March 08, 2005

Spy Agencies Fear Some Applicants Are Terrorists

I am not surprised to see any of this. There should be a screening process that weeds out the "bad apples" so I would hope that it does a more than adequate job of catching questionable applicants.

"WASHINGTON — U.S. counterintelligence officials are increasingly concerned that Al Qaeda sympathizers or operatives may have tried to get jobs at the CIA (news - web sites) and other U.S. agencies in an effort to spy on American counterterrorist efforts.

So far, about 40 Americans who sought positions at U.S. intelligence agencies have been red-flagged and turned away for possible ties to terrorist groups, the officials said. Several such applicants have been detected at the CIA.

"We think terrorist organizations have tried to insinuate people into our hiring pools," said Barry Royden, a 39-year CIA veteran who is a counterintelligence instructor at the agency.

Also, three senior counterintelligence officials said they feared terrorist groups may be trying to place an "insider" in America's fast-growing counterterrorist planning and operational networks as part of a long-term strategy to compromise U.S. intelligence efforts.

But unlike Royden, the officials added that it was still unclear if anyone had been assigned to infiltrate U.S. intelligence to commit espionage for a terrorist group. No one has been arrested, and no one has been linked to any new "sleeper cell" of suspected terrorists in America.

Royden's remarks came at a national conference on counterintelligence held over the weekend at Texas A&M University. Other counterintelligence officials were interviewed separately.

The officials said that those who had come under suspicion were filtered out during the application process for providing false information, failing lie detector tests, applying to multiple spy services or flunking other parts of the application procedure."


The prompt for this concern is a combination of things, but when I read this it got my attention.

"But fear of possible penetration has grown because of what one official called "an intense competition" among America's intelligence, military and contractor organizations.

They are seeking to hire thousands of skilled linguists, trained analysts and clandestine operatives who can blend into overseas communities to collect intelligence and to recruit foreign agents inside terrorist cells.

In some cases, the officials said, those most qualified for such sensitive jobs — naturalized Americans who grew up in the Middle East or South Asia, for example, and who are native speakers of Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Urdu and other crucial languages — have proved the most difficult to vet during background checks.

In addition, because of restrictions imposed by U.S. privacy laws, authorities at one spy service may not know that someone they had rejected later found a job at another agency or at a defense contractor working on classified systems.

"We're looking at that very carefully," said one counterintelligence official."

The idea that we could "shoot" ourselves in the foot concerns me.

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