While researching my new Taki's column, I read Steve Blank's blog series "The Secret History of Silicon Valley" about the region's debt to the Cold War military-industrial complex. (Here's an hour-long lecture by Blank.) This digression doesn't have too much to do with Silicon Valley, but it is another good Cold War story:
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. ...
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-old 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.
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…?
My dinner companion, (who had a hand in his agency's counterintelligence group,) “acted” surprised about the connection between the two…
Oh, what a wilderness of mirrors we live in.