02 Sep You’re Not in Kansas Anymore Dorothy
SYNOPSIS: Most people have no idea of what a typical day in the life of a CIA officer under official cover is like. Therefore, when they see or hear commentary about how new technological developments can compromise CIA operations, they don’t know what it means. Using the fictitious country of New Oz as a metaphor, this paper describes the adventures of Dorothy, a newly minted officially-covered CIA operations officer at her first overseas posting, and explores the impact new surveillance technologies have of her cases and on U.S. national security.
The sky was deep blue with hardly a hint of clouds. It was going to be another hot one, probably near a hundred degrees Dorothy thought as she departed the embassy compound in her late model Toyota. She was a newly minted CIA Operations Officer six months into her first assignment to the African country of New Oz and she was loving it. Finally, after graduating from Kansas State, getting accepted by CIA, and successfully completing all the training and preparation, she was in the field under official-cover as a State Department officer, and she had the diplomatic black passport to prove it! Life was good. Even better, she was making steady progress at work.
So, as she drove into her new adventure she took stock of her situation. On the final leg of her flight into New Oz she met a young couple that, like herself, were just arriving in their new home. They clicked right off the bat, and became fast friends. About a week ago, after a great dinner, and one too many drinks, they confided to her that they were having some financial difficulties, and Dorothy’s operational Spidey sense went into overdrive. She immediately saw the situation as an operational opportunity, and met with her Chief of Station the first thing the next morning to see what he thought. The couple had no access to any secrets whatsoever, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t be useful, so she was ecstatic when he praised her for her work. He had recently become worried about the security implications of the fact that most of his officers were registering in alias in local hotels to meet with their assets, and Dorothy’s young friends provided the opportunity to get some of the station’s cases out of the hotels and into a space that it actually controlled, so he gave Dorothy permission to recruit the couple as safe house keepers. Yeah baby! Her first recruitment, slam dunk!
And, that wasn’t all. She had taken over a couple of recruited assets from her predecessor. One was a leader in the local political opposition who was producing voluminous intelligence that headquarters was very pleased with, and the other was from the political opposition in the neighboring country reporting about his organization’s efforts to unseat the ruling party there. This case, too, was receiving kudos from headquarters. Better yet, she was working on a “developmental” contact who she had spotted, assessed, and was now developing as a potential spy against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If successful, this case was her entry into the big time, but it was also her most dangerous case. It wasn’t a typical dime-a-dozen operation against some low-ranking third country diplomat, but an attempt to directly recruit a spy in her host government. If the case went wrong, she would undoubtedly get kicked out of New Oz persona-non-grata, and the diplomatic backlash would likely destroy government-to-government relations. It would probably destroy her new career, too, so she told herself she was going to take this one slow and easy.
And the hits just keep on coming. This morning she was headed to unload a “dead” drop, a secret location that can be used to pass sensitive information between an Ops Officer and an asset without direct contact. All such sites are chosen with the highest security and only used once, and if the timing was just right, this site was just about perfect as it was in a location that could not be observed by anyone. Dorothy couldn’t contain her excitement. This was the stuff of Hollywood movies and was exactly the kind of operation that attracted her to the CIA in the first place.
The drop had been loaded by a young Chinese intelligence officer named Xiao Wang who volunteered his services to one of her colleagues about a year ago by pressing a flash drive into his hand at a diplomatic function. Later, back at the embassy when her colleague opened it, he found a letter from Xiao explaining his defection, and copies of several highly classified documents to establish his bona fides. In his letter, Xiao explained that the road that led to his defection was long and winding. He stated that he was proud of the progress China had made since the peasant revolt led by Mao Zedong. China was the new rising superpower, there was no denying it. But at what cost? His proud nation had become an Orwellian nightmare of almost total surveillance and control, exemplified by its subjugation of the Uighurs in East Turkestan, and the forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong members. The control and lack of privacy was almost complete, but the day he had to have his face scanned before he could get toilet paper at a public restroom was the last straw! He decided then and there that he would get out, and as the United States appeared to be the only country willing to stand up to China, so spying for the CIA seemed to be his only hope.
