Top Secret CIA Cable Admits “Dozens” Of Agents Abroad Are Being Captured, Killed
It was revealed this week in a bombshell New York Times report that the CIA has raised the alarm with all its overseas stations and officers that an unusually high number of US informants are being captured and executed abroad. There are “dozens” of such instances, according to an agency memo.
The report is an incredibly rare instance of the media getting hold of a fresh, very recent highly classified memo that’s also sure to be embarrassing for the agency. “The message, in an unusual top-secret cable, said that the CIA’s counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised,” the NYT writes.
“Although brief, the cable laid out the specific number of agents executed by rival intelligence agencies — a closely held detail that counterintelligence officials typically do not share in such cables.”
The cable warned its officers across the globe against put “mission over security” – which it strongly suggested was a key cause that’s leading to poor tradecraft, putting agents at risk. “Agents” in this context means foreign and local assets recruited by the CIA to spy in their home countries, a dangerous endeavor which puts all the risk on the foreign person (and their family) who feeds sensitive information to their CIA handler.
The cable also cited the growing capabilities and awareness on the part of foreign and rival agencies of US intelligence’s methods. According to the NY Times synopsis of what’s in the top secret memo:
The cable highlighted the struggle the spy agency is having as it works to recruit spies around the world in difficult operating environments. In recent years, adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have been hunting down the CIA’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.
Especially the growing biometric technology deployed by China is seen as a serious problem for maintaining local assets’ cover.
The report continues by spelling out, “The large number of compromised informants in recent years also demonstrated the growing prowess of other countries in employing innovations like biometric scans, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and hacking tools to track the movements of CIA officers in order to discover their sources.”
Pakistani intelligence very effective at hunting down CIA sources and flipping them into double agents, according to this must-read NYT reporting on a secret agency cable.
— Rupert Stone (@RupertStone83) October 5, 2021
Though this wasn’t addressed in the cable, there’s also the possibility of leaks and the question of double-agents gaining compromising material, further exposing other assets.
The NY Times report further quotes former CIA operatives who described a somewhat flawed internal system and bureaucracy that’s set up to reward ambition but not recognize when officers prudently exercise restraint. Promotions are often handed out to operatives who recruit the most agents abroad.
One former CIA operative, Douglas London, told The Times, “No one at the end of the day is being held responsible when things go south with an agent.” But of course in general it remains that few if anyone are ever held accountable for failures when it comes to Washington’s massive national security state bureaucracy.
Wed, 10/06/2021 – 19:50