- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

American spies are increasingly women and foreign-born citizens who succeed in passing secrets as volunteers, according to a Defense Department report on espionage.

About 20 Americans have committed espionage or tried to spy since 1990, the report states, and the globalization of economics and the information-technology revolution have made it difficult to stop government employees from giving away or selling secrets.

"It does point to a kind of confluence of factors the increase in the number of naturalized citizens, people who have foreign attachments and people who cite divided loyalty as a motive" for spying, said Katherine Herbig, co-author of the report, in an interview.

"These are all signs that the globalization we see going on is also happening in espionage."

Recent American spies "have been older, more likely to be women and more likely to be civilian" than in the past, she said. They are also more likely to be from an ethnic minority.

The report, "Espionage Against the United States by American Citizens 1947 to 2001," was produced by the Defense Personnel Security Research Center, a government think tank in Monterey, Calif., known as PERSEREC.

It surveyed 150 spy cases involving Americans and found that most spies in the past were white men in the military with little education.

"The end of the Cold War did not mean the end of espionage by Americans," the report stated, "but it seems to have brought changes in the practice of this crime."

Of the 20 spy cases since 1990, the report said, three involved spying by women and 11 involved Americans of an ethnic minority. Five of the spies from the 1990s, or 25 percent, were naturalized U.S. citizens for whom foreign attachments were a factor.

The survey compared the spies of the 1990s with two groups of spies in earlier periods: The 65 spies uncovered between 1947 and 1979, and the 65 spies caught between 1980 and 1989, the so-called decade of the spy.

"American spies of the 1990s have been older, with a median age of 39, than either of the two earlier groups," the report said. "They include a larger proportion of women (15 percent), of racial and ethnic minorities, notably the 25 percent who were Hispanic Americans, and a lower proportion of married persons."

The increase in female spies is significant because out of 150 spies uncovered since 1947, 11 were women. The report noted that 10 of the 11 women spies worked as accomplices or partners of men.

The report was written before the discovery of a longtime spy within the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Belen Montes, who spied for Cuba for 10 years before being arrested in September 2001.

Reflecting an apparent decline of counterintelligence efforts, the report stated that 1990s spies were more successful than those in the '80s, when up to 45 percent of them were stopped before providing secrets to foreign nations.

Recent spies were successful in passing secrets four out of five times.

The vast majority of espionage cases since 1947 involved the Soviet Union and Russia, with a total of 114 out of 150 espionage cases involving Moscow or its Soviet bloc allies.

Among the other nations identified as "recipient countries" of American spies since 1947 were China, Cuba, the Philippines, Egypt, South Africa, Poland, East Germany, North Korea, France, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Libya, Ecuador, Japan, Vietnam, Liberia, South Korea, Greece, Britain, the Netherlands, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, El Salvador, Jordan, Iraq and Taiwan.

The report states that naturalized American spies with "foreign attachments" relatives abroad, emotional ties to foreign nations or overseas business ties were more easily recruited by foreign intelligence services than those with no foreign ties.

Security vetting did not find people engaged in spying: At least five spies were not detected by screening and had clearances renewed while they committed espionage.

A key trend identified by the study was the "globalization" of economics, which is affecting the loyalty of Americans. Another was high-technology information systems. Spies' methods of collection, synthesis and transmission are changing, "shifting to take advantage of opportunities in these new technologies," the report said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide