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Trojan Horse Caused A Siberian Explosion

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the kaos-round-the-world dept.

United States 1183

An anonymous reader writes "William Safire of the nytimes [nytimes.com] has an interesting column this week describing how the Soviets purchased bogus computer chips from the West in the 1970's. These chips caused what "was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space." Fascinating story."

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1183 comments

Pentium I bug. (4, Funny)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157754)

describing how the Soviets purchased bogus computer chips from the West in the 1970's

For some reason, I can equally imagine something like this happen from the Pentium I FDIV bug, can't you? :)

Re:Pentium I bug. (4, Informative)

TwistedGreen (80055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157918)

Though the article doesn't actually mention bogus computer chips... it talked about software stolen by the KGB which was altered with deliberate flaws, causing their oil pipeline to malfunction and explode.

I wonder if the editor RTFA.

sounds like a loud of crap to me (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157759)

sounds like a loud of crap to me. oh and fp fuckers. hehe

Google Link (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157760)

For the tin foil hat crowd, here is a register free link: The Story [nytimes.com]

Re:Google Link (-1, Offtopic)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157871)

For the tin foil hat crowd, here is a register free link: The Story

It's not just tinfoil hat people. I tried to register (albeit from Bangledesh as a 95 year old woman working in the military as a business development person), but they say my browser (Camino 0.7) doesn't support cookies so I can't register. Oh well. NYTimes.com registration is the biggest crock of shit.

Re:Google Link (-1, Offtopic)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157981)

Ditto here. I actually tried registering a while back and it gave me crap about not having the "right" browser. Oh well - boo hoo. Guess we'll continue to read the articles without registering since they obviously prefer we don't sign up.

Re:Google Link (1, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157996)

Another option is to search for the link in Google, then click on the link in the page that comes up. Apparently the NYT uses a Referer: tag.

Please do NOT mod this up (and please metamod any mod-ups of this posting "unfair".) It's entirely unnecessary, I'm already posting at a high enough level to be read by anyone who wants this kind of information and you merely polute Slashdot for those reading at +3/4/5 trying to get the completely on-topic "insightful" comments. (Ok, it's not exactly a winning strategy for them, but you can at least try.) There are other messages that need your mod-points.

guk go boom (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157763)

guk go boom

niggers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157765)

just seen on the telly about 2 million musims on a mountain in mecca yesterday. shame someone didn't land a couple of 747s on top of the fuckers while they were such a good target. see how those raghead cunts like that!!!!!l at least 240 of the savages got crushed to death in a stamped which goes to prove how civilised they are. that is 240 less suicide bombers for the rest of the world to worry about.

MOAB (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157792)

I was tempted to bring MOAB to the mountain.

Filst Prost! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157766)

Hahaha I beat you you Presscott overclocking teabaggers with my old Athlon XP 2000!

And time for the obligatory (-1, Redundant)

dknj (441802) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157771)

GOOGLE LINK [nytimes.com]

-dk

Quote (5, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157828)

Instead, according to Reed -- a former Air Force secretary whose fascinating cold war book, "At the Abyss," will be published by Random House next month

So, it's more an ad than anything else, isn't it ?
And the fact that it ended that dramatically just makes me kind of sceptical... :(

You know it. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157779)

In Soviet Russia, computer blows up you !

Yeah, must of (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157781)

been fasinating story for the guys who had to use the chips.

Oh (2, Funny)

arvindn (542080) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157787)

For a moment I thought you were talking about the recent explosion in Trojan Horses coming from Siberia (ok so its not exactly a trojan and its Russia not Siberia but what the hell ;^)

Re:Oh (5, Funny)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157863)

At first I was thinking it was the big Siberian blast that they said was a comet at the turn of the last century.

Now THAT would have been a hell of a Trojan Horse.

Meanwhile in Russia (4, Interesting)

after (669640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157788)

I rememeber that Russia once developed a base-3 computer called ``Trinity''. I cant find a link on it, but I know that it worked. I cannot imagine how logical operations would work on sutch a thing though.

