Government code-breakers have a new home in Wahiawa
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 07, 2012 StarAdvertiser.com
By Gary T. Kubota
Federal officials and others dedicated a new military building in Wahiawa Friday aimed at deciphering the communications of foreign adversaries.
The ceremonies also honored the late Navy Capt. Joseph J. Rochefort, for whom the building is named, who led a code-breaking team that deciphered key Japanese military messages during World War II.
Several family members of Rochefort attended the dedication, along with dignitaries such as U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and U.S. Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa.
The National Security Agency and its military component, the Central Security Service, said the $358 million project will help intelligence-gathering efforts.
The new building, part of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Annex, will augment work that will continue to be done in the original center at Schofield Barracks, officials said.
Similar cryptographical centers are in operation in Georgia and Texas.
Rochefort's Station Hypo, based at Pearl Harbor, gave Adm. Chester Nimitz advance warning of the Japanese navy's plan to attack Midway Atoll in June 1942.
With the top secret information, the U.S. Navy set up an ambush that resulted in the sinking of four Japanese aircraft carriers and a cruiser.
Military officials said Rochefort contributed to the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway and helped change the course of the war.
"Capt. Rochefort's exceptional skills in cryptography and in mathematical analysis made him a unique national asset at an extremely trying time in U.S. history," Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander said Friday.
Alexander, NSA director and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, said the military's cryptographical work is continuing today to help the United States in foreign countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
He said the top-secret intelligence work helps in fighting global terrorism and threats to national security.
"We have great people doing great things, and we just can't talk about it," he quipped. Cyber Command, established in 2009, is charged with defending U.S. information networks and figuring out how to attack those of the enemy.
Longtime journalist Elliot Carlson, who has written a book about Rochefort, said military intelligence officials in Washington, D.C., disputed Rochefort's analysis of an impending attack on Midway Atoll.
Nimitz chose to believe Rochefort and later recommended that he receive a Navy Distinguished Service Medal, a move blocked by officials in Washington.
Rochefort was posthumously awarded a Navy Distinguished Service Medal in 1985 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1986.