- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

President Bush has approved a new counterintelligence strategy that calls for expanding operations against foreign spies and terrorists worldwide and stepping up coordination among U.S. agencies.

The strategy, made public in a report released yesterday, emphasizes the need to penetrate foreign intelligence organizations, governments and foreign groups with agents or by electronic or other means.

“The intelligence activities of foreign powers afford us opportunities to exploit their operations and gain access to their intelligence in order to corrupt its integrity,” says the National Counterintelligence Strategy report.

“We will conduct worldwide operations to disrupt or defeat our intelligence adversaries as they assess and respond to the United States. Each agency and department will contribute its own unique capabilities, authorities and resources in a unified effort.”

The report, the second of its kind in as many years, was produced by the office of National Counterintelligence Executive Joel F. Brenner. The NCE was set up in 2002 after several damaging spy cases.

The strategy urges bolstering computer-based counterintelligence against foreign-government and private-sector hackers and says counterspy agencies need to “act jointly to understand, confound, manipulate and thwart” intelligence threats, and “when necessary, we will disrupt these activities through arrest and expulsion.”

Gaps between domestic and international counterintelligence efforts, namely those carried out by the FBI and CIA, resulted in foreign penetrations that caused “incalculable” damage to U.S. security, from both compromised secrets and lives lost over the past decades, the National Counterintelligence Strategy report said.

A key priority is to prevent spies from corrupting U.S. intelligence, a major problem demonstrated by agents uncovered in recent years inside the U.S. government who were working clandestinely for China, Russia and Cuba and who were able to influence U.S. intelligence analyses and policies.

“Today we are engaged in a war, fighting terrorists who have invaded our nation’s shores and threaten Americans and our allies around the world,” said Mr. Brenner, whose office drafted the report, in a foreword.

“In this struggle — which has cultural, economic, diplomatic and political as well as military dimensions — the potential consequences of counterintelligence failures can be immediate and devastating, putting in jeopardy our nation’s vital information, infrastructure, military forces and a wide range of U.S. interests, technologies and personnel around the world.”

The strategy calls for better checking of intelligence sources and methods to avoid “manipulation” by foreign adversaries, and an aggressive tightening of security against insiders who commit “subversion, treason and leaks.”

“This insider threat has been a source of extraordinary damage to U.S. national security,” the report said.

To assist the war on terrorism, counterintelligence agencies will review operations to identify efforts by terrorists to penetrate or manipulate the United States.

“We will also assess how key foreign intelligence services advance or obstruct U.S. efforts to fight terrorism and counter those activities that are hostile,” the report said.

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