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Russia infiltration into the US government

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  • Russia infiltration into the US government

    This isn't the Russian collusion you're looking for...

    A report published by Yahoo News on Monday described a “brazen Russian counterintelligence operation that stretched from the Bay Area to the heart of the nation’s capital” during the presidency of Barack Obama. The operation penetrated FBI communications to a “stunning” degree, according to officials quoted in the story, but was misunderstood and downplayed by the intelligence community and the Obama administration, which was ostentatiously attempting to “reset” relations with Russia when the operation began.

    Yahoo News tied their years-long saga of counterintelligence cat-and-mouse to several major news events, including the 2016 mass expulsion of Russian diplomats – ostensibly ordered in retaliation for Russian “meddling” in U.S. elections, but actually because those Russian diplomatic facilities were hives of electronic surveillance activity – and the more recent story about the CIA extracting a Russian asset in 2017. According to the report, a significant number of Russian assets stopped talking to U.S. intelligence agencies because they were afraid their identities would be discovered.

    To make a very long story short, the Russians took advantage of the Obama administration’s much-ballyhooed “reset” in relations to set up an aggressive network of electronic monitoring devices in the United States, the effort gaining further momentum after Russian President Vladimir Putin became convinced the U.S. was manipulating protests in Russia to delegitimize elections with allegations of vote fraud.


    Some of these decryption efforts were not terribly subtle, as the Russians would literally follow FBI surveillance teams on foot and monitor their communications or drive around in vans packed full of radio gear, listening for FBI calls. The FBI was using radios designed more for light weight and easy mobility than communications security, and their system was regrettably slapdash. Eventually they started using cell phones, which were also compromised by Russian intelligence.


    The Obama administration’s response to the communications breach was troubling, if not very surprising. As with the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration was willing to overlook a great deal of mischief to get the historic headline-grabbing diplomatic breakthrough it wanted. Yahoo News reports:
    According to a former CIA official and a former national security official, the CIA’s analysts often disagreed about how committed Russia was to negotiations during the attempted reset and how far Putin would go to achieve his strategic aims, divergences that confused the White House and senior policy makers.

    “It caused a really big rift within the [National Security Council] on how seriously they took analysis from the agency,” said the former CIA official. Senior administration leaders “went along with” some of the more optimistic analysis on the future of U.S.-Russia relations “in the hopes that this would work out,” the official continued.

    Those disagreements were part of a “reset hangover” that persisted, at least for some inside the administration, until the 2016 election meddling, according to a former senior national security official. Those officials clung to the hope that Washington and Moscow could cooperate on key issues, despite aggressive Russian actions ranging from the invasion of Ukraine to its spying efforts.

    "I'll have more flexibility after the election."
    -Barack Hussein Obama to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, March 2012
    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
    Than a fool in the eyes of God

    From "Fools Gold" by Petra