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that theoretical results can be turned into cryptomachines easily. In other words, if we are to restrict cryptography, then we would have to restrict
the theory of algorithms, complexity theory and even some of areas of mathematics since they would have a direct application to cryptography. This would be difficult to enforce and would pose serious problems for the academic community. It would also retard our research effort. In this context, the only model one look to, insofar as areas where secrecy has prevailed, is that of nuclear research. The poorest nation in the world has detonated a nuclear device and others are reported to be working on doing so. Many of our nuclear power plants are about to be shut down. Our country is in serious trouble because of energy shortages. I am not a nuclear expert, but I wonder if the total secrecy has infact hurt our country without preventing others from "going nuclear".
The results are hardly encouraging.
It seems to me that it is far better to simply stay ahead of everyone else.by strongly supporting basic research. The recent decline in funding for basic research certainly has not helped. In experimental computers science and engineering, for example, there has been a serious shortage of funds and (some believe because of that) researchers. The impact of this on national
security is probably more serious than cryptosystems are thought to be.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you very much for a very fine statement Dr. Davida.
Admiral Inman, we appreciate your being here today and we will be very interested in your response to Dr. Davida and Mr. Kahn here.
STATEMENT OF ADM. B. R. INMAN, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
Admiral INMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased to be invited and delighted to be able to give you my own reaction, not only to the remarks of my two distinguished predecessors but also to the burgeoning discussion in the entire field of public cryptography.
You should understand that I am novice in this area next to two experts. But I have been a user of the product of the U.S. SIGINT system for 20 years. I came to this job in 1977 with a great appreciation for the value of the product of that system for national security.
I had barely arrived in the job when I was confronted with a controversy over a data encryption standard and a letter from an
employee in his role as a private citizen to the IEEE that was followed in fairly rapid succession by two questions of application of the patent secrecy law. My education went on a pretty fast pace. The Congress in its wisdom has already addressed this topic in earlier years by the enactment of 18 U.S.Č. 798 in which they have in fact already made some basic decisions about the importance of cryptography to the country and have provided some protection for
it. Further, in recent years they have taken what I believe to be a very wise step of creating the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which has the requisite security and the requisite access to in fact examine and make judgments on the value to the Nation, which my two distinguished colleagues do not have the opportunity to do, nor does this committee.
I would suggest to you one of the things you might like to do would be to ask Chairman Boland and his committee to examine, and they certainly will not give you the detailed results, the detailed nature of the examination, but they would give you their own conclusions as to the question of impact on national security. They have already had some direct, firsthand experience on the question of whether the danger is overstated that publication in the United States of information will lead to the loss of vital information. They have seen the documented instances where it has occurred. Unhappily, the very nature of these hearings does not permit me to share those details with you. But there are some basic questions I have encountered as I found my way through this process.
I appreciate the eagerness of Professor Kahn to see this debate move forward in the public domain. Alas, I report to him that the files are not about to be thrown open and all that good detail on the success of the U.S. cryptologic community over the last 30 or 40 years. Where it can safely be done with regard to the World War II adversaries, a great deal of information has been provided to the U.S. Archives. It will be a substantial period of time before other large volumes move into that category because there are continuing national security interests right to this day.
When I first came to the job and read a good deal of press coverage, I was alarmed that there was a major problem here and perhaps overreacted to that even in some of my early statements. I don't regret them, nor do I regret in the least the dialogs I have undertaken because they have helped me to understand the concerns in the academic community.
But one of the early things I heard was that there was going to be a great rush to buy additional encipherment devices in the U.S. market. That worry, I must tell you, existed within the National Security Agency as well as within those in the scientific and academic communities who thought they saw a great deal of profit forthcoming.
The business community has not in fact felt that great impetus to go charging forward and therefore it is moving at a more leisurely pace. That is very fortunate because it says all of us can go about this dialog in a rational and measured way without the need to react preemptorially in one way or the other.
I have not elected to repudiate the statements of a private employee with the IEEE, one, because he did it in his role as a private citizen but, to, on reflection, some of his comments about the international traffic and arms regulation proved to be valid.
He was frustrated that Government in this case had been unwilling to act. I didn't even know what an ITAR was 21⁄2 years ago. Early in my tenure I was presented with an opinion by the Justice Department, that the ITAR was unenforceable. A brilliant new lawyer that I had persuaded to come to work for NSA and the General Counsel at the Defense Department strongly disagreed with that Justice interpretation.
All of that is sort of moot now because we fortunately have a court decision in the ninth circuit court in which it has been ruled that in fact the existing ITAR are not so vague as to be unenforceable. But there were ambiguities in ITAR as in so many other Government regulations.
The debate served the purpose of getting these ambiguities examined and recently the Munitions Board has offered new regulations which I think ought to quiet substantial concerns in the academic community about any potential for restricting basic research.
I cannot let the occasion pass without setting the public record straight once again on the allegation that the National Security Agency intercepted private American telephone conversations. I have spent a great deal of time examining the past record and in fact NSA did not target or intercept private American telephone communications.
It was a subject of great distress to me in a recent article of Professor Kahn's that he elected to cast doubt on my integrity in that statement by quoting unnamed sources and those unnamed sources should come forward with any evidence they have that NSA ever targeted or intercepted private American telephone communications because I certainly cannot find any evidence that it ever occurred.
