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Report: Russians Breached FBI Communications In 2016

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Report: Russians Breached FBI Communications In 2016

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Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In 2016, the Russian government not only interfered in the United States’ presidential election — a fact that has been well-documented in the Mueller report — it also spied on U.S. intelligence within the United States. And according to an investigative report by Zach Dorfman, Jenna McLaughlin, and Sean D. Naylor for Yahoo News, Russian operatives “targeted FBI communications” and successfully “hampered the bureau’s ability to track Russian spies on U.S. soil.”

One of the sources for Yahoo News’ report, a former senior official for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), asserted, “It was a very broad effort to try and penetrate our most sensitive operations.”

On December 29, 2016, the outgoing Obama administration gave almost three dozen Russian diplomats only 72 hours to leave the U.S. and seized two rural estates owned by the Russian government. At the time, Russian officials insisted that those estates were merely vacation spots. But according to Yahoo News’ report, the estates were used for spying — and that spying was so comprehensive that it underscores “U.S. counterintelligence vulnerabilities.”

Security compromises in the U.S., according to Yahoo News, “gave Russian spies in American cities — including Washington, New York, and San Francisco — key insights into the location of undercover FBI surveillance teams, and likely the actual substance of FBI communications.”

Former U.S. officials told Yahoo News adds that Russian spies successfully cracked some types of encryption used by U.S. intelligence. A former U.S. national security official, interviewed anonymously, told Yahoo News, “Any time you find out that an adversary has these capabilities, it sets off a ripple effect. The Russians are able to extract every capability from any given technology…. They are singularly dangerous in this area.”

Russian spies, according to Yahoo News’ report, also compromised the FBI’s backup communications systems. “This was something we took extremely seriously,” a former senior counterintelligence official told Yahoo News.”

Yahoo News’ report also quotes a former senior counterintelligence official as saying, “The intel reporting was they did break our codes or got their hands on a radio and figured it out. Either way, they decrypted our comms.”

Joel Brenner, who headed U.S. counterintelligence from 2006-2009, said: “When I was in office, the counterintelligence business was.… focused entirely on its core concern, which is insider threats, and in particular mole hunting. This is, in fact, the core risk, and it’s right that it should be the focus. But we were neither organized nor resourced to deal with counterintelligence in networks, technical networks, electronic networks.”

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