July 30 2021 — This year marks the 243rd anniversary of America’s first whistleblower law, passed unanimously on July 30th, 1778 during the height of the American Revolution. The law was passed after ten whistleblowers reported wrongdoing and abuses committed by a superior officer in the Continental Navy. The first Congressional celebration of National Whistleblower Day took place in the U.S. Senate Kennedy Caucus Room on July 30th, 2015. Every year since, the National Whistleblower Center has held an event on Capitol Hill to celebrate whistleblowers. Follow on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: The True Story of the CIA Debacle in China — UPDATE
RELATED POST: The CIA in China
UPDATE (October 17 2022) — Intel Today Story completely vindicated by New Evidence
For many years, I have argued that the CIA debacle in China was not caused by the treason of a former CIA officer, but was the result of a faulty covert communication, as a whistleblower had alleged 12 years ago.
And here were are…
“After the initial Times report, I dug into the asset roll-up in China. Many of my sources were adamant that Lee’s betrayal could not account for the extent of the agency’s losses there, if at all.” [On Agent Compromise in the Field — Zach Dorfman, 04 Oct 2022]
Intel Today also suggested that the same methodology had been used by CIA assets in Iran.
“Iranian counterintelligence had compromised a version of this same secret online COVCOM system, which relied on fake, CIA-created websites. As a result, Iranian counterintelligence extirpated the agency’s network there as well.” [Zach Dorfman]
As incredible as these allegations sound, I was 100% correct. A recent investigation demonstrates that the websites used by the CIA to correspond with their spies were incredibly crappy.
Joel Schectman and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin have just published a dramatic account of this secret communications platform.
A child could have discovered the purpose of these websites and its true owner. It is hard to think how to make it more obvious, short of adding the CIA logo on the front page.
And to make things even worse, the CIA used sequential IP numbers. So, once a couple of these websites had been discovered, several hundreds were immediately identified.
“The Reuters team, working with independent cybersecurity researchers, eventually identified over 350 separate CIA-authored sites used to transmit messages to agents in over 20 countries. (…) Because U.S. intelligence officials purchased hosting services for these websites in bulk, they had sequential Internet Protocol addresses. In other words, instead of each site being compartmented from one another for security purposes, they were all easily linked together.”
The main function of an intelligence agency is to recruit spies and protect them. The CIA miserably failed. And so far, there has been no investigation of a blunder that has cost the life of dozens of spies in Iran, China,and other countries. This is a scandal.
As the reader knows, I often ask why the CIA people are so incompetent. This story makes the answer obvious. Considering the facts, only a complete idiot would contemplate working for the CIA.
PS — I was the first investigator to get this story right. And for many years, I was the only person arguing the betrayal theory was false, and in fact asinine. Today, we know the truth. And yet, once again, not a single MSM journalist has the decency to recognize that Intel Today got it right from the start. And even worse, most media reporting this scandal fail — completely or at least partially — to explain that John Reidy blew the whistle on this dramatic event, and nothing was done to stop the slaughter of the CIA spies. Shame on these media!
END of UPDATE
UPDATE (October 6 2021) — Recent CIA cable confirms Intel Today long-standing suspicion
The CIA has recently dispatched a cable to officers around the world cautioning them to take greater care in handling human sources, who are at risk of being captured or killed by rival intelligence services. [Washington Post — CIA warns officers of risk to human sources, urges greater care in handling recruited agents] The CIA cable was first reported by the New York Times.
“In an unusually revealing detail, the cable noted the number of agents killed by foreign intelligence services. That level of specificity might ordinarily be excluded from a cable that is widely disseminated, as this one was, but it was included to get the attention of CIA officers, who might otherwise regard the bulletin as a routine advisory, people familiar with the message said.”
The CIA has declined to comment, but the story makes it very clear that INTEL TODAY had correctly linked the John Reidy’s story to the debacle of the CIA in China and Iran.
And the cause is almost certainly a faulty covert communication system, not betrayal…
“The CIA has suffered some disastrous penetrations of its spy networks in recent years. In 2011, the agency launched a mole-hunt after an informant in China told his American handlers that everyone he knew who was helping the U.S. government had been discovered by Chinese authorities, who then forced the agents to work for them.
CIA assets in Iran were also identified and arrested in another penetration around the same time.
In both instances, former officials said that agents were probably discovered because of a breach in the CIA’s covert communications system, which it used to secretly communicate with agents in the field.”
The New York Times also reported that CIA case officers were sometimes promoted for recruiting spies often regardless of the success, performance or quality of that spy.
“No one at the end of the day is being held responsible when things go south with an agent,” Douglas London, a former CIA operative who was unaware of the cable, said to the Times.
“Sometimes there are things beyond our control but there are also occasions of sloppiness and neglect and people in senior positions are never held responsible.”
People who have read the cable added that it was intended for the officers who are most directly involved in enlisting and vetting potential new informants, the Times reported.
END of UPDATE
In 2010, John Reidy submitted a complaint to the CIA’s internal watchdog, the Inspector General’s Office. One issue involved what Reidy alleged was fraud between elements within the CIA and contractors. Another issue involved what he called a “massive” and “catastrophic” intelligence failure due to a bungled foreign operation.
When I suggested two years ago that there was a link between the John Reidy’s complaint to the CIA’s internal watchdog and the CIA debacles in both Iran and China, very few people believed it.
Four months later, on November 2 2018, Zach Dorfman and Jenna McLaughlin reported that this was indeed the case. And what have we learned since then? Nothing. Nothing at all.
A former US Senior Intelligence Official has summed it up pretty well: “Heads should roll because of this. Agents were killed.
But to protect people’s careers and egos, we buried counterintelligence problems.”