Fianlly, if I may turn to a couple of items from Professor Davida. You unfortunately, as I did, witnessed in the two instances of the application of the patent secrecy provisions not a faulty law but inadequate Government attention to its application. In the case of Professor Davida, a very well meaning attempt to hold the line that had clearly already been passed by and a situation in which a middle level employee could say no.
We have in fact instituted procedures which now have more than 2 years of application in which one can very easily say yes, but a board of the most senior experienced employees of the agency must concur if one seeks to impose secrecy on any patent application.
The second one came along very shortly after the first, just as we were beginning to apply it. There I was faced with a split decision inside NSA over whether the Nicolai invention represented a threat. From dealing day by day with the Invention Secrecy Act, you have to make a quick, snap decision.
If you believe from the description available to you that there is a potential hazard or potential application for the Nation's code enciphers, you must act promptly and then seek further detail that will let you be certain your initial evaluation was correct.
But there has been a great deal of misunderstanding in the public coverage. This does not halt the patent process. It simply halts the marketing of the product and the process to apply for patents continues and on its own merits of whether the information warrants being patented.
Certainly in the application of Professor Davida, it did not hold up the dialog for very long. I don't know whether he now has a patent or not. In the other case there was a patent granted recently, but the interesting side of that one is that the same day I heard from the lawyer asking questions about our request for a secrecy order I also heard from the public affairs representative seeking to draw maximum publicity to the invention. We have clearly given a fair impetus to the marketing propsect for that invention with the very substantial efforts of the public relations persons to build a case that if it is good enough that NSA might have wanted to restrict it, clearly it is good enough that you ought to buy it. Finally, let me deal with the question of my view on how we ought to address this problem. My initial reaction to the problems of the first 8 or 9 months was that we clearly needed additional legislation and I set out to seek the views of those in the academic world and the business world where I thought there might be conterviews to try to understand their position.
That dialog has gone along pretty well. There are some efforts underway in collarboration at this point between the two opposing views to try to sort out what kind of regulation, not necessarily what kind of legislation, might meet both these needs, the needs of national security and the need on the opposite side to insure that the Government does not needlessly interfere with the conduct of basic research.
I am reasonably optimistic that this dialog is going to produce information that will be of use to both the executive and legislative branches of Government. We deliberately on both sides, have not sought publicity for that effort because we were eager to let the dialog continue without the need to posture in public from either side.
My encouragement comes from the fact that I have found particularly in the academic community great interest in the prospect that any part of the Government might be willing to discuss with them in advance the form regulation would take instead of presenting them with a fait accompli.
To leave you a little time for questions, may I stop at that point. Mr. PREYER. Thank you very much, Admiral Inman. I certainly hope that dialog does turn out to be useful and productive. I am delighted to hear that it is going forward.
Let me ask you one question. It might take me a moment to set the scene for it, but it deals with one of the situations which you have mentioned in passing, although I don't believe by name. That is the situation involving Mr. J. A. Meyer back in 1977 where he was a NSA employee and sent a letter to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE, which is the largest engineering professional group, I understand, and suggested that the IEEE's information theory group might be publishing papers and holding symposia on cryptography and related information theory matters in violation of ITAR and other Federal laws.
Mr. Meyer suggested to avoid any possible violation of the law, IEEE members should submit papers or possible articles to the Office of Munitions Control at the Department of State before the meeting or before publishing.
The practical effect of that would have been to permit NSA to review each submission and classify or otherwise restrict the publication or disclosure of the scholarly papers since NSA would have received any materials submitted in this area for review.
Perhaps most interesting was that Mr. Meyer's suggestion that materials be submitted to State was legally not necessary. Under ITAR, for example, publications and material available to the public are exempt. Mr. Meyer's letter to IEEE did not indicate that he was either a NSA or DOD official.
When it was later discovered that he was with NSA, the agency stated that they had nothing to do with the letter, though NSA avoided saying that they disagreed with the substance of the letter or action taken by Mr. Meyer.
My question is: Do you feel that scholarly papers on cryptology or similar questions of information theory should be submitted to the Office of Munitions Control or NSA before they are published?
Admiral INMAN. Mr. Chairman, as I have examined the problem, I do not believe there is in the basic research a serious threat to the Nation's security. At least I have not found an example that was persuasive to me in the basic research.
In the applications I have found a good many that were very substantial concerns. In my own sorting through the problem, and in my own dialog that I have ongoing, I am seeking to find ways to distinguish between basic research and theory and moving on to applications because it is in the applications that one in fact does have the potential to in fact impact on either our own codes and ciphers or on the signals intelligence mission of the National Security Agency.
My sense to this point on where we ought to go is with a board that is composed of people from both sides but with significant expertise to be able to make judgments. I have some thoughts on this that I would be happy to furnish this committee. I have already outlined them in talk some months ago with the Armed Forces Communicatons and Electronics Association.
If one is talking about applications and particularly application which might be exported, then I believe indeed it should be submitted to the Munitions Control Office.
Might I also call to your attention, I had just come through the Church committee and Pike committee investigations as my introduction to Washington at the time that I took up and found the letter to the IEEE.
My first reaction was to ask the Senate select committee, which ws already established and functioning, to investigate the matter. They did and they issued an unclassified report as well as a very detailed classified report that I am sure could be available to you through the auspices of the House select committee in which they in fact did confirm to their complete satisfaction that it was a private act and not an act influenced by the agency.
Mr. PREYER. An act of Mr. Meyer's and not NSA?