Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Thursday, May 23, 2019 06:07:42 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Spy fact, not spy fiction

Saga of the Chinese mole

By
10th-May-2019       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

David Ignatius :
Behind last week's admission by a former CIA officer that he plotted to spy for China lies an astonishing tale of Beijing's espionage against America - and the vindication of other CIA officers who were falsely suspected of being the Chinese mole.
This saga has a classic thriller plot, in which a suspect must find the real villain to clear his name. Unfortunately, most of the details of the true-life version remain secret, under seal at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria or in the vaults of the CIA. But knowledgeable sources sketched parts of the story that aren't classified.
Jerry Chun Shing Lee, who was a CIA case officer from 1994 to 2007, pleaded guilty May 1 to conspiring with Chinese intelligence agents to provide secret information. U.S. officials won't discuss the precise damage Lee did, but intelligence experts believe he was part of an aggressive Chinese spy operation that led to the exposure, arrest and execution of at least 20 CIA sources inside China. For an intelligence service such as the CIA, that's as bad as it gets.
The resolution of the Lee case comes at a time when the Trump administration is threatening to escalate its trade war against Beijing to force China to stop stealing commercial secrets and allow fairer trade. The negotiations will hit a deadline Friday, when the administration has threatened to raise tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese products.
Trump's hard-nosed and sometimes erratic bargaining tactics have roiled financial markets this week. But as the Lee case shows, the Chinese are hardly innocent victims. They have been burrowing deep into the CIA to steal its most precious secrets, as well as pilfering corporate data wherever they can.
Lee pleaded guilty to only one count of conspiracy, and prosecutors said his plea agreement and an accompanying statement of evidence were "not intended to be a full enumeration of all of the facts surrounding the defendant's case." Asked if Lee had agreed to cooperate with the CIA in sharing additional details, his attorney, Edward B. MacMahon Jr., responded: "There is nothing in the plea agreement that deals with his cooperating."
The hunt for a Chinese mole began after the CIA started losing its key sources in China in 2010. Lee, who first met with Chinese intelligence officers in April 2010, according to prosecutors, soon came under suspicion. Another suspect was a former senior case officer who had served in China when the blown network of spies was recruited.
The senior case officer was eventually cleared, thanks to Chinese tradecraft mistakes that revealed their contact with Lee, a source said. The bungling came in Thailand in 2013, when Chinese spies made a sudden recruitment pitch to a former CIA operative who had worked with the senior case officer. She figured that someone had given the Chinese operative her name and told him it must have been Lee.
Her Chinese would-be recruiter then foolishly blurted out: "No, I'm not handling Jerry. It's another team," according to a knowledgeable source.
The former operative and her senior colleague promptly reported the conversation to the FBI, which added the Thailand evidence to its Lee file. In 2012, the FBI had copied two notebooks and a flash drive that Lee brought with him to Hawaii, according to prosecutors. That evidence helped lead to Lee's conviction last week.
If Lee hadn't made his plea agreement, prosecutors were ready to present evidence about the secret meeting in Thailand, the bungled pitch and the Chinese admission of their relationship with Lee, a source said.
The damage from this case still makes the intelligence community wince. "They wiped us out in China. All the networks we had were gone," one former official said. Officials speculate that the Chinese may have used their contact with Lee to unravel other communications and tradecraft secrets. "It was a double whammy: human sources and technical sources," the former official said.
The Chinese mole case has been a subject of CIA corridor gossip, and occasional press stories, for several years. The CIA won't comment.
MacMahon protests: "If someone wants to accuse my client of getting people killed, they should attach their names to that charge. It's not even part of this case."
Here's a last Chinese riddle. Experts say that in the Thailand meeting, the Chinese operative asked the former CIA officer about cases that Lee shouldn't have known about. Which leads to an eerie question: Was there another Chinese mole, buried even deeper?
Spy fact can be much scarier than spy fiction.

(David Ignatius, Columnist, Washington Post)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

BB failing to lead banking sector


WHEN there are huge frustrations among the political circle, civil society members and the ordinary masses over ongoing banking irregularities, at that time the High Court has halted the loan rescheduling facilities for defaulters till June 23, earlier offered by the central bank, the Bangladesh Bank. The HC on Tuesday ...