So, putting on her game face and getting seriously professional, she recalled what she was taught at “The Farm”, the Agency’s training facility. Her trainers impressed upon her that she literally held the power of life and death over her assets. In practical terms what that meant was that she had to do everything in her power to not lead any hostile intelligence service to them. If she failed, her assets could be arrested, imprisoned and tortured, executed, or turned against the United States in numerous ways. So, she took a deep breath, focused, and began driving a preplanned surveillance detection route (SDR) to ensure that she wasn’t being followed. While she was driving, a darkness came over her. She was more than confident in her mastery of tradecraft, but she had a sense of dread that just wouldn’t go away. She knew that the very essence of her security, and thereby the security of her assets, was something she had no control over whatsoever. Her cover.
One of the dirty little secrets of CIA is that official diplomatic cover provides a mere fig leaf of protection, if any at all. Veteran officers told her that cover wasn’t real, but a state of mind, which was just another way of saying – “Hey kid, we work out of embassies. It’s the only system we got. Yeah, it has some downsides, but you got to get used to it and adapt”. She remembered how, at first, being a secret agent seemed so cool, but, in reality, the only people who didn’t know she was a spy were a few of her college friends. Her family knew. Certainly, most of the Americans in the embassy knew, but what especially bothered her was that the Foreign Service Nationals, the local people hired by the embassy to do much of the work in the embassy’s consular and administrative sections, also knew. Given that fact, any intelligence officer with a third grade education would have to conclude that the local security service had slipped at least one of their staff officers into the embassy under cover as one of these local-hires, and that others had been recruited to spy for them too. And, who could blame them? There weren’t many people anywhere that would refuse the secret police. The sad fact is that the CIA might as well put-up a sign outside all U.S. embassies, just like the ones outside of CIA Headquarters on Route 123 in Virginia that exclaimed – CIA, Next Right!
She was heartened by the fact that CIA managers appeared to be aware of this problem and how it dovetailed with the growing risk to its operations from ubiquitous CCTV and cell phone intercepts. She had even watched a video of a senior Agency official stating publicly that in about 30 countries Ops Officers were followed through technology alone. In addition, the station knew that the New Oz government had installed numerous cameras around New Oz city, but it had developed tactics to mitigate these threats. With help from local assets and analysts at headquarters, the station had an ongoing project to map areas of the city where cameras had not yet been installed – so called “clean” zones. Armed with this knowledge, station officers made plausible cover stops in these zones where they parked their vehicles and quick-changed into disguise in restrooms or other semi-private locations. They then departed the area in disguise, performed their operational missions, and returned later to remove their disguises, retrieve their vehicles, and carry on with their day.
She was also relieved when her Chief of Station told her that he had an excellent liaison relationship with the local security service and that his counterparts had personally assured him that they would not target the CIA station. Even better, all station officers conducted SDRs before and after each contact, and none of them had detected any surveillance, which must prove that the locals were true to their word. Right? Well, she thought, it is what it is. She couldn’t change her cover, so she put her head down and resolved to do her best. What else could she do?
After an hour of driving her SDR, Dorothy pulled into a clean zone located at a traditional market just on the outskirts of town. She meandered through the market to a restroom and quick-changed into her disguise in one of the stalls. Nobody was in the restroom when she entered and nobody was there now, so she made her exit in disguise and walked back through the market, stopping at some of the colorful stands along the way. She didn’t notice anyone taking an interest in her, so she exited the market and walked a couple of blocks to a rental car that was preplaced at the edge of a small park by a local support asset. She entered the vehicle, found the key in a compartment under her seat and exited the area.
She made one final cover stop at a small restaurant she often incorporated into her SDRs. As she pulled into the parking lot she was able to drive at an angle that afforded her a view of the road she had just been on to see if any cars were following her, and there were no cars at all! That had been the case for most of the day, so, given the fact that she was in disguise, in a clean car, and there had been no signs of interest, she had a high degree of confidence that she was not under surveillance. As was her habit, she spent about 10 minutes in the restaurant and then departed exchanging friendly goodbyes with the staff and leaving a generous tip, but, as she exited the front door, she didn’t notice that her waiter took her fork, straw, glass, and used napkin, put them in a small paper bag, and gave them to a man waiting out back.
After exiting the restaurant, Dorothy swiftly crossed the street and approached an S-shaped dirt path lined with large decorative bushes and flowers that virtually swallowed-up pedestrians and hid them from sight. The path cut at an angle between two low buildings and was used by the locals as a short cut to a small shopping mall. When she got midway into the path and was hidden from sight she confidently pushed through some bushes to an outdoor air conditioner. She quickly made one last check to ensure she was alone and then bent over and pulled free a small magnetized container stuck to the bottom of the machine and slipped it into her purse. She rejoined the path, exited on the other side, and ascended an outside stairway into the mall where she spent fifteen minutes at a small art gallery before retracing her steps to the market where she had left her car.
