How Obama Outwits Spies: With a Tent

Top officials use anti-spy shields overseas

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 11, 2013 3:36 AM CST | Updated Nov 16, 2013 8:01 AM CST

(Newser) – Moammar Gadhafi wasn't the only world leader who brought a tent everywhere. At the urging of security officials, President Obama and other senior American lawmakers and military officials take "security tents" with them when they travel overseas, the New York Times finds. The tents, which can be erected in a hotel suite, are designed to defeat bugging devices and top officials are expected to go into them to read classified documents or have sensitive conversations—even in friendly countries, like the EU nations outraged to learn that the NSA has been spying on their leaders.

"No matter where you are, we are a target these days," says former CIA chief R. James Woolsey Jr. "No matter where we go, countries like China, Russia, and much of the Arab world have assets and are trying to spy on us so you have to think about that and take as many precautions as possible." The tents are just one of of many anti-spying measures US security officials employ, insiders say, and top Americans traveling overseas are always reminded to use common sense—and to assume they are always under surveillance. (In other spy-related news, click to read about a planned spy plane that will be able to fly anywhere on Earth in an hour.)

President Obama takes a call inside his security tent during a 2011 trip to Brazil.   (White House/Pete Sousa)
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We do operate with the awareness that anything we do on a cellphone or BlackBerry is probably being read by someone somewhere, or lots of someones. - A senior American diplomat

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