A Russian counterintelligence operation in 2016 managed to breach the FBI's communications network, hurting the U.S. intelligence community's ability to track Russian spies in the U.S. and keeping the FBI and CIA from contacting certain assets in Russia, Yahoo! News reports.
"It was a very broad effort to try and penetrate our most sensitive operations," said a former senior CIA official.
"The intel reporting was they did break our codes or got their hands on a radio and figured it out," a former senior intelligence official said. "Either way, they decrypted our comms."
"The infrastructure that was supposed to be built, they never followed up, or gave us the money for it," a former senior intelligence official said, adding the "hodgepodge of systems" that the FBI used is to blame. "The intelligence community has never gotten an integrated system."
According to a former counterintelligence executive, FBI surveillance personnel "switched to push-to-talk cellphones," because of problems with radio technology. "The tech guys would get upset by that, because if they could intercept radio, they might be able to intercept telephones," which is what happened.
Russian intelligence officials successfully unscrambled the FBI's communications in real time, providing them with information on "call signs and locations, team composition and tactics," used by the FBI during surveillance.
In response, the Obama administration told Moscow on December 29, 2016 to remove about three dozen Russian diplomats from the U.S. within 72 hours and seized two rural estates on the East Coast that were owned by the Russian government. The public explanation was that the move was in retaliation over the country's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Spokespeople from the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., did not respond to Yahoo!'s request for comment. The FBI and CIA declined to comment.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.