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Is Putin's Soccer Ball Gift to President Trump a Secret Listening Device?

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By LTC Steven Howard, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Contributor, InCyberDefense

As unlikely as it is, it is certainly possible that Putin’s gift to President Trump at the now highly publicized Helsinki Summit could indeed be bugged.

“If it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham warned on Monday on Twitter.

The Russians have a long history of expert spy craft and a surveillance system that, at its peak, had NATO intelligence agencies constantly fighting to catch up.

Russians Have Used a Secret Listening Device to Spy on Americans in the Past

At the end of World War II, Soviet children presented the U.S. Ambassador with a hand-carved Great Seal of the United States. The envoy proudly displayed it in his Moscow office without knowing that the seal contained a revolutionary listening device that emitted no signal and had no moving parts.

In fact, the secret listening device was only discovered by accident. British spies were attempting to listen to Russians and inadvertently heard the U.S. ambassador instead.

While it is unlikely that Putin’s soccer ball gift contains a “bug” or anything dangerous, it’s probably best if Secret Service runs it through security nonetheless.