NSC reportedly objects to description of Iranian satellite jamming as "intensified."

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Three sources tell The Cable that the National Security Council at first tried to prevent Jeff Trimble, executive director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors ... from allowing VOA to attach its name to a statement last week with Deutsche Welle and the British Broadcasting Corporation protesting Iranian signal jamming. Two sources close to the issue say the NSC first didn't want the VOA to join the statement if it mentioned 'jamming.' Later in the email chain, the NSC modified its position to object to the use of the term 'intensified jamming.' According to Trimble, 'The BBG wasn't asked not to participate in the statement.' 'NSC is ok with our confirming that jamming continues, they ask that we not say for now that it has intensified,' one Feb. 11 email from Trimble to several BBG staffers read. Dan Austin, the president of VOA, acknowledged that changes had been made to the statement, but declined to discuss the NSC's role. He said that the U.S. government should not be interfering with the BBG's editorial content, but acknowledged that on the communications and policy side, the lines were less clear. 'If it doesn't violate the letter of the firewall, common sense dictates it violates the spirit,' a BBG official told The Cable on background basis." Josh Rogin, The Cable, Foreign Policy, 17 February 2010. See previous post for the statement, by way of a BBC World Service press release. It was also issued as a press release in German by Deutsche Welle, 12 February 2010. The statement has not appeared as a press release from either VOA or BBG, but VOA had a news report about it. Satellite enthusiasts in Europe (see, for example, previous comments by Kai Ludwig, and links thereto) are the real judges of whether jamming exists, and how intense it is.
     "A military source, who ran intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, told HUMAN EVENTS that Iran's ability to shut out commercial TV and radio signals of its choosing is impressive. But being able to use jamming technology against U.S. military satellites is a much taller order. 'We use frequency hopping,' the source said. 'That means we actually broadcast our transmissions for one ten thousandth of a second then change to another frequency. That means unless they have our codes to know what frequencies we are rolling to and when., they cannot jam us.' But the BBC and the Voice of America, two of those being jammed, do not operate in secrecy and provide an easier target. Iran can overpower their frequency at the satellite or the ground receiver level with a stronger microwave signal of white noise and static. It 'forces' them to accept that frequency over the weaker one, the military source said. 'The most challenging part is identifying exactly where the satellite is and what frequency it is operating on, but that is certainly within their capability,' the source said." Rowan Scarborough, Human Events, 17 February 2010. Because viewers in Iran (or at least their satellite dish installers) need to know "where the satellite is and what frequency it is operating on," that information is usually publicized. Thus not so "challenging" for the Iranian jamming bureaucrats. I'm no engineer, but "one ten thousandth of a second" seems an awfully short span to get any information out. I've seen references to 250 milliseconds and 62.5 milliseconds for such bursts. That provides a bit more time for nuance.