Hundreds of agents, whom the CIA was recruiting in Cuba and in other countries of the socialist bloc during the Cold War, appeared to be agents of Soviet secret services at the same time, former chief historian of the CIA Benjamin Fisher wrote for the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.
Such double agents were transmitting a great deal of false information to the political administration of the United States. The amount of such information was so large that it was impossible to estimate the scale of failure of CIA's intelligence work. As many as 100 CIA agents in East Germany, Cuba, the USSR, and then Russia were engaged in the activities to provide false information to the United States for decades.
"During the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency bucked the law of averages by recruiting double agents on an industrial scale; it was hoodwinked not a few but many times," Benjamin Fisher wrote. "The result was a massive but largely ignored intelligence failure," he added.
The inability to identify double agents and their disinformation that was fabricated to influence American politicians caused serious damage to the CIA. However, the CIA administration left the activities of such double agents without attention. To make matters worse, supervisory committees of the Congress did not demand the reform of the whole system.
Critics say that the CIA does not pay proper attention to counterintelligence - the activity to counter the work of foreign agents. Many CIA employees described the practice of counterintelligence at the CIA as "unhealthy paranoia."
The inability to identify double agents had tragic consequences for the CIA. For example, at a base in Afghanistan, a Jordanian double agent, who "worked" for the CIA, blew himself up, having killed seven CIA officers in 2009.
According to Fischer, it was the fault of the intelligence agency. For the CIA, it was more important to protect the status and honor of professional agents than to prevent the penetration of double agents. Officials follow their own logic and bureaucratic way of thinking even when it comes to such issues as national security.
Benjamin Fischer started his service at the CIA in 1973. During the Cold War, he served in the Soviet division. In 1996, he sued the agency, claiming he was mistreated for criticizing the agency for mishandling the 1994 case of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, a counterintelligence official, who was unmasked as a long time KGB plant.
As for the present days, US intelligence services continue spying on the leaders of US-friendly countries, intercepting confidential information. The list of "victims" of espionage includes such prominent figures as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
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