Influence of Future Technology on Intelligence for U. S. National Security

William O. Baker

Comments for Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

May 12, 1978


The privilege of reporting to this Select Committee is enhanced by the record of how science and technology have participated in both the national security endeavors of the second half of the Twentieth Century. They can also serve information resources which have so far been central to the deterrence of nuclear missile exchanges and, possibly, global war and destruction.

Our early exercise in such information-intelligence application of science and technology was in 1948 when, at the direction of President Truman and under the sponsorship of Secretary Acheson, we made an approximation of atomic bomb technology to be used by the Russians, if they were to achieve such capability. Indeed that work, which forecast their success within a year when they actually exploded a weapon, that work which of course made no account to the treachery of Klaus Fuchs or other spy inputs, alerted our embryonic intelligence apparatus to a set of new challenges for the rest of the century. That apparatus was soon codified, an the Honorable Clark Clifford has described to the Committee, as the CIA and rose expertly to challenges of which nuclear weaponry was but one part of technological threats. Namely, the CIA soon became connected with major scientific and technical resources in the Nation. Thereby it quickly achieved the worldwide intelligence capability which astonished and gained respect and, in the case of the free world, the adherence of classically partitioned and insulated intelligence agencies. For example, by the mid-1950s, the genius of Dr. Edwin Land in physical optics, of Mr. Kelly Johnson in aerodynamics and propulsion, along with small roles of ourselves in radar cross-section biding and in various other electronics and materials features had been combined to produce reconnaissance aircraft. These. beginning with the UZ, are of previously unimagined performance. Intelligence from these and signals sources became available in such detail regarding European and Asian strategy. In turn, experts say such forewarning virtually prevented so far world dominance by collectivist societies.

Among the movements in science and technology of this period that shared fully in the historic, strategic decisions we have noted are especially included communications and computers, information transfer and automata. Both were heavily facilitated by the same new solid state electronics and systems which are said to have enabled modern weaponry, space and missile guidance, and information organization as well. So we are grateful indeed for the foresight of those national leaders. both legislators and administrators, who, at that time, drew together the independent and apparently (or superficially) irrelevant scientific incapabilities of the Nation into forms which could enhance crucial assessments and countermeasures involving our national security.

Thus, by the mid-1950s, President Eisenhower had keenly recognized that we should seek deeply to estimate and promptly to activate resources of intelligence which could maintain world stability, projecting at least toward the end of the century. His wisdom has been affirmed already for half of that period. We have had occasion to serve uninterrupted for twenty-one years of that time in providing to five presidents and their security resources the most modern, and indeed oncoming, scientific. and technical supports, particularly for intelligence operations. For example, during the whole span of advisory activity in which Mr. Clifford served Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, we worked with him in assuring a continuing stimulus of innovative processes to inform the President of every significant world movement in security affairs. The historic success of the October 1962 missile confrontation in Cuba was an example where President Kennedy personally assimilated intelligence flows of unprecedented technical span and consequence.

But now what element has come into international affairs that permits this exceptional reliance on intelligence for assuring the freedom of whole civilizations? Indeed, it is an element that goes beyond even the great gain that overhead reconnaissance by planes and satellites, enhanced receptions and scientific sensing of radiation, etc., can provide. It in based on the growing, and indeed already predominant, dependence of modern civilization on telecommunications.

At present there appears to be no alternative to increasing organization of human activities, including military, economic. and governmental processes. This is happening through extensive use of digital machines and also electrical signaling, which lead to a classic form of access by others, known as SIGINT. We express this circumstance, which is well known to you all, in this way because it seems likely that if we assess properly the future progress and activities in this field the Nation may foresee, and even cope with, the most compelling features of international forces in the years ahead. These features involved in the technology we have cited of course range from the electronics missions, or ELINT, that have to accompany the development of a ballistic missile right through to the command from. say, the Kremlin (or the command post outside of Moscow underground) that launches that missile against, say, a free-world capital.

