1939-1996 per Denis Naranjo
intelligence defector Walter Krivitsky has the first of several
debriefings at the Department of State.
||President Roosevelt secretly
gives the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Military
Intelligence Division (MID), and the Office of Naval
Intelligence (ONI) exclusive responsibility for
||Germany and USSR
sign Non-Aggression Pact.
||World War II begins as Germany
Roosevelt authorizes the FBI to conduct warrantless electronic
surveillance of persons suspected of subversion or espionage;
surveillance was to be limited insofar as possible to
Agreement" further specifies the division of labor in domestic
Registration Act (the "Smith Act") criminalizes conspiracy to
overthrow the government, requires resident aliens to register,
report annually, and provide notice of address changes.
||KGB agent Ramon Mercader
assassinates Leon Trotsky in Mexico.
found dead of a gunshot wound in a Washington hotel; the police
rule his death a suicide.
||Federal agents arrest Amtorg
employee and KGB New York resident Gaik Ovakimian for violating
the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
||FBI arrests 29 German military
intelligence agents, crippling Germany's clandestine operations
in the United States.
allows Ovakimian to leave the country.
||London KGB resident Anatoli
Gorski informs Moscow that his agent reports London has decided
to build an atomic bomb.
aircraft attack Pearl Harbor; America enters the war.
||Senior KGB officer Vassili M.
Zarubin arrives in San Francisco on his way to succeed
Ovakimian as New York resident.
Branch begins producing daily "Magic Summaries" analyzing
foreign diplomatic messages for the White House and senior
||The Office of the Coordinator of
Information becomes the Office of Strategic Services (OSS),
subordinate to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
agreement divides signals intelligence duties: Navy assigned to
handle naval codebreaking; the US Army's Signals Intelligence
Service to handle diplomatic and military traffic; and the FBI
works clandestine radio communications.
||President Roosevelt bars all
agencies except the FBI and the armed services from
code-breaking activities. The services interpret this directive
as authorization to deny signals intelligence to OSS.
renamed Signal Security Agency (SSA) formally begins work on
Russian diplomatic traffic. Ms. Gene Grabeel, a Virginia home
economics schoolteacher, begins as the first VENONA
cryptanalyst at Arlington Hall.
||KGB New York resident Vassili M.
Zarubin meets CPUSA official Steve Nelson in Oakland and
International (Comintern) resolves to disband.
||FBI receives an anonymous Russian
letter naming Soviet intelligence officers in North
||San Francisco KGB residency
acknowledges the receipt of a new codebook.
Lieutenant Richard Hallock makes the first break into Soviet
diplomatic ciphers; Frank Lewis later expanded the break.
||VENONA program expands
operations; Captain F. Coudert and Major William B. S. Smith
assigned in charge.
apparently on short notice, changes the indicator system for
its cables, leaving the one-time pad page numbers
||SSA's Cecil Phillips discovers
the new KGB indicator, which is then used to detect "key"
duplicated in Trade messages.
||More breaks made
in KGB ciphers by cryptanalysts Cecil Phillips, Genevieve
Feinstein, and Lucille Campbell.
||OSS purchases Soviet code and
cipher material from Finnish sources; the Roosevelt
administration orders the material returned to the Soviet
Embassy in Washington.
Department transfers operational control of SSA from the Signal
Corps to MID.
||President Roosevelt dies; Harry
Truman sworn in as his successor.
||A US Army Target
Intelligence Committee (TICOM) team finds Russian code and
cipher material in a German Foreign Office cryptanalytic center
in a castle in Saxony-Anhalt.
intelligence teams find Soviet codebooks in Saxony and
||FBI conducts a lengthy debriefing
of former Soviet agent Whittaker Chambers.
ousted as leader of the Communist Political Association, which
reclaims its old name, the Communist Party of the United States
||The Manhattan Project detonates
the world's first nuclear explosion, Trinity, in New Mexico;
Soviet agents had warned Moscow in advance.
defects; Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers tell the FBI
about Soviet espionage activity in the U.S.
||Soviet GRU code
clerk Lt. Igor Gouzenko defects in Ottawa.
||The War Department authorizes
merger of SSA with selected Signal Corps units to form the Army
Security Agency (ASA), under MID.
intelligence Continuation Agreement extends wartime cooperation
in this field.
||President Truman dissolves
Bentley interviewed at length for the first time by FBI agents
about her work for the KGB.
the Central Intelligence Group and the position of Director of
Central Intelligence (DCI).
Communications Intelligence Board adds the FBI and renames
itself the United States Communications Intelligence Board
Intelligence Authority Directive 5 secretly directs the DCI to
conduct, as "services of common concern," all foreign
intelligence and counterespionage.
||CIG joins the new USCIB and gains
access to signals intelligence.
||A Canadian Royal
commission releases its report on the Gouzenko affair to the
||Attorney General Tom Clark urges
Truman to renew and broaden Roosevelt's 1940 authorization to
conduct electronic surveillance on "persons suspected of
subversive activities"; the President soon approves.
Meredith Gardner begins to analytically reconstruct KGB
codebook; decrypts a few messages including one about the
||M. Gardner decrypts part of a KGB
message containing a list of atomic scientists.
