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12 August 2008

The literature of cryptologic intelligence, declassified

Whole volumes of the intelligence literature produced within one of the oldest of the nation’s organizations are too often ignored by academics and other practitioners outside of the narrow field of signals intelligence. The literature of the technical side of the house tends to be exceptionally arcane – even by the eccentric standards of the rest of the IC – littered with mathematics, circuit diagrams, and radio propagation sketches. Its historical materials assume a familiarity that many outsiders cannot broach. And above all, this literature remains exceptionally protected, often for decades longer than counterpart publications in other agencies.
But the reader would be remiss to ignore the recently declassified series of articles taken from the various in-house journals and historical studies of our friends at Fort Meade. While still a small collection, it is a remarkable aggregation of materials of great potential value for those engaged in the hard task of teaching intelligence to the next generation of budding young professionals.

We are particularly hopeful that this round of declassifications will also spark a new interest in the history and theory of this venerable discipline. The second wave of publications that result from such interest are often invaluable companions to the primary works authored by practitioners, as academics attempt to interpret and re-contextualize material which has often long ago passed into the domain of the unexamined assumptions of common knowledge.

So hie thee hence, dear readers, and we hope to see new life emerge in the commentary and discussion of these thoughts of those that came before, and who laid the foundation for the practice of the art and science as we now know it.

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