WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly expressed concerns about capabilities of Huawei-made equipment to intercept and disrupt top-secret Pentagon communications, including channels used by U.S. Strategic Command (US STRATCOM), the unified combatant command responsible for ordering nuclear strikes.
Over a dozen sources told CNN that U.S. counterintelligence has been quietly probing purported efforts by China to install listening devices near U.S. military and government facilities, as well as the sale of Huawei equipment to telecoms providers in rural communities near military bases at “suspiciously” low prices. The probe, apparently under way since the Barack Obama administration, has been so secret that many senior policymakers in Washington didn’t even find out about it until 2019.
Citing one example, sources indicated that China had made an offer in 2017 to build a $100 million ornate garden at Washington, DC’s National Arboretum – situated less than 5 km from the Capitol and the White House, and less than 2 km from the Pentagon atop a strategic height. On top of that, the outlet’s sources said, China wanted to ship equipment to the site via diplomatic pouches, which are off limits to U.S. Customs inspections. The project was subsequently quietly snuffed out before construction began amid security concerns.
On other occasions, sources indicated, Huawei appeared to be offering below-market prices for cellular providers in rural municipalities near military facilities, with the investigation initially “examining [the company] less from a technical lens and more from a business/financial view,” according to former FBI counterintelligence agent John Lenkart.
As for the fears that Huawei-manufactured equipment in cell towers is being used to intercept strategic communications, CNN’s sources expressed frustration, admitting that from a technical standpoint, “it’s incredibly difficult to prove” whether such illegal activities are taking place. Spooks are nevertheless confident that Huawei gear has the capability to intercept both commercial and restricted cell traffic and airwaves, including channels used by STRATCOM.
“This gets into some of the most sensitive things we do,” one worried former FBI official said.
“It would impact our ability for essentially command and control with the nuclear triad. If it is possible for that to be disrupted, then that is a very bad day,” they said.