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Who Betrayed the CIA Agents in China?

Who Betrayed the CIA Agents in China?

The Chinese executed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA agents between 2010-2012.

Between 2010-2012, the Chinese government murdered or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA agents after it demolished America’s spying operations within the country. The CIA has been investigating how this happened, whether a mole leaked information to Beijing or the Chinese managed to break our codes. The New York Times reported:

Assessing the fallout from an exposed spy operation can be difficult, but the episode was considered particularly damaging. The number of American assets lost in China, officials said, rivaled those lost in the Soviet Union and Russia during the betrayals of both Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, formerly of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., who divulged intelligence operations to Moscow for years.

The previously unreported episode shows how successful the Chinese were in disrupting American spying efforts and stealing secrets years before a well-publicized breach in 2015 gave Beijing access to thousands of government personnel records, including intelligence contractors. The C.I.A. considers spying in China one of its top priorities, but the country’s extensive security apparatus makes it exceptionally hard for Western spy services to develop sources there.

Information Stopped Coming in From China

American officials noticed problems toward the end of 2010 after the CIA enjoyed some of the best intel it has received since it had recruited “sources deep inside the bureaucracy in Beijing.” Suspicions became reality after 2011 began: “the flow of information began to dry up” while those people they picked up began to disappear.

The FBI and CIA joined forces to form an investigation, code named Honey Badger, to find out what happened. After all, the Chinese investigated everyone at the US Embassy in Beijing. Yes, EVERYONE, even those at the top tier.

At first, no one wanted to believe within the CIA betrayed the agents, but too much evidence has forces agents to reach that conclusion. The New York Times continued:

The mole hunt eventually zeroed in on a former agency operative who had worked in the C.I.A.’s division overseeing China, believing he was most likely responsible for the crippling disclosures. But efforts to gather enough evidence to arrest him failed, and he is now living in another Asian country, current and former officials said.

There was good reason to suspect an insider, some former officials say. Around that time, Chinese spies compromised National Security Agency surveillance in Taiwan — an island Beijing claims is part of China — by infiltrating Taiwanese intelligence, an American partner, according to two former officials. And the C.I.A. had discovered Chinese operatives in the agency’s hiring pipeline, according to officials and court documents.

Possible Suspect

The investigators began to cross off the suspects on a list until they reached the name of a Chinese-American. This man, left unnamed by the Times, “had left the C.I.A. shortly before the intelligence losses began.” A few thought “he had become disgruntled” and chose to spy for Beijing. One person told the Times that “the man had access to the identities of C.I.A. informants and fit all the indicators on a matrix used to identify espionage threats.” Here’s why the agents chose him:

After leaving the C.I.A., the man decided to remain in Asia with his family and pursue a business opportunity, which some officials suspect that Chinese intelligence agents had arranged.

Officials said the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. lured the man back to the United States around 2012 with a ruse about a possible contract with the agency, an arrangement common among former officers. Agents questioned the man, asking why he had decided to stay in Asia, concerned that he possessed a number of secrets that would be valuable to the Chinese. It’s not clear whether agents confronted the man about whether he had spied for China.

The man defended his reasons for living in Asia and did not admit any wrongdoing, an official said. He then returned to Asia.

Other Possibilities?

But not all agents have accepted the mole theory. Instead, some agents think sloppiness caused the Chinese to figure out the spy network:

Some F.B.I. agents became convinced that C.I.A. handlers in Beijing too often traveled the same routes to the same meeting points, which would have helped China’s vast surveillance network identify the spies in its midst.

Some officers met their sources at a restaurant where Chinese agents had planted listening devices, former officials said, and even the waiters worked for Chinese intelligence.

This carelessness, coupled with the possibility that the Chinese had hacked the covert communications channel, would explain many, if not all, of the disappearances and deaths, some former officials said. Some in the agency, particularly those who had helped build the spy network, resisted this theory and believed they had been caught in the middle of a turf war within the C.I.A.

Damage Done

The agents put a stop to the Chinese picking off America’s sources, but it was too late. The Chinese damaged the spy network to the point where the CIA could not put it back together.

The process to rebuild became too expensive and those involved did not have the heart to put more effort into the project, including the man who once led the East Asia Division:

A former intelligence official said the former chief was particularly bitter because he had worked with the suspected mole and recruited some of the spies in China who were ultimately executed.

China has been particularly aggressive in its espionage in recent years, beyond the breach of the Office of Personnel Management records in 2015, American officials said. Last year, an F.B.I. employee pleaded guilty to acting as a Chinese agent for years, passing sensitive technology information to Beijing in exchange for cash, lavish hotel rooms during foreign travel and prostitutes.

Traitors Within: Spies Who Sold Out America


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I wonder how much Secretary of State Clinton’s leaky server may have contributed to this?

This is legitimately a more substantive story regarding national security than the Left’s and the mainstream media’s contrived, baseless innuendo and histrionics regarding alleged Russian “collusion” on the part of the Trump Administration, but, as with vile crone Hillary’s lawless, arrogant, self-serving and cavalier server machinations, Leftists couldn’t care less.