Sports »

With the world at her feet, Osaka takes Paris in her stride


AFP, Paris :Twelve months ago at Roland Garros, an embarrassed Naomi Osaka bristled at being hailed as the 'coolest thing' in tennis.Now, however, the 21-year-old Japanese returns to Paris as comfortably the sport's hottest ticket with the world number one billing, a bank balance bursting at the seams and on ...

International »

Top officials say US doesn't want war with Iran


AP, Washington :Top Trump administration officials have told Congress that recent actions by the U.S. have deterred Iranian attacks on American forces. But some lawmakers remain deeply skeptical of the White House approach in the Middle East.After Tuesday's closed-door briefings on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting ...

Entertainment »

Samantha Akkineni’s Oh Baby first look unveiled


The first look of Samantha Akkineni’s upcoming film Oh Baby is unveiled on a special occasion. Suresh Productions, one of the reputed banners of the Telugu Film Industry, which was established by late producer Rama Naidu, has completed 55 years in the industry. On the occasion of this big day, ...

Editorial »

Why youths taking life risk to get a job in foreign lands?


STATE Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday said the government has taken zero tolerance policy against illegal migration. "Our government will not tolerate any illegal practices in migration. Even a single case of harassment and a life lost is important... one success story of reaching Europe illegally cannot be an example ...

City »

Bangladesh Sammilita Peshajibi Parishad formed a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club on Tuesday demanding release and proper treatment of BNP Chief Begum Khaleda Zia.


Football »

Japan's Honda quits Melbourne Victory after one season


AFP, Melbourne :Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda Tuesday announced he will leave Melbourne Victory this week after one season as he pursues new challenges.The former AC Milan striker, one of the highest profile names in Asian football, was an instant hit with fans, with his early season form drawing rave reviews.However, ...

International »

India's Congress urges workers to ignore ominous exit polls, be vigilant


Reuters, New Delhi :India's main opposition Congress party has told its workers not to lose heart and to remain vigilant at vote-count centers after exit polls predicted a clear election victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The counting of votes cast in the seven-phase general election will take place on Thursday, ...

National »

EED implements Tk 2259.12 cr uplift schemes in Rajshahi divn


BSS, Rajshahi :Education Engineering Department (EED) has implemented 5403 schemes involving around Tk 2259.12 crore in over last ten years in all eight districts under Rajshahi division.Implementation works of 503 other schemes are progressing with an estimated cost of around Tk 210.45 crore. Mijanur Rahman Engineer of EED, here said ...

Business & Economy »

Gazi Yar Mohammed, Agent Banking Head of ONE Bank Limited and Meskat Hossain Rakib, Director of Piickme Limited, exchanging an agreement signing document at the corporate office of the Bank in the city recently. Under the deal, OK Wallet customers will be able to make ride sharing payment and enjoy cash back and attractive prizes.


Entertainment »

Sonam Kapoor's first look from Cannes 2019


Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor took time out for a brand photoshoot on her day two of Cannes 2019. The actor shared photos from the French Riviera on her social media accounts. Her sister Rhea Kapoor too shared photos as the Bollywood diva got ready for the photoshoot of a perfume ...

Entertainment »

It is holiday time for Sreelekha


Sreelekha Mitra is on a summer break. The actress, who was busy dubbing for films, has finally wrapped up her work and is chilling at her place right now. "Gorome ami dysfunctional hoye jai," she told us, adding, "I just finished dubbing Anik Dutta's Barunbabur Bandhu. While the film mainly ...

Editorial »

Save farmers, buy rice directly from them


DESPITE prevailing agony and dissatisfaction among the farmers across the country over the low price of paddy than their cost, the government has no plan to compensate or complying farmers' demand to procure directly instead of mediators - the millers. In the last couple of days we see farmers are ...

Football »

Mbappe wants responsibility, 'maybe at PSG, maybe elsewhere'


AFP, Paris :Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe fuelled speculation surrounding his future on Sunday, saying that he wants "responsibilities, maybe at PSG, maybe elsewhere".The 20-year-old backed up his excellent 2018 World Cup, where he scored four times as France won the trophy, by netting 38 times for PSG this season.He ...

International »

Russia air strikes kill 10 civilians in northwest Syria


AFP, Syria :Clashes between regime forces and jihadists raged Monday on the edge of the region held by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, following the deadly air raids overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.The Idlib region controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is supposed to be protected from a government ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news