Posts Tagged ‘intelligence’

Germany Is Soft on Chinese Spying

December 10, 2018

Huawei has deep ties to the Chinese government. Berlin might let it build the country’s next generation of communications infrastructure anyway.

The logo of Chinese electronics company Huawei on Sept. 2, 2015 in Berlin. (John Macdougal/AFP/Getty Images)

The logo of Chinese electronics company Huawei on Sept. 2, 2015 in Berlin. (John Macdougal/AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, New Zealand decided to exclude the Chinese technology company Huawei from providing equipment to operate its 5G high-speed mobile network due to “significant national security risks.” The country follows Australia and the United States, which have also excluded Chinese companies from supplying 5G infrastructure.

In Germany, meanwhile, security has so far hardly played any role in the debate over the fifth generation of cellular technology. In the terms of reference published last week by the German Federal Network Agency for its 5G auction, security was not even included in the conditions for awarding the contract. In October, the government announced: “A concrete legal basis for the complete or partial exclusion of particular suppliers of 5G infrastructure in Germany does not exist and is not planned.”

That is dangerously misguided. As Australia’s intelligence chief has pointed out: “5G is not just fast data, it is also high-density connection of devices—human to human, human to machine and machine to machine.” 5G will carry communications we “rely on every day, from our health systems … to self-driving cars and through to the operation of our power and water supply.” 5G will be the backbone of our industries and societies. “Critical infrastructure” hardly gets more critical. And the security risks are accordingly high. Wherever Chinese technology companies supply 5G infrastructure, they will have access to huge volumes of sensitive data and industrial secrets—and there’s reason to think they would eventually be forced to spy on behalf of Beijing. The Chinese government could also use these companies to disrupt other countries’ infrastructure in a future conflict.

Given the massive cybersecurity and national security risks, the only responsible decision is for Berlin to follow the Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. lead and ban Chinese providers from the German 5G network. In doing so, Europe’s strongest economy would send a crucial signal to the rest of the European Union members that are grappling with the same decision.

Contrary to Huawei’s claims, the decisions by Australia, New Zealand, and the United States were not motivated by crude protectionism. In none of these three countries will domestic suppliers be the primary beneficiaries. The anomaly of the 5G market is that there is no leading U.S.-based supplier covering the full technological spectrum. The companies profiting from a ban on Huawei and ZTE are mainly two European companies: Nokia and Ericsson.

Still, those calling for banning Huawei face an uphill battle across Europe. Huawei has strong supporters (not least due to its very professional lobbying operation and deep ties within the political scene). It markets itself as a private company, which is organized as a cooperative and is in no way under the control of the Chinese state. Network operators such as Deutsche Telekom are among Huawei’s cheerleaders. Deutsche Telekom warns against excluding “high-performance suppliers” such as Huawei if the country wanted to build its 5G network quickly and at cost. Huawei already supplies much of the existing German 3G and 4G infrastructure.

For Deutsche Telekom and other network operators, the situation is clear: Huawei offers innovative and reliable products at highly competitive prices. Legally, Deutsche Telekom does not bear any liability for the security risks associated with Huawei technology. And the company does not care about the fact that Huawei’s price advantage is the result of a highly skewed playing field in China. In the world’s largest market, domestic providers control 75 percent of the market, giving them unbeatable economies of scale.

Remarkably, Huawei’s defenders also include the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Germany’s cybersecurity agency. Its president, Arne Schönbohm, believes the agency has the capabilities to check on whether suppliers meet security requirements, providing “technically substantiated statements of trust.” Huawei, for its part, describes itself as “the most audited company in the world.” The company offers to put its equipment through any inspection in testing centers jointly run with governments. Last month, they put one such center into operation in Bonn in cooperation with the BSI. Schönbohm was enthusiastic: “We welcome the opening of this laboratory, which enables a further and deeper technical exchange between Huawei and the BSI.”

His ebullience is misguided. The Bonn center follows the British model, where the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre has existed since 2010 controlled by the British intelligence service GCHQ, among others. Yet just this year, the British inspection report could give “only limited assurance” that Huawei products do not pose any risks to national security. This prompted the government to warn network operators that current rules could be changed and that certain suppliers (i.e., Huawei) could be excluded. Speaking about building Britain’s 5G network, just this week MI6 chief Alex Younger said the UK needs to take decision on “the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies.”

The final British decision is still pending, but the conclusion for Germany should be clear. If the British GCHQ, which is technically far superior to the German BSI, cannot issue a clean bill of health for Huawei, we don’t have to wait for the BSI’s own efforts. In the future, the testing centers will be in an even worse position. Checking for possible hardware backdoors will only be a small part of the job. Virtualization (and related software) will play a central role for 5G. And with weekly software updates, infrastructure operators will have a front door to compromise systems. No testing center would be able to check weekly software updates in advance.

For good reasons, the German intelligence services, unlike the BSI, take a far more critical view of the Huawei risk. They share the Australian intelligence community’s negative assessment, which, according to anonymously sourced reports in November, is based on at least one case of Chinese intelligence agents using Huawei employees to obtain access codes for a foreign network.




Saudi Crown Prince “Played” Jared Kushner on Israel-Palestinian Peace Deal

December 9, 2018

Mohammed bin Salman reportedly capitalizes on Trump’s Mideast adviser’s inexperience to boost his reputation and receive crucial White House backing after Khashoggi murder

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner during a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC on October 23, 2017. Right: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with Lebanon's Christian Maronite patriarch on November 14, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photos by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner during a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC on October 23, 2017. Right: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with Lebanon’s Christian Maronite patriarch on November 14, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photos by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman deliberately established a personal friendship with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, using the latter’s interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and promising to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the United States, in order to court Kushner’s political support and White House influence, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Citing multiple former senior White House officials and other US and Saudi sources, the in-depth report said the friendship, which entailed first-name-basis informal chatting on WhatsApp that continued even after the widely condemned killing of Saudi dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi, worried officials in the State Department and the Pentagon, who feared Kushner was being manipulated.

