Nations make noise about an open world. But the reality is that the world is closed. Even as they gather at the United Nations headquarters to show unity, they still harbor distrust and hate against each other.
Due to the distrust among nations, intelligence gathering has become a serious business for governments, especially for the superpowers. They spy on each other to be on top.
According to anonymous information within the CIA obtained by The New York Times, China has killed or imprisoned up to 20 CIA moles who divulged sensitive state secrets to the U.S. government. This extreme Chinese government action has totally crippled the U.S’ spying activities in China.
Unnamed CIA sources who leaked the damning intelligence breach to The Times said China killed or imprisoned the agency’s informants between 2010 and 2012 under the Obama administration.
The Chinese elite force shot and killed one informant in front of a government building in Beijing. The brutal killing was carried out in full view of those in the building, deterring them from working with the U.S. or other governments.
As to how the Chinese managed to identify the informants, CIA investigators are divided. Some in the agency believe China cracked the CIA’s covert communications system, identifying people employed in Beijing to feed Washington with information. Others also believe there are double agents in the CIA, either past or present who revealed the identities of the informants to the Chinese authorities in exchange for huge sums of monies. Still, others believe the breach was a result of careless spy work including traveling the same routes to the same meeting points or meeting sources at restaurants where the Chinese had possibly planted listening devices.
According to The Times, the U.S’ spying activities in China reached its zenith in 2010. During the period, the agency was able to receive high quality information about the Chinese government. The informants were Chinese citizens who were close to the government in Beijing. The Times said information provided by the informants ranged from corruption to abuse of power by the Chinese government.
However, in late 2010, information from China began to dry up. By early 2011, the CIA’s informants began disappearing. The Chinese government had then begun killing and imprisoning informants, rendering Washington powerless.
As the killings and the imprisonments continued, Obama was briefed. He ordered the FBI and the CIA to investigate the cause of the damning breach. Investigators examined the CIA’s operations in Beijing; every U.S. Embassy employee in China was closely scrutinized, but nothing incriminating was found.
At one point, investigators suspected a former CIA operative who worked in China. But after further probing, they had no evidence to arrest him. Unable to figure out what caused the breach, investigators were ordered to close the investigation.
The focus then shifted from identifying the cause of the breach to repairing the devastating damage it has caused. The Times said by 2013, U.S. intelligence concluded China’s ability to identify its agents had been curtailed.
However, due to the huge impact, the CIA is yet to find its feet in China. The agency has tried hard to commence new spying networks in the country. The Chinese obviously are aware of this, and are on full alert.
The Times admitted that the breach was very damaging, comparing the number of assets lost to the Cold War era when Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, both CIA agents who disclosed to the Soviet government informants in Moscow, who were working with Washington. This intelligence breach led to the killing of many CIA informants in Moscow.
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