Building a Better Mole Trap

NOIR White Paper

(Newsweek) The continuing leaks of National Security Agency material by Edward Snowden so dominate the news that you don’t hear much these days about Cold War–style moles burrowing through the CIA, FBI and Defense Department on behalf of foreign spy services.

Yet they keep surfacing, without much notice: At least 20 Americans have been arrested on charges of giving classified documents to foreign intelligence agencies over the past decade, albeit not on the scale of the CIA’s Aldrich Ames and the FBI’s Robert Hanssen, whose longtime perfidies caused the death of more than a dozen CIA spies in Russia alone.

And maybe the recent, relatively small-fry folks charged with espionage don’t count for much in an era when self-propelled leakers like Snowden and Private Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning dump gigabytes of classified documents onto the public.

But almost certainly, bigtime Russian and Chinese moles (not to mention Israeli and French ones, according to official U.S. security reports) are lurking in the bowels of our national security agencies, Congress and defense contractors.

And here’s another uncomfortable fact: Most moles are uncovered only well after they’ve chewed through reams of our most sensitive defense, technological and intelligence secrets—often at a cost of billions of dollars’ worth of military research and development—and usually only because a defector from the other side has fingered them. Add to that the costs of prosecuting and jailing them for many years, often for life.

David L. Charney, an Alexandria, Virginia psychiatrist who’s been counselling CIA and other intelligence agency personnel for decades, thinks he has a better spy trap: He calls it “reconciliation”—not the namby-pamby, let’s-sing-Kumbaya-and-put-it-all-behind-us kind. His proposed program would function as a kind of come-to-Jesus facilitator for active American turncoats. He even has a name for the new unit: the National Office for Intelligence Reconciliation (NOIR).

“With reconciliation, the insider spy turns himself in and must cooperate in delivering a full, complete, and truthful Damage Assessment—but he does not go to prison,” Charney writes in a 41-page proposal circulated by the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. “This deal is an inducement for the spy to voluntarily turn himself in. Otherwise, it is safer for him to stay put. He will be spared the worst punishment—prison. He will spare his family (and his home agency!) shame and humiliation because there will be no public disclosure.”

But the mole has to pay, says Charney, who has conducted lengthy interviews with convicted spies. “[It] will not be cost-free to him. NOIR cannot be a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card.’ He will have to endure many…punishments,” he says, including the permanent loss of his job and security clearance and a restitution of any monetary damages he or she has caused. “Every punishment should be on the table,” he says, “short of prison.” . . . (read the rest)

Threats are Out There