Kushner has been the most steadfast defender in the White House of Riyadh in the wake of Khashoggi’s October 2 murder and dismemberment inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which US intelligence agencies have concluded was ordered by Prince Mohammed himself.

The Trump administration has publicly defended continued ties despite the killing.

The US president has condemned the brutal slaying as a “horrible crime … that our country does not condone.” But he rejected calls by many in Congress, including members of his own party, for a tougher response, and also dismissed reports from US intelligence agencies that Prince Mohammed must have at least known about such an audacious and intricate plot.

Last month, Trump told reporters that “foolishly canceling” arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of dollars would only benefit Russia and China, which would be next in line to supply the weapons.

People hold signs during a protest at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Washington, October 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Critics denounced Trump’s statement, saying he was ignoring human rights and granting Saudi Arabia a pass for economic reasons.

According to the report, a delegation of Prince Mohammed’s associates visited Washington in November 2016, the month Trump was elected — when he wasn’t yet crown prince — and flagged Kushner as a crucial focal point, citing his lack of familiarity with Saudi Arabia and his intense focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Within months, Kushner had been courted to organize a formal meeting between Prince Mohammed and Trump, including honors normally reserved for heads of state.

That meeting had been organized while “bending protocol,” according to the report, a claim denied by the White House, which said Kushner had “always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines” regarding interactions with foreign officials.

Ultimately, Kushner was said to have helped catapult Mohammed bin Salman into the crown prince position, becoming the most influential leader in Riyadh at just 33 years old.

US President Donald Trump (center right) holds a lunch meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center left) and members of his delegation in the White House Cabinet Room on March 20, 2018. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Prince Mohammed’s “bromance” with Kushner has been the “foundation of the Trump policy not just toward Saudi Arabia but toward the region,” the report quoted Martin Indyk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Middle East envoy and ambassador to Israel, as saying.

That included Riyadh’s inclusion in a yet-unpublished Israel-Palestinian peace plan and US support for a Saudi-led boycott of Qatar and for Riyadh’s interventions in the Yemen civil war.

It also led to Saudi help in implementing Trump’s strategy of extreme vetting of immigrants, including intelligence and data exchange, and cooperation in fighting Islamist terrorism and extremism via a center that has been inaugurated in Saudi Arabia.

Little has come so far of the Saudi promises to invest in US infrastructure and to sign huge contracts with Washington over four years for weapons and other products. Likewise, little headway has been made by the Saudis regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Ramallah rejecting Prince Mohammed’s approaches on behalf of Washington.

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner (right) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on June 22, 2018. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem/Flash90)

Last month, ABC News reported that Kushner in 2017 exaggerated the amount of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia in a bid to solidify the Trump administration’s alliance with the kingdom.

The report said Kushner directed the State Department and Pentagon to inflate the amount of arms exchanges between the two countries to $110 billion, a figure that current and former US officials said included potential deals. Actual sales have amounted to only $15 billion.

The extensive sales were touted as a major foreign policy achievement for the Trump administration, and were cited by the president as a key reason he would not punish Saudi Arabia for the murder of Khashoggi.

The Trump administration’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace is expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

But the plan is unlikely to be welcome by either side, especially with the Palestinian Authority boycotting the Trump administration since its recognition last year of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The PA has vowed to oppose the so-called “deal of the century.” Israel’s shaky right-wing coalition government, meantime, is down to a majority of just 61 in the 120-seat Knesset after Avigdor Liberman resigned as defense minister last month to protest a Gaza ceasefire following a major flareup and took his party into the opposition.

Although the Trump administration has been long touting its peace plan, details of it have been scant, and the Palestinians have vowed not to cooperate with US efforts.

Times of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report.



Germany Resists Pressure to Abandon Huawei

December 7, 2018

German officials were reportedly pushing earlier this year for their government to follow other countries’ lead and slap a ban on Chinese IT firm Huawei. But Berlin doesn’t seem inclined to bow to US pressure.

Logo von Huawei (Reuters/H. Hanschke)

Chinese multinational tech giant Huawei Technologies opened a new information security lab in the German city of Bonn last month. Some observers see the move as designed to butter up German regulators ahead of the country’s 5G mobile spectrum auction.

The German network regulator (BNetzA) is finalizing the terms for the 5G licensing round it plans to hold in the first quarter of 2019.

The total cost of building Germany’s 5G networks could be €80 billion ($91 billion) and this means high stakes for Huawei and its rivals Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung.

Not too bothered

Germany doesn’t have its own indigenous telecoms hardware industry to speak of and maintains close trade and investment ties with Beijing.

The German interior ministry has said there is no legal basis to exclude foreign equipment providers from the country’s 5G system and no such measure is planned.

Read more: China’s Huawei finance chief arrested in Canada, faces extradition to US

There is no formal bilateral agreement on preventing commercial cyber espionage between Germany and China, but the number of known China-originated commercial cyber espionage attacks on German companies has dropped in the past two years, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

This is corroborated by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. The fall has been linked to an increase in Chinese foreign direct investment in high-tech and advanced manufacturing industries in 2016.

Former BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen has linked the decline to an increase in the use of legal tools for obtaining the same information, such as corporate takeovers.

“Industrial espionage is no longer necessary if one can simply take advantage of liberal economic regulations to buy companies and then disembowel them or cannibalize them to gain access to their know-how,” Maassen said.

But things may be changing. “The German public discourse around China has changed in the last year or so, not primarily rushed by the US,” cyber security specialist Raffaello Pantucci told DW. “The Germans have seen several cases where the Chinese have crossed a line.”

