Saturday, August 31, 2019

"China’s Spies Are on the Offensive"

From The Atlantic:

China’s spies are waging an intensifying espionage offensive against the United States. Does America have what it takes to stop them?

In early 2017, Kevin Mallory was struggling financially. After years of drawing a government salary as a member of the military and as a CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency officer, he was behind on his mortgage and $230,000 in debt. Though he had, like many veteran intelligence officials, ventured into the private sector, where the pay can be considerably better, things still weren’t going well; his consulting business was floundering.
Then, prosecutors said, he received a message on LinkedIn, where he had more than 500 connections. It had come from a Chinese recruiter with whom Mallory had five mutual connections. The recruiter, according to the message, worked for a think tank in China, where Mallory, who spoke fluent Mandarin, had been based for part of his career. The think tank, the recruiter said, was interested in Mallory’s foreign-policy expertise. The LinkedIn message led to a phone call with a man who called himself Michael Yang. According to the FBI, the initial conversations that would lead Mallory down a path of betrayal were conducted in the bland language of professional courtesy. That February, according to a search warrant, Yang sent Mallory an email requesting “another short phone call with you to address several points.” Mallory replied, “So I can be prepared, will we be speaking via Skype or will you be calling my mobile device?”

Soon after, Mallory was on a plane to meet Yang in Shanghai. He would later tell the FBI he suspected that Yang was not a think-tank employee, but a Chinese intelligence officer, which apparently was okay by him. Mallory’s trip to China began an espionage relationship that saw him receive $25,000 over two months in exchange for handing over government secrets, the criminal complaint shows. The FBI eventually caught him with a digital memory card containing eight secret and top-secret documents that had details of a still-classified spying operation, according to NBC, which followed the case along with other major outlets. Mallory also had a special phone he’d received from Yang to send encrypted communications. Gone was the polite, careful language from their initial conversations. “Your object is to gain information,” Mallory told Yang in one of the texts on the device. “And my object is to be paid.” Mallory was charged under the Espionage Act with selling U.S. secrets to China and convicted by a jury last spring. Mallory’s attorneys alleged that he’d been trying to uncover Chinese spies, but a judge dismissed the idea that he was working as a double agent, a defense that other accused spies have tried to deploy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May; his lawyers plan to appeal the conviction.

If Mallory’s story was unique, he’d just be a tragic example of a former intelligence officer gone astray. But in the past year, two other former U.S. intelligence officers pleaded guilty to espionage-related charges involving China. They are an alarming sign for the U.S. intelligence community, which sees China in the same tier as Russia as America’s top espionage threat.
Ron Hansen, 59, is a former DIA officer fluent in both Mandarin and Russian, who had already received thousands of dollars from Chinese intelligence agents over several years by the time the FBI caught him last year, court documents show. Hansen gave the Chinese sensitive intelligence information and, the FBI alleged in its criminal complaint, export-controlled encryption software. He told the FBI that in early 2015, Chinese intelligence officers offered him $300,000 a year “in exchange for providing ‘consulting services,’” according to the complaint. He was caught when he began asking a DIA case officer to pass him information. Among his requests were classified documents about national defense and “United States military readiness in a particular region,” according to the Justice Department.
The case of Jerry Chung Shing Lee, 54, a former CIA officer, is perhaps the most enigmatic. After leaving the CIA in 2007, Lee moved to Hong Kong and started a private business, but it never really took off, according to the indictment. In 2010, Chinese intelligence operatives approached him, offering money for information. According to the Justice Department, he conspired to pass his handlers sensitive intelligence, and had created a document including “certain locations to which the CIA would assign officers with certain identified experience, as well as the particular location and timeframe of a sensitive CIA operation.” Lee also possessed an address book that “contained handwritten notes … related to his work as a CIA case officer prior to 2004. These notes included … intelligence provided by CIA assets, true names of assets, operational meeting locations and phone numbers, and information about covert facilities.” The ramifications of Lee’s leaks are still unknown. While NBC reported last year that U.S. authorities suspect that the information Lee passed to his handlers helped lead to the death or imprisonment of some 20 U.S. agents, a subsequent Yahoo News report blamed the compromise on a massive communications breach initiated by Iran....
"How Does Industrial Espionage Affect Economic Growth?"
"How Silicon Valley Became a Den of Spies"
"Xi’s world order: July 2024"
Russia Warns China: Don't Count On Us For Soybeans 
I like the bit of propaganda in the headline, the "U.S. trade war" bit.
See, China was just innocently enforcing tariff and non - tariff barriers to foreign companies entering its home markets while happily pursuing predatory mercantilist policies abroad and not just stealing technology but actively using state espionage as just another tool of state economic policy.
And then out of the blue, Orange Man Bad started the war.
(if I may mix my color metaphors)*
"The CIA's communications suffered a catastrophic compromise. It started in Iran."
Sometimes I think the U.S. intelligence community isn't as good as they say they are.

I have this picture in my head of that Peter Strozk fellow in the Home for Retired Spooks with spy guys and gals from all around the world, Russians and Chinese and the Iranians and North Koreans and the British and the Germans and the Israelis and the Macedonians, all of 'em.

Now Strozk was a pretty big deal,  He was Chief of the Counterespionage Section of the FBI.
He was also the #2 of the entire FBI Counterintelligence Division.

And he left 50,000 text messages with his paramour, DOJ and FBI attorney Lisa Page, laying around.
50,000 mash notes to sweetie-pie.
Right there, in the phone, on a server, where any junior-grade investigator could find them.

And in my vision all the old spies spies and counter-spies are waiting for dinner and laughing at Strozk and reverting to childhood as the elderly are sometimes wont to do and chanting, almost in unision:
"Peter and Lisa sitting in a tree, T-E-X-T-I-N-G..."
So, although the story below is about the CIA, it was 'ol FBI Pete who I thought of when I saw the article....
And many more.