CIA urges caution in unusual cable sent to all field operatives

Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have advanced counterintelligence services and technologies that have become increasingly successful in tracking CIA informants.

 Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, walk together after returning home from deployment in Afghanistan, at Fort Drum, New York, US, September 6, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)
Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, walk together after returning home from deployment in Afghanistan, at Fort Drum, New York, US, September 6, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)

The CIA sent a top-secret cable to all of its stations and bases around the world urging operatives to be more careful as a growing number of US informants have been caught in recent years, according to The New York Times.

According to Times reporters Julian Barnes and Adam Goldman, the cable included the specific number of informants who were caught but did not reveal their identities.

For the past 20 years, the CIA has focused on counterterrorism and has relied mostly on foreign informants, the report said. However, in recent years, the spy organization's focus has shifted to emerging world powers, mainly Russia and China, who along with Iran and Pakistan, have advanced counterintelligence services and technologies that have become increasingly successful in tracking CIA case officers and thereby the agency's informants.

The cable did not only warn of tactical recalculations but mentioned a mistake in case officers' priority list. According to the Times, the cable included a warning that officers have been too focused on the "mission" – perhaps in order to amass successes – and have neglected procedures regarding proper screening of potential informants, which helps ensure the agency does not unwittingly recruit double-agents.

Such incidents have occurred in the past, according to the newpaper. The cable was therefore sent in order to avoid further discovery and perhaps further bloodshed.

 US GENERAL AUSTIN Miller, (left) shakes hand with Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, at a ceremony in Kabul in July, as Miller relinquishes command during the final phase of America’s withdrawal from the war in Afghanistan.  (credit: REUTERS/PHIL STEWART) US GENERAL AUSTIN Miller, (left) shakes hand with Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, at a ceremony in Kabul in July, as Miller relinquishes command during the final phase of America’s withdrawal from the war in Afghanistan. (credit: REUTERS/PHIL STEWART)