One way or another, I place this at the feet of dinglebarry and his anti-American administration.

    Paul in reply to Lewfarge. | May 22, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    The press barely came up from blowing him to report on it, much less turn it into the massive scandal it would have been under a R administration. Pathetic sycophants.

healthguyfsu | May 22, 2017 at 1:55 pm

No worries, the Obama team will blame this on Snowden or some obscure internet video and the media will cover him for it.

nordic_prince | May 22, 2017 at 2:18 pm

This confirms what I’ve heard on more than one occasion: the Chinese simply can’t be trusted. It doesn’t matter how nice they seem to treat you; they are not your friends, their loyalty is to China, and you cannot believe a word they say.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to nordic_prince. | May 22, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    The “Communist Chinese” – same as Hilary and Obama.

    a random guy in reply to nordic_prince. | May 23, 2017 at 1:39 am

    Its important to make a distinction between the communist Chinese who support China and those who are simply Chinese. Many of the Chinese, especially those who are in the second generation (or later) have lost much of their connection to China. It did not help, of course, that China did their cultural devolution and so on.

    You might find some to be loyal to Taiwan, but I strongly suspect that most are simply loyal to money.

    Then again, when it comes to money, China has a lot of the aces.

Shades of Seal Team 6.

Obama or Biden probably let something slip in a meeting and the Chinese investigated.

I wonder how long the Chinese had the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) database under their control. Officially, the hack was discovered in March 2014 but it had been going on before that. All it would take is one OPM employee with admin privileges to the database, slipping out copies of new employees’ records as they were hired, complete with the required fingerprints and histories. Every new spy or old spy who showed up in China would have walked right into their hands.

Frankly I can see this resulting from a number factors operating at the same time.

The Chinese have the largest global human intelligence gathering apparatus of any country in the world. I’ve never seen a good estimate of how many thousands of full or part time spies they have, but it’s a massive number.

The reason it’s so massive is that if they can’t get one of their own operatives inside whatever commercial enterprise (they’re big on industrial spying) or government entity they want to penetrate they simply look to see who is already there that they can exploit. Often it’s a Chinese national or an ethnic Chinese. Which is why it makes perfect sense they should suspect this particular Chinese American.

The fact that he moved to some unspecified Asian country to be with his family should have raised red flags. It seems from the reporting that these family members were already there. If he had such close ties to foreign nationals of Chincese ethnicity that he would move to Asia to be with them he never should have gotten a clearance. The CIA, of all agencies, should know that CHICOMs could pressure him into working for them simply by threatening his close family members. They have a number of techniques to turn people, particularly ethnic Chinese, into their agents. Some are a lot more pleasant, but they’ll resort to force if they have to.

But then that points to another factor. Sloppiness. The fact that the CIA didn’t catch or didn’t care about the man’s ties to close family members living in Asia reeks of carelessness. But then we shouldn’t be surprised. Recall the Valerie Plame drama. Scooter Libby was never charged with revealing her identity as CIA agent operating abroad under Non Official Cover, or as a NOC. The reason why is simple. It’s illegal tor reveal a CIA operative’s identity as a NOC while they are actually operating as one or within five years of their return to the US. But the USG has to take affirmative steps to conceal the operative’s intelligence relationship with the US. If they don’t, then it’s an absolute defense to the charge that the USG has already revealed the identity of the operative and no crime could have been committed.

Plame was well outside the fiver year window. And even if she was inside the window, she had begun working at CIA HQ in Langley almost immediately upon her return. You can hardly say that the USG was making any attempt to conceal Plame’s intelligence relationship with the US when she was commuting from her home to “spook central” five days a week.

Now the special prosecutor did attempt to accuse Libby of revealing Plame’s identity as a NOC at sentencing, in effect just ignoring the formality of actually charging and convicting him of the crime and going straight to demanding he be sentenced for it (I don’t believe the judge let this fly, for reasons that are obvious and others that I’m going to make clear). And ludicrously the CIA supported this effort because they insisted Plame still operated part-time as a NOC. She worked full time as an overt CIA agent, and would sometimes jet off to Euripe and work part time as a covert CIA agent.

That’s insane. If that’s the CIA’s idea of good fieldcraft their NOCs might as well walk into the Soviet Embassy in Washington, introduce themselves as CIA agents, and tell them they’ll be visiting Russia pretending to be businessmen over the weekend. Then tell them what exact cover they’ll be using.

But it gets worse. There is reason to believe the CIA’s idea of good fieldcraft is even more dismal than that. It came out during the course of the investigation that Plame’s cover had been blown almost a decade earlier. Classified information had been sent to the Swiss Embassy, which operates the US Interests section in Havana, which identified Plame as a CIA agent. And the Cubans had intercepted the information. Which meant the Russians knew. Which meant all our adversaries knew.

And the CIA knew because they were the source of the f&ck up. They discovered their screw up Plame herself would have known because the CIA is legally bound to tell NOCs when the intel community itself inadvertently reveals their true identity.