Read more: Exit the Dragon? Chinese investment in Germany

Pantucci believes the Chinese will now have difficulty winning the 2019 5G auction. “This puts the cat among the pigeons. No country can avoid this dilemma and I think it’s now very unlikely a Chinese firm will win.”

Huawei Australien (Imago/ZumaPress//Imago/M. Schwarz)Australia has cited national security risks with regard to Huawei

Issues in the UK, Australia and New Zealand

Britain’s BT Group said this week it will remove Huawei Technologies’ equipment from its core 4G network within two years and has also excluded Huawei from bidding for contracts to supply equipment for use in its core 5G network.

However, a ban remains unlikely in the UK, due to the advanced stage of Huawei’s involvement in 5G development in the country.

New Zealand has also rejected Huawei’s first 5G bid, citing national security risks while earlier this year, Australia banned Huawei from supplying 5G equipment for the same reason.

US pressure

The US is putting increased pressure on its political allies, including Germany, to exclude Huawei from their next-generation mobile networks. Washington has long said Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese hardware maker, are potential menaces to security and privacy.

US authorities have pointed to China’s national intelligence law, which they say could force Chinese companies to facilitate spying efforts in other countries. US authorities cited the issue when they blocked Broadcom’s hostile takeover of Qualcomm earlier this year.

In 2013, the US Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimated that the theft of Intellectual Property was $300 billion (€257 billion) annually, with 50 to 80 percent of the thefts attributed to China.

But why is it all such a big deal?

“Many states are concerned about using Chinese telecommunications and technology companies in critical infrastructure companies for a range of reasons,” Daniella Cave, a specialist on cyber security at ASPI, told DW.

Firstly, she says, the Chinese state has a history of aggressive and wide-ranging espionage and intellectual property theft.

Secondly, the national intelligence law they introduced in 2017 compels organizations and individuals to participate in intelligence activities and to keep secret the intelligence activities they are aware of.

Thirdly, there have been allegations that Chinese companies have been complicit, knowingly or unknowingly, in the theft of secrets and valuable government data, Cave says.

A double-edged sword

“I think the Chinese state’s introduction of the national intelligence law is going to place suspicion on the international activities of most of China’s large companies going forward,” Cave says.

“But it’s a double-edged sword for China, as the Chinese Communist Party has made it virtually impossible for Chinese companies to expand without attracting understandable and legitimate suspicion,” she adds.

Cave believes most developed states will be looking at ways in which they can move away from the use of Chinese products in their critical infrastructure.

“A lot of companies have already, and will continue, to look at ways in which they can minimize the risks to their supply chain by closely scrutinizing the hardware and software in their systems.”

UK and Germany grow wary of Huawei as US turns up pressure

November 29, 2018

Huawei (Reuters/H. Hanschke)

Delegation from Washington warns against using Chinese supplier for 5G networks The US, Australia and New Zealand have already blocked the use of Huawei 5G equipment on national security grounds

By James Kynge and David Bond in London and Aime Williams in Washington

The UK and Germany are growing wary of allowing Huawei, the Chinese telecoms company, to install 5G equipment in their countries after a US delegation visited Europe to urge heightened vigilance against national security threats, officials said.

The clear message delivered by the US delegation this month and in online communications is that Germany and the UK as key American allies must safeguard the security of their telecoms networks and supply chains, the officials said.

The warnings come as Germany and the UK are preparing for auctions next year for 5G, a superfast service that will enable a new generation of digital products and services. Huawei is the world’s biggest telecoms equipment supplier and has been seen as a frontrunner to build the first networks in both countries, where it has conducted extensive 5G tests.

New Zealand this week became the latest country to take action against Huawei, blocking one of its biggest telecoms operators from using Huawei’s 5G equipment. The US and Australia have already blocked the company on national security grounds.

In Germany, officials said that the mood in government was growing increasingly wary of Huawei’s potential involvement in building the country’s 5G network.

While it is too early to say if Berlin will ban the Chinese company from participating, concerns in some parts of the government, including the foreign and interior ministries, is deepening, officials said. “The US influence on this has really intensified recently,” said one German official, who requested anonymity.

Recommended Analysis Technology sector Proposed Huawei ban seen hitting Australian 5G push

Cui Haifeng, vice-president Huawei, West Europe, told the Financial Times in Hamburg that the company was doing everything possible to allay concerns over security.

Asked if Germany was set to issue a ban, he said: “So far, I never heard about this kind of thing.”

“[For] every technology for us at Huawei we always try to put the security and safety as top priorities so all the design, products and services will be safe,” Mr Cui said. In the UK the mood shifted significantly in the summer when a report from the centre set up to scrutinise contracts [Huawei kit and software] with Huawei, overseen by the GCHQ intelligence agency, flagged technical issues in the Chinese company’s engineering which posed “new risks in UK telecommunications networks”.

According to people familiar with the matter, the next report by the Huawei oversight board is likely to go even further, raising fresh concerns over engineering and the Chinese company’s failure to deal with the security problems raised in the 2018 report. Banning Huawei outright from providing 5G equipment to UK providers or removing them from existing telecoms networks remains unlikely, officials said. But the message to the Chinese company would be clear.

“They are slowing down Huawei to allow the rest of the market to catch up,” said one former intelligence official.

“If I was part of oversight board or government, I would be putting the boot in right now.” A meeting of the board, which is chaired by the chief executive of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre Ciaran Martin and includes representatives from some of the main UK telecoms operators is due to be held in December to discuss what next steps the UK should take.

UK security officials rejected the suggestion they are hardening their stance in response to growing pressure from the US, insisting the concerns are not based on Huawei’s Chinese origins as a company but on the way the company manufactures software and equipment which makes critical telecoms networks vulnerable to cyber attack.

