Crypto AG — Belgium Intelligence Committee Launches Investigation

“Als de ene blinde de andere leidt, vallen ze beiden in de gracht.”

[“When one blind man leads another, they both fall into the ditch.”]

Dutch proverb

“The ADIV is aware of the Rubicon affair and is currently investigating the possible extent of the eavesdropping practices reported.”

BELGA News

The Blind Leading the Blind — Painting by the Netherlandish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1568)

Belgian newspapers Knack and Le Soir report that the Intelligence Committee (which oversees the Belgian intelligence services) has launched an investigation into the Crypto AG affair. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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The Committee Spokesperson Serge Lipszyc has confirmed the information.

“Last Friday (Feb. 14 2020), we informed the President of the Chamber, the Ministers of Justice and Defense, the State Security and ADIV senior officials that the Committee I is starting an investigation into the Crypto AG case.”

The investigation aims at answering the following questions.

Did Belgian administrations or the Belgian intelligence services use encryption equipment from Crypto AG?

Did operation Rubicon impact Belgium?

What did Belgian intelligence services know about this secret operation?

Did they receive information from the CIA and the BND?

Just the Facts

Belgium was — of course —  a primary target of the Rubicon Operation. The reasons are not very difficult to understand.

“Belgium – which is particularly interesting as a diplomatic center of NATO and of the European Economic Community – had to be tapped.” [Argos]

Both Belgian Military Secret Service (SGRS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were Crypto AG customers. [GrenzEcho]

In fact, Belgium is one of the countries that relied all the way to the end of the 20th century on Crypto AG for its diplomatic cables. The foreign ministry acquired about 100 CX-52 machines.

The Belgium army used the Crypto AG machines (about 200 CX-52) from the 1950s to the mid-60s.

Minister of Justice Koen Geens (CD&V) has stated that the State Security Services did not use Crypto AG machines in the last 10 years and that they were not aware of operation Rubicon.

Dutch Intelligence services collaborated with the CIA to spy on Belgium (and Turkey) after Germany refused to do it.

In 1970, the CX-52 was succeeded by the electronic H-460. Nevertheless, many of them were kept as backups during the Cold War, well into the 1980s — in Belgium even well into the 1990s. [Crypto Museum]

By the way, if the Belgian State has lost the records of their past transactions with Crypto AG, my friend Sixten Swensson — brother-in-law of Crypto AG founder Boris Hagelin — has kept a copy of the transactions. He told me this morning that the Committee I is welcome to read them at his house.

Serious Questions

In 1978, Crypto AG hired Mengia Caflisch, a young physicist with a background in astrophysics and no prior knowledge of cryptography.

The NSA immediately feared that she may discover the truth. They were not wrong. In a matter of days, Caflisch had discovered the flaw in the Crypto machines.

When Crypto AG machines were sold to the former Yugoslavia, it only took their experts a few days to realize that the devices were rigged. As they threatened to reveal the truth, they were offered safe devices.

So, ask yourself a simple question. Why have Belgian experts failed to discover– over many decades —  that the Crypto AG machines were rigged?

Post Scriptum

Anton Chekhov had a knack for telling human feelings.  Considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history, Chekhov once wrote:

“What a fine weather today! Can’t choose whether to drink tea or to hang myself.”

A decade ago, I argued — very convincingly — that Crypto AG had rigged the equipment used by diplomats around the world allowing US Intelligence Agencies to decode  their messages in real-time.

So, how should I feel today? Delighted to have been finally vindicated? Or depressed that my country dismissed my findings as a conspiracy theory.

Belgian journalists were well aware of my findings. And yet, they never reported the facts in the media. Why on earth not?

For the record, I have warned that there is an ongoing scandal — possibly worse than the Rubicon operation — involving the GSM antennas in the Brussels area.

Should we wait another 15 years for the Belgian authorities  to launch an investigation?

REFERENCES

Der Informant, der aus der Deckung kommt — NZZ am Sonntag

Waakhond inlichtingendiensten start onderzoek naar impact CIA-operatie — Knack

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Crypto AG — Belgium Intelligence Committee Launches Investigation

 

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