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157812)

0: No, 1: Yes, 2: get thrown in Gulag...?

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157817)

  • I rememeber that Russia once developed a base-3 computer called ``Trinity''. I cant find a link on it, but I know that it worked. I cannot imagine how logical operations would work on sutch a thing though.

Rock.

Scissors.

Paper.

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (4, Funny)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157868)

I rememeber that Russia once developed a base-3 computer called ``Trinity''. I cant find a link on it, but I know that it worked. I cannot imagine how logical operations would work on such a thing though.

Easy, just add a new boolean named "maybe".

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (1)

theguru (70699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157915)

Yes, no and maybe.. those are the values we can store in a single bit field in a database, as long as the field is nullable. :)

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (4, Interesting)

saforrest (184929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157873)


I cannot imagine how logical operations would work on sutch a thing though.


Sigh. This is Slashdot, so I guess you've never heard of ternary logic [wikipedia.org], eh?

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157941)

I'm sure there are plenty of entirely academic and impractical fields of study that you've never heard of, Stephen, but we won't go into that.

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (5, Informative)

saforrest (184929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157983)

A brief explanation of ternary logic for those who don't want to bother reading my link.

In addition to TRUE and FALSE, you have another state, which represents "I don't know". It's conventionally called FAIL (well, at least it is in Maple).

How do the truth tables work? The basic idea is that if you have a function f(x) where x is TRUE or FALSE, then you can define f for FAIL with this rule:

IF f(TRUE) = f(FALSE) THEN
f(FAIL) := f(TRUE)
ELSE
f(FAIL) := FAIL
END IF

So this means you have TRUE AND FAIL = FAIL, but TRUE OR FAIL = TRUE (because TRUE OR TRUE = TRUE OR FALSE = TRUE).

Converting ternary logic to arithmetic modulo 3 is a little more complicated, but once when I was bored I worked out the rules for myself [forrest.cx].

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (4, Informative)

AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157884)

Really it's fairly simple. I seem to recall from some basic classes that the reason behind a base-2 system is because an on/off state is a LOT more reliable than anything else.

Because voltage levels tend to drift a bit (especially with time and erosion) a system that's set up to read as either one state or another has quite a bit more built in tolerance for drift than one that's built to sense more than two states. It's been a LONG ass time since I took any compsci however so I'm probably missing a few things. Basically what I'm saying is that it's not only possible, such a system "could" be faster and more compact but it would also be horribly prone to errors in the long run.

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157921)

What's so hard about trinery? You have three states, postive (+on), off (ground), or negative (-on).

Re:Meanwhile in Russia (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157977)

Current likes to flow the other way when you have a negative voltage. This is OK sometimes, but a lot of our present logic is based on components that act like diodes, so it's easier to just use positive voltages usually.

Nice story but... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157803)

It just makes for too nice a story. Why should we believe it?

su (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157804)

roses are red
violets are blue
in soviet russia
poems write you

awesome (5, Funny)

hellmarch (721948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157810)

this story has everything. technology, spies, massive explosions, and high ranking government officials dying. it doesn't get much better than this.

Re:awesome (4, Funny)

the real darkskye (723822) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157994)

Can't get much better?
What about the naked chicks?
What about the beer?

Or Naked Chicks bringing chips and beer!

Chicks, chips and beer, Monday just became more tollerable.

Their Revenge (4, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157814)

They must have planted an agent inside Microsoft...

Re:Their Revenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157866)

> They must have planted an agent inside
> Microsoft.

No, they *planted* Microsoft.

Let me get this straight.... (4, Insightful)

wwwrench (464274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157818)

Now is a time to remember that sometimes our spooks get it right in a big way.