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A spokesperson for Huawei said the July report “identified some areas for improvement in our engineering processes.” The company added: “We are grateful for this feedback and committed to addressing these issues. Cyber security remains Huawei’s top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems.”

Raffaello Pantucci, director of international securities studies at RUSI, a UK think-tank, said the US is putting pressure on China in a “whole series of areas” and is pushing for “unity among its allies on China policy.”

“In the UK, the conversation with regard to China has definitely shifted with the hawks becoming kind of dominant,” Mr Pantucci added The main US concern over Huawei equipment is that the company’s ties to the Chinese government could enable snooping or interference.

Huawei has strongly denied such charges. More generally, the US is worried about the potential application of China’s National Intelligence Law, approved in 2017, which states that Chinese “organisations and citizens shall . . . support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”. The risk, said US officials, is that this could mean that Chinese companies overseas are called upon to engage in espionage.


Iranian FM mocks Trump statement on Saudi prince

November 21, 2018

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has issued a mocking response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would stick by Saudi Arabia despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of,” Zarif wrote on Twitter late Tuesday.

Image result for Mohammad Javad Zarif, photos

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad JavadZarif

Trump’s statement on Saudi Arabia did indeed open with a litany of complaints against Iran, which he used to justify his continued backing of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests,” Zarif added.

This was a reference to recent mockery of Trump for his claim that forest fires — such as those that have hit northern California in recent days — could be prevented with “more raking and cleaning and doing things”.

Trump has resisted mounting evidence of Saudi government involvement in the Khashoggi killing — including from his own intelligence services.

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event ?- maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” he wrote.


German leaders to reevaluate Hans-Georg Maassen — 67 percent of Germans have lost faith in Merkel’s coalition

September 23, 2018

The outrage that followed the apparent promotion of Hans-Georg Maassen has forced Angela Merkel’s government into renewed talks. In the fallout, some 67 percent of Germans have lost faith in the chancellor’s coalition.

Hans-Georg Maassen and Horst Seehofer standing in front of a blue wall

Amid unrelenting criticism, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tenuous governing coalition will meet on Sunday to renegotiate the fate of former domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen. Merkel is set to meet with CSU leader Horst Seehofer and Social Democrat leader Andrea Nahles for another shot at a compromise.

Maassen came under fire last week for questioning the validity of a video that showed a far-right mob chasing foreigners in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, and for his links to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Amid calls for his resignation, Merkel’s coalition removed Maassen from his post, but relocated him to a higher level job with higher pay.

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

The move drew outrage across the political spectrum. A weekend survey by pollster Emnid for German weekly Bild am Sonntag showed that in the aftermath, some 67 percent of Germans no longer believe the three coalition leaders can work together. Nonetheless, a majority of the public is against the break up of the government and new elections, which effectively puts greater pressure on coalition leaders to make things work.

Read more: Opinion: Keep your nerve, Germany!

SPD under pressure

Strong objections to Maassen’s apparent promotion pushed the SPD’s Nahles to insist on the new round of negotiations. “The government will not collapse over the Maassen case,” Nahles told Bild am Sonntag, in a bid to reassure an anxious public. Merkel signaled on Friday she was open to the new talks.

Read more: Angela Merkel’s fate may rest on SPD solidarity

CSU’s Seehofer, for his part, has rejected the notion that Maassen holds right-wing extremist positions and insisted he should stay in his new post.

The interior minister added there would be “many phone calls over the weekend” and there would only be a meeting on Sunday if he deems the SPD’s demands legitimate enough to find a suitable solution.

Forty-three percent of Germans surveyed answered that Seehofer had lost credibility in their eyes.

jcg/jlw (dpa, Reuters)

New U.S.-Led Coalition to Track Illicit Fuel Shipments to North Korea

September 14, 2018

Surveillance efforts until now have been a hodgepodge of intelligence-sharing, U.S. officials said

The USS Blue Ridge, here visiting Shanghai in 2016, will host more than 50 personnel from allied countries as part of the expanded surveillance effort.
The USS Blue Ridge, here visiting Shanghai in 2016, will host more than 50 personnel from allied countries as part of the expanded surveillance effort. PHOTO: CHEN FEI/ZUMA PRESS

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is putting together a multinational coalition to significantly expand surveillance operations seeking ships smuggling fuel to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions, American military officials said.

The coalition is the first international effort to monitor the ship traffic in the year since the Trump administration launched its “maximum-pressure” sanctions campaign, aimed at strong-arming North Korea into abandoning its nuclear and missile programs. Surveillance efforts until now have been a hodgepodge of intelligence-sharing, U.S. officials said.

More than 50 personnel from allied countries will be hosted aboard the USS Blue Ridge, an American command ship stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. Special quarters, called the Enforcement Coordination Center, have been created on the ship for the operations.

The coalition will include the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada—the U.S.’s partners in the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance—as well as Japan and South Korea. France is also contributing a small number of personnel, officials said.

Coalition countries are also contributing warships and military surveillance aircraft to better spot illicit shipments.

The expanded surveillance will allow for more “bridge-to-bridge” communications between allied ships and suspected smuggling ships—known jokingly inside the military as having “scarlet letters” for their alleged misdeeds. Sanctions violators will no longer be able to plead ignorance, another military official said: “‘I didn’t know’ is no longer an excuse.”

Ships confirmed to be smuggling goods to North Korea are blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council, denying them access to ports of any U.N.-member country.

While most sanctions-busting surveillance focuses on Pyongyang’s revenue-generating exports of coalweapons and labor and its illicit cyber activities, imports of refined petroleum are among Washington’s biggest North Korea worries. A critical lubricant for the North Korean economy, they also drive its military.

