The Central Intelligence Agency admitted in a top secret cable to counterintelligence stations around the world that dozens of informants have been killed in the last few years, as well as multiple agents, according to The New York Times.
The cable notes that the agency’s counterintelligence mission center has reviewed dozens of cases involving the killing, arrest, or compromise of foreign informants in the last several years. It also included the specific number of agents that have been killed by other intelligence agencies, which the Times notes is unusual for counterintelligence cables.
The message also noted the difficulties that the agency was encountering in trying to recruit agents and informants at this time, and the threats they face from Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan. It also critiques the agency’s own practices, and notes that several issues have cropped up in the last few years, including over-trusting sources, underestimating rival agencies, and overlooking the potential risks when recruiting informants.
A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment to the Times when asked about the cable.
"No one at the end of the day is being held responsible when things go south with an agent," said former CIA operative Douglas London, author of the book "The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence."
He added: "Sometimes there are things beyond our control but there are also occasions of sloppiness and neglect and people in senior positions are never held responsible."
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