China killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA sources from 2010 to 2012, hobbling U.S. spying operations in a massive intelligence breach whose origin has not been identified, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
The investigation ultimately centered on a former CIA operative who worked in a division overseeing China, the newspaper said, but there was not enough evidence to arrest him.
Some investigators believed the Chinese had hacked the CIA's covert communications system.
Still others thought the breach was a result of careless spy work including traveling the same routes to the same meeting points or meeting sources at restaurants where Chinese had planted listening devices, the newspaper said.
ROBERT STEELE: The CIA is not a serious intelligence organization just as the FBI is not a serious counterintelligence organization. As long as CIA places most of its emphasis on liaison relationships and official cover, it will remain the laughing stock of the global intelligence community. “Useful idiots.”
Steele, Robert. “Foreign Liaison and Intelligence Reform: Still in Denial,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 20/1 167-174, Fall 2007.
Steele, Robert. “Intelligence Affairs: Evolution, Revolution, or Reactionary Collapse?,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 19/1 519-537, Fall 2006.