Connect with us

Politics

Russian spies in the U.S. collected encrypted FBI radio traffic in huge operation, but did they crack it?

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Russian spies in the U.S. conducted a massive operation to track and collect encrypted FBI radio traffic, but there is no evidence they ever cracked the codes and obtained the contents of the communications, two former senior FBI officials tell NBC News.

Nonetheless, the Russian intelligence success, first reported by Yahoo News, provided Vladimir Putin’s government unprecedented insights into the activities of secret FBI surveillance teams tracking Russian operatives in the U.S., the former officials said. The breach occurred sometime around 2010, and was well understood by 2012, the former officials said.

Much of the message traffic the Russians collected was processed in two Russian diplomatic facilities that the Obama administration closed in 2016, citing Russia’s interference in the presidential election.

“We knew that they were on to us in terms of radio traffic,” one former senior official told NBC News. “They had a huge effort they threw at it. But we never saw content.”

Yahoo News cited former officials who said the Russians had access to “likely the actual substance of FBI communications,” but the two former officials told NBC News they did not believe that to be true. The two former senior officials said they had seen nothing to suggest Russia successfully decoded encrypted U.S. government communications. Rather, the Russians were able to detect and locate secret FBI radio transmissions, they said.

“What they saw was traffic around certain meetings with people who were talking to them,” one former official said.

In some cases, the insights the Russians gleaned from the location and movements of FBI surveillance teams led them to stop meeting with sources in the U.S. the former official said.

The former official added that the FBI and CIA learned of the Russian success through some espionage successes of their own, which he declined to detail.

The Russian operation came at a time when the U.S. was developing its own capability to identify covert Russian communications. From March through May of 2010, FBI agents in New York were able to detect specialized encrypted communications sent from the laptop of a Russian spy, Anna Chapman, to a minivan driven by a Russian government official, according to her indictment.

Chapman was arrested along with nine other Russians, who were accused of acting as a network of sleeper agents sent to live in the U.S. under non-official cover. They were deported to Russia in a spy swap.

It was long known that the Russians were using their diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York as listening posts, which is why the Obama administration seized them in December 2016, officials said. But the CIA and FBI also learned that wives of Russian diplomats were working in the facilities to process FBI radio traffic, said the former senior official, who had direct knowledge of the matter.

The news of the Russian success comes after revelations that the CIA’s method of communicating with its informants had been compromised.

NBC News and other organizations reported in 2018 that a secret FBI–CIA task force investigating the case of an American CIA officer spying for China concluded that the Chinese government penetrated the CIA’s method of clandestine communication with its spies, using that knowledge to arrest and execute at least 20 CIA informants, according to multiple current and former government officials.

Yahoo News then reported in November that Iran also had cracked the CIA’s covert communications system, resulting in a cascading crisis that put at risk foreigners around the world who had been recruited by the American spy agency to provide information.

Both of these matters are known to the Congressional oversight committees, officials tell NBC News, but since they are classified, there has been no public accountability.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Politics

Elizabeth Warren ramps up battle with Facebook

Published

on

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., ramped up her criticism of Facebook this weekend, taking aim at the company’s policy on political advertising and for having “contributed” to media job losses.

One of the leading 2020 Democratic candidates, Warren’s weekend of prodding Facebook comes amid continued scrutiny of the tech giant, which she has called to be broken up.

On Saturday, Warren tweeted that her campaign “intentionally” published a Facebook ad with false claims to “see if it’d be approved.” The ad said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had endorsed President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Warren posted the ad amid criticism the company has faced about its decision to allow politicians to run ads containing falsehoods.

“Facebook changed their ads policy to allow politicians to run ads with known lies — explicitly turning the platform into a disinformation-for-profit machine,” she tweeted. “This week, we decided to see just how far it goes.

“We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook’s ad platform to see if it’d be approved,” she continued. “It got approved quickly and the ad is now running on Facebook. Take a look:”

She added that Facebook “holds incredible power to affect elections and our national debate.”

“They’ve decided to let political figures lie to you — even about Facebook itself — while their executives and their investors get even richer off the ads containing these lies,” she continued. “Once again, we’re seeing Facebook throw its hands up to battling misinformation in the political discourse, because when profit comes up against protecting democracy, Facebook chooses profit.”

It’s Facebook’s policy not to subject politicians to third-part fact-checking that the company uses to root-out misinformation.

Warren’s ad came after the company was criticized for allowing Trump’s campaign to run an ad which made false claims about former Vice President Joe Biden. Other outlets have refused to air that ad, including NBCUniversal. The Biden campaign sought to have Facebook remove the ad, but Facebook refused.

Last month, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg said in a speech: “It is not our role to intervene when politicians speak.”

