Digital Fortress, Part 1: Unbreakable
Cryptographer: Someone who specializes in the enciphering and deciphering of secret codes in writing.
Don: In this and the next essay, we will look at Dan Brown’s 1998 mystery thriller: Digital Fortress. The first of his seven books in the genre, Digital Fortress most closely identifies with The Da Vinci Code (2003), and Origin (2017), his last book.
In an extraordinary and, I believe, unprecedented pre-prologue statement, Dan Brown personally testifies that although Digital Fortress is a book of fiction, it contained U.S. national security information of the most sensitive nature that, upon its release, would have surely set off alarm bells within the deepest recesses of the U.S. Pentagon.
Following is that statement:
“Also . . . a quiet thank you to the two faceless ex-NSA cryptographers who made valuable contributions via anonymous remailers. Without them this book would not have been written.”
NSA Informant A
NSA Informant B
Don: In what may be the most shocking revelation in any book of fiction, Dan credits two unnamed individuals, both cryptographers who had formerly worked at the National Security Agency (NSA). In clear violation of the oaths they took respective to top secret intelligence, these two men passed on to Dan information specific to U.S. intelligence in areas related to quantum computing and AI development.
If these two individuals are still alive and found out, they would be tried and convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors and spend the rest of their days in prison – but chances are good that they have either passed away or are living as fugitives in some other country. Speaking to the critical nature of their testimony, these two courageous Pentagon “insiders” were willing to risk their lives to get what they knew out to the world.
For Dan Brown to openly acknowledge the existence and contribution of these two informants in the first of his seven mystery/thriller novels strongly suggests that the author, throughout the entire series, was in regular contact with some kind of cabal, a secretive society or institution, comprised of high-ranking individuals embedded within academia and government – who arranged to have privileged information relayed to him via “anonymous remailers.”
From the back jacket:
“When the NSA’s invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher. A brilliant and beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage . . . not by guns or bombs, but by a code so ingeniously complex that if released it would cripple U.S. intelligence.”
Don: In Digital Fortress, Susan Fletcher is a world-class cryptographer and fellow protagonist with Carl Sagan doppelganger, David Becker.
Molly: Another Dan Brown book about secret codes. I see a pattern.
Don: In varying degrees, all seven Dan Brown books involve secret codes and messages, government intrigue, and religious leaders in panic.
Following are two excerpts from The Da Vinci Code:
“Robert Langdon – Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University.”
“Monsieur Langdon, I am Agent Neveu from FCPJ’s Cryptology Department.”
Don: If we were to collate all seven Dan Brown novels into a single volume, the overarching theme would have three basic elements:
A hidden three word sequence in the Bible that the good guys are trying to disclose and the bad guys are trying to keep secret.
2. Major scientific breakthroughs in science and technology that threaten to disrupt and possibly terminate the human species.
3. A God or God-like being, extraterrestrial in nature, working behind the scenes on behalf of the good guys.
Don: As in all Dan Brown novels, there is a male protagonist who is the mirror image of Carl Sagan. In Deception Point it’s David Becker. Following are two excerpts:
“The youngest full professor at Georgetown University and a brilliant foreign language specialist, he was practically a celebrity in the world of academia. Born with an eidetic memory and love of languages, he’d mastered six Asian dialects as well as Spanish, French, and Italian. His university lectures on etymology and linguistics were standing-room only, and he invariably stayed late to answer a barrage of questions. He spoke with authority and enthusiasm, apparently oblivious to the adoring gazes of his star-struck coeds.”
“Becker was dark – a rugged, youthful thirty-five with sharp green eyes and a wit to match.”
Molly: Looks to me like a perfect match. But I understand that Deception Point features another Sagan-like character that, at least on the surface, is nothing like Carl.
Don: Yeah. His name is Ensei Tankado, a brilliant cryptographer who I believe reflects the dark and deeper side of Carl, the side that Sagan Inc., with its artfully sanitized version of Carl, never talks about. But, as in all of us, it’s there, and in Digital Fortress it’s clear that Tankado is Carl’s soul. Leaving him out would make it impossible to fully understand or appreciate who Carl was.
So let’s take a closer look.
“Although Ensei Tankado was not alive during the Second World War, he carefully studied everything about it – particularly about its culminating event, the blast in which 100,000 of his countrymen were incinerated by an atomic bomb.”
