Foreign Policy's reasons for reporting old news at this time remain suspect


The US based think tank and military-based policy outfit, Foreign Policy has just reported that Chinese counterintelligence successfully penetrated a CIA spy ring, resulting in the execution of upwards of 30 CIA agents and assets. Chinese intelligence had successfully infiltrated the ring in a two-year long operation, by hacking into systems which the CIA believed were super-encrypted and impenetrable.

This ‘massive story’ was revealed in Foreign Policy, based on a number of retired and current CIA officials, who wished to remain anonymous, claiming to have been part of the program. All that appears new in this version however, besides quotes and some facts about the investigation summary, is that the figure was raised from about 18 to nearly 30. This program established, effectively, a network of spies in China itself, based upon a system used previously with effect in the Middle-East. According to the report, while the Chinese hackers were surprisingly sophisticated, the CIA also bungled in devising a system in which the in-country spies could log in from any computer. Rather, it is suggested as protocol that specially designated laptops which contain physical, in-built systems,  be used to prevent hacking in.

However, much of this story was covered already in the past. That the story is being raised now, raises some other questions about the timing of the FP report. For example, recently in May of 2017, the BBC ran a similar story with the old figures”

What is new is that the number raised from about 20, to nearly 30. In addition, comments from investigators into the scandal, attempted to portray this as a CIA blunder more so than a Chinese success. At the same time, the sophistication of the Chinese is nevertheless underscored.

In the words of a former CIA official, the beleaguered agency was ”shell-shocked” to discover that the Chinese authorities, who began work in 2010, successfully swept the entire network of spies, interrogated them, and eventually executed them.

What is interesting about the Foreign Policy report is that Chinese sophistication is emphasized, but the role of the CIA blundering the operation is highlighted. This comes at a time where the CIA has been at odds with other parts of the US government, especially the Pentagon.

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Foreign Policy covered the story with this tone:

Additionally, in what is called ”one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades”, a joint FBI-NSA-CIA investigation which lasted for more than five years, has decided to release this to FP just days ago. This happens at a time when the US and China are at a trade war. FP presents itself as a semi-official US foreign policy formation think-tank, and so when for instance they proposed that the US recognize the ‘Islamic State’ as a government, this carried the weight of policy, to the extent that the US began to more openly support ISIS through supply drops and even air campaigns against the SAA itself. It is therefore questionable why, at this time, FP has decided to run this story which is not entirely new.

This FP report is not technically ‘fake news’, it is simply old news that has arbitrarily reappeared, now of all times.



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