The 1960s and 1970s were periods of significant change at the National Security Agency.
A rapid increase in personnel in the 1960s was followed by a decade of downsizing in both budget and personnel numbers. At the same time, there was a worldwide revolution in computers and communication technology which challenged the Agency and forced it to adapt to the changing world. One of the people leading the NSA responses to such change was Walter G. Deeley.
Deeley held a variety of positions, both in signals intelligence (SIG INT) and information security (INFOSEC) during his thirty-three years at NSA. Described by a former Agency senior as one ofNSA’s “movers and shakers,” directors like General Lincoln D. Faurer frequently gave Deeley the most unpleasant, confrontational jobs, which he always managed to complete successfully. Sometimes disliked for his aggressive and abrasive management style, he boldly traveled where other NSA leaders never dared to go, introducing much-needed change. He was one of the principal architects of the mechanization and centralization ofNSA reporting and an early proponent of the “paperless environment” concept. As deputy director of Information Security (DDI), he led the development of the Secure Telephone Unit (STU) III.
Deeley joined NSA in 1952 after four years in the Army. He spent the first several years of his career in organizations responsible for attacking a variety of Communist-bloc targets, holding positions of increasing responsibility. In 1969 he became the chief of A8, the Current SIGINT Operations Center, a newly formed organization responsible for processing and analyzing data less than twenty-four hours old. Interacting with representatives in the field, he became convinced that in-coming reports should not be fed directly to a printer, but sent to a computer where a properly trained operator could manipulate the individual messages electronically, and then route them to the appropriate analysts. These tip-off reports named KLEIGLIGHTS (KL), helped make almost-real-time reporting possible. The concept for KLs was revolutionary at the time and became an important part of NSOC when it was formed in 1972. Also, while in operations, he consolidated reporting into the Daily SIG INT Summary, a precursor of the intelligence reports available today.
After a stint as deputy director for programs and resources, Deeley was appointed the deputy director of information security (DDI) in 1983 and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1985. General Faurer brought him into INFOSEC to revolutionize the field as he had SIGINT reporting. After a survey of the U.S. system, Deeley found that the “United States [was] in jeopardy because it [did] poorly protecting its vital communications.” During his tenure as DDI, NSA moved from protecting point-to-point circuits to bulk encryption. Deeley also pushed through a partnership with private industry to produce encryption technology. Chief among Deeley’s contributions as DDI was the STU III. He brought together congressional and DoD support to take the STU III from concept to reality within three years instead of the usual five or more years. Among his other institutional accomplishments were the formation of the Development Center for Embedded COMSEC and the first computer security organization. Deeley also became a vocal advocate for good INFOSEC throughout the federal government.
During the course of his career, Deeley received numerous awards, including the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Exceptional Civilian Achievement Award, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the President’s Distinguished Senior Career Executive Rank Award. His knowledge on a wide variety of operational issues was well respected by his peers. A current NSA senior, while acknowledging that
Deeley could be difficult to directly work with, recalled that he learned more about SIGINT from Walter Deeley than from anyone else in any of his other early assignments.
Walter Deeley died on 19 May 1989.
Source: NSA, FOIA Case #59916