That night, as she laid her head on her pillow, she reviewed the day’s events through the prism of security. Had she made any mistakes? Did she perform her tradecraft well? What could she have done differently or better? But, after a thorough review, she was confident that she had done all she could to the best of her ability. Still, as she drifted off to sleep, she had a foreboding that something wasn’t quite right.
And she was correct. Little did she realize that on the day she arrived in New Oz, she had entered a new reality, much like her namesake had in the Wizard of Oz. A reality that was full of dangers and almost magical capabilities. There were no witches and flying monkeys, but there were arch-enemies, robot “doves”, all-seeing eyes, and machines with almost crystal ball abilities, and all of them were targeted directly on the girl from Kansas in order to defeat her.
The truth of the matter was that when the New Oz security chiefs told Dorothy’s Chief of Station that they were not targeting the station, they lied. In actual fact, they had recently developed a very close relationship with China, which was a huge deal because China has no intention of competing with the U.S. in Africa. Its goal is nothing less than to dominate the continent at the direct expense of the United States which is the only country that can derail its plan. This new aggressiveness surprised the United States. After focusing almost totally for the past two decades on fighting terrorists in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, the CIA and US military were caught off-guard by China’s rise as America’s number one peer threat.
China, emboldened by its perception of America’s declining power, and convinced that it will surpass America as the most important superpower, is acting accordingly, no longer cowed by the United States and the West. Tracing back, China’s aggressive posture was manifested by, at least, 2010 when it methodically dismantled CIA’s spy network in China killing or imprisoning over a dozen Chinese sources. Shortly thereafter, it began its systematic military build-up in the South China Sea and is now considered by the U.S. Navy to be the dominant power there. In 2013 it created a giant intelligence database on American citizens populated, over time, with more than 600 million files that it brazenly stole from the Office of Personnel Management, Anthem health insurance, and the Marriot Corporation. Then, in 2017, mysterious “sonic” attacks occurred against American diplomatic officials abroad who suffered brain injuries. Nobody could figure out what happened or how it was done until China announced in 2019 that it developed a new “sonic gun” that attacked the brain.
Now, China is putting on a full court press in Africa via its Belt and Road Initiative, a key foreign policy plan to gain strategic influence and dominance. It does so by undertaking large infrastructure development projects carried out by Chinese workers and funded with predatory loans in a process the media has dubbed “debt-trap diplomacy”, which is designed to make countries default on their loans, after which China gains immense influence or control of key national assets. China augments this influence by other means as well. For example, it sponsors military exchanges and training, it furnishes military arms, and it monopolizes the telecommunications and surveillance technology sectors.
This last item plays a particularly important role in its strategic plan to export its new ideology of digital authoritarianism. In fact, it is so important that in agreements with African nations it insists that, in order to protect both its investments and its workers, it “will provide police equipment for African countries and…the two sides will step up the sharing of intelligence, technologies and experience, and increase joint exercise and training to improve African law enforcers’ ability…”
Of course, the real reason it insists on close cooperation with intelligence and police agencies is to penetrate and control them, because without control of the security services, there can be no “ownership”. No worries, though. The massive amounts of money and generous bribes that flow to Africa’s authoritarian-leaning leaders, and their desire to rid themselves of their political opposition, make them more than willing to oblige.
And the proof is in the pudding. China boasts of success after success in penetrating and co-opting police services and establishing its influence throughout the continent. It created an elite railroad police unit it in Kenya. It opened thirteen Chinese police co-op centers in South Africa, and provides self-defense courses and Mandarin language training to officers in the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. In Zambia, it had eight Chinese inducted into the Uniformed Police Reserves. Its influence also incentivized the Zambian government to deport a Kenyan lawyer invited into the country to give a lecture critical of China’s expansion in Africa, and its influence convinced the management of the state-owned Times of Zambia to print a front page article in Chinese.
In Uganda, Huawei, China’s giant telecommunications company, that is considered to be an arm of Chinese intelligence, installed a massive surveillance system that extends to rural villages. Ugandan soldiers guard Chinese businesses there, and the government decreed Mandarin Chinese to be compulsory for two years of secondary school. Even more telling, is the fact that in both Uganda and Zambia, Huawei embedded specialists in elite cyber-security units who then hacked the political opposition by intercepting their encrypted communications, social media, and cell phone data.
