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Spy’s arrest underscores Beijing’s bid for agents
Question of the Day
A former American student in China whom Chinese intelligence recruited as a spy was caught after he sought work in the CIA’s espionage branch, highlighting Beijing’s efforts to plant spies inside the agency.
U.S. officials said screening by security and counterintelligence officials led to the discovery that Glenn Duffie Shriver, a Detroit resident, had close ties to Chinese intelligence agents working for the Ministry of State Security, who paid him at least $70,000 to work secretly as an informant in the CIA.
CIA spokeswoman Paula Weiss declined to provide details of how Shriver was uncovered during an attempt last year and this year to join the CIA-led National Clandestine Service at the behest of the Chinese, but praised the case as an example of good security.
“This was in fact a counterintelligence success,” she said.
“On the other, trying to get someone in through the hiring process is one of the oldest and most predictable tricks in the book — and they surely must have known that their chances of failure were high.”
Shriver pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria on Friday to one count of conspiracy to communicate national defense information. Under the deal, he is expected to be sentenced to five years in prison.
Shriver is not the first spy for the Chinese to target the CIA. U.S. intelligence sources have said at least three CIA officers were reported to Director George J. Tenet in 1999 as having spied for China, but were never caught. One of the agents was paid $60,000 by Beijing.
CIA translator Larry Wu Tai Chin was arrested in 1985 and charged with being a longtime Chinese spy. He committed suicide in his jail cell before he could be sentenced.
But the CIA has come under fire in recent years from critics who say its counterintelligence capabilities are weak.
The agency was penetrated directly by CIA turncoat Aldridge Ames, who, while working as a senior CIA counterintelligence officer, gave Moscow the identities of all its recruited agents, causing the deaths and imprisonments of the agency’s most valuable sources at the end of the Cold War. He was arrested in 1993 and later sentenced to life in prison.
The CIA also was damaged by the case of FBI agent Robert P. Hanssen, who also spied for Moscow for many years until his arrest in 2001. FBI investigators disrupted CIA counterintelligence operations when they falsely accused CIA counterspy Brian Kelley of being a Soviet agent until a KGB audio recording revealed that Hanssen was the spy.
Kenneth E. deGraffenreid, former deputy national counterintelligence executive, said the Shriver case is further evidence of a wide-ranging Chinese government program against U.S. national interests.
“This is another example of the breadth and depth of Chinese operations against U.S. national security,” he said. “Those operations range from sustained cyber-attacks to deep-penetration agents [inside the U.S. government], like the kind of agent Mr. Shriver was meant to be.”
The disposal of the Shriver case also comes in the context of rising political and economic tensions between Washington and Beijing over several issues — another round of Taiwanese requests for U.S. arms, China’s overvalued currency, the U.S. trade deficit with Beijing, Chinese aggressiveness in territorial disputes with its neighbors around the South China Sea, and China’s manipulation of its rare earth minerals exports.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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