Author Topic: Soviets Are Bugging America  (Read 1588 times)


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Soviets Are Bugging America
« on: February 16, 2017, 05:32:57 pm »

              "How The Soviets Are Bugging America"

                 By Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

                From Popular Mechanics, April 1987

      Soviet agents may be listening to your personal telephone
  conversations.  If you're involved in the government,  in the
  defense  industry or in sensitive scientific activity,  there
  is a good chance they are. 

      In  fact,   a  recent  unclassified  Senate  Intelligence
  Committee  report  on counterintelligence indicates more than
  half of all telephone calls in the United  States  made  over
  any  distance are vulnerable to interception.  Every American
  has a right to know this. 

      You should also know that the Reagan  administration  has
  recognized this threat for a long time now,  but so far,  the
  bureaucratic  response  has  been  piecemeal,  and  at  times

      Consider  this as background:  In 1975,  when I was named
  permanent U.S.  representative to the  United  Nations,  Vice
  President Nelson Rockefeller summoned me to his office in the
  Old Executive Office Building.  There was something urgent he
  had to tell me.  The first thing I must know about the United
  Nations,  he said,  is that the Soviets would be listening to
  every call I made from our mission and from the  ambassador's
  suite  in  the  Waldorf  Towers.  I  thought this a very deep
  secret,  and treated it as such.  Only later did I learn that
  Rockefeller had publicly reported this intelligence breach to
  the  president  in June 1975.  The Rockefeller "Report to the
  President on CIA Activities Within the United States" notes:

      "We believe these countries (communist bloc) can  monitor
  and  record  thousands  of  private  telephone conversations. 
  Americans have the  right  to  be  uneasy  if  not  seriously
  disturbed  at  the  real  possibility that their personal and
  business activities,  which  they  discuss  freely  over  the
  telephone,  could  be  recorded  and  analyzed  by  agents of
  foreign powers."

      The  Soviets  conduct  this  eavesdropping   from   their
  "diplomatic"  facilities  in New York City;  Glen Cove,  Long
  Island;  San Francisco;  and Washington.  By some  estimates,
  they  have  been doing so since 1958.  President Reagan knows
  this well.  He sat on the Rockefeller Commission  and  signed
  its  final  report  concluding  that  such  covert activities

      If we had any doubts  about  this  eavesdropping  effort,
  Arkady  Schevchenko  dispelled them when he came over in 1975
  and subsequently  defected  in  1978.  As  you  will  recall,
  Schevchenko  was,  at the time,  the second-ranking Soviet at
  the  United  Nations  and  an  up-and-comer  in  the   Soviet
  hierarchy.  He  describes the listening operation in New York
  City in his book "Breaking With  Moscow":  "The  rooftops  at
  Glen  Cove,  the  apartment  building  in Riverdale,  and the
  Mission are bristled with antennas for listening to  American

      But  we have to worry about more than just parabolic dish
  antennas tucked behind the curtains in the Soviet "apartment"
  building in Riverdale, New York. 

      There are also those Russian trawlers that travel up  and
  down  our  coast.  They  are  fishing,  but fishing for what? 
  Communications.   And  now  the  Soviets  have  taken   their
  eavesdropping  a  step further and have built two new classes
  of AGI,  or Auxiliary Gathering Intelligence,  vessels.  From
  the  hull  up,  these  new  vessels are floating antennas,  I

      Most dangerous of all,  perhaps,  is the Soviet listening
  complex  in  Lourdes,  Cuba,  just  outside  of Havana.  This
  facility  is  the  largest  such  Soviet  listening  facility
  outside  its national territory.  According to the president,
  it "has grown by more than 60 percent in size and  capability
  during the past decade."

      Lourdes allows instant communications with Moscow, and is
  manned by 2100 Soviet technicians. 2100! 

      By comparison,  our Department of State numbers some 4400
  Foreign Service Officers - total. 

      Again,  to cite the recent Senate Intelligence  Committee
  report:  "The  massive  Soviet surveillance efforts from Cuba
  and elsewhere demonstrate ...  that the  Soviet  intelligence
  payoff  from  the interception of unsecured communications is
  immense."  Intelligence  specialists   are   not   prone   to
  exaggeration,  they  do  not  last long that way.  You can be
  assured that "massive" and "immense" are not subtle words  as
  used in this context. 

      There are, however, two things you should know. 