“Hiroshima, 8:15 a.m. August 6, 1945 – a vile act of destruction. A senseless display of power by a country that had already won the war. Tankado had accepted all that. But what he would never accept was that the bomb had robbed him of ever knowing his mother. She had died giving birth to him – complications brought on by the radiation poisoning she suffered so many years earlier.” Ch. 6
Don: Deception Point features two iterations of Carl Sagan. One, David Becker, is the classic portrayal of the Carl Sagan that we all know and love. That image stands in stark contrast to the Tankado character, born deformed from the womb of a Japanese mother poisoned by an American made atomic bomb.
Molly: I know that Carl was a global leader in the anti-nuke movement, so, in theory, he could have written the two paragraphs you quote.
Don: Right, and Carl was Jewish, so the Hitler Holocaust, where six million of his people were ruthlessly annihilated, was never far from his mind. It’s reasonable that Carl would have called Hiroshima “a vile act of destruction.” It’s also true that Carl, as the son of Jewish Russian emigrants, was born “deformed” in the sense that, as a Russian Jew, he would have been flagged early on in his career as a potential security risk by U.S. intelligence agencies. And, if this weren’t enough, Carl was a leader in several protests movements. He was anti-nuke, anti-Vietnam, anti-environmental degradation, anti-misogyny, anti-military/industrial complex, and, perhaps just to piss off the government even more, pro-marijuana!
Molly: And, I might add, Carl came on the scene at the height of the Cold War, a dark time in American history when Senator Joseph McCarthy was seeing “Commies” behind every rock. It was also a time of national paranoia about aliens. There was Roswell, Area 51, UFO sightings, abductions, mutilations, crop circels -you name it.
Don: All that is true. Carl, trying to conduct serious science, got tangled up in an alien shit-show. While all this was going on, he maintained regular contact with Russian peers, even attending conferences in Russia related to extraterrestrials.
Molly: And, remember, the co-author of his famous book Intelligent Life in the Universe, was the high ranking Russian physicist, I.S. Shklovskii.
Don: It’s also a safe assumption that U.S. intelligence agencies, after Carl published his Direct Contact paper in which he advanced the hypothesis that advanced extraterrestrials visited Earth thousands of times over its geological history, and, more recently, during the biblical era, would have called him in for an off-the-record interrogation. Scientifically brilliant, Carl was considered an important government asset. The Deep State didn’t want him running off the rails early in his career.
Molly: If that’s the case, then why was he allowed to visit Russia and collaborate with leading Russian scientists?
Don: Good question. My take is that, in exchange for being allowed to pursue his career in science, Carl agreed to be a government agent, where he would glean as much information as he could about Russian military and technology secrets, particularly those involving its nuclear capabilities, and pass them on to the Pentagon.
Molly: If that’s true, then Carl, a champion of scientific transparency, would have hated the U.S. military/industrial complex even more.
Don: Right, which explains why, against all scientific logic, he decided to become a science popularizer who wrote numerous best-selling books on science that were targeted to the masses, knowing that it would severely diminish his standing in the snobby scientific community.
Molly: In his blockbuster 1985 book, Contact, Carl surreptitiously revealed his position on extraterrestrial intelligence. That must have really antagonized the Pentagon.
Don: In Contact, Carl discreetly paid homage to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), where radio telescopes were deployed to search for alien electronic signal from space, an experiment Carl knew would end in failure. Yet, in the book, Carl has humans travelling through wormholes to paradisiacal places where they meet departed loved ones who, as avatars, enjoy bliss and eternal life.
Molly: I remember that part from the movie. It must have driven hard core atheist leaders like Richard Dawkins crazy.
Don: It did, which incentivized them to put together a scheme that, after Carl died, became the New Atheism.
Molly: So let’s get back to Ensei Tankado. How does he factor in?
Don: Tankado not only finds it in his heart to forgive the United States for killing his mother and deforming his body, he becomes a cryptographic genius who worked at the National Security Agency helping to develop TRANSLTR, the secret, most advanced computer in the world, capable of listening in on all electronic communications on Earth and easily breaking all security codes.
“A spiked encryption standard would mean the NSA could listen in to anyone, anytime, anywhere.” Ch. 31
Molly: But then Ensei goes rogue.
Don: Right. After the Deep State broke their promise to him that its research would be transparent, he invented an algorithm that he called Digital Fortress, which he then embedded into TRANSLTR. To the absolute amazement and shock of NSA cryptographers, Digital Fortress was an unbreakable code.
“Tankado had posted a priceless mathematical recipe, but the text of the recipe had been scrambled. And it had used itself to do the scrambling.”
“It’s Biggleman’s Safe, Susan stammered with awe.”
