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NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum 122

Schneier writes "Most people might not be aware of it, but there's a National Cryptologic Museum at Ft. Meade, at NSA Headquarters. It's hard to know its exact relationship with the NSA. Is it part of the NSA, or is it a separate organization? Can the NSA reclassify things in its archives?" There's some interesting stuff in the comments about the building's reason for existence (window views a nearby NSA building?) and some stuff they have (an Enigma machine!).
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NSA and the National Cryptologic Museum

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, 2010 @10:46AM (#33149904)

    The Canadian signals corps (don't recall the official name) is based in Kingston despite having a significant number of their staff posted to Ottawa.

    CSE [] (or CSEC) is the Canadian version of NSA (eh?).

    For all we gripe out our omnipresent watchdogs, their museums are awesome, and I'm glad they're able to disclose as much as they can. (Deep down inside, I think I just envy them for having (and building!) really cool tech for years before any of us mere mortals see it :)

  • Re:Enigma... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cslax ( 1215816 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @11:34AM (#33150636)
    The difference is you can play with the one in the NSA museum, and they encourage it.
  • by azgard ( 461476 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @12:09PM (#33151068)

    I think you are joking.

    I doubt U.S. government would want something from us. First, we have already been to U.S. 2 years ago (on a similar business trip). Second, most of the U.S. secrets (I mean industrial) have been already outsourced to other countries, including mine (consider our company). So, all in all, I think two foreigners visiting a museum are pretty harmless to U.S. national security.

    BTW. The U.S. is actually a nice place. There is more corruption in our country anyway. I think most Americans are overreacting to government powers, even though I agree that the situation is getting worse there (especially the class divide).

  • by overThruster ( 58843 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @03:11PM (#33153456)

    I don't know what the rules are at the museum but the NSA had a booth at the RSA conference this year and they brought an Enigma with them. They allowed me to use it and it seemed to be in full working order. Dials rotated and the keys made the lights come on. You could even open it up and see the internal mechanism. It was an amazing experience to physically touch a piece of history like that--one of the highlights of the conference for me. A colleague of mine who is fluent in German was reading the instructions which mentioned that there was a printer that could be used with the device--something I hadn't heard before.

    We owe a great debt to the code breakers at Bletchley Park like Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman and the Poles like Marian Rejewski who paved the way for them. Not only did they help win WWII and save countless lives, but they also planted the seeds for modern computer science in the process.

DISCLAIMER: Use of this advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement of Western industrial civilization.