- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

The FBI is stepping up efforts to catch foreign spies in the United States as agents from China, Russia and other countries are increasing intelligence activities here, according to the FBI's top counterspy.
David W. Szady, the new FBI assistant director of the counterintelligence division, said in an interview that training is being improved and new squads are being formed to go after foreign spies.
"Espionage hasn't changed today," Mr. Szady said. "In fact, if anything, it's getting worse. The threats are now asymmetrical. They are coming at us from all angles. Our friends spy on us, our enemies spy on us, and we're not sure who's who right now in many instances."
Counterterrorism efforts are the FBI's No. 1 priority, but Director Robert S. Mueller III has made spy-catching the agency's second most important job.
A major effort is under way to change attitudes about counterintelligence within the FBI, Mr. Szady said. "Counterintelligence in the FBI has to be recognized as the No. 2 priority by all of us within the FBI," he said.
Shortcomings in FBI counterintelligence were highlighted by the case of Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee and by FBI turncoat Robert P. Hanssen, Mr. Szady said.
In the Lee case, a nuclear spying suspect was mishandled through a combination of poor fieldwork and mismanagement from FBI headquarters, he said.
Lee was investigated for passing nuclear warhead secrets to China but was convicted of the lesser charge of mishandling sensitive nuclear data.
"Everything that was wrong in the FBI came together in counterintelligence over Albuquerque in one place," Mr. Szady said.
Hanssen, an FBI agent, spied for 22 years for Moscow without being caught, highlighting poor FBI internal security.
The FBI has set up a counterespionage section to handle spy cases better, and new squads around the country will be devoted exclusively to issues such as foreign spying and internal security.
Training, currently limited to 16 hours for new agents, will be increased sharply, and all senior agents will receive advanced training in such areas as the use of electronic and other surveillance, interview techniques and double-agents operations, Mr. Szady said.
Additionally, the FBI is setting up joint task forces with other government agencies, including the Pentagon, CIA and Customs Service, to track spies.
The first task force will be a joint FBI-Defense Department program in Washington. A later task force will be added to San Francisco to deal with Chinese spying, Mr. Szady said.
"Why don't we have a counterintelligence task force in San Francisco working the Chinese counterintelligence issue that consists of the FBI, CIA, Commerce, Customs, the military, INS working together in order to solve a particular problem?" Mr. Szady said. "This is something we're looking at doing."
The joint task forces will seek to combine the expertise of various security agents in one place, he said. "We would like to have joint operations, not only as force multipliers but also so their mission [of other agencies] is brought in with what we're trying to do," Mr. Szady said.
FBI counterspies also will be used to support the units working to track down terrorists.
"You can't separate, necessarily, the work of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan their intelligence services from acts of terrorism that may take place and the support that those intelligence services give to terrorism, while at the same time they're trying to steal nuclear secrets or biological secrets or R&D; secrets and things of that sort," he said.
Mr. Szady also said foreign spies are seeking to plant agents inside U.S. intelligence agencies, embassies and corporations, where they can gather a variety of government or private-sector secrets.
Foreign intelligence services use a variety of techniques to recruit Americans as spies, ranging from threats to relatives overseas to financial incentives.
Intelligence officials in China will approach resident Chinese Americans here and threaten to withhold state-sponsored support for their relatives living in China.
"They knock on the door and say, 'If you want them to get the help they need, then why don't you give us the documents that we need?' It's a very tough situation and a tough one to turn down," Mr. Szady said.


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