C.I.A. looking for source of leaks as China interrups U.S. espionage


U.S. spying operations have been severely compromised as the Chinese government has been working to dismantle U.S. espionage rings in their country since 2010.
As a result, the Chinese government has killed or imprisoned dozens of intelligence sources.
According to U.S. government officials, this breach has been one of the worst in decades, leaving Washington intelligence agencies in a fervor to discover the source of the leaks. Some believe that the source was an informant inside the C.I.A. itself.
Others believe that the Chinese government has managed to hack into the C.I.A.’s computer system to look at its communications with other nations.
While the cause of the security breach still remains uncertain, the effects are highly visible and damaging. From the span of 2010 to 2012, at least a dozen C.I.A. sources in China were killed.
One of the most notable of these killings occurred when an informant was slaughtered outside the courtyard of a government building. C.I.A. officials the location of the killing was a message to other informants to beware the Chinese government because they are colluding with the U.S. government.
Additionally, 18 to 20 of the C.I.A.’s Chinese sources were imprisoned.
Overall, the damage has been equated to a security breach dating back to the Cold War. At the time, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen divulged intelligence operations to Soviet officials in Moscow.
The publication of these new, previously unreported breaches have come as an additional blow in the face of well-publicized leaks. In 2015, it was widely known that Beijing had gained access to thousands of the U.S. government’s personnel records. Some of those records contained the identities of intelligence contractors.
The blow of losing so many Chinese informants is especially potent because spying in China is one’s of the C.I.A.’s top priorities. It took years to build up a quality network. In 2010, the C.I.A. was even able to recruit informants from deep inside the bureaucracy in Beijing.
However, there have been major obstacles to setting up any network at all due to China’s extensive security measures, so these lost sources will be difficult to replace.
The C.I.A. and FBI are conducting ongoing investigations, which have been kept highly secretive and was code-named Honey Badger. The investigation started back in late 2010 when the information from their informants began to run dry.
As more and more sources continued to disappear, there were increased efforts put into the investigation. Initially, there agencies zeroed in on a potential mole, resulting in a hunt that turned up nothing.
Those who rejected this theory believed that the intelligence operations being carried out in China were simply not cautious enough. Some F.B.I. handlers were convinced that the C.I.A. handlers had used the same routes to the same meeting places too frequently. This could explain with the major breaches in addition to suspected Chinese hacking into intelligence agencies’ data bases.
Some progress has been made in the investigations. In March, prosecutors announced the arrest of Candace Claiborne, a former employee of the State Department. She is accused to lying about her contacts with Chinese officials.
Though she has pled not guilty, part of the evidence trail includes cash deposits into her bank account by Chinese officials as well as a fully furnished apartment and stipend.
Even with the discovery of Claiborne as a possible mole, the extent of the security breach must have additional attributable causes. As such, the C.I.A. and F.B.I. will continue their joint investigations.


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