Washington surprised by Russia’s ability to evade U.S. eavesdropping

n13-iconThe Wall Street Journal reports: U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders or soldiers discussed plans to invade.

America’s vaunted global surveillance is a vital tool for U.S. intelligence services, especially as an early-warning system and as a way to corroborate other evidence. In Crimea, though, U.S. intelligence officials are concluding that Russian planners might have gotten a jump on the West by evading U.S. eavesdropping.

“Even though there was a warning, we didn’t have the information to be able to say exactly what was going to happen,” a senior U.S. official says.

To close the information gap, U.S. spy agencies and the military are rushing to expand satellite coverage and communications-interception efforts across Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states. U.S. officials hope the “surge” in assets and analysts will improve tracking of the Russian military and tip off the U.S. to any possible intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin before he acts on them.

The U.S. moves will happen quickly. “We have gone into crisis-response mode,” a senior official says.

Still, as Russia brings additional forces to areas near the border with eastern Ukraine, America’s spy chiefs are worried that Russian leaders might be able to cloak their next move by shielding more communications from the U.S., according to officials familiar with the matter. “That is the question we’re all asking ourselves,” one top U.S. official says.

The Obama administration is “very nervous,” says a person close to the discussions. “This is uncharted territory.” [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Washington surprised by Russia’s ability to evade U.S. eavesdropping

  1. pabelmont

    Ha! USA can spy on Americans and innocents everywhere but I dare say that anyone interested in hiding can hide from USA’s surveillance. This leave the NSA super-intrusion as a mere (mere?) atrocious human-rights/civil-rights abomination without real importance (as so often claimed) as an advanced-warning device for predicting terrorism, war, diplomacy, or much else of grand importance. A waste of money serving the military-indistrial-surveillance-complex but not any (ANY!) legitimate American interest. Big brother being big!

    Jimmy Carter says he won’t use email and uses snail-mail instead. Well, maybe he can escape surveillance that way. But paper-mail has been opened by surveillance states in the past, so why not today?

  2. Norman

    This is getting worse than the “Gang who couldn’t shoot straight” vs the “Keystone Cops”. What the hell is going on with the intelligence [?] agencies of the U.S.A.? Do they all sit around the wedgie board, smoking “Humboldt grown”, perhaps up at that secret retreat in the Redwoods-the Bohemian Grove-in the “Nude”? It’s time to pull the plug on these people and put them back in the loony-bin. There are way too many, doing GOD knows what, costing the taxpayers GOD knows how much $$$$$.

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