“Strathmore nodded. Biggleman’s Safe was a hypothetical cryptography scenario in which a safe builder wrote blueprints for an unbreakable safe. He wanted to keep the blueprints a secret, so he built the safe and locked the blueprints inside. Tankado had done the same thing with Digital Fortress. He’d protected his blueprints by encrypting them with the formula outlined in his blueprints.” Ch. 7
“The NSA is now the proud owner of the Digital Fortress algorithm: we just can’t open it.”
Don: Without getting myself bogged down in the book’s storyline, following are a couple of my takeaways from Deception Point that I believe support my claim that, from very early in his career, Carl Sagan knew about the grain/wine/oil sequences and their profound significance.
Takeaway #1: THE UNBREAKEABLE CODE
“But Susan’s thoughts were far removed from the political implications of Digital Fortress. She was still struggling to comprehend its existence. She’s spent her life breaking codes, firmly denying the existence of the ultimate code. Every code is breakable – the Bergofsky Principle! She felt like an atheist coming face to face with God.” Ch. 7
Don: Codes are created through encryption algorithms – that are created by humans. That’s the way it’s always been, and the common assumption has been that that is the way it will always be.
Not anymore. Today there are generative artificial intelligences that constantly create their own improved algorithms, over and over and faster and faster. There are code experts a lot smarter than me who openly predict that, before long, one of these God-like computers will break loose and take over the world.
Molly: And Dan Brown is telling us that the U.S. government secretly developed AGI computers decades ago and didn’t tell anyone, not even the politicians.
Don: Right. Especially not the politicians, who serve only limited terms. Those in the Deep State are lifers who hold transient elected officials in disdain.
Molly: Does this mean that the Pentagon developed quantum computing decades ago?
Don: That’s the information that I’m convinced the two NSA informants passed on to Dan Brown, who wove it into Deception Point, and later in Origin.
Molly: But the Bible is never mentioned.
Don: In a way, it is. Think of TRANSLTR, the NSA computer program, as the Bible, a collation of books written by humans over a thousand year span of time. Tankado embedded an unbreakable code into TRANSLTR in much the same way that God embedded the Sagan Signal into the biblical text.
Molly: So Tankado’s Deception Point is the Sagan Signal, an unbreakable code.
Don: Right. And the reaction I’m getting from code experts on the Sagan Signal is identical to how code experts reacted to Deception Point: total disbelief.
“. . . U.S. software companies who had heard about Digital Fortress deemed the claim preposterous, akin to turning lead into gold.” Ch. 7
FACT: Over the past fifteen years, professional cryptographers, theologians, linguists, mathematicians, coders, professional skeptics, and a variety of other scientists and academics, all working off the assumption that my claimed discovery of an unbreakable Bible code is preposterous, have one thing in common: they have all failed to falsify the Sagan Signal.
Takeaway #2: TO INFORM THE WORLD
“Tankado stood poised to shock the world with his story of a secret machine capable of exposing computer users around the world to unthinkable government treachery. The NSA had no choice but to stop him.” Ch. 6
Don: Two things can be true at the same time: Carl Sagan knew the Pentagon had developed quantum computing, and the Pentagon knew about the Sagan Signal. It was shared knowledge that led to a stand-off, followed by a compromise.
As a working astrobiologist Carl had to take, and keep, an oath not to divulge top secret information. But on top of that, Carl, to retain his status and privileges as a NASA scientist, was forced to take another oath: To never reveal the existence of a NSA quantum computer, and even more important, to not reveal the existence of an extraterrestrial encrypted code in the Bible.
Rationalizing the way only a brilliant person can do, Carl came up with a plan to inform the world of the existence of the Pentagon’s quantum computer and the Sagan Signal – without breaking his oath.
Beginning with Contact in 1985 and ending with Origin in 2017, Carl employed his Animal Farm strategy of using fiction to publicly disclose the Sagan Signal and deeply held secrets of the Pentagon, understanding that U.S. intelligence agencies and institutional Christian leaders would, if necessary, kill to keep these truths from leaking out.
Did Carl do this by himself? Of course not. I suspect that the list of unidentified accomplices who contributed to Carl’s seven part Magnus Opus is rather long. In assisting Carl, those still living know who they are, what they’ve done, and why they did it. They are the invisible heroes.
For the record, I’m not part of the team. As an independent researcher, I’ve carved my own path through the wilderness and arrived at the same destination with the same conclusion – that George, the super-intelligent computer of Ray Kurzweil, has been around for a long time, and that the Sagan Signal is a real Bible code that proves that JC is an ET.
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
“But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets” Daniel 2:28