In 1973 in Shikhany 1, a secret Russian military nerve gas laboratory near the city of Volsk on the Volga River, two scientists developed a nerve gas many times more powerful than any the world had seen. They called it Novichok, which means newcomer.
In March of this year, experts in Britain said the nerve agent used to poison Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer, and his daughter Yulia in the quiet English town of Salisbury was Novichok. Both were placed in intensive care and survived. Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” that the poison came from Russia.… Seguir leyendo »
During the Cold War, the Soviet KGB coined the term “desinformatsiya,” or disinformation, which the CIA defined as "false, incomplete or misleading information" fed to various targets. Both the Soviet Union and the United States engaged in the same game, though the Russians played it far more vigorously.
In the digital age, the players might not have to go to the trouble of altering information, or mixing true information with false. Simply hacking into sensitive emails or other data, even when the information is true, can have the same impact as disinformation.
Witness WikiLeaks’ release of a steady flow of emails the group asserts are from John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and former counselor to President Barack Obama.… Seguir leyendo »
In the wake of the horrific attack on Tuesday at the Brussels airport and a metro station, there were immediate calls for more information sharing and greater coordination among the world’s intelligence agencies to detect terrorist plots before they can be executed.
It is an obvious and desirable goal. The only problem is that it runs counter to the deep-rooted culture of the spy agencies. Intelligence agencies exist to steal secrets of other countries and protect their own. Few outsiders can appreciate how deep that instinct for secrecy runs.
Despite the increased information-sharing between the two countries in the wake of the Paris attacks, in which killers based in Belgium murdered 130 people in November, many intelligence agencies regard the Belgian service as dysfunctional and incompetent.… Seguir leyendo »
The mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, shooting brought home the challenging problems of detecting home-grown jihadists in the United States.
Syed Farook lived an outwardly normal life, under the radar of intelligence and law enforcement. He was born in the United States, and held a good job in the local government. His wife, Tashfeen Malik, entered the country under a valid fiancé visa. The guns they used to kill 14 people and wound 22 others were purchased by a friend. Farook had done nothing to lead his co-workers and neighbors to suspect him.
The FBI said it was investigating the massacre as “an act of terrorism” and that the couple had been “radicalized for some time.”… Seguir leyendo »
In 1995, a middle-aged Chinese man walked into a C.I.A. station in Southeast Asia and offered up a trove of secret Chinese documents. Among them was a file containing the top-secret design of the American W-88 nuclear warhead that sits atop the missiles carried by Trident submarines.
He told a story to the C.I.A. that was so bizarre it might just be true. He said that he worked in China’s nuclear program and had access to the archive where classified documents were stored. He went there after hours one night, scooped up hundreds of documents and stuffed them into a duffel bag, which he then tossed out a second-story window to evade security guards.… Seguir leyendo »
A Chinese spy story with a reverse twist surfaced in Beijing last week, providing further evidence that China's rulers are having trouble maintaining their tight control over the Internet.
Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan of the People's Liberation Army, in what he apparently thought was an internal briefing, revealed half a dozen cases of Chinese officials who had spied for Britain, the United States and other countries. Somehow, the video of his sensational disclosures leaked out. Clips of his hours-long talk appeared on at least two Chinese websites, Youku.com and Tudou.com, but were quickly removed by government censors.
It was too late.… Seguir leyendo »
A ring of Russian agents who look and sound like ordinary Americans! Suburban spies with orders to infiltrate United States “policy-making circles” and report to Moscow! So, the cold war is back?
No, not really. For the intelligence agencies on both sides — the F.B.I. and the K.G.B.’s successor, the S.V.R. — it never ended.
The Russians love to dispatch “illegals” — spies who usually adopt the identities of real (or dead) Americans — as opposed to the traditional cold war custom of posing as diplomats. Since the illegals act like the family next door, complete with backyard barbecues and unruly teenagers, they can be impossible to detect.… Seguir leyendo »