The CIA has lost a foothold, and some measure of its critical anonymity, in Lebanon after some of the spy agency’s operatives were exposed in recent months. Last June, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah triumphantly announced that at least two agents had been nabbed within his organization’s ranks, and others have reportedly been outed since. Worse, according to The Associated Press, CIA higher-ups had been forewarned about the danger to their spies stationed in Lebanon. —KA
AP via My Way:
Last year, then-CIA director Leon Panetta said the agency had to maintain “a greater awareness of counterintelligence.” But eight months later, Nasrallah let the world know he had bested the CIA, demonstrating that the agency still struggles with this critical aspect of spying and sending a message to those who would betray Hezbollah.
The CIA was well aware the spies were vulnerable in Lebanon. CIA officials were warned, including the chief of the unit that supervises Hezbollah operations from CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and the head of counterintelligence. It remains unclear whether anyone has been or will be held accountable in the wake of this counterintelligence disaster or whether the incident will affect the CIA’s ability to recruit assets in Lebanon.
In response to AP’s questions about what happened in Lebanon, a U.S. official said Hezbollah is recognized as a complicated enemy responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist group before September 2001. The agency does not underestimate the organization, the official said.