The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has determined that Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cell towers near US military bases in the rural Midwest was capable of capturing and disrupting highly restricted Defense Department communications, including those used by US Strategic Command, which oversees the country's nuclear weapons,
Photo Insert: The Huawei equipment has the capability of intercepting not only commercial cell traffic but also the highly restricted airwaves used by the military and disrupting critical US Strategic Command communications.
While there have been widespread worries about Huawei infrastructure near US military locations, the existence of this inquiry and its findings have never been published. Its beginnings can be traced back to the Obama administration.
More than a dozen sources, including current and former national security officials, described it to CNN on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly.
Many sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN that the Huawei equipment has the capability of intercepting not only commercial cell traffic but also the highly restricted airwaves used by the military and disrupting critical US Strategic Command communications, giving the Chinese government a potential window into America's nuclear arsenal.
“This gets into some of the most sensitive things we do," said one former FBI official familiar with the probe. "It would impact our ability for essentially command and control with the nuclear triad," this official added.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, the inquiry was so secret that several senior policymakers in the White House and elsewhere in government were not informed of its existence until 2019.
That fall, the Federal Communications Commission issued a rule effectively prohibiting small telecoms from using Huawei and a few other Chinese-made equipment brands.
According to one former US official, "The existence of the investigation at the highest levels turned some doves into hawks," Wray told CNN in an exclusive interview that the FBI launches a new China counterintelligence probe every 12 hours.
"That's probably about 2,000 or so investigations," Wray estimated.
"And that's not even talking about their cyber theft, where they have a bigger hacking program than that of every other major nation combined, and have stolen more of Americans' personal and corporate data than every nation combined."