Tags: Gaping | Holes | America's | Security

Gaping Holes in America's Security

Monday, 25 September 2006 12:00 AM

"She's been a communist since the day she was born. Her bona fides are impeccable. I gradually converted her - she's now a rock-ribbed Republican."

So boasted FBI agent and counterintelligence expert James J. Smith when he introduced Katrina Leung to fellow China specialists in the bureau. He neglected to add that he was also sleeping with the lady, who was in reality a rock-ribbed spy for China.

Shocking as Smith's sexual escapades with an agent allegedly under his control were, he was not alone in his indiscretions - Leung was also

The full story of the Leung case - dubbed "Parlor Maid" is revealed in Gertz's book for the first time - told in the face of vehement protests from FBI officials who he charges "focused on protecting the FBI's already battered reputation from further damage."

The real damage, however was to America's national security. Parlor Maid was stealing the U.S. blind - furnishing her superiors in Beijing with some of our nation's top secrets and exposing ultra-sensitive information about America's vital counterintelligence operations.

And in the end, thanks to FBI bungling, she walked away scot-free.

"Parlor Maid is the story of a Chinese spy who got away," Gertz wrote. "And not just any spy. U.S. intelligence officials close to the case insist that regardless of the [failed] outcome of the prosecution, the Katrina Leung case represents one of the worst spy cases in U.S. history - and one of the worst U.S. intelligence failures as well."

Tragically, as Gertz discloses, Parlor Maid is merely the tip of the iceberg upon which U.S. counterintelligence has foundered. The book is rife with examples of the gaping hole in America's security. If the examples he cites are merely one example of the nation's inability to safeguard its secrets, we can no longer count on counterespionage agencies to protect us from both friends and foes who seek to steal our most sensitive secrets and use them against us.

In the book's introduction he reveals the vast scope of the problem. "Today, nearly 140 nations and some 35 known and suspected terrorist groups target the United States through espionage, according to intelligence officials," Gertz wrote.

"And since 1985, nearly 80 Americans have been caught spying for other countries. Over the past several decades, foreign agents have penetrated every U.S. national security agency except the Coast Guard. That includes the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department, and the Energy Department."

And writes Gertz, one of the nation's best informed journalists on security matters, "The enemy spying picture seems to be getting worse."

From the opening passages where he details the story of an FBI intelligence analyst and three year veteran of service in the White House who was spying for his native Philippines to such matters as what was known as the case of "Red Flower of North America," Gertz hammers away at the failures of the nation's security agencies to safeguard our secrets.

He reveals how China may well have reached the highest levels of our government, explains why Russia has as many spies here as it did during the height of the Cold War, and tells the sorry story of the many spies who escaped U.S. justice.

Gertz explains that vital importance to our national security of effective counterintelligence which he describes as "an absolutely essential line of defense against our enemies, including terrorist organizations."

And he adds: "Unfortunately, the U.S government has disregarded our counterintelligence capabilities and done little to repair the long-neglected and deeply fragmented counterintelligence apparatus."

As Gertz demonstrates, much of the problem lies in the bureaucratic culture of the 15 agencies responsible for intelligence activities. He quotes Richard Haver, a former ranking Pentagon official who has studied the problem since the 1980s, as warning that the U.S. must develop an aggressive counterintelligence strategy as opposed to a reactive one.

"The best defense is good offense," Haver said. "If you are sitting back, waiting for the enemy to attack you, it will happen. If you want effective counterintelligence, the principal element of that is the capability of your system to attack the adversary intelligence before it can attack you."

Writes Gertz: "Good counterintelligence gets you inside the foreign intelligence system and reveals what your enemy's plans are even before they are executed."

Doing this, he adds, will require a major cultural change which Haver insists is needed. Gertz says that the United States needs a culture of accountability: "Government agencies that collect and disseminate intelligence must be accountable for what happens in the operations they conduct and for the information they disseminate. If the information is bogus, they should be held accountable for getting it wrong."


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"She's been a communist since the day she was born. Her bona fides are impeccable. I gradually converted her - she's now a rock-ribbed Republican." So boasted FBI agent and counterintelligence expert James J. Smith when he introduced Katrina Leung to fellow China...
Monday, 25 September 2006 12:00 AM
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