So we have taken this time to sketch out the context in which the future science and technology of intelligence must function in order to accent the overriding need to enable to bring into the esoteric and compartmented forms of secret services the latest and often most sensitive discoveries of industry and the academic world. This Is a challenge for management, leadership, wisdom. and mutual trust that itself deserves the high talent of writers and enactors of new legislation in our Nation. We are heartened to find that the staff who has drafted much of the present form of S.2525 has become aware of information science and technology that so powerfully influences the content and the process of intelligence for the times ahead.

So let us examine quickly some of the technological milieu in which this legislation will be enabling the total intelligence community to achieve its mission. One overriding feature of the now environ is the volume of knowledge which bathes this planet in what the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin named the noösphere. Those responsible for the security of states must sample the contents of that envelope of information in ways which will best strengthen their own positions and best warn against hostile actions. Now science and technology have already had a considerable role in changing this strategy of international security. For the speed of attack, especially by missiles, but also by high performance aircraft, and the scope of weapons, primarily nuclear explosives, do not fit the classic tempos and techniques of diplomacy and of intergovernment negotiation. The latter may take weeks, months, or years with occasionally some hot-line exchanges within minutes or hours. The actual exercise of weaponry should take minutes or hours at the most and, usually, should have been prepared for so that relatively few minutes may mark the transition between apparent peace and full-scale war. However, interwoven in all this technological recasting of security measures is an infrastructure of economics, propaganda, quasi-commercial logistics, and civilian psychology, which themselves become vital factors in knowledge base of the world that must be part of intelligence.

So what we are saying is that we must augment classical modes of intelligence collection. These rest so heavily on SIGINT and are so strongly determined by the levels of cryptography and other concealment which communicators steadily devise that their immediacy of application is highly variable. But there are huge volumes of contemporary indicators in the open press, and radios, and videos, and telecommunications systems which must also be tracked.

The complexity and diversity of these knowledge sources have of course been recognized for some years. But the necessary automation and training in machine processing have not been pursued adequately in the intelligence community. The urgent requirement for the next moves is to establish a hierarchy of knowledge handling which makes available to the government's Central Intelligence authorities all phases of the unofficial sources of information.

At the very time when legislative and administrative barriers against the use of press, education, etc., by intelligence agencies are being erected, we are saying that the movement of society is such as to demand that our intelligence agencies create wholly new and extensive links with these activities. This is not to says of course, that so tightly controlled a society, with its disinformation ministry and all the rest, as the Soviets or Chinese will reveal through open sources invasion plans or even the exercise of new weaponry or supply of material to an African or Asian satellite.

Our theme does contain, however, strong implications concerning even those moves. These implications are that the trends in military and diplomatic telecommunications, which we have pursued for nearly three decades, strongly confirm our earlier findings and forecasts. These are that. although we must reinforce steadily our agencies’ brilliant efforts in collecting and penetrating the highest levels of encoded material, we shall nevertheless consistently find less and less direct accessibility through decryption, on a time scale fast enough to permit competent reactions or initiatives for the safeguarding of our Nation.

Rather, we shall have to develop another kind of socio-analysis in addition to the time-honored cryptography. It is one that is no less challenging and perhaps no less capable of crucial value. It in the psycho-socio-technical analysis of information indicators around the world. It is believed that modern states and their developing satellites will increasingly move into an era of communications and data processing in which a continuous reflection of their resources and internal tensions will be reflected. Populations will come to depend on radio and video systems, not only for their entertainment and education, but for interactions with their own social orders—frequently in the form of governments, but also from other institutions of politics and religion. Under such circumstances the effects on the fall harvest in the Soviet Union, which were widely displayed long before the invasion of Czechoslovakia, must be recognized as part of a whole.

A new series of norms of socio-political behavior must constantly be examined, and particularly with respect to fluctuations. This sort of analysis is worthy of the highest talents which have been well occupied in both NSA and CIA for some generations, for our more classic intelligence activities.

