Beijing,China. The Chinese government reacted to the revelation it had purged a network of CIA informants with a victory lap, boasting that the execution of a dozen spies within the last seven years was a triumph for its “anti-espionage activities.”
The American CIA spy network was terminated between 2010 and 2012, with 12 or more people killed and several more imprisoned. As announced by Chinese state media yesterday.
“If this article is telling the truth, we would like to applaud China’s anti-espionage activities,” read one Chinese editorial. “Not only was the CIA’s spy network dismantled, but Washington had no idea what happened and which part of the spy network had gone wrong.
The CIA has undoubtedly carried out its own assessment of what happened, the Chinese article prompted former insiders to speculate about what caused the demise of the spy network deep inside China.
The action is viewed as one of the worst security breaches in the CIA intelligence service in decades. American intelligence say the saga still unnerves the CIA, and although investigators questioned a Chinese-American who left the CIA just before the crackdown began, he was allowed to return home to Asia and no charges relating to turning on fellow agents have ever been filed, despite agency officials concerns.
“This would indicate an internal, insider threat type of person who was spying for the Chinese,” former CIA Deputy General Counsel for Operations Robert Eatinger told News Front. Eatinger was Acting General Counsel of the CIA from 2009 to 2014 and now runs his own law firm, SpyLaw Consulting.
Another former CIA officer Mike Baker agreed.“When you start losing a number of assets, especially when they are all compartmentalized away from each other, you have to assume that one possible explanation is you’ve got a counterintelligence problem, that there is someone with knowledge on the inside – a mole…a traitor,” Baker pointed out.
Asked whether the incident represents an ongoing vulnerability to Chinese infiltration of the CIA, Eatinger pointed out “if somebody is very smart and cautious they can get away with this for a very long time.”