British spy novelist John LeCarre elegantly called it the oldest question of all: Who can spy on the spies? He was talking about counterintelligence—the often arcane business of finding foreign spies who try to penetrate intelligence services.
Counterintelligence at CIA today is a far cry from its Cold War world of Soviet moles or penetration agents and neutralizing them or turning them into double agents.
Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo is working to change all that. Pompeo has elevated the status of CIA’s counterintelligence center, a dedicated unit within the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters that is devoted to identifying and countering foreign intelligence agents and their activities.
CIA counterintelligence efforts, however, remain limited by a lack of both qualified personnel and strategic vision needed to deal with a growing spy threat that today includes both cyber operations and influence activities, in addition to traditional spying by nations such as China and Russia. The foreign spying threat is increasing in both scale and sophistication, according to intelligence experts.