The agency's role in the Cold War confrontation has long been secret.
As early as 1960, NSA spies were intercepting radio and telephone messages indicating Soviet military support for Cuba, The Sun reported, citing recently declassified documents.
The missile crisis became public Oct. 22, 1962, when President Kennedy revealed that the Soviet Union had deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Six days later, after the crisis brought the two superpowers nearer to a nuclear confrontation than at any other time during the Cold War, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the weapons.
The NSA also intercepted signals from Soviet ships making secret cargo deliveries, The Sun said. The United States would later learn the ships were carrying components of missiles and missile-firing stations.
Former NSA employee Albert I. Murphy said the agency played a key role during the crisis, its most significant on Oct. 24, 1962.
Murphy, who was based at a remote listening site on the moors of northern England, said an armada of Soviet ships was steaming toward a blockade of all ships ordered by Kennedy.
``We were monitoring their communications and getting all of it,'' Murphy said.
They intercepted a message from Soviet officials to the ships with the order ``polyus,'' Russian for ``pole.''
``That word meant don't cross the line, stop.'' he said. Murphy said he flashed a high priority message to agency authorities ``that told them that, in fact, Khrushchev was backing down.''
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press