“The Trump campaign is currently spending $1 million a *week* on ads including ones containing known lies — ads that TV stations refuse to air because they’re false,” Warren tweeted. “Facebook just takes the cash, no questions asked.”

“Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once through negligence,” she continued. “Now, they’ve changed their policy so they can profit from lies to the American people. It’s time to hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable.”

Facebook’s press team responded to Warren in a tweet, saying the Federal Communications Commission “doesn’t want broadcast companies censoring candidates’ speech.”

“We agree it’s better to let voters — not companies — decide,” Facebook continued.

Warren fired back, saying, “You’re making my point here.”

“It’s up to you whether you take money to promote lies,” she tweeted. “You can be in the disinformation-for-profit business, or you can hold yourself to some standards. In fact, those standards were in your policy. Why the change?”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

On Sunday afternoon, Warren again offered criticism of Facebook, posting a link to a story about a $40 million proposed settlement for Facebook having allegedly inflated video metrics.

“Companies shifted their resources and strategies because of Facebook’s inflated metrics, costing them money and contributing to job losses,” she wrote. “We need to do a lot more to hold Facebook accountable.”

The weekend marked the second major clash between Warren and Facebook in recent weeks. Earlier, leaked audio of a Q&A Zuckerberg held with employees revealed that he said Facebook would “go to the mat” and fight if the senator were elected president, which he said would “suck” for Facebook.

Warren hit back, saying: “”What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”

Warren has pledged to break up a series of major tech giants. Warren has said Facebook should relinquish its ownership of WhatsApp and Instagram.



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Hillary Clinton attacks 'authoritarian leader' Boris before saying she ‘fears' for Brits

Published

on

HILLARY CLINTON blasted Boris Johnson as an “authoritarian leader” in a shocking attack as she claimed she “fears” for the UK.

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

‘Of course’ Trump was wrong to ask China to probe Bidens

Published

on

Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that it was wrong for President Donald Trump to call on China to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in the Texas Republican’s most direct rebuke of the president yet.

Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether Trump’s comments were “appropriate,” Cruz said “of course not.”

“Elections in the U.S. should be decided by Americans and it’s not the business of foreign countries, any foreign countries, to be interfering in our elections,” he said.

“Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan then asked if it was improper for Trump to ask Ukraine to probe the Bidens, as he did in a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — a call that is now at the center of an impeachment inquiry.

“Listen, foreign countries should stay out of American elections,” Cruz said. “That’s true for Russia. That’s true for Ukraine. That’s true for China. That’s true for all of them. It should be the American people deciding elections. I don’t know what [Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has] been saying. I do know though that we should decide our elections. It should be the American people making those decisions.”

But Cruz added that it would make “sense” for Giuliani, who is at the center of the president’s campaign to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has already invited Giuliani to do so.

“I’d like to see Rudy testify,” Cruz said. “Yes.”

Cruz’s comments come as Republicans have struggled to align on their responses to Trump’s requests to have Chinese and Ukrainian officials investigate the former vice president and his son. Some Republicans defended Trump’s China remarks by saying the president wasn’t “serious” despite Trump never having indicated he was joking.

Asked Thursday about whether he was serious about calling on China to investigate the Bidens, Trump said, “China has to do whatever they want.”

“If they want to look into something, they can look into it,” the president continued. “If they don’t want to look into it, they don’t have to. Frankly, are far as I’m concerned, if China wants to look into something, I think that’s great. And if they don’t want to, I think that’s great too. That’s up to China.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he “can’t comment” on whether Trump was serious in his ask to have China investigate the Biden family.

“I can’t comment on whether he was serious or not,” Mnuchin said, adding that the topic had not been brought up in trade negotiations between the two countries. “And in the Oval Office, when the president was asked about this in front of the Vice Premier, the president made very clear, they can do what they want. So, again, people who are trying to imply that the president is asking for things or quid pro quos, I think this is ridiculous.”

The president began ramping up his push to have China probe Hunter’s business dealings this month in the face of House Democrats’ rapidly escalating impeachment probe.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House earlier this month.

The president has repeatedly accused the former vice president’s son of using a 2013 trip on Air Force Two with his father to procure $1.5 billion from China for a private equity fund he had started. There has been no evidence of corruption on behalf of either Biden. The Washington Post found Trump’s claims false. And a spokesman for Hunter Biden said he did not acquire an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office. Meanwhile, Hunter’s total capitalization from the fund at the time amounted to about $4.2 million, not the $1.5 billion Trump alleged.

On Sunday, Hunter announced through his attorney that he would step down from the Chinese-backed firm by the end of the month. Hunter’s attorney, George Mesires, wrote that the former vice president’s son “never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States.”



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending