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US Wary of Allowing Russian Electronic Monitoring Stations Inside US 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-backyard dept.
cold fjord writes "The New York Times reports, '... the next potential threat from Russia may not come from a nefarious cyberweapon or secrets gleaned from Snowden. Instead, this menace may come in the form of a ... dome-topped antenna perched atop an electronics-packed building surrounded by a security fence somewhere in the United States. ... the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have been quietly waging a campaign to stop the State Department from allowing ... the Russian space agency, to build about half a dozen ... monitor stations, on United States soil ... These monitor stations, the Russians contend, would significantly improve the accuracy and reliability of Moscow's version of the Global Positioning System ... The Russian effort is part of a larger global race by several countries ... to perfect their own global positioning systems and challenge the dominance of the American GPS. For the State Department, permitting Russia to build the stations would help mend the Obama administration's relationship with the government of President Vladimir V. Putin ... But the C.I.A. and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon, suspect that the monitor stations would give the Russians a foothold on American territory that would sharpen the accuracy of Moscow's satellite-steered weapons. The stations, they believe, could also give the Russians an opening to snoop on the United States within its borders. ... administration officials have delayed a final decision until the Russians provide more information and until the American agencies sort out their differences.'"
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US Wary of Allowing Russian Electronic Monitoring Stations Inside US

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  • by kdawson (3715) (1344097) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:21AM (#45454607)
    It must be a doomsday device. There were those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. At the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we had been spending on defense in a single year. The deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.
    • by pesho (843750) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:49AM (#45455429)
      Nah, the way it looks the C.I.A. and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon have gone like:

      I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

      Now here is the scary part: Dr Strangelove is still as relevant as it was when it was made. You would think by now it would just be funny, and not scarily funny.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:29PM (#45456269) Homepage Journal
        I can't believe this is being seriously considred..?!?!

        WTF is in charge of the US with respect to these things?

        Are we allowed to put these same type of things on Russian soil too?

        • by icebike (68054) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:14PM (#45457829)

          I can't believe this is being seriously considred..?!?!

          WTF is in charge of the US with respect to these things?

          Are we allowed to put these same type of things on Russian soil too?

          The US has the same types of facilities [wikipedia.org] in lots of different places, but not in Russia.
          The flight paths of the satellites are tracked by dedicated U.S. Air Force monitoring stations in Hawaii, Kwajalein Atoll, Ascension Island, Diego Garcia, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Cape Canaveral, along with shared NGA monitor stations operated in England, Argentina, Ecuador, Bahrain, Australia and Washington DC

          These stations provide correction to the satellites, (internal clocks and ephemeris data) as each passes overhead, and thereby improves the accuracy.

          Having them on US Soil isn't as bad as you might think. It subjects them to US control, Monitoring, and even taking them down should the situation warrant. It also makes GLONASS more useful/accurate in the US. (Many mobile phones can use GLONASS today). No way would the Russian's be allowed to put up a black-box installation. We would insist on knowing everything about what is going on in there).

          If you have a cold war outlook on Russia, just remember the old adage of keeping your Friends close and your Enemies closer.

          It seems unnecessary if you ask me. But then Russia doesn't have that many friends or wide spread bases for this type of installation in the western hemisphere these days. Cuba, and maybe one or two central american countries might be willing.

          It also seems odd, that the CIA would let Obama would hand this to the Russians just to prop up his image. They probably have enough goods on him to prevent it. I doubt the American people would stand for it anyway, and Obama would be forced to tuck tail and run away from it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Somewhere in the United States (dramatic pause)
    the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon (dramatic pause)
    have been quietly waging a campaign (dramatic pause)
    to stop the State Department from allowing (dramatic pause)

    I can't be the only person who is getting this out of the overuse of ... in the summary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:26AM (#45454665)

    ... If... you use an Ellipsis... frequently and... hastily people will think... you are William Shatner...

    KAHN!

  • Easily dealt with. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:28AM (#45454685)

    "But the C.I.A. and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon, suspect that the monitor stations would give the Russians a foothold on American territory that would sharpen the accuracy of Moscow's satellite-steered weapons"

    Begging the question "aren't current nukes sufficiently accurate"?

    The smart countermeasure would be to monitor the monitoring stations and be ready to destroy them at no notice. Have both HERF/jamming and explosive capability available.

    • by cold fjord (826450) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:45AM (#45454859)

      Begging the question "aren't current nukes sufficiently accurate"?

      Depends on the application and the size of the nuke. One of the reasons that Soviet missiles and warheads were so big was because thy lacked accuracy. Against a hardened target that can be important even for a nuke. More accurate nukes can be smaller. Smaller nukes let your missiles carry more of them, and they can be fitted on smaller missiles.

      The smart countermeasure would be to monitor the monitoring stations and be ready to destroy them at no notice.

      If a nuclear strike is launched the system would only really need to provide high accuracy for about 30 minutes. I doubt there is enough drift in that time to make blowing the stations worthwhile. (And who would want to be on the demo team that had a 15 minute notice, at most, for blowing up the station on order, 24x7x365?) If you still wanted to blow up the stations in the event of an attack, you would probably have to do it within 10 minutes of the alert to make it worthwhile. If it turns out the alert was a false one and you blew up the stations, and no doubt killed the Russian operators, the Russians would be very cranky. It might even start a real war.

      • Given the implications of a nuclear strike, the target would probably be something less able to be hardened than some insignificant asshole in a bunker. Also, I know this is crazy, but couldn't they just use a US-based GPS to bomb us?
      • by tlambert (566799)

        Begging the question "aren't current nukes sufficiently accurate"?

        Depends on the application and the size of the nuke. One of the reasons that Soviet missiles and warheads were so big was because thy lacked accuracy. Against a hardened target that can be important even for a nuke. More accurate nukes can be smaller. Smaller nukes let your missiles carry more of them, and they can be fitted on smaller missiles.

        Unfortunately for your argument, both S.A.L.T. and S.T.A.R.T. sought to limit deployment of MIRV'ed ICBMs because the Soviets had more of them than the U.S..

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Why do you assume nuke? IT could be a conventional weapon fired from sea.
      And yes, current nukes are accurate enough. Anything small enough to warrant this would be conventional.

      • Which makes the entire argument even more idiotic. By the time we got into a shooting war with Russia and they were launching conventional weapons inside US territory, do you really think ANY of our GPS satellites, Russian or otherwise, would still be in orbit? To work at all the damned things have to continuously broadcast their position to the world. They're about the easiest thing to shoot down you could conceive of.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      The smart countermeasure would be to monitor the monitoring stations and be ready to destroy them at no notice.

      I think I'd rather build the system to postpone the destruction until it receives some kind of notice.

      Otherwise the "smart countermeasure" is "lit dynamite".

    • Nukes are as powerful as they are because it was originally quite difficult to aim them. You could point them at a city but they might actually land miles away, which is no big deal if you're devastating a multi-mile area.

      Nukes are very messy though! Wouldn't it be so much more fun to be able to launch hellfire-equivalent munitions from space? All you really need to do to achieve that is make sure you can hit your target.

      The better your aim is, the smaller the projectile can be. Wouldn't it be cool to assas

    • "aren't current nukes sufficiently accurate"?

      This is pretty much a non-issue for ballistic missiles, since they rely on inertial nav. If nothing else the ionization during re-entry prevents reception of radio signals. GPS may also not have sufficient dynamic capability (there's a tradeoff between how rapid GPS position updates are and how accurate they are). Maybe GPS would have some value in allowing ballistic missile subs to re-cal their inertial nav at sea, but that's about it.

      Using GPS/GLONASS for more conventional weapons (e.g. cruise missiles, P

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      No, the USSR has changed over to nano-nukes, that require a 10 foot precision. Each missile now has instead 5 megaton rated warheads, 80,000-390,000 pound rated nano-warheads. when deployed they seek out every person and blows them up individually.

  • Allow it! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We need the jobs assholes!

    Our economy is in shambles and these morons are worried about the Russians listening in - on what? Talk Radio?!

    Police chatter?

  • by thesandbender (911391) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:37AM (#45454771)
    Or any of the former satellites of the CCCP for that matter. The authoritative list is here [gps.gov].
    • by RoTNCoRE (744518)

      That they acknowledge. Pretty big caveat there. I mean, if they are operating black site torture rendition sites there, why would you believe they aren't doing other things there? Why would you trust anything they say?

  • by mspohr (589790) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:40AM (#45454811)

    One interesting thing I learned from the article is that many (?most) current smartphones use both Glonass and the US GPS system for position fixes.
    One motivation for this is the Russian requirement which heavily taxes devices which don't support Glonass. Apparently the iPhone 4S started support and many others also added support.
    I guess it's good to have two systems (with a possible third with the EU system). This can provide redundancy and improve reliability. Of course these are useful tools for warfare which is why we have several systems ("We've always been at war with Eastasia").

    • by adolf (21054)

      One interesting thing I learned from the article is that many (?most) current smartphones use both Glonass and the US GPS system for position fixes.

      Indeed. Allegedly, my VZW Droid 4 can grok Glonass.

      I have no idea if it actually works -- if there's an app for that, I haven't seen it.

      I quite often use GPS on the phone and would love redundancy and/or any additional data for accuracy.

