A Wilderness of Mirrors

Excuse the non-Customer Development, non-entrepreneurial post.  I can’t get this one out of my head.


The VENONA Project
One of the most interesting (declassified) stories of cryptography is the deciphering of Soviet communications to their diplomatic missions in the U.S during World War II.  What was amazing about these decrypts was the Soviets used one-time pads which were theoretically unbreakable. The National Security Agency has a great website on the subject.

I had dinner last week with someone involved in the VENONA project (now retired.) We talked about one of the spies unearthed in the decoded messages; Ted Hall, a 19-year scientist at Los Alamos working on the Manhattan Project.  For lots of complicated reasons Hall was never arrested nor charged with a crime. Hall’s interest in Communism came from literature his older brother Ed brought home from college.

When Ted Hall went to work on the Atomic Bomb during World War II his older brother Ed joined the Air Force.

My Brothers Keeper
During the Cold War, when Ted Hall was under suspicion of being a Soviet spy, his brother Ed Hall, stayed in the Air Force and worked on every U.S. military missile program in the 1950’s (Atlas, Thor, etc.)

Ed Hall eventually became the father of the Minuteman missile project, our land-based ICBM carrying nuclear weapons to destroy the Soviet Union.

Surely the KGB, who ran Ted Hall as a spy, knew about his brother?  Perhaps even first…?

A Wilderness of Mirrors
My dinner companion, (who had a hand in his agencies counterintelligence group,) “acted” surprised about the connection between the two…

Oh, what a wilderness of mirrors we live in.

2 Responses

  1. Great post Steve. It’s interesting that the NY Times obituary makes no mention of Ted Hall.

  2. I and others copied Russian CW, [Morse] traffic for North American forces. No need to say which one.

    We were able to track exactly where the big Rusky bombers were as they moved over the pole towards us. [They had no idea we were on to them then]. I Read that they still fly that way but I can’t really trust the MSM to be accurate.

    They always turn around though. Putin holds a grudge, but I don’t think Russians hate us nearly as much as they used to.

    I met some Russian sailors down at the docks in Vancouver. A very cheery and good natured bunch. I personally like them. Generous too. They gave me some of those half full cigaretts of theirs.

    No, our problem is with those KGB guys like Putin who take life too seriously.

    Imagine the sillyness of putting a poison needle in the neck of an honest journalist while she rides the elevator up to her apartment..

    That is so Siberia like it just kills all hope of a little humour.

    Putin is so old fashioned. The younger leaders will be a breath of fresh air. Humour is a big part of Russians personality. I hope it starts shining through at the top soon. TG

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