And the Judge knew this. Scooter Libby couldn’t have committed the crime because the USG itself had already disclosed Plame’s true identity. Not publicly, but much worse. To hostile governments. So it was a crime that couldn’t possibly be committed.

And inexplicably Plame continued to work for the CIA as a NOC for years after her identity as a CIA agent had been exposed. Which meant that she wasn’t in any danger because she had been rendered a non-entity. Why would a hostile foreign government kill her; they were too busy laughing. For the next several years she could produce nothing of any intelligence value as a NOC because she had been compromised. This is the CIA’s idea of good fieldcraft. It would be funny if the CIA wasn’t such a detriment to national security. So I can easily believe the CIA itself revealed the identities of our Chinese sources to the Chinese government.

Then of course there’s the Chinese cyber espionage capabilities. The OPM hack was first discovered in May 2015. And investigators believe that by the time it was discovered the Chinese had been rummaging around the OPM database for more than a year. So the Chinese certainly did find useful information possibly as far back as late 2013. Certainly no later than earlier 2014. So the information contained in those personnel files and records of background investigations couldn’t have contributed to the betrayal of those CIA operatives.

But that isn’t the point I’m making. The point is the Chinese have a very sophisticated cyber espionage capability that can go undetected for years. And they didn’t just suddenly develop this cyber espionage capability. If they could do this by 2013, they would have had capabilities that would have helped them uncover CIA sources. Particularly because our cyber security is so piss poor. We haven’t ever taken it seriously.

I don’t see any reason why we should just settle on one answer to the question, who betrayed the CIA’s Chinese sources.

Here’s a question… CIA? FBI? IRS? EPA? … which arm of the government or media was NOT corrupted by the lefty-socialist-communist Obama admin “running” and inserting their lackies into positions to do their dirty deeds for the past 8 years?!

The CIa had more important things to do at that time like spy on Dennis Kuscinich.
In three years we will find out about all of the spies killed last year , while the CIA was chasing Dick Dastardly Trump

Let’s see now. WHO was Secretary of State in that time frame and how was it that one of her aides (Huma?) left a laptop (with classified info on it) in a hotel in Bejing.

‘Upon Secretary Clinton’s departure, a routine security sweep by Diplomatic Security agents identified classified documents in a staff member’s suite.


But Mr Kirby told Fox News: ‘To be clear – this was not Secretary Clinton’s hotel room and no citation whatsoever was given to Secretary Clinton, nor were any reports written about Secretary Clinton’s conduct.’

He added: ‘Ultimately, Diplomatic Security concluded that classified information had been improperly secured, but that the evidence did not support assigning culpability to any individual.

‘Furthermore, the Diplomatic Security investigation concluded that due to the fact that the documents were found within a Diplomatic Security controlled area, the likelihood that the information was compromised was remote.’

    murkyv in reply to murkyv. | May 22, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    left a laptop (with classified info on it) classified papers

    rabidfox in reply to murkyv. | May 22, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    And who was providing cleaning service and the like during their stay at this hotel?

    Arminius in reply to murkyv. | May 23, 2017 at 6:04 am

    “He added: ‘Ultimately, Diplomatic Security concluded that classified information had been improperly secured, but that the evidence did not support assigning culpability to any individual.

    ‘Furthermore, the Diplomatic Security investigation concluded that due to the fact that the documents were found within a Diplomatic Security controlled area, the likelihood that the information was compromised was remote.’”

    This is not how it works when your name is not Clinton. I was a naval intelligence officer for twenty years and my first tour was with a west coast F-14 squadron. Every squadron in our building shared a single duty truck that was used exclusively for burn runs; i.e. trips to the incinerator to destroy classified documents when we had filled enough burn bags.

    One day someone making the burn run found a classified document in the glove box. A SECRET NOFORN message as I recall, and it wasn’t addressed to any particular command but as a general message every single squadron in the Pacific would have received it. Whoever found it reported it to NCIS (still NIS at the time). Clearly one of the burn bags had been overfilled and had burst, and the Intel Specialists had put a loose document in the glove box and had forgotten it was there.

    The available evidence on its own couldn’t support assigning blame to any individual or individuals since it could have been personnel from any one of five squadrons. And the duty truck never left the area of the flight line when going back and forth from the hangars to the incinerator. We had sentries at the gates. There were multiple levels of security. Did NCIS conclude that since there wasn’t enough evidence to assign culpability and the odds of compromise were small did they just drop the matter and go away?

    Hell no! They told us that the personnel from each squadron would have to prove innocence, and by process of elimination whoever couldn’t prove their innocence would be deemed the guilty party. It wasn’t good enough for a court martial but it was more than good enough for them to pull your clearance for mishandling classified and end your career.

    That’s how it works for mere mortals. That’s how DSS would have handled it if anyone except Clinton and her senior aides were implicated.

Obviously this is Trump’s fault. Just wait until the resident lunatic shows up, he’ll explain everything.