Have you ever seen the TV series The Bletchley Circle? If not, it’s a British miniseries set in the early 1950s and is about four women who used to work as “code breakers” at Bletchley Park. If I’m being honest, its kind of boring. But it’s a great miniseries if you are interested in shows that demonstrate what it was like to be a spy during (and before) the Cold War. The women who worked at Bletchley Park weren’t spies themselves, but their job was to break the code that they would find in places like newspaper classified ads. Which were placed there by spies. If you haven’t seen the series, you should check it out. But that’s not exactly what I want to tell you about.
In this century, however, the National Security Agency has updated their tactics. Instead of using an old-fashioned newspaper, they are using their public Twitter account to send secret messages to at least one Russian spy. I have so many questions about this. Is it effective? While a newspaper is just as public, does this detract in any way from the intent? Maybe I’m too fixated on the whole Cold War aspect of it, but Twitter just seems like an odd place to post a message for a spy.
But that’s not all. According to reports, an unnamed Russian met with US spies in person in Germany, and the NSA sometimes communicated with the Russian spy by sending about a dozen coded messages from the NSA’s Twitter account. What is unknown is whether or not these were sent as direct messages, which are private. Or if they were sent out as public tweets? The way Donald Trump likes to inform the world about his policies.
Unfortunately, it looks like they were public messages.
Officials gave the Russians advance knowledge that on June 20, 2017, at 12:30 p.m., the official NSA Twitter account would tweet: “Samuel Morse patented the telegraph 177 years ago. Did you know you can still send telegrams? Faster than post & pay only if it’s delivered.”
The NSA continued to use that messaging technique repeatedly over the next few months. Officials wanted to communicate with the Russians or reassure them that the U.S. was still supporting the channel. Each time, the Russians were told the text of the tweets in advance and the exact time that they would be released. But why? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? I mean, if you’re telling them what’s going to be in the message, why do you need to send it?
The detail from the story that’s getting all of the attention, of course, is the fact that US intelligence agencies may have been willing to buy dirt on President Trump, including an alleged videotape of Trump with sex workers that was taken in 2013. The portions of the tape shown to US spies couldn’t be verified as actually being Trump and US intelligence suspected that they might be getting set up by the Russian government. This is kind of old news though, isn’t it? I mean, we should care about Donald Trump and his extracurricular activities, but if it’s not going to get him impeached, its a non-issue at this point. At least, in my opinion.
The big news, however, is that the NSA is using their public Twitter account to send secret messages. Much in the same way as was done during the Cold War. How this will play out is a bit of a mystery at this point. I am kind of looking forward to seeing what happens to Donald Trump with all of this, but as always, I’m not holding my breath.