China’s growing influence in Dorothy’s new home followed the same pattern. It began two years ago when the president of New Oz visited the Chinese leader in Beijing. Soon after, Huawei arrived and it became a key player in the ruling party’s political survival by monopolizing all telecommunications and embedding its specialized security staff within the New Oz Ministry of Security where it worked hand-in-glove with the secret police to rid the president of his political opposition. And, with CIA in mind, it also worked tirelessly to plan, equip, and build the new national security surveillance network. Because few New Ozians have the training or experience to operate the system, Huawei is, unofficially, in charge of daily operation.
It patterned the new system after the one it built to subjugate the Uighur people of East Turkestan (Xinjiang), which emphasizes surveillance-in-depth manifested in a spider web of interacting systems including: a massive plain clothes and uniformed police presence, thousands of checkpoints, ubiquitous CCTV coverage, the collection of DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, and voiceprints, as well as routine drone surveillance including AI-enabled spy birds code-named “doves”.
Huawei didn’t have carte blanche in New Oz like it did in East Turkestan, so it couldn’t establish checkpoints and demand that the population provide DNA, fingerprints, and iris scans, but it did everything else. It built a central security database that included all of the political opposition as well as all known or suspected foreign intelligence officers. It installed cell phone trackers, thousands of CCTV cameras, as well as several 500 megapixel super camera that can identify individuals in a crowd of thousands in mere seconds, and it launched a flock of “dove” drones. Knowing that CIA officers often use hotels to meet their assets, it also made a point of installing hidden cameras at the check-in desks of all the hotels frequented by foreigners. All of the cameras are equipped with facial and gait recognition capabilities and the digital take from them is stored in the cloud, where Chinese intelligence officials in Beijing can gain real time access to all the feeds.
Huawei is more than willing to use the technology of others in pursuit of its own goals, so when it learned that Zambia had acquired an Israeli Hermes 450 SkEye surveillance drone equipped with Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) it focused on getting one for New Oz. It prepared and provided a dramatic briefing to the president regarding the system’s almost magical capabilities, and as expected, he bought two.
The digital WAMI system continuously captures all movement in the entire capital city, an area of 80 square kilometers. It can be programmed to watch and track numerous targets simultaneously in real time, or to monitor some targets in real time, while other analysts go “back-in-time” to get detail of incidents, individuals, vehicles, and locations. As part of its briefing to the president, it included the video of a commercial firm’s operations in Baltimore that solved numerous crimes including several murders. Huawei knew that the president was thinking about how this technology could help get rid of the political opposition. Huawei, however, was thinking about CIA.
China dispatches its spies overseas under numerous covers, almost all of them non-official cover (NOC). Their collectors are engineers, scientists, language instructors, students, businessmen, employees of telecommunications firms and the like. The CIA? Not so much.
CIA has a minority of officers under NOC cover, but most of their officers, like Dorothy, are assigned under official cover as State Department officers in U.S. embassies. In New Oz, China learned that there were only seven ops officers in the local CIA station. Now, seven officers under well-considered NOC cover with no connections between them and spread out over a million people in the capital city would be a challenge to find and follow, but seven officers, all U.S. diplomats, all connected to one another, and all working out of the same building was no contest. So, focusing its considerable surveillance power on those seven unlucky officers they set out to systematically compromise every one of their cases.
In Dorothy’s case, they quickly established her pattern of life and noted her close relationship with the young couple she met on the plane. They didn’t yet know if the couple was involved in intelligence work, but they sent a team to their house anyway to wire it for sound and video believing that, at the very least, they would get more personal intelligence on Dorothy and her friends. Their efforts paid off in spades, however, because once Dorothy recruited them as safe house keepers and began using their home for secret meetings with the local political opposition, every word and action was captured forever. This is where Huawei’s support against the political opposition really paid off, because when they played the recordings of Dorothy’s asset spouting allegations against the president and the illegal activities of the security services, he became so enraged he gave the Chinese the green light to do whatever they could to discover more American treachery. It didn’t take long.
