Title: NSA's 'Oldest' Partnership -- A Debate

Release Date: 2018-03-01

Document Date: 2005-11-15

Description: Turkey may not be the NSA’s oldest third-party partner, the writer says. Earlier signals intelligence foreign relationships are described. 

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(U) NSA's 'Oldest' Partnership -- A Debate
FROM:
Foreign Affairs Directorate, Special Advisor (DP09)
Run Date: 11/15/2005

(S//SI) Last month you read about our partnership with Turkey and its virtues, including being
the so-called "oldest" Third Party partner. (See article .) Well, following some good-natured
discourse and debate, it appears that "oldest" is in the eyes of the beholder.
(S//SI) A review of Dr. Tom Johnson's history of NSA, "American Cryptology during the Cold War
1945-1989," tells us that there were SIGINT exchanges with Third Party nations that preceded
1948. Whether these were actually with NSA (which did not exist until 1952), or CIA, or whether
they were actually relationships or merely an exchange of traffic for some quid (usually US
dollars) or some other form of quasi-Third Party relationship is the center of this debate.
(S//SI) The Johnson history, as well as the Las Casas History of NSA's SIGINT Foreign
Relationships, reveals the following timelines:
A COMINT relationship was established by the OSS with the Italian navy almost as soon
as Italy left the war in 1943.
The relationship with Norway was initiated by CIA in 1948, but it was labeled an
"informal" relationship, formalized in 1952.
Probably the earliest "Mil-to-Mil" (using today's terminology) was the relationship
between the US Army and remnants of the German SIGINT element following the Allied
victory in 1945.
Herbert O. Yardley assisted Nationalist China's Chiang Kai-shek with COMINT and
COMSEC for two years in the 1930s, hardly a precursor for today's relationship with
Taiwan.
(U//FOUO) All this said, perhaps the point is that "oldest" can be a relative term. What is not
debatable, however, is the depth of trust that has endured over time, and the benefit to each
nation in these partnerships. Finally, I would not be surprised to find out that there could be
other, even earlier points in these relationships. I would be happy to discuss these off-line, and
if needed, summarize for a subsequent Digest.
(U//FOUO) This article is reprinted from the Foreign Affairs Digest, October edition.

"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid_comms)."

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DERIVED FROM: NSA/CSSM 1-52, DATED 08 JAN 2007 DECLASSIFY ON: 20320108

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