Robert Louis Benson

Benson, Robert Louis. A History of U.S. Communications Intelligence during World War II: Policy and Administration. Washington, DC: NSA, Center for Cryptologic History, 1997.

Bates, NIPQ 14.2, highly recommends this work. He finds that there is "a tremendous amount of detail about the several evolving COMINT organizations," including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, FBI, and Federal Communications Commission. In addition, the book "is replete with statistics chronicling the growth of the COMINT effort as the war progressed."

For Kruh, Cryptologia 22.2, this is an "excellent history." The reviewer, however, expresses dismay over the "service politics, interservice rivalries, disagreements and strained relationships" documented by Benson among, within, and between U.S. Comint organizations at this critical juncture in American history.

Bradley Smith, I&NS 13.4, notes that this work "was originally produced in 1976 ... as an NSA secret in-house study.... [T]his is a very useful volume which supplies much valuable information on U.S. wartime code and cipher breaking organization as well as information on American cryptographic and cryptanalytic cooperation with Britain. The most serious caveat regarding Benson's study ... is the continuing unavailablity of many of the documentary sources on which the volume has been based."


Benson, Robert Louis.

1. "The 1942-43 New York-Moscow KGB Messages."

Written in association with the Venona document release in 1995.

2. "The 1944-45 New York and Washington-Moscow KGB Messages."

Written in association with the Venona document release in 1996.


Benson, Robert Louis. The VENONA Story. Ft. George G. Meade, MD: National Security Agency, Center for Cryptologic History, [n.d.]. []

This is an excellent overview of the VENONA materials.


Benson, Robert Louis, and Michael Warner, eds. VENONA: Soviet Espionage and the American Response, 1939-1957. Washington, DC: National Security Agency/Central Intelligence Agency, 1996. Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1996.

Clark comment: There are two parts to this volume: Part I, "The American Response to Soviet Espionage," has 35 "original documents available to American policymakers during the period covered"; Part II, "Selected Venona Messages," consists of 99 of the approximately 2,900 KGB, GRU, and GRU-Naval messages that have been released to the public. The Venona translations can be accessed via NSA's Homepage at http://www.nsa. gov.

Peake, NWCR 53.3 and Intelligencer 11.2, finds that "[w]hile this book is an excellent introduction to the [Venona] program, it does not deal in depth with the details of how the decrypted cables were analyzed or the impact of VENONA on the resulting espionage cases."

For Herken, I&NS 16.3, this is "[t]he starting place for any serious Venona scholar." The Aegean Park Press edition also "contains ... five of the six monographs on Venona as well as a valuable index of names and cryptonyms." Cohen, FA 77.2 (Mar.-Apr. 1997), notes that these documents are "introduced by a balanced and informative historical essay. The result is a fascinating glimpse of compromised intelligence operations that helped shape the early phase of the Cold War."


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