9835 tightens protections against subversive infiltration of
the US Government, defining disloyalty as membership on a list
of subversive organizations maintained by the Attorney
||President Truman signs the
National Security Act of 1947, creating the National Security
Council (NSC) and transforming CIG into the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Gardner's study of KGB covernames in the messages.
||Col. Carter Clarke briefs the
FBI's liaison officer Robert J. Lamphere on the break into
Soviet diplomatic traffic.
||Carter W. Clarke
of G-2 advises S. Wesley Reynolds, FBI, of successes at
Arlington Hall on KGB espionage messages.
||NSCID-5 reiterates but qualifies
DCI's counterespionage authority to avoid precluding certain
"agreed" FBI and military counterintelligence activities.
USCIB under the NSC and increases civilian control of signals
||General Secretary Eugene Dennis
and 11 other CPUSA leaders arrested and indicted under the
Smith Act of conspiring to advocate violent overthrow of the US
Bentley testifies before the House Committee on Un-American
Activities (HCUA), publicly accusing Harry Dexter White and
Lauchlin Currie of being Soviet agents.
||Whittaker Chambers names Alger
Hiss and Harry Dexter White as Communists in testimony before
and Robert Lamphere, based at FBI Headquarters, meet at
Arlington Hall and formally inaugurate full-time FBI-ASA
liaison on the Soviet messages. A large number of espionage
cases are opened.
||Chambers produces the "Pumpkin
Papers" to substantiate his new charge that Hiss and White
spied for Moscow during the 1930s.
||A federal grand
jury indicts Alger Hiss for perjury.
||FBI identifies covername SIMA
assigned to Justice Department analyst Judith Coplon.
VENONA exposes major KGB espionage agents, including Klaus
Fuchs, Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Theodore Hall, William
Perl, Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, Guy Burgess, Donald
Maclean, Kim Philby, and Harry Dexter White.
Coplon and Soviet UN employee Valentin A. Gubitchev in New
York. Though Coplon is the first VENONA-based arrest, her
conviction is later overturned.
||Truman approves NSC 17/4, which
reconstitutes the secret Interdepartmental Intelligence
Conference to coordinate jurisdiction of FBI and military
Secretary Louis Johnson directs a quasi-merger of service
signals intelligence in a new Armed Forces Security Agency
(AFSA), subordinate to the JCS.
||Truman announces that the Soviets
have exploded an atomic bomb.
Republic of China is proclaimed in Beijing.
||Alger Hiss is
convicted of perjury.
||Klaus Fuchs confesses to
R. McCarthy, in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, brandishes
a list of Communists allegedly working in the State
||FBI arrests Harry Gold for
confesses to the FBI and implicates his recruiter Julius
||North Korean troops invade South
||AFSA assigns Soviet intercept
material a restricted codeword ("Bride") and special handling
the Internal Security Act (the "McCarran Act"), which it would
soon pass again over President Truman's veto. The Act requires
Communist-linked organizations to register and allows emergency
detention of potentially dangerous persons.
Office officials Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess flee Great
Britain to defect to the Soviet Union.
||CPUSA announces that the Party
will operate as a "cadre organization," with many of its
||An earlier KGB
cryptosystem is exploited; GRU messages attacked and broken
down. More espionage agents become identified during the next
duplicate key pages in GRU messages.
||Truman creates the National
Security Agency (NSA) to supersede AFSA and further centralize
control of signals intelligence under the Secretary of Defense
and a reconstituted USCIB.
briefed on VENONA and begins to assist in counterintelligence
||NSA places the "POBJEDA"
codebook--recovered in Germany in April 1945--against KGB
messages from 1941 through 1943. More than half of the burned
codebook proves useable.
||KGB defector Alexander Orlov's
story appears in Life magazine, finally alerting the FBI to his
residence in the United States.
||Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg executed after President Eisenhower again denies
||Armistice signed in Korea.
Herbert Brownell sparks controversy by claiming in a Chicago
speech that former President Truman had appointed Harry Dexter
White to head the International Monetary Fund despite FBI
warnings that White was a Soviet agent.
Directorate of Plans creates the Counterintelligence Staff,
with James J. Angleton as its chief.
||NSC approves the
FBI's proposed "COINTELPRO" operation against the CPUSA.
||The Department of State releases
Soviet General Secretary Khrushchev's secret speech to the
Twentieth Party Congress, in which Khrushchev denounced
suppress a popular uprising in Hungary.
||FBI arrests Jack
and Myra Sobel for espionage on the basis of evidence provided
by double agent Boris Morros.
||KGB officer Reino Hayhanen, en
route from the United States, defects at the US Embassy in
||Supreme Court in
Yates v. US rules the government had enforced the Smith Act too
broadly by targeting protected speech instead of actual action
to overthrow the political system; this ruling makes the Act
almost useless for prosecuting Communists.
||Federal authorities detain
Hayhanen's superior, KGB illegal Col. Rudolf Abel, in New
sentenced to 30 years and imprisoned.
||U.K. begins to
exploit Naval GRU messages. From 1960-80, hundreds of
first-time translations of VENONA messages become available;
many earlier translations are reissued.
||October 1, the
final work on VENONA comes to a close at Arlington Hall.
John Deutsch holds a press conference in Washington, D.C.,
formally announcing the release of the first phase of VENONA
||The Center for
the Study of Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and
the Center for Democracy co-sponsor ‚€œThe VENONA
Conference‚€, October 3-4, 1996, at the National War
College, Ft. Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC. The conference
is timed to coincide with the final declassified release of
VENONA message enciphered Soviet telegrams from the 1940s.
After the last release, the total messages number 2,900.