November 22, 2011
November 22, 2011. Beirut. With the cloak of secrecy surrounding America’s international spy network, the world will probably never know just how many US spies were uncovered, arrested and executed in Iran and Lebanon this year. One thing is certain, in a very rare admission of defeat, four current and former Federal officials have admitted to ABC News that recent accounts of Iran and Lebanon arresting dozens of CIA spies are completely true. How and why the American spy ring was uncovered is reportedly raising eyebrows in Washington.
CIA spy networks caught in Lebanon and Iran, the third time this year the two countries have announced the arrests of large US and Israeli espionage rings.
If various media outlets, anonymous sources and Iranian, Lebanese and Hezbollah officials are correct, the story begins back in 2009.
Two years ago, reports began circulating throughout the Central Intelligence Agency that the Hezbollah government in Lebanon was quietly making progress using its spy-hunting teams of counter espionage special agents. Soon thereafter, news began leaking out in the Middle East from anonymous sources within the Lebanese government that as many as 100 Israeli spies were uncovered and arrested. Many were reported to be technicians at telecommunications companies, as well as some who were thought to be members of the Israeli military. All of them were accused of ultimately working for the Mossad – Israel’s spy agency. At the time, US and Israeli officials denied the claims.
With the recent report that Hezbollah recently uncovered two more American and Israeli spy rings, critics are wondering what if anything, the CIA did between 2009 and 2011 to thwart Iran and Lebanon’s counter-espionage effort. According to a flood of worldwide news reports today, CIA directors were not only sloppy in their response, but may have inadvertently helped Hezbollah uncover the western spy networks. No one knows for sure how many American and Israeli spies have been scooped up in this latest sweep, or whether or not they’re even still alive. US officials aren’t commenting and Iran and Lebanon will only say “dozens” of CIA and Mossad agents were arrested.
Critics contend that it was so easy for Lebanon and Iran to discover the American and Israeli spies, amateur spy hunters could have done it. Among the accusations making the rounds throughout the global news media today:
- The CIA and Mossad did little if anything to alter their standard operating procedure after more than 100 Mossad agents were arrested in Lebanon in 2009. Knowing how much intelligence 100 compromised agents can divulge, some wonder what exactly the spy agencies did to protect their remaining assets still in the field.
- The CIA and Mossad again either dismissed the threat, or ignored the danger all together, when Iran reported in May 2011 that it had uncovered and arrested 30 US and Israeli spies working in that country to uncover the truth about Iran’s nuclear program.
- The CIA and Mossad continued to either turn a blind eye or ignore the danger to their spy network after Lebanon announced the arrest of two CIA agents one month later in June 2011. In that instance, the two captured US spies were high-level leaders within the Hezbollah government. At the time, US officials denied the claim.
- Hezbollah anti-spy agents reportedly used standard, commercially available cell phone monitors to track and evaluate suspected western agents. In one account, there method was described as simply watching for any unusual cell phone activity. Repeated and brief calls to the same mysterious numbers were investigated. Cell phones that were only used sporadically and from one single location were investigated. Data such as that was then cross-referenced with a list of Hezbollah officials who had secret intelligence the US and Israel would want. Those final individuals were then secretly placed under counter-espionage surveillance. Basically, they were simply tailed the old fashioned way, some for more than a year.
- CIA and Mossad officials used lazy and sloppy techniques by repeatedly using the same Pizza Hut restaurant in Beirut for its clandestine meetings with many of its agents.
- Two Hezbollah secret agents, who the CIA and Mossad believed they had successfully turned into double agents working for the US and Israel, turned out to be triple agents, actually choosing their loyalty to Hezbollah over the financial rewards of the west.
- High ranking CIA officials embarrassingly admit they weren’t even aware their two spy networks operating in Lebanon and Iran had been compromised until they saw it broadcast internationally by the Iranian state news service.
- ABC News reports that CIA authorities had no choice but acknowledge the legitimacy of Hezbollah’s claims. Iranian TV was already broadcasting top secret sources, names and methods that could have only been provided by legitimate CIA and Mossad assets.
With US and Israeli officials refusing to officially confirm or deny and information, intelligence experts the world over are speculating this morning about just how devastating the news is.
The UK’s IB Times and ABC News quote the former CIA station chief in Beirut, Robert Baer. “If they were genuine spies, spying against Hezbollah, I don’t think we’ll ever see them again” he said, “These guys are very, very vicious and unforgiving.” Baer also concluded, “We’ve lost our touch with espionage.”