U.S. Government Employs 35,000 to Break and Decrypt Codes

Sunday, September 01, 2013
(Graphic: AP)

In the latest revelation provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, it is now known that the federal government pays 35,000 civilian and military specialists to break and decipher encrypted messages sent across the Internet.


This discovery was made by The Washington Post after it was given a copy of the government’s classified intelligence budget. Totaling $52.6 billion, the budget funds all kinds of clandestine activities by multiple spy agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), for whom Snowden worked as a contractor.


The so-called “black budget” included information about a “groundbreaking” effort to decrypt coded information traveling across the Web and other networks.


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who wrote a top-secret summary accompanying the budget, wrote: “We are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit Internet traffic.”


The document also revealed that 21% of the intelligence budget (about $11 billion) is dedicated to the Consolidated Cryptologic Program that staffs 35,000 employees in the NSA and components of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.


Kevin Poulsen of Wired wrote that Snowden’s previous leaks documented the NSA and British intelligence’s surveillance of raw Internet traffic.


“But information on the NSA’s efforts to crack the encrypted portion of that traffic—which would include much of the email transiting the net—has remained absent; conspicuously so, given the NSA’s history as world-class codebreakers. The leaked budget document is the first published Snowden leak to touch upon the question of how safe routinely encrypted traffic is from cutting-edge nation-state spying,” Poulsen wrote.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

New Snowden Leak Reports ‘Groundbreaking’ NSA Crypto-Cracking (by Kevin Poulsen, Wired)

U.S. Spy Network’s Successes, Failures and Objectives Detailed in ‘Black Budget Summary (by Barton Gellman and Greg Miller, Washington Post)

Snowden Reveals US Intelligence’s Black Budget: $52.6 Billion on Secret Programs (RT)

NSA Violated U.S. Privacy Laws at Least 2,776 Times…In One Year (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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