Let's get this straight - Safire is bragging about the Americans blowing up gas pipelines???? I thought that was terrorism, at least if it is in Iraq. Lucky many weren't killed.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (2, Interesting)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157840)

Safire is bragging about the Americans blowing up gas pipelines

Did you even RTFA? The Americans didn't blow up anything. The Soviets bought computer chips and used them to control the operations of the pipeline.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (2, Insightful)

Pseudo-Dionysios (255066) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157906)

The Americans didn't blow up anything. The Soviets bought computer chips and used them to control the operations of the pipeline.

Didn't they? They sabotased the chips to blow up the pipeline. Americans are the ones responsible for the explosion.

With your logic I wouldn't be responsible for an explosion of an aeroplane if I would have intentionally manipulated its components in a way which would have led to their malfunction and the plane crashing.

Which one really is the rogue state which uses terrorist means to reach its economic ends?

Re:Let me get this straight.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8158007)

Listen you witless fucktard - the Soviets were fucking stealing these chips - if they're weren't fucking spying and thieving then they wouldn't have ended up with bad fucking control chips.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (2, Insightful)

wwwrench (464274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157909)

Did you even RTFA? The Americans didn't blow up anything. The Soviets bought computer chips and used them to control the operations of the pipeline.

Shockingly...yes. Why is sabotaging the computer chips any different from sabotaging the physical gas lines?? Blowing shit up, is blowing shit up - doesn't matter how you do it.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157973)

Shockingly...yes. Why is sabotaging the computer chips any different from sabotaging the physical gas lines?? Blowing shit up, is blowing shit up - doesn't matter how you do it.

Terrorism is committed by people not formally affiliated with a nation. For example, Al Qaeda group are terrorists because they have no sponsoring nation. The Americans blowing up a Soviet pipeline wouldn't be terrorism since it's just an aggressive act of war by one nation against another. Warring nations is civilized, terrorism against civilians is not.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (2, Insightful)

o'reor (581921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8158012)

Did you even RTFA?

Well, did you ?

The article states that the Americans had a trojan horse planted into the robbed software. It was clearly designed to blow up the pipes.

Not that I approve of the KGB's stealing stuff, by the way... Hell, that's a lesson about not trusting binaries downloaded from random places. Open source rules !

Re:Let me get this straight.... (1, Insightful)

Alephcat (745478) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157842)

no no no, because this is the "good ol' usa" it must be freedom fighting and therefore right

Cold War, duh. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157851)

I mean...really....for someone who frequents a nerd site your deduction and extrapolatory skills are seriously lacking.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (1)

bobbagum (556152) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157854)

Nah, the Soviets blows themselves up. They stole the chips. The US did not sell it to them, the US did not misled them to use the chips. Well, according to the story anyway...

Re:Let me get this straight.... (3, Insightful)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157865)

No, the Russians blew up the gas pipeline. Considering they stole the technology, then didn't test it they really have no one to blame but themselves. Sorta like blaming Sony when you buy a VCR that "fell off the back of a truck" when it stops working.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157940)

If that VCR blew up your house then you have a right to blame Sony legaly purchased or not.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157963)

No, more like blaming Sony when your stolen Sony brand VCR suddenly explodes, sending burning shrapnel all over your apartment. On purpose.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (-1, Insightful)

Lotech-nor (633877) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157916)

Why do you assume there was't many killed? The article dosn't mention anything about it. If the explosion was as big as they claim, i'd say that a lot of people got killed.

And you know that it was't terrorist who did this, since none of the people involved had long beards or lived in a dessert...

Re:Let me get this straight.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157982)

Wouldn't that first require that Siberia had a lot of people?

Re:Let me get this straight.... (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157934)

yeah, really. one wonders just what other American International and War Crimes the CIA files are 'protecting' in the name of national security...

its not really conspiratorial to say that there is a degree of plausability to the US Govt's attempts to hide its crimes under this banner. i'm sure there are plenty of arguments -for- this sort of covert behaviour, but there are plenty of arguments -against- now as well.

the opposite of terrorism is 'honest government'.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (0, Insightful)

Rostin (691447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157971)

Wow, that's a great point. There is clearly no ethical difference between allowing a communist government to steal something that in turn damages them financially and detonating yourself because you don't think the people you are killing worship the right god. I wonder if you would be such a relativist if someone broke into your house and you had the oppurtunity to stop them from hurting your family by using lethal force.

