Rustmann: US Officials Wrong to Confirm Reports of CIA Setbacks

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2011 04:52 PM

By Fred Rustmann Jr.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
News reports that more than an dozen CIA spies in Iran and Lebanon have been arrested and charged with espionage — as well as details reported about a CIA “black site” prison in Romania — made this former CIA officer sick. But not for the reasons you might suspect.

Spying is a dangerous business where the risk of exposure is inherent in the nature of the beast. “Flaps,” as they call them in the trade, happen all the time. Spies usually get caught for one of three reasons: poor clandestine tradecraft, bad luck or one intelligence service simply outsmarts the other.

I don’t know how these spy networks were wrapped up, but several journalists and intelligence officers have been quick to cite sloppy tradecraft as the cause. That’s an easy judgment to make, particularly when one recalls the egregiously poor tradecraft used by the CIA recently in Khost, Afghanistan, that left seven CIA operatives dead.

So I would tend to agree that the cause of this particular debacle was probably lousy tradecraft. Too many CIA case officers meeting their agents at their favorite Beirut pizza joint is a definite tradecraft no-no.

Details revealed to the press by unnamed former and current intelligence officials include the fact that two of the Hezbollah agents were doubled back against the CIA, and that agent meetings were held at a Beirut Pizza Hut, and the codeword “pizza” was used to describe the meeting location.

It also appears from press reports that the Iranian network may have been related to the Lebanese network. If true, this would mean the basic principle of compartmentalization had been breached. The compromise reportedly occurred when a secret Internet communication method used by CIA agents in both groups was discovered.

When the news of the wrap-ups hit the airwaves on Iranian TV, other “U.S. officials” confirmed to ABC News that the information reported by Iran was essentially true. These same U.S. officials also confirmed to the press that the videos of CIA websites aired on the Iranian program were accurate.

This confirmation of information by so many former and current intelligence officials is what is so troubling to me. Why did they feel it necessary to so quickly confirm to the world that the arrested individuals were indeed CIA spies – by doing so they have all but assured swift executions for the unfortunate suspects.

What these people did was flat wrong.

It is one thing for a country like Iran or a terrorist group like Hezbollah to announce a stunning defeat of our intelligence efforts against them, or for the press to pick up on those reports and speculate about their veracity in the media, but it is entirely another thing for the CIA, or any former and current official in the CIA, to come out and confirm that the information reported is essentially accurate.

This is clearly a violation of the secrecy agreement every CIA officer signs when he or she enters the agency, and it remains in effect long after their retirement. These people should be identified and prosecuted for leaking classified information.

In days far gone the only response one could have hoped to get from the CIA, or any of its former or current officers, would have been “no comment.” Things certainly have changed in these days of openness. And we as a country are less safe because of it.

Fred Rustmann is a 24-year veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service, an author, and chairman of CTC International Group, a provider of worldwide business intelligence based in West Palm Beach, Fla.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Xbox, PlayStation Networks Attacked as Hackers Claim Credit

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 23:28 PM

Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox Live and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Network, Internet services that video gamers use to play online . . .

Sen. McCain Visits Afghanistan as Combat Role About to End

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 22:06 PM

Sen. John McCain spent Christmas Day in Afghanistan on a visit that comes one week before American and NATO forces pull  . . .

Pirates Swarm Over 'The Interview' After Sony's Digital Release

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 21:07 PM

Shortly after Sony Pictures Entertainment released The Interview on digital services Dec. 24, high-quality copies of t . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved