Body of Secrets
Doubleday Press, 2001 (721 pp)
This is a sequel to Bamford's famous book,The Puzzle Palace,
about that big glass building over by the BWI airport, the National
Security Agency (NSA). Unlike some other recent books like Battle
of Wits or Simon Singh's The Code Book, Bamford's
Body of Secrets is not just a rehash of well-known stories about
Enigma and Bletchley Park. but is skilled reporting, containing
previously-unknown insights such as:
- Previously unknown information about the Bay of Pigs Disaster,
and the U.S. Government's schemes to trick the American public
into supporting a war against Cuba, including the bizarre plans
of some members of the military to blow up astronaut John Glenn's
spacecraft and blame the Castro regime.
- More revelations about the bombing of the spy ship Liberty
by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, which killed 34 Americans.
Bamford provides new information intending to show that the
attack was not only deliberate (as was already widely believed),
but also claims to provide a possible motivation: that it was done
to cover up Israeli war crimes at El Arish and elsewhere during
the 1967 war. However, Bamford provides little more than speculation
for this incendiary claim.
- New revelations about the role of the NSA in inadvertently getting
the U.S. involved in the Vietnam conflict.
These revelations will undoubtedly upset a great many people.
The book goes into amazing detail, up to and including the room and
desk drawer at NSA in which documents concerning these events
are hidden. Even though the book has 612 references, the citations
are inexplicably omitted from the body of the text, making the book
seem more like a novel than a well-researched historical report.
Although the author is more of a reporter than a historian, this
book contributes to our understanding of recent history and of the
NSA and is certainly destined to become as big a best-seller as his
previous book. However, the unsubstantiated claims he makes in
this book raise troubling questions about the author's journalistic