Re:Let me get this straight.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8158008)

Thats right, because they're communists (and therefore worship the wrong god), its ok to kill them, so we're not terrorists; only the people that kill us (and anyway we worship the right god) are terrorists.

Remember the chant; whoever worships the right god lives, everyone else dies.

Tom Clancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157820)

...must be already preparing the novel...

Just great (5, Insightful)

d_lesage (199542) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157821)

Let's cause an explosion that could cause the death of hundreds (if not more), and then gloat about it.

Cold war or not, this is just callous disregard for human life.

Re:Just great (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157898)

a) They stole the technology from us and used it without testing.

b) The explosion was in the middle of siberia, there was nobody there to be killed.

c) They got what they deserved.

Re:Just great (1)

Jetifi (188285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157949)

Cold war or not, this is just callous disregard for human life.

I think you're showing your age, you obviously have no idea of the threat Communism posed to the Western world and it's way of life. Yes, hundreds of people could have been killed, but that's war, and war is Hell, cold or not. Beat on America all you like, but no American administration in living memory has deliberately and systematically exterminated tens of millions of it's own civilians.

Re:Just great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157997)

How about American Native Indioans ?

In Soviet Russia (1, Funny)

Rico_za (702279) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157826)

Man is it hard to think of a clever "In Soviet Russia" line on this one!

Re:In Soviet Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157891)

Well, as it destroyed a research facility:

"In Soviet Russia, all your base are belong to us"

Sorry, sorry.. I'll go back to lurking..

Re:In Soviet Russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157923)

In Soviet Russia, the bomb set up you!

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157967)

How about...
In Soviet Russia bugs kill you !

Article text for those who don't have accounts (-1, Redundant)

chendo (678767) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157830)

Intelligence shortcomings, as we see, have a thousand fathers; secret intelligence triumphs are orphans. Here is the unremarked story of "the Farewell dossier": how a C.I.A. campaign of computer sabotage resulting in a huge explosion in Siberia - all engineered by a mild-mannered economist named Gus Weiss - helped us win the cold war.

Weiss worked down the hall from me in the Nixon administration. In early 1974, he wrote a report on Soviet advances in technology through purchasing and copying that led the beleaguered president - detente notwithstanding - to place restrictions on the export of computers and software to the U.S.S.R.

Seven years later, we learned how the K.G.B. responded. I was writing a series of hard-line columns denouncing the financial backing being given Moscow by Germany and Britain for a major natural gas pipeline from Siberia to Europe. That project would give control of European energy supplies to the Communists, as well as generate $8 billion a year to support Soviet computer and satellite research.

President Francois Mitterrand of France also opposed the gas pipeline. He took President Reagan aside at a conference in Ottawa on July 19, 1981, to reveal that France had recruited a key K.G.B. officer in Moscow Center.

Col. Vladimir Vetrov provided what French intelligence called the Farewell dossier. It contained documents from the K.G.B. Technology Directorate showing how the Soviets were systematically stealing - or secretly buying through third parties - the radar, machine tools and semiconductors to keep the Russians nearly competitive with U.S. military-industrial strength through the 70's. In effect, the U.S. was in an arms race with itself.

Reagan passed this on to William J. Casey, his director of central intelligence, now remembered only for the Iran-contra fiasco. Casey called in Weiss, then working with Thomas C. Reed on the staff of the National Security Council. After studying the list of hundreds of Soviet agents and purchasers (including one cosmonaut) assigned to this penetration in the U.S. and Japan, Weiss counseled against deportation.

Instead, according to Reed - a former Air Force secretary whose fascinating cold war book, "At the Abyss," will be published by Random House next month - Weiss said: "Why not help the Soviets with their shopping? Now that we know what they want, we can help them get it." The catch: computer chips would be designed to pass Soviet quality tests and then to fail in operation.

