The Spirit of 1862 Seems to Live On

July 2, 2018

Years ago I learned about a Confederate spy who worked in a telegraph office used by General Henry Halleck and General US Grant. The confederate spy allegedly “filtered” orders. This man in the middle exploit took place in 1862. You can find some information about this incident at this link. The Verge dipped into history for its 2013 write up “How Lincoln Used the Telegraph Office to Spy on Citizens Long Before the NSA.” Information about the US Signals Corps and Bell Telephone / AT&T is abundant.

Why am I dipping into history?

The reason is that I read several articles similar to “8 AT&T Buildings That Are Central to NSA Spying.” The Intercept’s story, which struck me as a bit surprising, triggered this cascade of “wow, what a surprise” copycat articles.

Even though I live in rural Kentucky, the “spy hubs” did not strike me as news, a surprise, or different from systems and methods in use in many countries. Just as Cairo, Illinois, was important to General Grant, cities with large populations and substantial data flows are important today.

Stephen E Arnold, July 2, 2018


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