CIA in Lebanon

November 21st, 2011

WipplSeveral CIA operatives have been arrested in Beirut over the past year, forcing the CIA to curb spying in Lebanon. The following opinion piece was written by international relations professor Joseph Wippl, a 30-year CIA operations officer:

 

 

 

There is a never-ending tension between the tradecraft (communication, surveillance detection, safe houses) used in espionage and the need to take the risks needed to obtain information. Also, every country and/or region has a different operational climate ranging from benign (meet at a Pizza Hut) to extremely hostile (dead drops/covert communication). Most often, the compromise originates from the agent’s poor security practices. And there is never a substitute, difficult or impossible as it may be, to having penetrations of the liaison service to report that service’s interest and/or capability against your (American or other) operational activity in that country.

Over the past decade, there have been few to no reports of intelligence compromises by the U.S. The suspicion could be that not enough intelligence espionage operations are taking place or they are only taking place in countries where the U.S. has a great deal of leverage over these countries. It is always embarrassing when there is a compromise. However, if the U.S. is to engage in espionage, that is, human intelligence, there will be embarrassments.

Espionage involves dealing with people and their motivations. That means problems. If the U.S. does not want to be embarrassed, we should not engage in espionage. But we should, most especially in Lebanon. So, in Beirut, find out what happened, support those who took the risks, pick up the pieces, and recruit more spies in a very unstable region. That goes for other countries which have interests there.

Contact Wippl at 617-353-8992; jwippl@bu.edu

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