In our complex disinformation scheme, deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense sent Russian scientists down paths that wasted time and money.

The technology topping the Soviets' wish list was for computer control systems to automate the operation of the new trans-Siberian gas pipeline. When we turned down their overt purchase order, the K.G.B. sent a covert agent into a Canadian company to steal the software; tipped off by Farewell, we added what geeks call a "Trojan Horse" to the pirated product.

"The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire," writes Reed, "to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."

Our Norad monitors feared a nuclear detonation, but satellites that would have picked up its electromagnetic pulse were silent. That mystified many in the White House, but "Gus Weiss came down the hall to tell his fellow NSC staffers not to worry. It took him another twenty years to tell me why."

Farewell stayed secret because the blast in June 1982, estimated at three kilotons, took place in the Siberian wilderness, with no casualties known. Nor was the red-faced K.G.B. about to complain publicly about being tricked by bogus technology. But all the software it had stolen for years was suddenly suspect, which stopped or delayed the work of thousands of worried Russian technicians and scientists.

Vetrov was caught and executed in 1983. A year later, Bill Casey ordered the K.G.B. collection network rolled up, closing the Farewell dossier. Gus Weiss died from a fall a few months ago. Now is a time to remember that sometimes our spooks get it right in a big way.

Is this right? (1)

seidleroniman (740696) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157837)

I just read the article and I obviously dont know the facts outside of the article, but even though nobody was seriously hurt (as said in the article), did the US know that when they got started in this whole fiasco or do you think they would have done it anyways if there was the potential for many (as in hundreds) people to get hurt/killed? If hundreds of people got hurt, it would have been easy to figure out who was behind it and this could have escalated the tension greatly.

Re:Is this right? (3, Interesting)

Xawen (514418) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157903)

To be fair, all the US did was sabatoge thier own software. Had they gone out and actually bombed the pipeline, I agree, it would have been really hard on "releations" with the Soviets. However, think about our side of it. Here it is twenty some years later and information like this is just now becoming public. Presumably it was the same on the Soviet side. So in effect, all this did was make the KGB really really suspicious of any software they stole from us. It is very unlikely many people in Siberia knew the real cause for the explosion. And even if they did, it's kind of hard to get angry when software you steal doesn't work.

Are you really going to call Adobe for support when the pirated version of Photoshop you pull off IRC doesn't work right?

Article text (-1, Redundant)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157845)


The Farewell Dossier
By WILLIAM SAFIRE

Published: February 2, 2004

Intelligence shortcomings, as we see, have a thousand fathers; secret intelligence triumphs are orphans. Here is the unremarked story of "the Farewell dossier": how a C.I.A. campaign of computer sabotage resulting in a huge explosion in Siberia -- all engineered by a mild-mannered economist named Gus Weiss -- helped us win the cold war.

Weiss worked down the hall from me in the Nixon administration. In early 1974, he wrote a report on Soviet advances in technology through purchasing and copying that led the beleaguered president -- detente notwithstanding -- to place restrictions on the export of computers and software to the U.S.S.R.

Seven years later, we learned how the K.G.B. responded. I was writing a series of hard-line columns denouncing the financial backing being given Moscow by Germany and Britain for a major natural gas pipeline from Siberia to Europe. That project would give control of European energy supplies to the Communists, as well as generate $8 billion a year to support Soviet computer and satellite research.

President Francois Mitterrand of France also opposed the gas pipeline. He took President Reagan aside at a conference in Ottawa on July 19, 1981, to reveal that France had recruited a key K.G.B. officer in Moscow Center.

Col. Vladimir Vetrov provided what French intelligence called the Farewell dossier. It contained documents from the K.G.B. Technology Directorate showing how the Soviets were systematically stealing -- or secretly buying through third parties -- the radar, machine tools and semiconductors to keep the Russians nearly competitive with U.S. military-industrial strength through the 70's. In effect, the U.S. was in an arms race with itself.

