CRYPTO AG — NSA Historian Tom Johnson dies at 80 [MINERVA Files]

“The fourth volume includes a couple of instances during the 1980s where somebody really made a bad error here and should have been fired. I hope it will come out.”

NSA Historian Tom Johnson

January 2 2021 — Tom Johnson, a former NSA employee who has written a four-volume history of the agency, died on December 5 2020 after collapsing during a hike in Shenandoah National Park. He was 80. According to Greg Miller (Washington Post), Tom Johnson is the author of the MINERVA Files. There is one problem. The MINERVA Files make reference to an event that occurred in September 2002 while Mr Johnson retired in 1999. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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“Even when I came to the agency in 1964, there was this culture that we were so secret that no one would ever get into our affairs.” Tom Johnson

In 1992, the NSA tapped Mr. Johnson to write its history. Three previous attempts had failed.

Johnson spent more than six years writing the report, divided into four intelligence eras. He completed the report in 1998 and retired the next year. [WSJ]

According to Greg Miller, Tom Johnson is the author of the MINERVA Files.

A short thread on the passing of an important historian in U.S. espionage: Earlier this year, I wrote about an astonishing CIA operation that spanned half a century. It involved Crypto AG, a Swiss company that sold encryption gear to foreign governments.

Crypto dominated the market for decades. Its systems were used by Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Vatican and dozens of others desperate to safeguard their secrets. But all along the devices were rigged and the company was secretly owned by the CIA and BND.

The stories were based on a classified internal CIA history assembled by Tom Johnson, a former NSA employee who had also written a four-volume history of that agency. I tried to get Johnson to speak with me for the Crypto story, but he politely declined.

His document was never supposed to see the light of day. But The Post obtained the Crypto history as part of a reporting project with German documentary filmmaker Peter Mueller at ZDF and Swiss broadcaster SRF.

By the time I spoke with Johnson, he had been retired for years. An avid hiker, he had served as president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and was working on a comprehensive history of the famous trail. I hoped to sit down with him after the Crypto stories ran, but never got the chance.”

However, this story can not be true — at least not entirely — if Mr Johnson retired in 1999 as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

RELATED POST: CRYPTO AG — “MINERVA A History” : A Genuine CIA Report or a Piece of Disinformation?

As I explained in a post published on March 2 2020, beside the fatal “car accident” of Boris Hagelin Jr., the Minerva Files mention — at least — four suspicious deaths and names two individuals.

“An NSA employee allegedly told a journalist about his involvement in manipulating the Crypto AG devices.

This NSA man and the journalist died the same year from non-natural cause.

An attack in Karachi, Pakistan, during which another NSA employee Gary C. Durrell was shot in March 1995  is believed to be related to Crypto AG.

In September 2002, a car bomb killed a German employee of Crypto AG, Werner Graf, in Saudi Arabia.”

Whoever wrote the Minerva Files — and whatever the reasons for leaking these files in early 2020 — this particular document was indeed written after September 29 2002, when Gary C. Durrell was assassinated.

REFERENCES

In a New History of NSA, Its Spies’ Successes Are [Redacted] — WSJ

Tom Johnson : PATC Loses a Legend — The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club

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CRYPTO AG — NSA Historian Tom Johnson dies at 80 [MINERVA Files]

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