Dead Drop: August 30

I SPY (EXCEPT ON THE 5 EYES & UAE):  Reuters reported this week that the Central Intelligence Agency turns a blind eye to the United Arab Emirates when it comes to human intelligence. It has been frequently reported that members of the so-called “Five Eyes” (Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the U.S.) don’t unleash their intelligence collectors on each other. But news that the UAE gets a free pass may come as a surprise to many folks. Reuters cites three anonymous former CIA officials as confirming the report. Reporter Aram Rostom says his sources claim that the Agency gathers intelligence “on almost every other nation where the United States has significant interests, including some key allies.” Former CIA officer, Bob Baer (apparently NOT one of the original sources) described the lack of collection as “a failure.” In trying to explain why the U.S. would turn a blind eye to the UAE, former CIA officer and Cipher Brief expert Norman Roule said: “Their enemies are our enemies,” (referring to Iran and al-Qaeda) adding: “Abu Dhabi’s actions have contributed to the war on terror, particularly against al-Qaeda in Yemen.”

CHINESE SPIES ON THE RISE: The U.S. may be going easy on the U.A.E. but China is cutting us no slack.  The Atlantic reported this week on the ever-growing espionage effort that China is aiming at the United States. The lengthy piece reviews some of the recent cases of American citizens charged with spying for Beijing and examines how the U.S. is often an easy target.  But Cipher Brief expert Rodney Faraon is quoted as saying: “They’ve broadened their tactics to go beyond relatively easy targets, from recruiting among the ethnically Chinese community to a much more diverse set of human assets,” he said. “In a sense, they’ve become more traditional.” The piece questions whether the U.S. has what it takes to stop them. Faraon says: “The Chinese use and value intelligence better than we do, seeing its applicability in nearly every aspect of private and public life—military, social, commercial. We have been slow to recognize this for ourselves.”

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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