It quickly became apparent that Dorothy was grooming her new contact in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for recruitment, and when they briefed the president of that fact he became so apoplectic he threatened to close the embassy the next day. His Chinese advisors, however, made another suggestion – turning the official into a double agent designed to provide specially crafted disinformation to CIA on the political situation in New Oz while milking it for as much operational intelligence as possible. He agreed.
Dorothy’s ministry contact was told that his new American friend was CIA and that she would soon attempt to recruit him. He was told, in no uncertain terms, that when that happened, he would accept the pitch and pretend to be her spy while secretly carrying out all of the orders of the security service. Two months later, Dorothy pitched him and he accepted, and for the rest of her tour of duty her new asset provided reams and reams of intelligence. Dorothy was often singled out for praise by headquarters and the station chief, and one of her intelligence reports was so good it was even included in the U.S. President’s Daily Brief. All concerned believed that they had an insider’s view of New Oz policy, but it was all an illusion.
And then there was poor Xiao Wang. The Chinese were suspicious of him before Dorothy even arrived in-country because he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut about China’s surveillance abuses. By the time Dorothy arrived, he was under surveillance, and whenever he left the embassy he was covered by SkEye and the “doves”. So on that fateful day when he and Dorothy serviced the “dead” drop, SkEye and the “doves” had them both close up, in frame, and in glorious high definition. The close ups from the “doves” were so good that the perspiration on Dorothy’s forehead was clearly visible. The Chinese decided to run this case as an “unwitting” double agent operation. They assigned Xiao Wang to a position with virtually no access to highly classified intelligence and continued the operation to learn of any changes in CIA tradecraft and to see what intelligence topics it was interested in. From the beginning, however, Xiao’s fate was decided. It was just a matter of time. But there was a new wrinkle in this case. Confident in its growing power and unafraid of America, it decided that henceforth it would also punish any CIA officers involved in cases against it.
As the world leader in genetic engineering using CRISPR technology China was developing novel and subtle ways to punish transgressors that would be almost impossible for anyone to prove. Perhaps an officer’s genetic make-up would make him or her a candidate for an early heart attack, or an accelerated form of cancer. The particular type of attack and the manner of delivery would be based on the target’s genetics and carried out at a time and place of China’s choosing, but, in preparation for that day, the Ministry of State Security made the collection of DNA samples from CIA officers a priority. They had Dorothy’s from the restaurant, and similar operations were ongoing around the world, much of it surprisingly easy. Because of their State Department cover many targets were simply invited to China’s diplomatic dinners and parties where they mingled with the guests and unwittingly provided their DNA on their silverware, glasses, and napkins.
But how had they been able to find Dorothy unloading the drop? Well, the areas CIA believed were “clean” didn’t exist except for in their minds. The Chinese had set a trap for the station with an overt-covert operation. Overtly, they publicly made a big show of where they were installing the next set of CCTV cameras with dramatic TV coverage and press articles. Then, having lulled the Agency into a false sense of security, they initiated the covert aspect by installing hidden cameras throughout the “clean” zones and augmented them with coverage by the “doves”, SkEye, and human plain clothes cops armed with a new surveillance toy – a cell phone with a 50X zoom.
The thing about digital surveillance technology that makes it so damaging to intelligence operatives is its ability to be programmed to find and track specific targets. Even more remarkable is its ability to detect anomalies. When Dorothy entered the restroom at the market and didn’t come out, a member of the surveillance unit was sent in to find her. Finding the restroom empty, the team commander immediately played back the video and observed the only person who exited the restroom after Dorothy entered. He tasked the central data base to find out everything possible about this person, but it found exactly nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. No passport, no driver’s license, no entrance visa into the country at the airport. In short, the person didn’t exist. Impossible! In seconds the commander concluded that the person who exited the restroom was Dorothy in disguise and tasked the system to find and track this “person”. Within minutes the system locked on to her entering the vehicle pre-placed at the park, and from that point on, it tracked her all the way to the “dead” drop. Almost magical.
Poor Dorothy. But, that wasn’t the end of the story. The damage they inflicted on Dorothy and her cases was also done to her six colleagues. The Chief of Station’s concerns about his officers’ excessive use of hotels were well founded. Huawei’s hidden cameras at the check-in desks saw to that. The advanced artificial intelligence algorithms even saw through the disguises they wore, and once armed with their aliases the security system automatically alerted analysts whenever a reservation in one of the names was made and immediately assigned rooms to them that were modified with video and audio. In a short time, all of their assets were compromised.
