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CIA launches massive hunt for a mole within its ranks

Published time: May 10, 2012 17:59
Edited time: May 10, 2012 21:59
AFP Photo / Saul Loeb

AFP Photo / Saul Loeb

It is the job of the CIA to keep secrets. Like many federal bureaus, though, the US Central Intelligence Agency isn’t all that up to snuff when it comes to doing what they are supposed to.

The United States’ top spy chief, retired Lieutenant General James Clapper, is asking for an internal investigation of the CIA. Clapper’s official title is the director of national intelligence — and he doesn’t take it lightly. Now the uncovering of a clandestine CIA operation involving the installation of double agents inside the ranks of al-Qaeda by the mainstream media over the weekend has left Lt. Gen. Clapper demanding answers about a possible mole within the ranks of America’s supposedly top-secret spy agency.

According to sources speaking with Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity, Clapper has ordered an internal review of 16 intelligence agencies linked with the US CIA.

"It's an inquiry into whether or not there were any unauthorized disclosures of classified information," the senior intelligence official tells AFP.

The Associated Press has also confirmed the probe by way of a source also left unnamed.

On their part, the CIA has not formally acknowledged the existence of an investigation but a spokesperson for the agency says it is only expected given the latest news involving a double-agent in Yemen. The CIA has worked undercover with a spy that infiltrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, only for the media to report on the clandestine operation before it was disclosed that the US was instrumental in orchestrating the mission.

"The entire intelligence community should be concerned about recent unauthorized disclosures, and CIA will participate fully in the DNI's (director of national intelligence's) internal review," agency spokesman Todd Ebitz says of the investigation.

Outside of the CIA’s Langley, VA headquarters, however, other top-ranked Washington elite are saying that something should be done as well. In Congress, leading lawmakers in DC have suggested that an investigation should be considered. Among those also asking for an investigation are Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I don't think those leaks should have happened. There was an operation in progress and I think the leak is regarded as very serious," says Sen. Feinstein this week.

Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tells CNN that he feels similarly.

"If something bad happens because it was leaked too early, that's a catastrophe and it's also a crime," says Rep. Rogers.

Those with their eyes closely glued to Capitol Hill might not be surprised by Rep. Rogers’ quote — the lawmaker has been in the news in recent months for his role in creating the Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act of 2011, or CISPA. When he submitted the bill, Rep. Rogers insisted that there is “urgent need to help our private sector better defend itself from” attack on America’s computer infrastructure. Now, however, he is asking for the government to not just go after journalists speaking freely on the Web, but those that are exposing the secrets of America’s enigmatic intelligence services.

Earlier this week it was reported that, separate from the provisions included in CISPA, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation was seeking backdoor privileges to pry into online services such as Skype and Facebook in the name of national security. If approved, CISPA would offer similar provisions; what the FBI wants now, however, opens up a whole new war on the freedoms of Americans.

The AP notes that, if the reportedly new investigation involving a CIA mole can be confirmed, it will mark at least the seventh criminal case launched by the Obama administration involving the leaking of classified documents — something the president insisted on ending while running for office by offering protection for whistleblowers.

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