In cases that aren’t embarrassing to the intelligence community higher-ups, the inspector general investigations appear to move much more swiftly. When the CIA caught a whiff in 2012 that a cabal of contractors was exploiting a network glitch to steal snacks from vending machines, the agency unleashed its internal watchdog. The CIA IG directed the agency to install surveillance cameras and used the footage to catch and fire the thieves (…)
John Reidy, a CIA contractor, blew the whistle in 2010 on a catastrophic failure in a system the spy agency used to communicate with sources. Instead of seeing his complaint raise alarms, Reidy lost his security clearance and job.
Then, in 2011 and 2012, Reidy’s warning came true in Iran and China, according to Yahoo News, which confirmed the findings with “11 former intelligence and national security officials.”
China captured and killed two dozen CIA human sources. Iran announced in 2011 that it had broken up a ring of 30 CIA spies. U.S. officials confirmed the breach to ABC News, which reported on the compromise of the communications network Reidy warned about.
Reidy appealed his firing and security clearance revocation in 2014. Five years later, he still awaits a resolution. [Ukraine Complaint Is Anomaly in System That Repeatedly Failed Whistleblowers]
The Story of John Reidy (Posted on July 30 2018)
Question: What failed CIA op is Reidy alleging to? It would seem that Reidy discovered that the communication system used by the CIA assets was not secured.
Here is what we know about this case.
Two different issues led Reidy in 2010 to submit a complaint to the CIA’s internal watchdog, the Inspector General’s Office.
One issue involved what Reidy alleged was fraud between elements within the CIA and contractors.
Another issue involved what he called a “massive” and “catastrophic” intelligence failure due to a bungled foreign operation, according to his 2014 appeal to an office under the director of national intelligence.
My appeal will be broken down into five sections. Section I will be a comprehensive background (timeline) detailing my knowledge of intelligence failures at CIA and the pertinent facts regarding my whistle blowing and attempts to bring to light these failures as well as significant fraud, waste, abuse, misconduct and mismanagement at CIA. Section II will describe in detail all the acts of retaliation and intimidation I have incurred as a result of my whistle blowing activities. Section III will document shortcomings in the CIA Inspector .General investigations and ~he adjudication status of my security clearance. Section IV will document incorrect data contained in investigative files. In Section V, I will provide reasons why the protection of whistle blowers is paramount in safeguarding the United States and insuring that any fraud, waste or abuse is immediately remedied.
Section I — Timeline
From January 2005 until January 2009, I worked as a government contractor at the CIA. I was assigned to [Directorate](ledger item 1) in the [Division] (ledger item 2). I served as a (Job) (ledger item 3) whose responsibility was to facilitate the dissemination of intelligence reporting to the
Intelligence Community. I also served as a (Job 2) (ledger item 4) whose responsibility was to identify Human Intelligence (Humint) targets of Interest for exploitation. I was assigned the telecommunications and information operations account.
At the time, [Division) (ledger item 6) was critically short-staffed so I assumed the role of a [job 3) (ledger item 7) whose responsibility was to handle the daily administrative functions of running a human asset As a result of my wearing many hats and having many responsibilities, I was given complete access to all operations.
As our efforts increased, we started to notice anomalies in our operations and conflicting intelligence reporting that indicated that several of our operations had been compromised. The
indications ranged from (REDACTED) to sources abruptly and without reason ceasing all communications with us.
These warning signs were alarming due to the fact that our officers were approaching sources using (operational technique) (ledger item 16) — (REDACTED) —
Our attempts to decipher these mysterious events were further compounded by resistance from Headquarter’s elements as well as our officers.
While our counter intelligence officers raised concerns about the falsity of these reports, no justification for the reporting was given, no corrective action was ever taken. The senior CI officer requested a transfer over these obvious cover-ups.
Much of the reporting collected was titled “atmospherics” that did not meet the standard of reportable intelligence.
Atmospherics generally consisted of scuttlebutt you could hear on the streets. We still counted this reporting to bolster our metrics – because it was how productivity was determined.
(Redacted) knew we had a massive intelligence failure on our hands. All of our assets were in jeopardy. My boss knew I would say this, he totally agreed but was alarmed I came to the conclusion so quickly. He tasked me with determining what had gone wrong and to devise a plan to mitigate the damages.
To give our compromise context, the U.S. communications infrastructure was under siege.
Once we understood this compromise several of the mysteries we encountered in our operations came sharply into focus. Our operational interests were known.
The damage did not stop with the identification of our humint assets.
It was a recipe for disaster. We had a catastrophic failure on our hands that would ensnare a great many of our sources.
Around 2010, information gathered by the US from sources deep inside the Chinese government bureaucracy started to dry up. CIA informants in China began to disappear.
In all, 18-20 in total were killed or imprisoned between 2010 and 2012.
The conclusion is therefore straightforward. Either the CIA had two similar “catastrophic intelligence failures” at about the same time, or else Reidy’s allegations explain why the Chinese CIA assets were caught.
So far, the stories of former CIA officers Jeffrey Sterling and Jerry Lee have been told as if they were disconnected events. And we do not know the exact content of John Reidy’s allegations against the CIA.
But the timeline and the context certainly suggest that there may be a connection between these stories.
CIA Whistleblowers — “I, John Reidy, Declare…”
One Year Ago — CIA Whistleblowers — “I, John Reidy, Declare…” [CIA Debacle in Iran & China]
US National Whistleblower Day — “I, John Reidy, Declare…” [CIA Debacle in Iran & China]
US National Whistleblower Day (July 30 2021) — “I, John Reidy, Declare…” [CIA Debacle in Iran & China] [UPDATE : Recent CIA cable confirms Intel Today long-standing suspicion]