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“On paper, it looked like a fantastic deal. In 2017, the Chinese government was offering to spend $100 million to build an ornate Chinese garden at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. Complete with temples, pavilions and a 70-foot white pagoda, the project thrilled local officials, who hoped it would attract thousands of tourists every year,” the report explained.
The investigation indicated that “when US counterintelligence officials began digging into the details, they found numerous red flags. The pagoda, they noted, would have been strategically placed on one of the highest points in Washington DC, just two miles from the US Capitol, a perfect spot for signals intelligence collection, multiple sources familiar with the episode told CNN.”
The investigation indicated that “when U.S. counterintelligence officials began investigating the details, they found numerous red flags. They noted that the pagoda would have been strategically placed at one of the highest points in Washington, just two miles from the Capitol, a perfect location for signals intelligence gathering, several sources familiar with the matter told CNN.”
China spying on the U.S.?
It also detailed that it came to the attention of U.S. officials that Chinese officials insisted on building the pagoda with materials shipped to U.S. soil in diplomatic suitcases, which customs officials are forbidden to inspect.
But that was not the only alert for American counterintelligence. “Among the most alarming things the FBI uncovered pertains to Chinese-made Huawei equipment atop cell towers near US military bases in the rural Midwest. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the FBI determined the equipment was capable of capturing and disrupting highly restricted Defense Department communications, including those used by US Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapon.”
CNN detailed that despite known concerns about the case, there was silence from the federal government since the Barack Obama administration. “Never been reported. Its origins stretch back to at least the Obama administration. It was described to CNN by more than a dozen sources, including current and former national security officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.”
It added: “Former officials described the probe’s findings as a watershed moment. The investigation was so secret that some senior policymakers in the White House and elsewhere in government weren’t briefed on its existence until 2019, according to two sources familiar with the matter.”