US Doesn't Know How China Found, Wiped Out Its Spies

China killed or jailed more than a dozen CIA sources in 2 years
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2017 4:19 PM CDT
US Doesn't Know How China Found, Wiped Out Its Spies
The floor of the main lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

At the start of the decade, the Chinese government fatally shot a man in the courtyard of the government building where he worked—a public killing meant to send a message to his colleagues. The man was one of more than a dozen CIA sources killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government between 2010 and 2012, according to a New York Times expose on a massive—and heretofore unreported—defeat of the US intelligence community at the hands of China. The Times cites 10 current and former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The dismantling of CIA operations in China, which had taken years to build, hurt intelligence gathering in that country for years afterward.

Despite launching an investigation into what happened—code-named Honey Badger—neither the FBI nor the CIA could figure out how China found its spies. Some officials blamed a potential mole in the CIA. At one point, they even had a suspect—though they lacked the evidence to make an arrest. Others thought China had hacked the CIA. Another explanation: CIA handlers in China had gotten sloppy, using the same routes to the same meeting points with their sources. Officials say they were meeting in restaurants where even the waiters worked for Chinese intelligence. The US is still trying to rebuild its intelligence gathering network in China. Read the fully story here. (More China stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.