      • by mspohr (589790)

        There's an app for that:
        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chartcross.gpstest&hl=en [google.com]

        Also found this:
        "As far as I know GLONASS is transparent accessible for any application through the android gps-api. So no need for special treadment of GLONASS for the applications.
        My xperia active (firmware .42) use GLONASS all the time according to GPS TEST. It always show me satellites between 65 and 88."

      • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:31AM (#45455265)

        One interesting thing I learned from the article is that many (?most) current smartphones use both Glonass and the US GPS system for position fixes.

        Indeed. Allegedly, my VZW Droid 4 can grok Glonass.

        I have no idea if it actually works -- if there's an app for that, I haven't seen it.

        This one can differentiate between Navstar (GPS's actual name, it is only a GPS)
        and GLONASS: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eclipsim.gpsstatus2 [google.com]

        Round sats in the status display are Navstar, square ones (satellite numbers 80+) are GLONASS.
        Note that most GLONASS-capable phones will only switch it on if Navstar reception alone is weak
        and/or unreliable, because it involves additional cirquitry and therefore reduces battery life. So if you
        have excellent reception, you might not see any "squares" even with GLONASS-capable hardware.

    • by bigpat (158134)
      Sounds like there might be some benefit to cooperation. How about they pay US companies to run the ground stations for them? If all they need is basically a fixed point on the ground to get some ground truth/calibrating type signals, then a US company could run the ground stations subject to US government oversight, regulations and control. US government could simply take them offline, disrupt or take them over in the event of war, basically the only issue would be a surprise attack/first strike. But i
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      You are mostly correct, but it wasn't the iPhone 4S that started support. The Galaxy SII Plus had it years before, but you can't credit Samsung either. It was simply a case of GPS system-on-chip manufacturers starting to offer it in their high end mobile models. The phone doesn't even know it's there, the output from the module looks exactly the same as it would if only using GPS.

      • You are mostly correct, but it wasn't the iPhone 4S that started support. The Galaxy SII Plus had it years before

        Well, months before, considering they came out the same year.

        you can't credit Samsung either. It was simply a case of GPS system-on-chip manufacturers starting to offer it in their high end mobile models.

        No, but you can specifically "credit" the Russian government. At the end of 2010, Russia announced that starting in 2011 any GPS capable device that was not compatible with GLONASS would be subject to a 25% import duty. Amazingly, from 2011 on, basically all (major brand) smartphones have included GLONASS.

  • by NReitzel (77941) on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:42AM (#45454823) Homepage

    So, the Russians want to monitor stuff inside the US borders. Ok, so what?

    To flip what we've heard from the NSA around, "If we're not doing anything wrong, we don't have to worry."

    In point of fact, letting the Russians monitor internal military chatter sounds like a good idea to me. That way, they -know- we aren't planning on attacking them. And.. by the way, we -aren't- planning on attacking the Russians, are we? If we are, _I_ would like to know about it, forget what the Russians know.

    The days of Red Baiting should be over. We should have an open society, and if the Russians want to eavesdrop, more power to them. Truthfully, I'm a lot more worried about what our own government wants to keep track of than I am about what any Russians (or Chinese) want to track. And if it improves the accuracy of their weapons, does that mean that they're more likely to blow up a military base than the local YMCA? That's good, isn't it?

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Reminds me of an old Eisenhower idea:

      http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1878 [af.mil]

    • "we -aren't- planning on attacking the Russians, are we?"
      Of course we are. Just like we have plans for 100's of military moves. Whether or not we implement those plans is another question.

      "The days of Red Baiting should be over"
      Putin is doing his best to bring it back. His moves really seem to be to bring back a single power* and muscle his way around. He's entrenching a theocracy, arresting minor dissenter, and undoing all the democratic gain over the last 30 years. His moving to control certain oil interests

      errr. I didn't' want to imply it was the same single power, just a centralized power.

      • by PPH (736903)

        "The days of Red Baiting should be over"

        Putin is doing his best to bring it back.

        Except Putin is only targeting the red states.

      • by NReitzel (77941)

        The point is, if we were actually going to attack the Russians (or anyone else) there would be a lot of chatter between stations, a lot of evidence of setting up the logistics of such an attack. Plans, per se, don't bother me, as you point out, we play those games every day, as do the Russians, and the Chinese, and the Brits. I'm not sure what the French do.

        If we were about to realize a plan to attack Russia, there would be ample evidence of doing so. If we're not about to attack Russia, there ought to b

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          The point is, if we were actually going to attack the Russians (or anyone else) there would be a lot of chatter between stations,

          Why? Certainly not radio chatter. Why would there be? Anything within CONUS is connected by wire. It's only extra-CONUS comms that might need some kind of radio link.

          Let them listen.

          Why, so they can gather more data to use to determine our encryption and CCC techniques?

