According to a recent New York Times article, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) admits to losing dozens of informants. In a top-secret meeting, the CIA discussed the struggle of recruiting and maintaining spies from foreign countries as they are frequently captured or killed by foreign counterintelligence services.
The article, written by US security experts, claims that adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan hunt down the CIA. In some cases, they also turn them into double agents.
As a result, the double agents feed disinformation to the CIA which distorts intelligence collection and analysis. Former CIA officials revealed that Pakistan has been very successful in this regard.
Pakistani intelligence very effective at hunting down CIA sources and flipping them into double agents, according to this must-read NYT reporting on a secret agency cable.
— Rupert Stone (@RupertStone83) October 5, 2021
Moreover, Pakistan maintains a record of discovering and breaking CIA spy networks. An example of this is when Pakistan arrested five CIA informants in a Bin Laden raid.
In a separate incident, Pakistani authorities arrested a US government security contractor. The two countries faced worsening ties over the US spy network within Pakistan. The arrest came at the start of the murder trial of Raymond Davis, another CIA agent.
Interestingly, the NYT article reveals that ever since the US-backed Afghan government collapsed, it has become more important for the US to learn about Pakistan’s “ties” with the Taliban. Therefore, the “pressure is once again on the CIA to build and maintain networks of informants in Pakistan.”
It appears as if Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is indeed a sophisticated and expert intelligence agency as it remains successful in breaking down foreign spy networks within the country.
CIA underestimated foreign intelligence agencies
While the CIA admits to Pakistan’s intelligence prowess, it also highlighted its failures in the meeting.
One of the failures is that it underestimated foreign intelligence agencies. In recent years, countries became experts in “employing innovations like biometric scans, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and hacking tools to track the movements of CIA officers in order to discover their sources.”
Additionally, the CIA recruited informants without paying attention to counterintelligence risks.
Read more: US intelligence agencies admit “failure”