The Security Council, led by the U.S., late last year capped annual imports at 500,000 barrels. But North Korea exceeded the cap within the first five months of 2018, according to U.S. intelligence.

The sanctions evasion was aided by Russian and Chinese ships that transferred black-market fuel into North Korean vessels on the high seas to avoid detection, according to U.S. intelligence. Between January and May, two dozen North Korean ships made 89 deliveries of refined petroleum into North Korean ports, according to U.S. intelligence provided to the U.N. and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The deliveries were from high-seas transfers, most from either Russian or Chinese ships, U.S. officials said.

The route of the North Korean ship Chon Myong 1 from Vladivostok to Nampo port, North Korea, shown on an Eikon ship-tracking screen last year. The ship delivered up to 190,000 barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea’s Wonsan port in May, two months after being sanctioned by the U.N.
The route of the North Korean ship Chon Myong 1 from Vladivostok to Nampo port, North Korea, shown on an Eikon ship-tracking screen last year. The ship delivered up to 190,000 barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea’s Wonsan port in May, two months after being sanctioned by the U.N. PHOTO: THOMAS WHITE/REUTERS

Some of those deliveries may have carried volumes allowed under the U.N. sanctions. But many of the ships, according to the Journal’s review of U.S. intelligence and public information, loaded their fuel on the high seas in violation of international bans, had been blacklisted by the Security Council before the deliveries were made, and would be violating the sanctions by carrying volumes that put North Korea over its quota.

The North Korean ship Chon Myong 1, for example, delivered up to 190,000 barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea’s Wonsan port in May, two months after being sanctioned by the U.N. The blacklisted Nam San 8 delivered up to 218,000 barrels of fuel into the Nampo port in May. That vessel was later caught by Japan’s Ministry of Defense conducting a midnight fuel transfer in the East China Sea in July 31.

The new coalition isn’t necessarily a precursor to more aggressive interdictions, such as boarding suspected ships or forcing vessels into allied ports, officials said. Some critics have lobbied for more-assertive enforcement as denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled.

Sharing intelligence data will be a challenge, given that the countries’ goals align on North Korea but may differ widely otherwise. Japan and South Korea, for example, share a mutual distrust, and the U.S. has sometimes struggled to get the two to coordinate. And South Korea is subject to the competing tugs of the U.S., which stations thousands of troops there, and China, whose economic might holds sway.

To help coordinate sensitive intelligence sharing, the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence created a new agreement—the Pacific Security Monitoring Exchange—to define what can and can’t be shared with each of the coalition countries, officials said.

Another challenge is that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has relatively little experience maintaining multilateral relationships, unlike U.S. Central Command, which has hosted coalitions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and in other conflicts.

“Those challenges exist inherently in all multinational exercises and events,” said one military official. “The good thing is that you can work on those challenges and you can learn from them. There are always obstacles to overcome.”

Write to Gordon Lubold at and Ian Talley at

Scarred by Previous Wars, Israeli Army’s Ground Forces Struggle to Keep Up

September 1, 2018

The army vowed to address the limitations exposed in Lebanon and Gaza, but is it ready for a ground maneuver deep in enemy territory? ■ Why Nasrallah, an avid Haaretz reader, is worried

A paratrooper brigade training, last year.
A paratrooper brigade training, last year. Eliyahu Hershkowitz

On Thursday, June 12, 2014, the members of the IDF General Staff gathered for an evening of “team-building” in the Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv. The General Staff forum, headed by then-Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, heard to a lecture by Prof. Yoram Yovell titled “Between Body and Soul.”

Later that night, after the generals had all gone home, the IDF received the first report, still vague, about an incident in the West Bank. The picture became clear only the next morning. Three youths, yeshiva students in Gush Etzion, were hitchhiking and were picked up by a car driven by Palestinians masquerading as Israelis. The youths, whose bodies were found weeks later west of Hebron, were murdered by the kidnappers, members of a Hamas cell from Hebron.

>>Will Israel be forced to invade and reoccupy Gaza? | Opinion ■ Photos of 300 fighters in elite pre-state Israeli militia were found, and nobody can identify them ■ Israel’s defense chief takes flak for Gaza talks, but there’s still one area where he holds sway | Analysis

The IDF ended the summer of 2014 with scars to both its flesh and spirit, says one of the participants at the General Staff get-together that evening. “From the minute dozens of those released in the Gilad Shalit deal in the West Bank were rearrested, we were already on the slippery slope.” The worsening tensions with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, mostly concerning the tunnel the group dug near the Kerem Shalom border crossing, led to the blow-up – Operation Protective Edge – which began in the second week of July and ended this week, four years ago.

Protective Edge exposed the limitations of the army’s capabilities on the ground. This was the last link, for now, in the not very illustrious chain that began with the Second Lebanon War in 2006, if not earlier. After the failure and disappointment in Lebanon, the IDF announced widespread steps to fix the problems. The units returned to training much more seriously and reservists received new equipment.

But the change wasn’t deep enough after the war in Lebanon: The ground forces remained way down at the bottom of the list of the IDF’s priorities, while the political leadership remained doubtful about its ability to conduct maneuvers on the ground deep inside enemy lines during a war.

This was quite clear during the three operations the IDF has conducted since then in the Gaza Strip. During Operation Cast Lead at the turn of 2009, only a symbolic ground action was carried out, whose main goal was to prove to the enemy (and the Israeli public) that the army had rehabilitated itself from the trauma of the Second Lebanon War. In the next operation, Pillar of Defense in 2012, large numbers of reserve forces were called up but Israel tried to achieve a cease-fire after only a week of aerial attacks. And in Protective Edge, the IDF’s mission was limited to dealing with the attack tunnels, at a distance of no more than 1.5 kilometers inside the Gaza Strip.

