60s-70s baud range.

‘From the Intercept article: As a small protest, I put a sign on my desk that said, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” It was New York Journal publisher William Randolph Hearst’s supposed line to artist Frederic Remington, whom he had sent to Cuba to illustrate the “crisis” there before the Spanish-American War…I always thought that line had been invented for Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane, dictating a telegram: "Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war."’- Tatütata

Yes, that is mainly my feeling after actually watching Orson Welles' Citizen Kane another films including 1984 which just as physiology gruesome. The “rose bud ending” of Citezen Kane was quite clever and much misunderstood.

I would guess Hollywood was on a rocket ride during that period. It’s somewhat true that the wide SoCal Hollywood California area was packed with various War Department, Defense Depart, Howard Hughes-RKO plants, the crash of the Hughes XF-11 semi-P38 spy plane, Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL], SR-71 spy plane via the Lockheed's Skunk Works unit in Burbank beside Hollywood and Sandia - LLL branch, DARPA, an so no, was blown out of proportion to most eastern Americans and undereducated non-USA citizen due to the “Hollywood-hype” associated with technical projects during the early 30-40’s until now.

Basically Hollywood hype was just riding on the coattails of various "Secret" projects which were in the area at the time. This is not meant to take way from Wells famous works of art.

Now, Los Angeles and the Hollywood area are dependant upon cheap Mexican labor and high densidy houseing projects including section 8 Housing. It is not a pretty picture.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 19, 2018 12:08 PM

@ Tatütata,

The epilogue sequence is played on a Teletype model 35, a machine initially developed for the Bell System around 1960.

I remember the ASR35's and KSR35's (the later ASCII 7 hole tapes).

Well I bashed the cr4p out of them five days a week around three hours a day in the 1970's when doing the programing thing. Oh trivia time ;-) Unix terminals are called "tty" as short hand for teletype.

The thing is back in those days due to bashing the keyboard fifteen hours a week you developed muscles in the arms and shoulders that made you look like a jock not a nerd. As long as you kept your mouth closed and smiled and nodded a lot and just said Hi etc you could get away with not having to stick a jock head first down the loo and swirly him to make a point that brains and brawn were not mutually exclusive (though trying to put that in words to them such that they could comprehend it was such a task that three or four swirlies were quicker ;-)

Then when wearing the green I had to use/support/repair "proper" teletype terminals that were TEMPEST hardend and guaranteed to give you a double hernia and three slip disks if you were daft enough to try moving them on your own.

As they were F&CO usage, they had to be mains frequency independent, and two essential items in your repair kit was a large packet of "Blue Rizzler Cigarette Papers" and a tuning fork... Because they had a clutched motor to do the timing. It had enough power to strip the flesh from a finger bone if you were not carefull. It happened to Smudge one of the telemech Sgts and there was ketchup all over the place, which it took three of us to clean up. When he got back from hospital after they had sewn it back together he joked his wife would not be happy as he would not have to do the dishes for a month. The FoS however walked in as Smudge was looking at the teleprinter that bit him, and with out a word put a four pound lump hammer on the bench beside it nodded and walked out. To give Smudge his due he fixed it rather than beat the cr4p out of it...

Oh and the US did not use Baudot --nobody ever did with a teletype-- but ITA1 and Murray code. There were important differences of which moving "null" to the zero position was the most important[1] difference. Western Union used Murray through to the 1950's and the US MIL and NATO may still be using it... They still use the BID1100 crypto kit which was designed for 5 symbol codes.

As for Murray code the CCITT made it ITA2 back in the 1920's and it hung in till ASCII poped up on the early 60's it's still used for RTTY by Hams and others and in weather messaging systems with an extended error correction system. And yes I'll be using it over the weekend if conditions are right, some still favour HF to the Internet ;-)

Back when ASCII started to rear it's little head there were all sorts of things to be considered and somebody wrote a book over three hundred pages about such codes... It's the sort of read that needs a double espresso for every chapter ;-)

If people are having trouble sleeping I can dig out a refrence to a PDF of it 0:)

[1] The reason to have the null at zero was twofold. The first was null was used to send sync signals when messages were not being sent, but any value could have been used for null. The second reason became quite important which was for use with early stream crypto equipment. The ITU had long befor that set an edict that all Enciphered messages had to be sent and five character words of all upper case alphas seperated by a space and two spaces after every fifth group, ten groups to a line Thus if the addition of a key and Alpha exceeded an alpha value the null (key stream char) was sent instead...

mostly harmfulJanuary 20, 2018 6:44 PM

@Clive Robinson "If people are having trouble sleeping I can dig out a refrence to a PDF of it 0:)"

I would be grateful for a pointer, if it isn't too much trouble. Or, failing that, a name or title.

