- 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
- 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."
Site Served by TheHostPros