Four years since the end of the last military operation, the doubts remain. What is the real state of the ground forces units? Is there a chance to close the gap between their effectiveness and that of the Air Force, intelligence branch and the technological units? And do the repeated public statements made by the army’s top brass about the necessity of ground maneuvers deep inside enemy territory during wartime have any value?

This debate has become much more important and loaded recently, given the coincidental timing of a number of unrelated events: IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot’s term is ending in a few months and the race is on to choose his successor; the harsh criticism leveled by the outgoing IDF ombudsman on the ground forces’ lack of readiness for war; and the ambitious and resource-filled plan “IDF 2030,” whose main principles were presented this month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Are Netanyahu and Eisenkot on same wavelength?

When Eisenkot entered the chief of staff’s office back in February 2015, he found the ground forces in rather bad shape. As someone who had been the deputy chief of staff under Gantz during Protective Edge, it seems he was not surprised. The criticism that only a few individuals in the General Staff dared to express at the end of the fighting in Gaza became almost a consensus a few months later:

Reuven Rivlin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot attend a graduation ceremony of new Israeli army officers at a base near Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, June 20, 2018.
Reuven Rivlin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot attend a graduation ceremony of new Israeli army officers at a base near Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, June 20, 2018. Amir Cohen/Reuters

During Protective Edge, the IDF failed in suppressing the rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip; the Air Force did not have enough precise intelligence about Hamas targets; the level of preparedness of the various units to carry out their missions, and first and foremost dealing with the tunnels, whose importance increased during the fighting, was too low; and the use of the forces on the ground during the fighting suffered from a lack of creativity.

In a document distributed throughout the military a month after his appointment, in preparation for the composing of the multi-year Gideon plan for the IDF, the new chief of staff wrote: “A deep change is needed in the IDF to carry out its missions.” Eisenkot asserted that the problems in the IDF did not end with questions about the leadership and values, but reflected a much deeper professional crisis within the ground forces. He found an army that had gotten fat in the all the wrong places in the decade after the Second Lebanon War. A large army that was not focused on its principle missions and had not undergone the necessary structural changes.

Gideon included a number of unprecedented changes. Eisenkot’s multi-year plan was not just a long shopping list of inflated requirements. It identified central discrepancies and tried to deal with them, with Eisenkot personally overseeing from up close the pace of implementation of his instructions.

The plan’s focus for the ground forces was on missions needed for a decisive victory on the ground. The updated version of the document on the IDF’s strategy, which was released in April this year, stated: “The operation of the forces will combine the physical and softer capabilities in all dimensions of the war, including: Rapid and lethal maneuvering to the objectives viewed by the enemy as valuable, multi-dimensional fire … and actions in the dimension of information, such as cyber [warfare] and awareness.”

The document differentiates between two approaches to operating the forces: The decisive victory approach and the approach of prevention and influence. As for decisive victory, the document states that during fighting according to this approach: “The military force will be used for attack whose goal is to move the war into the enemy’s territory as quickly as possible.” The IDF will prepare for attack in one or more regions, based on an “immediate and simultaneous integrated strike” that will include a “maneuvering endeavor with crushing capability – survivable, quick, lethal and flexible” alongside “wide-scale precise fire based on high-quality intelligence.”

Eisenkot’s unusual decision to release the document to the public, the first of its kind ever published, reflected an attempt to hold a public dialogue with the government and security cabinet. According to MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid), the chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Security Preparedness and Maintenance, Eisenkot is “basically telling them: In 2006 and in 2014, the political and military leadership were completely paralyzed as a result of the fears of the expected casualties in a ground maneuver. The result was that the operation lasted until in the end it was decided on a limited maneuver, which was conducted in an incorrect manner and achieved nothing. Eisenkot’s public message is: I am preparing the ground forces for a quick and lethal maneuver and you will have to decide whether to use it within a short time after war breaks out.”

But the report produced by Shelah’s subcommittee, which was released in September 2017, hinted at disparities between Eisenkot’s vision and its full implementation. The report states that Eisenkot has laid down the correct directions but equipping and building the forces is proceeding at too slow a pace. It seems the subcommittee was referring in part to the scope of the procurement plans for active defense, such as the Trophy armored protection system for tanks and armored personnel carriers, and the large gap between the regular army’s capabilities and that of some of the reserve brigades.

This criticism is all the more acute in light of the debate over future defense budgets. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman presented a request last year for a budgetary supplement of about 13 billion shekels ($3.6 billion), based on changes in the challenges facing the IDF – including the Iranian presence in Syria and the improved accuracy of the missiles in Hezbollah’s hands – along with the Defense Ministry’s new interpretations of previous agreements reached with the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu, in a meeting of the security cabinet held two weeks ago, went even further. The strategic threats require setting the defense budget as a fixed percentage of the GDP, he said. Considering the optimistic economic growth rates he forecasts, about 3 percent a year, Netanyahu wants to add tens of billions of shekels to the defense budget over the next decade. He listed a number of main areas where he thinks money is needed, including precision weaponry, missile and rocket interception systems, both defensive and offensive cyber-warfare tools, completing the construction of the country’s border fences and improving protection for the home front. None of the areas presented by Netanyahu as candidates for increased spending as part of the strategic plan directly concern the ground forces, and large sums were included for implementing these capabilities in the multi-year Gideon plan.

Shelah says that Netanyahu “views the IDF as a boxer in a 15-round fight: Heavy, strong and well protected. This does not correspond with the principle of shortening the period of the fighting, which appears in the IDF’s strategy document. [Netanyahu] did not present a security doctrine, only a shopping list that does not come together in real capabilities. The large amount of money that will be spent on it will prevent the closing of the gaps remaining in the ground forces’ capabilities, and will turn what has already been invested into a white elephant. This is how we may well find ourselves without the ability for decisive victory, not in one way and not in any other way.”