The secret police allowed some of them to continue unawares, while others, who were too damaging were arrested or deported in ways that did not give away the compromise. A few others were allowed to continue because China and the security service found value in piggybacking on them to obtain valuable intelligence, like the Russian intelligence officer who, like Xiao Wang, had volunteered his services to the Americans. There were also a few surprises like one particularly baffling act of idiocy – a hotel meeting between a NOC cover officer and his officially covered handler, which of course, defeated the very concept of non-official cover.
For China and New Oz though, the best part, was that CIA never knew. Rather, all of the station’s officers thought they were doing stellar espionage, while, in truth, all their successes were a delusion built on the belief that since no alarm bells had gone off, no cases were compromised. Such is the reality of counterintelligence where keeping the mark’s con is the key to success. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
Once upon a time, CIA could afford to place operations officers under official-cover in embassies because the U.S. “owned” most of the world, and the technology to surveil all officers all of the time didn’t exist. That is no longer true. All of the technologies described in this paper are real operational systems currently used to monitor CIA operations around the world.
But, even before the creation of these technologies, when the CIA used its very best tradecraft, personnel, and its most sophisticated spy gear, counterintelligence services worldwide were still able to uncover its operations using traditional human surveillance teams. The myth of official cover goes back decades, a fact I stated in my congressional testimony 20 years ago, and the truth is that any counterintelligence service worth its salt can uncover operations conducted by the Agency’s officially-covered officers. Yet, despite this untenable situation, CIA is currently creating a new generation of officers that will be placed under official cover.
And, if AI-enabled CCTV, facial recognition, gait recognition, WAMI, and memetic drones aren’t bad enough, newer technologies are being brought to the battlefield as we speak. Truly, the new operating environment is worlds apart from anything the espionage world has ever encountered. Humankind is witnessing the opening era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is characterized by the exponential growth of scientific understanding and technical breakthroughs that create unique technologies. Here are just a few that will undoubtedly be adapted for espionage and counterespionage operations:
· Fast Lightweight Autonomous drones
· Black hornet Nano-UAV surveillance drones
· Laser-detected cardiac signature device
· AI-enabled lip reading
· Autonomous networked systems of aerial and ground drones that work in harmony to find specific targets.
In all honesty, there is no way to keep up with all the possible innovations in surveillance technology, so the solution isn’t to try to mitigate each new device with a new countermeasure, but to create a radically new strategic clandestine service that isn’t targeted in the first place. The new service should be small, agile, adaptable, and mobile, and formed around a cadre of elite non-official cover (NOC) officers with existing subject matter expertise, language skills, overseas experience, and natural cover that provides access to 21st Century intelligence targets.
CIA has always been ruled by officially covered officers and its past handling of NOC officers has been abysmal. While it acknowledges that more of its officers will have to be assigned under non-official cover (NOC), the idea that NOC cover is the only viable approach in the Artificial Intelligence/Quantum era is anathema to it. Hopefully, Dorothy’s story reveals the wrongheadedness of this view.
Moreover, its current approach to assigning new NOCs is too slow, and too corporate. It intends to place NOC officers in American multinational corporations, but that provides a corporate veto over national intelligence operations. What happens if the corporate sponsor decides that the cover is too dangerous? What if it continually demands more money to cover the risk? What happens to ongoing operations if they bail on us? Worse, this kind of cover can never remain secret. Just as all State Department officers know who the CIA officers are, so will the real corporate employees. There will inevitably be jealousies and disagreements. Google employees recently revolted against the company’s participation in the “business of war”, culminating in its cancellation of the company’s participation in project Maven. What are the chances future corporate employees will follow suit?
Most importantly, CIA’s lack of action is not happening in a vacuum. The U.S. in currently engaged in a new cold war with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, and while CIA took a hiatus from espionage during its two decade focus on counterterrorism, these enemies never ceased regarding the Agency as their primary enemy, and they used that time to develop new strategies, tactics and technologies designed to exploit its weaknesses.
To continue the Oz analogy, there is no grace period. There is no witch’s hour glass upended giving CIA time to sort out these difficulties before the bad stuff happens. The bad stuff is here. Right now. And only a radical departure from the status quo will succeed.
Brian Fairchild was a career officer in CIA’s Clandestine Service assigned overseas under official and non-official cover. He has lived and worked in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Afghanistan. Mr. Fairchild writes periodic intelligence analyses on topics of strategic importance.