      First,  our  most  secret  government  messages  are  now
  protected  from  interception  or  are  scrambled,   and  all
  classified  message  and  data communications are secure.  In
  addition,    protected   communications   zones   are   being
  established  in  Washington,  San  Francisco  and New York by
  rerouting  most  government  circuits   and   by   encrypting
  microwave links which continue to be vulnerable to intercept. 
  But   there   are  still  communications  links  which  carry
  unclassified,  but sensitive,  information that  we  need  to

      Second,  it  is  a  truism in the intelligence field that
  while bits of information may be unclassified,  in  aggregate
  they can present a classified whole.  The Senate Intelligence
  Committee  informs  us,  "Due  to  inherent  human  weakness,
  government  and  contractor   officials,   at   all   levels,
  inevitable fail to follow strict security rules ...  Security
  briefings  and  penalties were simply not adequate to prevent
  discussion of classified information on open lines."  If  the
  Soviets  CAN  piece  it  together,  you must assume they WILL
  given the resources they invest toward this effort. 

      But the intelligence community needs no reminder that  we
  are up against a determined and crafty opponent. In 1983, for
  example,  a  delegation  of Soviet scientists were invited to
  tour a Grumman plant on Long Island.  No cameras.  No  notes. 
  All  secure,  right?   Wrong.  The  delegation  had  attached
  adhesive tape to the soles of their  shoes  to  gather  metal
  fragments from the plant floor for further study at home. The
  Soviets  are pretty good at metallurgy - probably the best in
  the world - and we don't need to help them any further. 

      But concern  is  not  always  translated  into  budgetary
  action, at least not in the realm of communications security. 
  Let us take a look at the technical problem confronting us. 

      As  you  know,  there  are  two  basic  ways voice can be
  transmitted over telephone media: digital and analog.  Analog
  refers to voice waves which are modulated (amplified) up to a
  very high frequency (HF).  That is,  they  are  increased  in
  speed  from  hundreds  of  cycles  per second to thousands of
  cycles  per  second.  This  facilitates  their  passage  over

      Nevertheless, because analog radio waves diminish rapidly
  over  distance,  it's  necessary to periodically amplify,  or
  boost,  the signal either at a microwave relay tower repeater
  or   satellite  transponder.   (Actually,   the  signals  are
  diminished in frequency to voice  quality  and  then  brought
  back up to high frequency.)

      Digital transmissions are voice or data vibration signals
  which are converted into a series of on-and-off pulses, zeros
  and  ones,  as  in  a computer.  Like analog telephone calls,
  digital  calls  go  through  a  process  of  modulation   and

      For  the  purposes  of  this  discussion,  we  need  only
  remember two things about analog and digital telephony. 

      First, analog telephony is fast being replaced by digital
  telephony because it  better  translates  computer  language. 
  But,  more  importantly,  after a high initial overhaul cost,
  it's possible to send thousands of  digital  calls  (bundles)
  over  a single conduit.  Therefore,  as we expand our digital
  capacity,  we must ensure that both our  analog  and  digital
  communications are protected from Soviet eavesdropping. 

      Second, sending bundles over a single conduit is the base
  block  at  which  we  introduce  the  encryption I am talking

      When you place a long-distance telephone call from  point
  A  to  point  B,  there  are  three communications paths,  or
  circuits,  over which  your  call  might  travel:  microwave,
  satellite or cable. 

      Cable  is  the  most  secure.  However,  it  is the least
  practical and economical method for  bulk  transmission  over
  long distances.  As a result, 90 percent of our long-distance
  telephone traffic is sent by microwave or satellite, and that
  which is in the air can be readily intercepted. 

      As  your signal travels along the cable from your home to
  the local switching  station  and  then  on  to  a  long-haul
  switching station,  it is combined (stacked and bundled might
  better describe the process)  with  as  many  as  1200  other
  signals trying to get to the same region of the country. 

      This  system  of  stacking and bundling signals is called
  multiplexing and it's  how  the  telecommunications  industry
  gets  around  the problem of 7 million New Yorkers all trying
  to call their senator at the same time  on  the  same  copper
  wire or radio frequency. 

      If  you  use a common carrier,  that is,  if you have not
  rented a dedicated channel from a telecommunications company,
  a computer at the long-haul switching station will select the
  first available route to establish a circuit over which  your
  call signals may travel. 

