- Science magazine this week has an article and a podcast about the NSA and the AMS. AMS president David Vogan is portrayed as outraged at the NSA’s misuse of mathematics, but without much support for doing anything about it:
But after all was said and done, no action was taken. Vogan describes a meeting about the matter last year with an AMS governing committee as “terrible,” revealing little interest among the rest of the society’s leadership in making a public statement about NSA’s ethics, let alone cutting ties. Ordinary AMS members, by and large, feel the same way, adds Vogan, who this week is handing over the presidency to Robert Bryant, a mathematician at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. For now, U.S. mathematicians aren’t willing to disown their shadowy but steadfast benefactor.
Two odd things from the piece and the podcast:
- The NSA budget is highly classified. Essentially nothing is known about it, with estimates of its total ranging from $8 billion to $25 billion/year (by the way, can anyone tell me why that number is a secret?). Precisely one line item in their budget is publicly reported: the $4 million to the AMS-administered grant program. The AMS seems to be the only organization in the world that the NSA has a publicly disclosed relationship with.
- The reporter said he tried but was unable to get in contact with Richard George, the ex-NSA person who published a piece in the Notices claiming the NSA backdoor was “just innuendo”.
[Oops, I should have noticed this was a republication of a 2006 interview. The “expect the unexpected” thing didn’t work out…]
Update: Paul Frampton tells me that he has published a book telling the story of what happened to him. It’s now available on Amazon.