Reagan passed this on to William J. Casey, his director of central intelligence, now remembered only for the Iran-contra fiasco. Casey called in Weiss, then working with Thomas C. Reed on the staff of the National Security Council. After studying the list of hundreds of Soviet agents and purchasers (including one cosmonaut) assigned to this penetration in the U.S. and Japan, Weiss counseled against deportation.

Instead, according to Reed -- a former Air Force secretary whose fascinating cold war book, "At the Abyss," will be published by Random House next month -- Weiss said: "Why not help the Soviets with their shopping? Now that we know what they want, we can help them get it." The catch: computer chips would be designed to pass Soviet quality tests and then to fail in operation.

In our complex disinformation scheme, deliberately flawed designs for stealth technology and space defense sent Russian scientists down paths that wasted time and money.

The technology topping the Soviets' wish list was for computer control systems to automate the operation of the new trans-Siberian gas pipeline. When we turned down their overt purchase order, the K.G.B. sent a covert agent into a Canadian company to steal the software; tipped off by Farewell, we added what geeks call a "Trojan Horse" to the pirated product.

"The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire," writes Reed, "to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."

Our Norad monitors feared a nuclear detonation, but satellites that would have picked up its electromagnetic pulse were silent. That mystified many in the White House, but "Gus Weiss came down the hall to tell his fellow NSC staffers not to worry. It took him another twenty years to tell me why."

Farewell stayed secret because the blast in June 1982, estimated at three kilotons, took place in the Siberian wilderness, with no casualties known. Nor was the red-faced K.G.B. about to complain publicly about being tricked by bogus technology. But all the software it had stolen for years was suddenly suspect, which stopped or delayed the work of thousands of worried Russian technicians and scientists.

Vetrov was caught and executed in 1983. A year later, Bill Casey ordered the K.G.B. collection network rolled up, closing the Farewell dossier. Gus Weiss died from a fall a few months ago. Now is a time to remember that sometimes our spooks get it right in a big way.



Disinformation (4, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157846)


Tin foil hat on...

This guy works/worked for the intelligence services. He was/is involved in "disinformation" operations. The intelligences services in the USA and UK are currently under increadible scrutiny for having goofed big-time about Iraq. This guy gets an article published in the NY Times about a very successful operation that helped finish the Cold War. There is no evidence, other than this article, and it can't be proved or disproved.

Draw your own conclusions.

Re:Disinformation (1)

TwistedGreen (80055) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157945)

There isn't supposed to be evidence... it's the CIA. Their spooks don't exist.

But it's a nice story either way. Reminds me of James Bond. :)

Re:Disinformation (2, Interesting)

DrMindWarp (663427) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157984)

Draw your own conclusions.

Sounds like total and utter crap to me.

Although it is very thin on details, we can ask a few questions. How much natural gas would be needed to produce a 3 kiloton explosion ? How easy is this to achieve given the air mix required ? Is it likely that the Russians needed to steal software for controlling a pipeline ? What 'chips' were involved when it is claimed it was a software Trojan (firmware) ?

Gotta love Safire (4, Insightful)

noewun (591275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157847)

Uses the royal "we", as if he was in the trenches fighting, rather than safe at home, daring nothing.

Gus Weiss died from a fall a few months ago.

Tinfoil hat time!

Software caused the failure, not hardware (4, Insightful)

Yarn (75) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157848)

A risky business, but there were thankfully no (recorded) casualties. It does make you realise that for some things it's a really good idea to look at the code!

Nice, in a way, to see the French and US governments working together too.

Re:Software caused the failure, not hardware (1)

Chep (25806) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157989)

Don't forget the time frame of the first intelligence handover. July 19th, 1981.