Undoubtedly, such examinations will point to new types of covert actions—by that we do not mean subversion types, but covert actions for the acquisition of information in classic intelligence form. Nevertheless, we must also soon confront a compelling question for the top users of all intelligence; namely, how do they acquire relevant knowledge without having it colored by the filters and processors who already abstract it from a socio-political context? Such analysts must inevitably feel some influence of that context, whether from the military deriving Communist air force movements, State Department deriving Mid-East diplomacy actions, nuclear energy groups examining Chinese test fallout data, or whatever.

We must, on the one hand, assure that our heads of government got the beat insight that these special skills provide and that the CIA and military intelligence groups were set up to render. But at the same time we must learn to discount the sheer weight of knowledge, of technical detail, and of operational elaboration that comes from all these doings, and that a large and busy intelligence bureaucracy naturally feels called upon to deliver to somebody.

But obviously there isn't any magic answer, but it is pertinent to emphasize that we can now develop word processors and indicators capable of handling volumes of traffic analogous to those which cryptanalytic and bust-seeking resources nowadays easily absorb. We are simply saying that we can deal with words and sentences now, as we have dealt with characters, literally often dots and dashes, in the years up to now. We shall have to have, of course, certain linguistic accessories. But we shall be dealing not with massive and purposeless translation of encyclopedias at Soviet or Chinese text, but rather with automatically selected coincidences, statistical appearances, and general trends in particular word and sentence usages.

We need to find out how far we can pursue the recognized principle that there to extensive redundancy and correlation of thought in particular social structures, as events are shaped by them. Indeed, the preoccupation of all nations with planning nowadays, with prospects for the future, including the management of resources, the environment and general ecological concerns, all provide another new broad base in which this emerging application of “context analysis” can be undertaken. Further, of course, we do apply the notion of context analysis to many conventional operations in SIGINT processing. Thus, as satellite communications spread worldwide, more rapid and complete traffic measures and identifications must be made. It is of course expected that, especially with the broad bandwidths of gigahertz satellites, digital encryption will become vastly cheaper and more extensive, but nevertheless useful information can be abstracted.

It seems likely also that this merging arena of context processing and analysis will apply in the nonverbal areas of data signaling and ELINT. Thus, it in evermore essential to keep all elements of electromagnetic radiation intelligence in close coordination. In this respect, it is most important to regard the NSA as a national agency for whose operation the DOD remains responsible, but for whose performance and general administrative habits the President himself and his chief Intelligence Officer assure a strong and independent role.


W. 0. Baker

Bell Laboratories

Murray Hill, New Jersey



One of the first and important areas in which to apply this new context processing is in the activities of the Soviet economy. Its relation to their political and military aggression has long been pointed at but not, so far, with any systematic continuing analysis. Thus, during the last Administration it was possible to pull out of various different intelligence sources, and particularly those in relatively open literature, evidence of grain purchase manipulations, oil embargo and price influences, persistent efforts in acquiring frontier Western technology through credits, and disturbing actions involving commodity price agreements and commodity stabilization funds. As was predicted then, we see now a continuing effort of Soviet leaders to use a Cuban foreign legion and other instruments to constrain our access to vital mineral and other resource trading with the Third World. We see effective campaigns against our multinational corporations in many nations, of both the developed and developing areas. Again there seems to be an organized Communist stimulation which needs to be sorted out and verified. Once more in this area we need to involve much larger sections of the national scholarly, community, especially the universities. A context analysis capability that we have described would undoubtedly result also in more extensive declassification of information than now occurs in the highly compartmented agency documentation. Thus, we would have fundamentally available for study and assessment a very much bigger fraction of intelligence information than is now possible. Indeed, it may be that legislation itself should emphasize more explicitly the obligations for declassification and nonclassification of information which the world trends support.