In 1995, the U.S. National Security Agency broke a half century of silence by
releasing translations of Soviet cables decrypted back in the 1940s by the
Venona Project. Venona was a top-secret U.S. effort to gather and decrypt
messages sent in the 1940s by agents of what is now called the KGB and the
GRU, the Soviet military intelligence agency. The cables revealed the
identities of numerous Americans who were spies for the Soviet Union, including
those chronicled in NOVA's "Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies."
The four Venona cables presented here provide striking evidence of the covert
activities of several atomic-era spies, including Klaus Fuchs, Julius
Rosenberg, and Theodore Alvin Hall. Through the cables and accompanying
stories, peer through the keyhole into the secret lives of these and other
agents, who gave away details of the atomic bomb and other highly sensitive technologies.
Watch for code words such as
"Enormous," which stood for the Manhattan Project, America's atomic-bomb
program. To see the complete set of Venona documents released so far, go to the
NSA's Venona Documents page at www.nsa.gov/docs/venona/venona_docs.html
The chief source for this article was Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in
America, by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr (Yale University Press,
2000). For other sources consulted, see the books listed in Resources.