According to the New York Times, the CIA sent a memo to every station across the globe warning that a “troubling number of informants” were being “captured or killed.” As the Times article emphasizes, when it comes to human intelligence, there are areas of the world in which the stakes couldn’t be higher.
C.I.A. espionage operations inside numerous hostile countries have been compromised in recent years when the governments of those countries have arrested, jailed and even killed the agency’s sources.
Last year, a top-secret memo sent to every C.I.A. station around the world warned about troubling numbers of informants being captured or killed, a stark reminder of how important human source networks are to the basic functions of the spy agency.
The New York Times doesn’t say that the increased numbers of killed and captured agents are related to Trump’s handling of the human intelligence files (Hum-Int files were found at Mar-a-Lago), but it reinforces the danger of having these types of documents outside of secure facilities. One also gets an unsettling feeling in one’s stomach. Even though the FBI and CIA haven’t found a link between Trump holding the human intelligence documents and the noticeable uptick in sources lost, at least not to our knowledge, one cannot help but notice that the time periods overlap (The memo came out in October of 2021) and Trump held those documents while in the White House residence.
Depending upon when the CIA lost assets and depending upon which “Hum-Int” files Trump possessed (He had some), it is possible that they are related. Without straying too far down a rabbit hole without any evidence, it remains a deeply disturbing thought. It is disturbing to think that anyone might exchange lives for money, and yet… Trump had the files and has yet to provide a logical explanation for holding them.
As the Times story explains:
They risk imprisonment or death stealing the secrets of their own governments. Their identities are among the most closely protected information inside American intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Losing even one of them can set back American foreign intelligence operations for years.
Clandestine human sources are the lifeblood of any espionage service. This helps explain the grave concern within American agencies that information from undercover sources was included in some of the classified documents recently removed from Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of former President Donald J. Trump — raising the prospect that the sources could be identified if the documents got into the wrong hands.
We cannot know whether there is a link between Trump holding the documents and the increased number of assets lost, the motivation for the memorandum. We do know, however, that the files were in the wrong hands already. Trump had no legal basis for holding those documents and – at least concerning human intelligence matters, has no conceivable practical interests other than felony sloppiness or an even more horrific possibility.
And some say that the raid was unnecessary. As many commentators noted yesterday, the real scandal is that it took the FBI as long as it did to remove the materials, not that the raid occurred.
Lives were on the line, and so was invaluable U.S. intelligence.
@JasonMiciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teen and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He now enjoys life as a single dad of a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves crafting his flower pots, cooking, and currently studies philosophy of science, religion, and non-math principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact for speaking engagements or any concerns.