Moles—that is, long-term penetration agents—are every intelligence service’s worst nightmare. Though rarer in reality than in spy movies and novels, moles exist and can do enormous damage to a country’s secrets and espionage capabilities. They’re what keep counterintelligence experts awake at night.
The recent appearance on the Internet of top secret hacking tools from the National Security Agency has shined yet another unwanted spotlight on that hard-luck agency, which has been reeling for three years from Edward Snowden’s defection to Moscow after stealing more than a million classified documents from NSA. As I explained, this latest debacle was not a “hack”—rather, it’s a clear sign that the agency has a mole.
Of course, I’ve been saying that for years. It’s not exactly a secret that NSA has one or more Russian moles in its ranks—not counting Snowden. Now the mainstream media has taken notice and we have the “another Snowden” meme upon us.
James Bamford, who’s written a lot about NSA over the decades, has taken up this meme. It should be noted that Bamford is less than a reliable journalist who’s known to embellish sources when not outright fabricating them. That said, there’s no doubt that NSA has a penetration problem.
This shouldn’t be shocking news since the agency has suffered from moles since its birth in 1952. While many intelligence services have tried to steal secrets from NSA, only the Russians have been able to do so consistently. Kremlin penetration of NSA has been a constant. A brief historical sketch outlines the problem.
Read the rest at The Observer …