      Therefore,  calls  that the caller believes to be on less
  vulnerable circuits may be  automatically  switched  to  more
  vulnerable ones. All this takes place in 1 to 3 seconds. 

      So  let's follow your call as it goes by either microwave
  or satellite. 

      If your call goes  via  microwave,  it  will  be  relayed
  across the country as a radio wave in about 25-mile intervals
  from  tower  to tower (watch for the towers the next time you
  drive on an interstate route) until it eventually  reaches  a
  distant switching station where it is unlinked from the other
  signals,  passed  over cable to your friend's telephone,  and
  converted back into voice. 

      The problem with this system: Along these microwave paths
  there is what we  call  "spill".  This  measures  about  12.5
  meters in width and the full 25 miles between towers. This is
  where  the  microwave  signal is most at risk.  Using a well-
  aimed parabolic dish antenna (located, let's say,  on the top
  of  Mount  Alto,  one of the highest hills in the District of
  Columbia,  and the site of the new Soviet  embassy)  you  can
  intercept  this signal and pull it in.  And that is just what
  the Soviets are doing. 

      My solution: Throw the bastards out if they are listening
  to our microwave signals.  Nothing  technical  about  it.  On
  three  occasions  I have introduced legislation requiring the
  president to do just that,  unless  in  doing  so,  he  might
  compromise  an  intelligence source.  On June 7,  1985,  this
  measure was adopted by the Senate as Title VII to the Foreign
  Relations  Authorization  Bill,   but  it  was   dropped   in
  conference with the House of Representatives at the urging of
  the administration. 

      Nevertheless,  I  think  the  administration accepted the
  simple logic behind the proposal when at the end of  October,
  55  Soviet  diplomats  were  ordered  to  leave  the country,
  including,  The New York  Times  tells  us,  "operatives  for
  intercepting communications." Now,  let's not let the Soviets
  just replace one agent with another. 

      The process is much the same for  a  satellite  telephone
  call.  Today, approximately eight telecommunications carriers
  offer  satellite  service using something like 25 satellites. 
  Let's  suppose  your  signal  has  traveled  to  a  long-haul
  switching  station  and  all microwave paths are filled.  The
  carrier's computer searches for an alternative path  to  send
  the  signal  and  picks  out  a satellite connection.  At the
  ground station,  your call is sent by a transponder up  to  a
  satellite and then down again to a distant ground station. 

      Using  an  array  of  satellite  dishes  at Lourdes,  the
  Soviets can seize these  signals  from  the  sky  just  as  a
  backyard   satellite   dish   can  pull  in  television  (and
  telephone) signals.  High speed computers then  sort  through
  the  calls  and  identify  topics  and  numbers of particular
  interest.  And if  the  information  provided  is  real  time
  intelligence,  the  Soviets  have  the ability to transmit it
  instantaneously to Moscow.  And yes,  the  Soviets  have  the
  range at Lourdes to grasp our satellite transmissions as they
  travel from New York to Los Angeles or Washington to Omaha. 

      Here,  too,  there  is  a  solution:  Develop and procure
  cryptographic hardware for use at  the  common-carrier  long-
  haul  switching  stations.  This  hardware  will  encrypt the
  multiplexed telephone signals (that  is,  approximately  1200
  calls  at  a time) before they are transmitted as radio waves
  from ground station to ground station,  a technique analogous
  to  the cable networks scrambling their signals.  This can be
  done for under $1 billion.  If we start  by  encrypting  just
  those unclassified signals we categorize as sensitive,  those
  having greatest impact on the  national  defense  or  foreign
  relations of the U.S. government, it would cost us about half
  as much. It would cost us so much more not to do so. 

      Communications security has no constituency.  There is no
  tangible product and the public can never really be sure that
  we  have  done  anything.   But  National  Security  Decision
  Directive 145 says it is a national policy and  the  national
  responsibility  to  offer assistance to the private sector in
  protecting communications.  It's time to make  communications
  security  (ComSec  in  the  lingo)  a  true national security
  priority supported with resources as well as  rhetoric.  This
  was   certainly   the   conclusion   of   the   comprehensive
  Intelligence Committee report. 

      I agree,  and have suggested a way to get on with it.  If
  someone  has  a  better  idea  - if you have another idea - I
  would be happy to know it.  The important thing  is  that  we
  stop  this  massive leak of sensitive information and protect
  your privacy.