[ISN] Encryption Missing after US/China Accident

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed May 20 1998 - 18:01:52 PDT

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    Forwarded From: drudgeat_private
    One major issue that made Defense and State Department types nervous about
    the launching of U.S satellites from Chinese rockets was how to protect
    encryption equipment that is built into a satellite and electronically
    interprets commands from ground controllers who manipulate the bird once it
    is in orbit.  
    "Similar devices are used to communicate with American spy satellites, and
    the Pentagon and intelligence agencies worried that anyone who could crack
    the code could take control of the satellites themselves," NEW YORK TIMES
    hotshot Jeff Gerth reported last week.
    Commerce and Clinton types argued that encryption equipment would be
    embedded into the satellite and the device would not present a military risk
    -- the Chinese would be unable to get their hands on the encryption because
    American military officials "watch the satellites with care when they are in
    Chinese hands." 
    National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, live from Botswana, told CNN's Wolf
    Blitzer last weekend:  When U.S. satellites are launched from Chinese
    rockets "they are put in a black box under DOD [Department of Defense]
    supervision.  They're taken to China. They're put on top of the missile, and
    they're blown up to the sky. So there is no technology transfer."
    Blitzer, who most always comes to the table with nothing more than press
    clippings and an attitude to conform, failed to raise a nightmare scenario
    with Berger:  What if a Chinese booster failed to blow a satellite up to the
    sky and encryption somehow became exposed?  
    Events surrounding the Feb. 15, 1996 explosion of a Chinese rocket carrying
    a $200 million U.S.A. LORAL satellite seconds after liftoff at the Xichang
    Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province in southern China -- events that
    are now at the center of a secret federal grand jury probe -- may be such a
    nightmare, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
    A veteran employee of LORAL SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS has described to the
    DRUDGE REPORT just what went down during a LORAL review of the 1996 failure.
    "The most interesting aspect of the accident was this: engineers who
    reviewed the recovered payload debris noticed something special that was
    missing: encryption hardware."
    The LORAL source, who worked at LORAL's satellite manufacturing facility
    when the Chinese launches began, continues:  "I spoke to one of our
    engineers about a year after the explosion, he is like many at LORAL,
    retired military officers from the black programs of our military.  His
    assumption was that the Chinese kept the encryption IC board with the intent
    of reverse engineering its function and that espionage was China's intent."
    The Pentagon press office refused comment on this report.
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