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This weekend, U. We know that the two leaders spoke at length about the topic du jour — cyber-espionage — a subject that has long frustrated officials in Washington and is now front and center with the revelations of sweeping U. When the agenda for the meeting at the Sunnylands estate outside Palm Springs, California, was agreed to several months ago, both parties agreed that it would be a nice opportunity for President Xi, who assumed his post in March, to discuss a wide range of security and economic issues of concern to both countries.
According to diplomatic sources, the issue of cybersecurity was not Nsa asian singles of the key topics to be discussed at the summit. Sino-American economic relations, climate change, and the growing threat posed by North Korea were supposed to dominate the discussions. According to a diplomatic source in Washington, the Chinese government was even angrier that the White House leaked the new agenda item to the press before Washington bothered to tell Beijing about it.
So the Chinese began to hit back. Senior Chinese officials have publicly accused the U. The door leading to its Nsa asian singles operations center is protected by armed guards, an imposing steel door that can only be entered by entering the correct six-digit code into a keypad, and a retinal scanner to ensure that only those individuals specially cleared for access get through the door. It collects intelligence information on foreign targets by surreptitiously hacking into their computers and telecommunications systems, cracking passwords, compromising the computer security systems protecting the targeted computer, stealing the data stored on computer hard drives, and then copying all the messages and data traffic passing within the targeted and text-messaging systems.
TAO is also responsible for developing the information that would allow the United States to destroy or damage foreign computer and telecommunications systems with a cyberattack if so directed by the president. The organization responsible for conducting such a cyberattack is U. Keith Alexander.
These operators spend their days or nights searching the ether for computers systems and supporting telecommunications networks being utilized by, for example, foreign terrorists to pass messages to their members or sympathizers. It is important to note that TAO is not supposed to work against domestic targets in the United States or its possessions. This is the responsibility of the FBI, which is the sole U.
But in light of information about wider NSA snoopingone has to prudently Nsa asian singles concerned about whether TAO is able to perform its Nsa asian singles of collecting foreign intelligence without accessing communications originating in or transiting through the United States. Since its creation inTAO has garnered a reputation for producing some of the best intelligence available to the U. As detailed in my history of NSA, The Secret Sentrythis highly classified intercept program, known at the time as Stumpcursor, proved to be critically important during the U.
That same year, sources report that TAO was given an award for producing particularly important intelligence information about whether Iran was trying to build an atomic bomb. Given the nature and extraordinary political sensitivity of its work, it will come as no surprise that TAO has always been, and remains, extraordinarily publicity shy. Its name has appeared in print only a few times over the past decade, and the handful of reporters who have dared inquire about it have been politely but very firmly warned by senior U.
According to a senior U. The word among NSA officials is that if you want to get promoted or recognized, get a transfer to TAO as soon as you can. We do not know what the information was, but sources suggest that it must have been pretty important to propel Shea to her position today. The problem is that TAO has become so large and produces so much valuable intelligence information that it has become virtually impossible to hide it anymore. As any high-stakes poker player knows, you can only press your luck so far when the guy on the other side of the table knows what cards you have in your hand.
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