FLASHBACK: The NSA – CRYPTO AG Sting

On 29/12/2007, I wrote the following in a piece titled “The NSA-CRYPTO AG Sting“:

For decades, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been reading effortlessly ultra sensitive messages intercepted from all parts of the world.

This extraordinary feat was not the consequence of the work of some genius cyber mathematician. Nor was it the result of the agency dominance in the field of super computers, which allegedly have outpaced their most direct rivals by orders of magnitude.

The truth is far simpler and quite troubling. The game was rigged.

CX 52 Hagelin Machine

CX 52 Hagelin Machine

“One of these former engineers told Buehler that he had learned about the cooperation from Boris Hagelin Jr., the son of the company’s founder and sales manager for North and South America. In the 1970s, while stranded in Buenos Aires, Boris Hagelin Jr. confided that he thought his father had been wrong to accept rigging the Crypto AG machines.”

This week, we have learned that this incredible story is simply true.

In a piece published on 28/07/2015 – How NSA and GCHQ spied on the Cold War world – Gordon Corera writes:

The central document is a once top-secret 22-page report of a 1955 visit by Friedman to Zug in Switzerland, where Crypto AG was based.

Some elements of the memo have been redacted – or blacked out – by the NSA.

But within the released material, are two versions of the same memo, as well as a draft.

Each has different parts redacted. By placing them side by side and cross referencing with other documents, it is possible to learn many – but not all – details.

The different versions of the report make clear Friedman – described as special assistant to the director, NSA – went with a proposal agreed not just by US, but also British intelligence.

Friedman offered Hagelin time to think his proposal over, but Hagelin accepted on the spot.

PS: The reader may wonder what happened to Boris junior? On 15/01/2012, a family member told me the following:

“Boris Hagelin Junior was killed in Washington DC and died 17.11.1970. He lived 3 weeks in hospital before, but braindead. Somebody told me it was an arranged carcrash…”

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