          The most critical point in this whole discussion is that were the Russians trying to spy, they'd do so in a spy-like fashion. They'd buy a house where they wanted antennas using a dummy purchaser and install whatever they wanted. I'd be willing to bet th

      • by maestroX (1061960)

        Putin is doing his best to bring it back.

        Yes; though we do not know this is action or reaction; I suspect the latter.
        Of course, China will win.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      ... And if it improves the accuracy of their weapons, does that mean that they're more likely to blow up a military base than the local YMCA? That's good, isn't it?

      Except the Pentagon & CIA would rather have the weapons hit the YMCA instead of the Military Base since the military does the fighting and the YMCA only has civilians.

  • Counter-offer with a bi-lateral agreement, allowing us to put as many monitoring stations in Russia ;-)

  • by laird (2705) <lairdp AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 18, 2013 @10:52AM (#45454945) Journal

    What's the big deal? The Russians have had a monitoring station in the US for decades. Specifically, there's a spot in the middle of the US that has line-of-sight to all satellites that carry phone calls in/out of the US. And there are three trailers there, one run by the NSA (remember, it was clearly illegal until quite recently, for the US to tapping all calls into and out of the US, which is what they've been doing for decades, though a shell corporation), one that operates for the Russians, and the third a private US corporation that captures and sells data as a business. I've been told (can't say by who) that they know about each other, and aren't even located far from each other.

  • He'll have more flexibility after the next election.

  • Putin and his nationalist thug buddies are just reaching for another opportunity to turkey-slap the West in the wake of the West's embarrassment after Ed Snowden's Guardian bum-buddies' appalling act of political sabotage. Putin has been handed a massive propaganda coup and is milking it for all its worth.

    It's a deliberate, calculated insult, given that the US has no GPS ground stations on Russian soil, and have no prospect of building any.

    The Kremlin will be quietly TTFO and that'll be the end of it. Hopef

  • permitting Russia to build the stations would help mend the Obama administration's relationship with the government of President Vladimir V. Putin

    Why is this necessary? I thought giving Russia a red plastic button who's meaning was lost in translation was all that was necessary. Hillary Clinton's skills at international relations were all that was necessary to improve relations. Right?

    http://www.eurodialogue.org/osce/The-Reset-At-One-Year-The-View-From-Moscow

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday November 18, 2013 @11:33AM (#45455279)

    Something new from cold fjord - a story/concern that most Slashdotters agree with. Cold (if I may presume to use your first name), I think this demonstrates that most Slashdotters are not naive fools who think we live in a completely friendly world. Rather, if I may speak for most others, we think many of the tactics used in fighting terrorism are overly intrusive (and sometimes downright un-Constitutional), dangerous to our freedom, and either marginally or completely ineffective. For example, 9/11 could have been prevented with old-fashioned police work. For example, FBI headquarters listening to a report from a field office, which in turn they were given by an astute flight instructor, of some gentlemen who wanted to learn to fly but didn't care about takeoffs and landings (at least not of the preferred variety).

  • You know it increases my paranoia, like looking in the rearview mirror and seeing a police car.
    (At my advanced age, not cutting my hair doesn't really achieve much).

    Or, perhaps, "The paranoia is strong in this one."

  • Why not just buy some land in rural areas, construct a barn looking thing as a decoy (out of a material that's transparent to the instruments within), ship redundant parts across several ports and assemble under the cover of darkness. Difficult and expensive to do without being detected? Maybe, but surely within the realm of possibility for the Russian government...

    • Or just found and fund a corporation and do it in the open.

      It could even be a for-profit company run by American staff, charging the Russian
      government for the data. Broadcasting needs a license, but I don't see how a
      reception-only monitoring of signals on private ground run by a private company
      would need any kind of official permission.

      Receiving signals within some US government-run frequency bands might be
      illegal (I didn't find any examples with a quick search though), but GLONASS
      signals don't rea
  • >> The C.I.A. and other American spy agencies, as well as the Pentagon, suspect that the monitor stations would give the Russians a foothold on American territory that would sharpen the accuracy of Moscow's satellite-steered weapons.

    This just seems to emphasise how many old dudes still doing outdated cold-war era thinking there are in the US government/military. Call me strange but I think Russia is probably near the bottom of the threat list of organisations that would militarily attack the US homela

  • I'm surprised the GLONASS people even need permission. A monitoring station is just a fixed GLONASS receiver with a data connection. It receives position information and transmits it back to HQ, where a map of corrections for atmospheric effects is constructed [sdcm.ru] and corrections are sent out via the satellites. Since when do you need permission for a receiver?

    The iPhone 4S and later models use GLONASS and GPS together to improve accuracy. So ad-targeting needs this correction system in place so Apple knows

  • The U.S. is not stable enough to have Russia come and muck up our infrastructure with their comic antics.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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