US Warms Up Its Own Old Spy Stories
The Washington Post is warming up an old crypto story:
For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.
The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.
But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.
The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.
That Crypto AG had been a CIA/NSA/BND operation has been known for decades. One wonders why the CIA history was now leaked to the Washington Post and to the German state TV channel ZDF.
Scott Shane @ScottShaneNYT – 14:38 UTC · Feb 11, 2020Back in 1995 at the @baltimoresun, with @TBowmanNPR, I wrote a long story on the NSA’s covert relationship with Crypto AG, allowing the US to read the secrets of many countries: link. Now @gregpmiller got the official CIA history of this decades-long project.
Greg’s story is a fascinating read on what we described in 1995 as one of the great intelligence operations of the Cold War filling in details we could only guess at 25 years ago. I’m glad to see we got the story right.
I recall vividly how at the end of my trip to Switzerland in 1995 to find former employees of Crypto AG, one of them managed to find a smoking-gun memo from 1975 that showed an NSA crypto mathematician named Nora Mackebee had attended a Crypto design meeting.
Sanho Tree @SanhoTree – 13:48 UTC · Feb 11, 2020For the record, I published the Crypto AG story 23 years ago when I was an editor at Covert Action Quarterly.
If you want to understand why the US intelligence community is so freaked out about Huawei, it’s because they’ve been playing the same game for decades. Crypto AG: The NSA’s Trojan Whore?
Scott Shane @ScottShaneNYT – 15:05 UTC · Feb 11, 2020Replying to @SanhoTree
And for the record, the CAQ story from 1997 relied mainly on the @baltimoresun story I wrote with @tbowman in 1995: RIGGING THE GAME
The Swiss company Crypto AG became useless for the NSA when people moved to standard computers to encrypt their information and used the Internet to send it. It needed some other companies it could manipulate.
Around that time this writer was the chief technical officer of a large Internet access company. When we had to select a firewall platform for our internal networks we cynically discussed i
Article from LewRockwell