Remembering the First NSA Defection: William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell (June 25 1960)

“The United States Government is as unscrupulous as it has accused the Soviet Government of being. Our main dissatisfaction concerned some of the practices the United States uses in gathering intelligence information … deliberately violating the airspace of other nations … intercepting and deciphering the secret communications of its own allies … Perhaps United States hostility towards Communism arises out of a feeling of insecurity engendered by Communist achievements in science, culture and industry.”

William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell — The first NSA whistleblowers

NSA defectors William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell at the Moscow press conference announcing their defection, July 1, 1960.

The National Security Agency faced a terrible crisis in the summer of 1960 when two cryptologists disappeared on vacation. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

Fifty-three years before Edward Snowden left his job as a consultant with the NSA and ultimately pursued refuge in Moscow, a pair of disillusioned NSA employees, William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell, defected to the Soviet Union.

“It’s a story filled with uncanny parallels that could be plucked directly from today’s headlines: young men working with the National Security Agency (NSA) who grow disillusioned by what they find, abscond with classified information, and end up seeking asylum in Moscow.”

In a worst case scenario for the U.S. government, the pair appeared in Moscow on September 6, 1960 to announce their defection and denounce the United States. For the first time the mission and activities of the NSA—including unauthorized incursions into foreign airspace—were made public.

RELATED POST: The NSA Four: “We Warned the American People about Naked Surveillance, but No One Listened”

RELATED POST: The Untold Story of the Four NSA Whistleblowers — Documentary

RELATED POST: Trump’s ‘utterly ridiculous’ spy story rings a bell

RELATED POST: Former CIA Boss Michael Hayden: ‘Millennials don’t understand loyalty and secrecy’

RELATED POST: US Whistleblowers — Test your ‘Spy’ knowledge with our quiz!

RELATED POST: Obama’s Crackdown on National Security Leaks

Long before the “NSA four” and Ed Snowden, William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell sent a clear message to US allies:

“As we know from our previous experience working at N.S.A., the United States successfully reads the secure communications of more than forty nations, including its own allies.”

RELATED POST: United Nations — Update on investigation into the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld

About William Hamilton Martin

William Hamilton Martin (May 27, 1931 – January 17, 1987) was born in Columbus, Georgia. His family soon moved to Washington state where his father was president of the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce.

He graduated from Ellensburg High School after two years. After studies at Central Washington College of Education (now Central Washington University), he earned a degree in mathematics from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1947.

He enlisted in the United States Navy and served from 1951 to 1954, working as a cryptologist with the Naval Security Group in Japan. Martin played chess and collected Japanese sword handles (tsuka). [WIKIPEDIA]

About Bernon F. Mitchell

Bernon F. Mitchell (March 11, 1929 – November 12, 2001) was born and raised in Eureka, California, and enlisted in the US Navy after one year of college.

Bernon F. Mitchell (March 11, 1929 – November 12, 2001)

He gained experience as a cryptologist during a tour of duty in the Navy from 1951 to 1954, serving in Japan with the Naval Security Group at Kami Seya.

He stayed on in Japan for another year, working for the Army Security Agency. Following his Navy service, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Stanford University.  [WIKIPEDIA]

Martin & Mitchell: The Defectors

The Untold Story from Truman to Kennedy, will uncover what led to their defection and the aftermath for both the NSA and the defectors.

REFERENCES

The First NSA Defection: 1960 — CWIS

=

Remembering the First NSA Defection: William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell (June 25 1960)

This entry was posted in NSA, Whistleblowers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Remembering the First NSA Defection: William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell (June 25 1960)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s