The Gideon plan was designed for a specific direction and even though it was never fully implemented, it aspired to rehabilitate the ground forces. In his recent statements, it seems Netanyahu has made a U-turn: A battle of fire from far away, a great deal more than just maneuvering on the ground. Netanyahu’s ideas are not synchronized with what the General Staff has presented, not in the goals of the war and not in the view of how the military is used: stand-off attacks from a distance as opposed to contact up close.

“Lacking a decision, our view on the question of what we want to achieve in the war and how to do so, we may well invest many billions without them becoming a critical mass that will create a concrete achievement. Netanyahu is talking about tens of billions [of shekels] but every shekel we spend now without deciding first what we want, will be wasted,” warns Shelah.

Israeli soldiers prepare for combat in the Gaza Strip at an army deployment along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory on July 29, 2014.
Israeli soldiers prepare for combat in the Gaza Strip at an army deployment along the border between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory on July 29, 2014.Jack Guez/AFP Photo

Artificial Intelligence Is Now a Pentagon Priority. Will Silicon Valley Help?

August 27, 2018

In a May memo to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implored him to create a national strategy for artificial intelligence.

Mr. Mattis argued that the United States was not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries. With a final flourish, he quoted a recent magazine article by Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, and called for a presidential commission capable of “inspiring a whole of country effort that will ensure the U.S. is a leader not just in matters of defense but in the broader ‘transformation of the human condition.’” Mr. Mattis included a copy of Mr. Kissinger’s article with his four-paragraph note.

Mr. Mattis’s memo, which has not been reported before and was viewed by The New York Times, reflected a growing sense of urgency among defense officials about artificial intelligence. The consultants and planners who try to forecast threats think A.I. could be the next technological game changer in warfare.

The Chinese government has raised the stakes with its own national strategy. Academic and commercial organizations in China have been open about working closely with the military on A.I. projects. They call it “military-civil fusion.”

By Cade Metz
The New York Times

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, has argued to President Trump that the United States is not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries when it comes to artificial intelligence. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

It is not clear what impact, if any, Mr. Mattis’s memo had. Though the White House announced in May — about three weeks before he sent his note — that it would establish a panel of government officials to study A.I. issues, critics say the administration still has not done enough to set federal policy. Officials with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which would most likely take a leadership role in setting an agenda for A.I., said that A.I. is a national research and development priority and that it is part of the president’s national security and defense strategies.

Nonetheless, the Pentagon appears to be pushing ahead on its own, looking for ways to strengthen its ties with A.I. researchers, particularly in Silicon Valley, where there is considerable wariness about working with the military and intelligence agencies.

In late June, the Pentagon announced the creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC. Defense officials have not said how many people will be dedicated to the new program or where it will be based when it starts next month. It could have several offices around the country.

The Defense Department wants to shift $75 million of its annual budget into the new office and a total of $1.7 billion over five years, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not allowed to speak about it publicly.

Known as “the Jake,” the center is billed as a way of facilitating dozens of A.I. projects across the Defense Department. This includes Project Maven, an effort to build technology to identify people and things in video captured by drones that has come to symbolize the ideological gap between the government and Silicon Valley.

Around the time Mr. Mattis wrote his memo to Mr. Trump, thousands of Google employees were protesting their company’s involvement in Project Maven. After the protests became public, Google withdrew from the project.

The protests might have been a surprise to Pentagon officials, since big tech companies have been defense contractors for as long as there has been a Silicon Valley. And there is some irony in any industry reluctance to work with the military on A.I., given that research competitions sponsored by an arm of the Defense Department, called Darpa, jump-started work on the technology that goes into the autonomous vehicles many tech companies are now trying to commercialize.

But in the eyes of some researchers, creating robotic vehicles and developing robotic weapons are very different. And they fear that autonomous weapons pose an unusual threat to humans.

“This is a unique moment, with so much activism coming out of Silicon Valley,” said Elsa Kania, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank that explores policy related to national security and defense. “Some of it is informed by the political situation, but it also reflects deep concern over the militarization of these technologies as well as their application to surveillance.”

The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, officials hope, will help close that gap.

“One of our greatest national strengths is the innovation and talent found in our private sector and academic institutions, enabled by free and open society,” Brendan McCord, a former Navy submarine officer and an A.I. start-up veteran who will lead the center, said during a public meeting in Silicon Valley last month. “The JAIC will help evolve our partnerships with industry, academia, allies.”

The center, he added, will work with “traditional and nontraditional innovators alike,” meaning longtime government contractors like Lockheed Martin as well as newer Silicon Valley companies. The Pentagon has worked with more than 20 companies on Project Maven so far, but it hopes to expand this work and overcome the reluctance among workers.

This summer, a Pentagon researcher worked alongside a small but influential Silicon Valley artificial intelligence lab,, on a public effort to build technology capable of accelerating the development of A.I. systems.

Read the rest:

Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms

August 24, 2018

In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details.

But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence.

The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground amid more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent.

Current and former officials also said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts. And officials also raised the possibility that the outing of an F.B.I. informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.

By  Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg
The New York Times

Vital C.I.A. informants in or close to the Kremlin have largely gone silent ahead of November’s midterm elections, American officials said. Credit Christopher Furlong/Getty Images


Technology companies and political campaigns in recent weeks have detected a plethora of political interference efforts originating overseas, including hacks of Republican think tanks and fake liberal grass-roots organizations created on Facebook. Senior intelligence officials, including Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, have warned that Russians are intent on subverting American democratic institutions.

But American intelligence agencies have not been able to say precisely what are Mr. Putin’s intentions: He could be trying to tilt the midterm elections, simply sow chaos or generally undermine trust in the democratic process.

