NYT: CIA spy recalled from Russia for decades passed classified information to the United States
A few decades ago, the CIA recruited and carefully developed one mid-level Russian official who, at some point, began to quickly move up the career ladder. In the end, American spies hit the jackpot: their informant took an influential position and gained access to the very top of the Kremlin.
When US officials began to realize that Russia was trying to sabotage the 2016 presidential election of the year, this informant became one of the most valuable and well-protected sources of information, writes Inosmi. However, when last year, intelligence officials revealed in detail the extent of Russia's interference in the US election, the media also received information about CIA sources in the Kremlin.
At the end of 2016, CIA officials, worried about the safety of their informant, made the difficult decision to take him out of Russia. The situation became even more tense when the whistleblower initially refused to leave, citing family problems, thereby causing confusion at the CIA headquarters and making American counterintelligence officials doubt his trustworthiness. A few months later, the CIA again invited its informant to leave Russia, and this time he agreed.
This decision put an end to the career of one of the most valuable CIA informants. It also deprived American intelligence of the opportunity to monitor what was happening inside the Kremlin when the question arose of Russia's interference in the elections - in the 2018 Congress of the year, as well as in the presidential elections, which will be held next year.
The first that the CIA informer was taken to the United States in 2017, the agency said. CNN Monday, 9 September. Other details (the history of the work of this informant at the CIA, information about the first proposal to take him to the United States in the 2016 year, a number of doubts that arose after his refusal to leave Russia) were not previously reported. This article was based on interviews with current and former officials who asked to keep their names secret.
Officials did not disclose either the name of the informant or the information about his new residence, which are kept in the strictest confidence. According to current and former officials, this person’s life is in danger - this is confirmed by Moscow’s attempts poison Sergey Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer who moved to the UK in 2010 as part of a spy exchange.
This informant helped the CIA come to the most sensational conclusion about the Russian campaign to interfere in the American election - that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the campaign to be planned and planned. As the main source of information for the US government about Putin’s position and orders, this informant also helped the CIA conclude that Putin wanted to get Donald Trump elected and personally ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee system.
According to officials, this informant is not among Putin’s associates, but he often saw the president of Russia and was aware of the decisions of the Kremlin, which made him one of the most valuable informants of the American intelligence agency.
Interacting with an informant based in Moscow is extremely difficult due to the protective measures that Putin’s counterintelligence is taking. Former CIA officials claim that Russians can spoil the lives of foreign spies by relentlessly following them on the heels and attacking them from time to time. Employees call this the "Moscow rules."
The information provided by the informant was so "delicate" that it was necessary to carefully protect the identity of that person, and the then CIA Director John O. Brennan did not mention the information received from the informant in his daily reports to President Barack Obama in the 2016 year. Instead, Brennan separately sent intelligence reports to the Oval Office, many of which were based on information received from the informant, in sealed envelopes.
According to officials, in 2016 the information itself was so important and potentially controversial that CIA officials ordered a thorough check of its source. Officials checked the information that the informant transmitted over the years to make sure that all of it was true.
Although the informant passed this test, his refusal to accept the CIA’s first offer to take him out of Russia aroused a lot of suspicion among counterintelligence officials. They tried to find out if he was a double agent who could secretly transmit information about his American curators. This would automatically mean that some of the information about Russian interference in the election or about Putin’s intentions, which this informant passed on to the Americans, was inaccurate.
Some intelligence officials had other reasons to suspect that this informant might be a double agent, as reported by two former officials who, however, refused to explain in more detail.
Other current and former officials, who admitted that they had doubts about the reliability of this source, said they calmed down when the CIA offered the informant a second time to leave Russia, and he agreed.
Forever leaving home is a very difficult decision, as Joseph Augustyn, a former CIA official who used to run the Relocation Relocation Center in the past, said. Often, informants hide their espionage activities even from their immediate family members.
“It is very difficult to make such a decision, and only they can make it,” said Augustin. “There have been many cases where people simply did not leave, despite our strong persuasion.”
According to CNN, the decision to take the whistleblower “in part” was due to concern over the fact that Trump and his administration may misuse sensitive intelligence. But, according to former intelligence officials, there is no public evidence that Trump directly put the informant in a dangerous position, and current officials claim that the media’s mere attempts to find information about CIA whistleblowers were sufficient reason to remove this person from Of Russia.
Trump was first presented with intelligence information about Russian intervention, including materials received from this valuable informant, two weeks before his inauguration. The CIA spokesman, who commented on the CNN report, called the allegation that it was Trump’s treatment of intelligence that caused the source to be taken out of Russia, “false speculation.”
According to some former intelligence officials, the US President’s meeting with Putin and other Russian officials behind closed doors, as well as his posts on Twitter, have caused alarm among foreign informants.
“We now have a president who, unlike all other presidents in recent history, is ready to use secret intelligence information as he pleases,” said Steven L. Hall, a former Russian operations director at the CIA. - And he does it in full view of our opponents. He does this with his tweets. The situation has become unpredictable. ”
However, earlier the government made it clear that this informant started working for the CIA long before Trump took office, first officially accusing Russia of interfering in the October election of 2016, and then when intelligence officials declassified part of their reports on the intervention campaign in January 2017 of the year. Around the same time, news agencies, including NBC, began writing about Putin’s involvement in the election and potential CIA informants.
In February 2017, the Washington Post reported that the CIA’s findings were based on information provided by a “source inside the Russian government.” The New York Times later began publishing articles detailing this source of information.
News reports in the spring and summer of 2017 convinced US government officials that they needed to return to a plan to remove the informant from Russia. The removal of this person from Russia guaranteed that he would be safer and would have the opportunity to pursue a career in the United States. However, the price of such a decision was very high: as a result, the CIA lost the ability to understand what was happening inside the Kremlin.
For a long time, the CIA put a lot of effort into recruiting informants from among Putin's close associates, who in the past himself worked in intelligence and therefore feared the CIA. Putin trusts only a very narrow circle of people, and around him a whole system of communications security has been created.
Former National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper, who stepped down at the end of the Obama administration, said he did not know anything about the decision to remove the informant from Russia. However, according to him, the publication of information about this operation “will further complicate the already complicated process of recruiting informants in Russia.”
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