Russian Spy Blinded
US Intelligence To Set Up
For Korean War Invasion
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The National Security Agency (NSA) has disclosed that a Russian spy revealed the extent of US penetration of Soviet codes in 1948, blinding US intelligence to preparations for the Korean War. The NSA report, which was declassified Wednesday, described the incident as "perhaps the most significant intelligence loss in US history."
It identified the spy as William Weisband, a native Russian speaker who worked for the US Armed Forces Security Agency, the precursor to the super-secret NSA which specializes in electronic eavesdropping.
How North Korea was able to surprise the United States by invading South Korea on June 25, 1950 has long been one of the great unanswered questions of the war.
Historians have long argued that a speech by then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson placing South Korea outside the US defense perimeter in the Pacific was the green light for the invasion.
But the NSA report, written by the agency's historian David Hatch, makes the case that nothing was known about North Korean preparations for war because US intelligence was working in the dark.
Weisband's betrayal had effectively crippled US intelligence's ability to eavesdrop on Soviet communications, according to the report.
An army intelligence agency had broken the codes used by the Soviet military, police and industry after World War II "and was building a remarkably complete picture of the Soviet national security posture," the report said.
"Then during 1948, in rapid succession, every one of these cipher systems went dark," it said.
So complete was the loss, which occurred over several months, that US cryptoanalysts referred to it as "Black Friday," the report said.
"US cryptologic agencies took steps to recover, but this dreary situation continued up to the Korean War, denying American policymakers access to vital decrypts in this critical period," the report said.
The report said Weisband was recruited by the KGB in 1934 and served with the Army Security Agency during World War II and later with the Armed Forces Security Agency.
"Although in the 1950s the FBI uncovered information alleging espionage activity by Weisband in the early 1940s, he was never charged with espionage," it said. "Weisband lost his job with the NSA and served a year in prison for contempt of a grand jury."

This Site Served by TheHostPros