In July 1995, in a ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch released the first group of NSA's Venona translations to the public. The DCI announced that a public conference on the Venona story would be held in 1996 as soon as the declassification of the translations had been completed. This conference is now at hand and follows the release of the last set of Venona translations. Some 2,900 Soviet intelligence messages are now on the Internet and in hard copy at major archives around the country.
While the cryptologic side of the Venona story belongs to NSA and its partners, the overall achievement is one of Intelligence Community cooperation. NSA and its US Army predecessor worked with FBI, CIA, the British, and allied services. This conference volume is itself a cooperative effort in keeping with the spirit of the times. It provides the public with information that had been closely held until recently and which is of extraordinary interest and importance.
It may be some time before historians and the general public sort out the full meaning of Venona. Lou Benson, co-editor of this conference volume, has prepared five historical monographs about the program. Considerable research, discussion, and writing by journalists and historians is already in progress, making this volume and the presentations at its accompanying conference potentially all the more timely and valuable to these scholarly efforts.
There can no longer be any doubt about the widespread and successful Soviet espionage operations against the United States and Great Britain during the 1940s, and that, aside from their own professional skill, Soviet intelligence services could count on the aid of the Communist parties of the target countries.
Earlier in my career I had the opportunity to supervise and participate in the last stages of the Venona program. From that experience I learned of the incredible determination and great skill of the analysts who made Venona possible. The result of their work was the body of translated messages, each one produced with the most painstaking and, I might add, honest effort. This is authentic material deserving of the most careful study.
William P. Crowell
National Security Agency