When the Reagan Administration first heard, in May 1981, that the Socialist candidate was elected, and then later in June, that the Socialist-Communist coalition won the House of Reps (trumps Senate here) election, they were <b>really</b> worried (from a French POV and with hindsight, I would say probably for naught, but I can't really blame foreigners at the time for not knowing that even the "Parti Socialiste" had little to do (in practice) with Karl Marx -- of course, the Commies from that coalition, led by Georges Marchais, were still unrepented Jacques Duclos spiritual heirs -- in other words, die-cast stalinists).

So, this intel handover was really a way of telling Reagan that we didn't switch sides in our alliances, just that the people got bored with the corruption, Pompidou-Giscard style (not that there wouldn't be any corruption afterwards, eh?), and that externally it was business as usual.

In fact, it quickly became business as usual internally as well.

Self-serving delusion (2, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157857)

Oh yeah, this is the country that took over twenty million casualties in WWII and didn't cave, but they toss in the towel from a gas explosion and some computer problems.

Too bad Adolf didn't know that cold wars are so much easier to win than hot ones.

Re:Self-serving delusion (1)

dustmote (572761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157930)

Not if you overextend yourself, which is pretty likely considering how he did in hot wars. CCCP did that, and they lost. And peacetime makes it much harder to hide your policies of exterminating people. After all, tourism kinda stops when there's a war on, usually.

Re:Self-serving delusion (5, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157961)

They didn't toss in the towel, they were forced to re-evaluate the viability of all stolen technology. Even "legit" technology would fall under scrutiny.

This would take time proportional to the amount of stolen technology, which is to say, a lot.

Sure, this didn't stop them, but add this and that and the other thing and that thing over there, and you get "lost the war".

Nobody in the article claimed more then "helped win the cold war" (emphasis mine), and I say that if you actually read the article insteading of projecting what you think it was going to say onto the article, you'd find that assertion perfectly defensible. I do.

Reading is fundamental.

Re:Self-serving delusion (1)

]ix[ (32472) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157968)

Well, with the annectation of polen and the baltic states they did more or less brake even, population wise.

It wasnt as much the explosion that put them of as the fact that _all_ of their computer systems where deemed unsafe over night. Kind of back to square one . It would have put them back almost a decade.

And as for Adolf, most of us think it was a good thing that he lost the war.

Actually, they didn't cave in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8158002)

You're right - the Russians never cave. And they sure as hell made the largest contribution to the defeat of Hitler among all those allied against him.

The Russians just went broke trying to keep up in an arms race with the combined economies of the US, Western Europe, and Japan.

One wonders if they really believed in their Marxist doctrine that said their triumph was inevitable. Even as MacDonalds opened restaurants in Moscow...

Logic (1, Insightful)

R.Caley (126968) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157864)

Even for a blatent book advert, that article is pretty weak.

We have:

An extra pipeline => control of energy supply
Clearly Mr Safire needs to take his medication more regularly.

sorry to say this ... (0, Insightful)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157882)

... but stories like this just underscore the existence of American Fascism.

I'm not trolling. I really think this.

No chips from "the West" (5, Interesting)

dimss (457848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157883)

My father was one of developers of top secret soviet chips in 1970's. Many of them were clones of western devices. We had lots of chips, transistors, Fortran listings and special books at home. Most of them were lost because we moved four times in last 24 years.

As far as we (me and my dad) know no chips or computers were purchased from "the West" before 1980's. We developed and manufactured clones of 360, PDP, VAX and others instead. They were software-compatible with Western ones but contained only Soviet (and other Eastern Europe) components.

Later we got VAXen (I remember two of them), Macs (no personal experience) and IBM PC.

Re:No chips from "the West" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157964)

Uh yeah, the physical chips themselves may not have been manufactured in the west but clearly they were designed and perfected here first. Come to that, how did the USSR ever manage to clone western designs without first aquiring the designs and a few physical specimens to experiment with in the first place?

Come on, lets be honest. The technologoy your father worked on was all based on stolen designs and knowledge.

