The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is launching a new center focused solely on combatting communist China and Chinese spying against the U.S., according to the agency’s director.
CIA Director William Burns said during remarks to personnel this week that the new China Mission Center was being launched to “further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century, an increasingly adversarial Chinese government.”
The Washington Post reported:
Describing an effort that will enlist every corner of the spy agency, a senior CIA official drew comparisons to the Cold War fight against the Soviet Union, but said China was a more formidable and complicated rival given the size of its economy, which is completely entwined with that of the United States, and its own global reach.
Just as it did against the Soviets, the CIA will deploy more officers, linguists, technicians and specialists in countries around the world to gather intelligence and counter China’s interests, said the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to more fully describe Burns’s remarks.
The news comes following a report from earlier this week that claimed U.S. officials sent out a message to CIA stations and bases warning them that a high number of foreign informants — recruited by the CIA from other countries to collect intelligence for the United States — had been killed or captured.
The New York Times reported:
The message, in an unusual top secret cable, said that the C.I.A.’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. 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 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 C.I.A.’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.
Acknowledging that recruiting spies is a high-risk business, the cable raised issues that have plagued the agency in recent years, including poor tradecraft; being too trusting of sources; underestimating foreign intelligence agencies, and moving too quickly to recruit informants while not paying enough attention to potential counterintelligence risks — a problem the cable called placing “mission over security.”
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