CIA secretly owned global encryption provider, stole secrets of 100+ foreign governments

The CIA’s Crypto AG plant in Switzerland.

Disillusioned former CIA operative Philip Agee wrote a book exposing the CIA’s record of spying, sabotage and murder in 1975 called “Inside the Company.” But until recently, few realized there was an actual profit-making company, owned by the CIA, that has been one of its most important tools in espionage. 

Long-held suspicions that a joint operation between the U.S. CIA and Germany’s spy agency, the BND, stole access to communications of adversaries and allies alike have now been acknowledged in a Feb. 11, 2020, Washington Post article by Greg Miller. The information theft was accomplished through a Swiss company called Crypto AG, which the two spy groups secretly purchased in 1970 and ran for nearly five decades. The spying was deemed “Operation Rubicon.”

The CIA is rotten to its core and its mission is far more deadly than just spying. The Washington Post article is based on one CIA document, but there is a massive body of long-delayed acknowledgements, evidence and well-grounded suspicion that has been building up since the CIA’s foundation. 

The CIA’s bloody footprints were clearly visible in the early 1950s, when they overthrew elected President Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran and President Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala. In 1961, they were complicit in the murder of President Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Months later, they were defeated by forces led by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in their full-scale invasion at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs — and are suspected by many of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs failure. 

During the Vietnam War, the CIA’s “Operation Phoenix” hunted down and murdered sympathizers of the North Vietnamese revolutionary struggle throughout the south. They were caught spying on anti-war and Black liberation activists here in the U.S. in the 1970s. 

From 1979 to 1989 in Afghanistan, they armed and funded the Mujahideen to overthrow the government of what was then the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan — a newly born, but short-lived socialist country. In the 1990s, they helped to dismember Yugoslavia by funding and training the counterrevolutionary Bosnian Army and Kosovo Liberation Army. These examples are a mere fraction of their crimes. We can only speculate as to how much of the information stolen by Crypto AG was used to help carry out much of it.

Crypto AG gave backdoor access

Until it was taken over by imperialist spymasters, Crypto AG sold equipment to governments that encrypted their communications with their embassies, military, trade offices, etc. When CIA/BND took over, new technologies enabled backdoor access so they could read everything being sent by client countries. The encrypted information was then decoded by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Differences between the two capitalist states prompted the CIA to buy the German share in 1992. According to Miller, Germany became concerned about the scope of the U.S. espionage, and the CIA was annoyed by Germany’s interest only in profit. Under sole CIA stewardship, and up until its 2018 dissolution, Crypto AG still netted millions of dollars and remained an espionage nuclear weapon for U.S. imperialism.

Miller’s article revealed that, through Crypto AG, the U.S. spied on Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Argentina, India, Pakistan and the Vatican. Progressive author William Blum wrote in “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” that Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia and other countries were targets as well. Libya was the first to act on its suspicions and started buying encryption equipment from a different company. Iran took note of that, which led to the 1992 arrest of Crypto AG’s top salesman. After he was released, he was fired by Crypto AG and was forced to pay back the money for his bail.

Over the decades, 120 countries used Crypto AG’s equipment. The Soviet Union and China were wary, and both developed their own encryption systems. But the imperialists gleaned secrets about them from other countries’ messages. They gained an edge against the Palestinian leadership and shared information with Israel in the days leading up to the Camp David talks. They shared information with Britain as it warred with Argentina and seized Argentina’s Islas Malvinas in 1982. They were aware of numerous right-wing, Latin American dictatorships targeting leftists for assassination — presumably this would have included the Pinochet regime’s 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier in Washington DC — and they did nothing to stop them.

In an NPR follow-up interview with Miller, when asked how high up in the U.S. presidential administrations the knowledge had reached, his answer revolved around the Camp David Accords and indicated just as an example that President Carter was fully aware.

U.S. media outlets are owned by giant corporations and report on capitalist government and corporate scandals to maintain the façade of a free press. Their allegiance, however, is to capitalist rule. Regarding the exposure of “Operation Rubicon,” it’s noteworthy that much of the recent coverage spreads the lie that the Chinese company Huawei, the world’s leader of 5G technology, will open the door to Chinese espionage via technology similar to what Crypto AG has been doing. This is the line of the $1.5 trillion U.S. telecommunications industry. This myth is part of the competitive U.S. corporate war against Huawei that has gone as far as to pressure Canada to arrest Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and attempt to extradite her to the U.S. to stand trial on trumped up charges.