The officials, seeking to protect methods of collection from Russia, would not provide details about lost sources, but acknowledged the degradation in the information collected from Russia. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal classified information. A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment.

To determine what the Russian government is up to, the United States employs multiple forms of intelligence, including intercepted communications and penetrated computer networks.

The United States continues to intercept Russian communication, and the flow of that intelligence remains strong, said current and former officials. And Russian informants could still meet their C.I.A. handlers outside Russia, further from Moscow’s counterintelligence apparatus.

But people inside or close to the Kremlin remain critical to divining whether there is a strategy behind seemingly scattershot efforts to undermine American institutions.

Spies and informants overseas also give American intelligence agencies early warning about influence campaigns, interference operations or other attempts to compromise the United States. That information, in turn, can improve the ability of domestic agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., to quickly identify and attempt to stop those efforts.

Because clandestine meetings can take months to set up and complete, a lengthy lag can pass before the C.I.A. realizes a key source has gone silent, according to former officials. It is rare for the agency to discover immediately that informants have eroded or are running scared. Only after several missed meetings might C.I.A. officers and analysts conclude that a source has decided it is too dangerous to pass information.

In 2016, American intelligence officials began to realize the scope of Russia’s efforts when they gathered intelligence suggesting that Moscow wanted to use Trump campaign officials, wittingly or not, to help sow chaos. John O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., testified before the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017 about a tense period a year earlier when he came to believe that Mr. Putin was trying to steer the outcome toward a victory for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Brennan described the broad outlines of the intelligence in his congressional testimony, and his disclosures backed up the accounts of the information provided by the current and former officials. “I was convinced in the summer that the Russians were trying to interfere in the election. And they were very aggressive,” Mr. Brennan told lawmakers.

This year, Mr. Coats issued a series of warnings saying the Russian government, and Mr. Putin in particular, is intent on undermining American democratic systems.

At an appearance this month at the White House, Mr. Coats said intelligence agencies “continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try and weaken and divide the United States.” He added that those efforts “cover issues relevant to the elections.”

But officials said there has been no concrete intelligence pointing to Mr. Putin ordering his own intelligence units to wade into the election to push for a certain outcome, beyond a broad chaos campaign to undermine faith in American democracy. Intelligence agencies do not believe Mr. Putin has changed his strategy; instead, officials believe they simply do not have the same level of access to information from the Kremlin’s inner circle.

Intelligence collection appears to have suffered after Russia expelled officials from American diplomatic outposts there in retaliation for the United States removing 60 Russian officials this year, said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the C.I.A. who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the agency’s Russia program.

The C.I.A.’s Moscow presence, according to former officers, was always small, at least in light of the importance of the target, the difficulty of spycraft and the amount of counterintelligence the Russians dedicated to thwarting American spies.

“The Russians kicked out a whole bunch of our people,” Mr. Sipher said. “Our station in Moscow is probably really small now and they are under incredible surveillance.”

Mr. Putin has also said he is intent on killing so-called traitors, comments he made just ahead of the high-profile assassination attempt of the former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei V. Skripal.

“The Russians are very focused and upset,” Mr. Sipher said. “They have shown they are willing to kill sources.”

Informants close to Putin are very rare, according to current and former officials. The United States, in recent years, has had only a few, and at times been reliant on only one or two for the most important insights on Mr. Putin, according to former officials. If those people go silent for their own protection, it can make it very hard for the agency to look inside Moscow.

The United States still should have a clear view of Mr. Putin’s strategies and intention to interfere in Democratic elections, said Michael Carpenter, a Russia expert and former Obama administration official. He pointed to fake social media accounts created as part of Russian intelligence operations that have drummed up support for white nationalists and the Black Lives Matter movement, and have supported far right, far left and pro-Russian candidates in the United States and in Europe.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, issued warnings in recent weeks that Russia is intent on undermining American democratic systems. Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times

“Clearly Russia is playing both sides of controversial issues precisely to sow chaos. But that said it is not just chaos, there are certain candidates Russia prefers to see in office,” said Mr. Carpenter, now at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. “The Russians are trying to support anti-establishment and pro-Russian candidates, not just in the U.S. but everywhere.”

Still, there is little doubt about the crucial nature of informants, said Seth G. Jones, who leads the transnational threats project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a policy research organization.

“It is essential to have sources coming from inside the government. It was during the Cold War and it is today,” Mr. Jones said. “There are multiple ways to collect intelligence against your adversary, in this case the Russian government. But sources can provide you things you might not otherwise get, like documents, intelligence assessments.”

Sources can provide photographs of Russian documents and intelligence that are hard to intercept electronically, and that can help the United States figure out what Russia is targeting, not just with its election meddling but with its attempts to infiltrate financial systems, the power grid and other critical infrastructure, Mr. Jones said.

The full reasons the sources have gone silent are not known. But current and former officials also said the exposure of sources inside the United States has also complicated matters.

This year, the identity of an F.B.I. informant, Stefan Halper, became public after House lawmakers sought information on him and the White House allowed the information to be shared. Mr. Halper, an American academic based in Britain, had been sent to talk to Trump campaign advisers who were under F.B.I. scrutiny for their ties to Russia.

Current American officials said there is no direct evidence that the exposure of Mr. Halper has been cited by overseas informants as a source of concern.

But the officials said that some allies have cited the exposure of the informant and other intelligence leaks in curbing some of the intelligence they share. And former spies believe that, long-term, the exposure will hurt overseas collection.

“Publicizing sources is really bad for the business,” Mr. Sipher said. “The only thing we can offer people is that we will do anything in our power to protect them. And anything that wears away at that trust, hurts.”

Follow Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg on Twitter:@julianbarnes and@AllMattNYT.

Adam Goldman contributed reporting.