And yes, before someone asks, I do suffer from insomnia. Who would have guessed it was due to insufficient (reference materials on) character (set) development?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 20, 2018 9:30 PM

@ mostly harmful,

I would be grateful for a pointer, if it isn't too much trouble. Or, failing that, a name or title.

Here you go,

    "Coded Character Sets, History and Development"

    Charles E. Mackenzie

    IBM Corporation

    Copyright 1980 Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

    ISBN 0-201-14460-3

I think this is the download link,


Have a good read / sleep, of the 535 pages, which ever comes first ;-)

Actually I'm being a little mean, it is actually a trove of information to the right sort of person... Of which I have to admit I am one (psst don't tell anyone, otherwise they realy will think I'm a nerd ;-)

Clive RobinsonJanuary 20, 2018 10:43 PM

@ mostly harmless, Tatütata,

I forgot to mention if you look on page 62, you get info on CCITT ITA2/#2 with some half truths and the reason for an oddity or two with why preables were sent.

Firstly, the NUL is incorrectly identified as not used, and the date of the CCITT code given as ten years after it was started to be looked at.

If you have a hunt around you will find that Vernam's pattent was 1919 and CCITT unofficialy kicked out a notification in 1920...

Oh and the oddity of preambles sent by operators of

1, Five or more NULs
2, Two FSs (Figure Shifts)
3, One LS (letter shift)

The NULs served as "sync ups" the two Figure Shifts would put the receiving terminal into the Figures State/Mode with the Letter Shift finaly putting the receiving terminal in Letters State/Mode.

The problem was that as the TX operator you would not know what state the RX terminal was in Letters/Figures. If you look at the table you will see that in Letters Mode the LS key actually acts as a delete key and thus could cause problems with back stepping the print head before the first position on the line... But in both Letters and Figures Modes the FS key would set the mode to Figures, thus the sending of the following LS did not cause problems.

Oh you will also see the next code is the "Stretch Code" which was used on the IBM Super Computer known as the "Strech". You can see from that code --it has no NUL at position zero-- many people were unaware of what the likes of the NSA were upto including the IBM designers of the stretc, who though it's "secret" use would be for designing nuclear bombs not cryptanalysis, and that secret was maintained untill much much later.

In fact the book appears silent on saying that certain code features were actually for "cipher reasons" that were "dressed up" as something else... It shows just how long the various standards organisations got "finessed" by what we would now call the SigInt agencies. In the case of codes since atleast World War One a century ago, if not earlier.

In fact if you look hard enough you will find in the various National Archives, the threads of colaboration back in WWI amongst the then allies that would come the wind down of WWII in Europe give rise to the BRUSA letter. That in turn gave rise to the Five-Eyes, for which you can soundly blaim the English.

It was the English Who had already started "finessing" International Standards Bodies via their General Post Office and Broadcasting Body (BBC) representitives. Before Henry L. Stimson killed off the American "Black Chamber" Herbert O. Yardley had set up in 1919.

As I get older for some reason I find the skullduggary of this hidden and "most secret" world more and more fascinating. Thus can get a tangible feel for why those that had frequented Room 40 of the Admiralty building in London during WWI felt betrayed by Winston Churchill and his memoir of his time as first Sea Lord in WWI which described what Room 40 had been all about.

mostly harmfulJanuary 21, 2018 4:33 PM

@ Clive Robinson

\o/ \o/ \o/ !

Much obliged for the link, bibliographic info and (not least) the errata and supplementary notes.

(This was fun, too: gopher://gopher.meulie.net/1/textfiles/bitsaved/Books/ )

Actually I'm being a little mean, it is actually a trove of information to the right sort of person... Of which I have to admit I am one (psst don't tell anyone, otherwise they realy will think I'm a nerd ;-)

A Witch! :P

May you continue to defy the proverb: "The wise man's heart is seldom cheerful."

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