Re:No chips from "the West" (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157970)

this technological myth that the soviets were constantly 'behind' the US in advanced research areas is a huge part of the 'iron curtain' ... and more specifically belies the intentions of those who would use this 'iron curtain' to ill effect.

one subtle fact is lost in this story. the soviets were -overtly- attempting to purchase this computer technology for their gas pipeline. the fact that this 'cunning plan' was a success is due, mostly, to the notion that the soviets trusted the united states to allow them to use this technology.

i dunno. that seems like a really stupid enemy to me. maybe one who doesn't know he's really your enemy ...

And we wonder why other nations. . . (5, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157890)

wish to develop their own indigenous computer technologies industries instead of simply buying it from us and possibly subjecting themselves to this sort of intergovernmental terrorism? Had this explosion taken place in a populated area the blood would be on our hands.

It goes way beyond issues of economic competition. It's a question of independence, control and security.

Rather like your use of Open Source software.

KFG

I'm seriously skeptical (3, Interesting)

ab762 (138582) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157892)

I invite people to do a Google search on William Safire and assess for themselves his credbility and impartiality. I'm dubious about the first, but certain that he's not impartial.

Re:I'm seriously skeptical (2, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157901)

I would like to see some corroboration for this story. It is a great story and quite interesting, but, I don't know if I can believe it. Still, it would make a great short novel!

Happy Trails,

Erick

Tune into MTP with Tim Russert (1, Funny)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157953)

That old fucker, Safire, has been in the middle of a 4-5 year slide into senility on MTP. Here's the pattern: Russert poses question. Safire switches topic to some feeble discussion of presidential honor and George Bush's actually vast intellect. Russert says something to Broder. Broder gets two words in. Safire interrupts with some half-assed pass at whatever female is on the set using 'obsequiuous' in a sentence, thus being the only English speaker on the planet to do so in 6 weeks. Then he writes an article about how the Soviets couldn't weather a pipeline disaster or some shit and that vindicates Ronald Raygun's presidency through some implied leap of logic.

Remember Ronald Reagan died for your sins.

Call me cynical but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8157897)

The day after it was announced President Bush was setting up an inquiry on why intelligence was so bad over Irag, we get a story on how wonderful the intelligence services are

(ignoring the fact that they did stop the building of any military hardware but a civilian pipeline)

Re:Call me cynical but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8158004)

you should go back to watching xfiles and get off the computer. your mom will be down with your food shortly.

Excellent (3, Insightful)

andih8u (639841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157910)

An opinion piece written by a guy who said he used to work down the hall from a guy who said he knew all about this. This sounds more like a review for a book than an actual article. Nothing like a nice post to get all the lemmings whining about loss of life, etc.

I doubt it... (2, Insightful)

Slashamatic (553801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157947)

The trans-siberian natural gas pipeline used technology by a UK company called Serck Controls. In those days, the telemetry computers were 6800 based and I believe they used DEC PDP-11s or more likely (because of export controls), Serck's own computers for running the main control system. I know they were working with a bundle of other western companies, but I thought they had the telemetry system side of it completely.

Re:I doubt it... (2, Informative)

Liquidape (260782) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157991)

I also doubt it since doing a quick search on the net I couldn't find any reference to a blast in Siberia in June of 1982 - 1908 maybe, but not 1982.

Maybe Safire is getting senile and confusing the time when worked for Teddy Roosevelt......

its an Advertisement! (1)

Lord Zerrr (237123) | more than 10 years ago | (#8157986)

instead, according to Reed -- a former Air Force secretary whose fascinating cold war book, "At the Abyss," will be published by Random House next month.

Sounds just like an advertisement for a new book to me.

Seeling computers to the Soviets (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#8158003)

My dad work for Control Data (remember them and their Cyber, the great super computers before Cray left to found his own company?) in the 70s and 80s. At one time the Soviet's bought a computer from them, some several million dollar purchases. A lot of paper work was involved (The US won't just sell these without knowing it won't be used against us...).

The Soviet currency was not a hard currency traded on the open market. That ment control Data got in return cabbages and guns (single shot 12 gauges, great for cheap hunters).

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