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CIA to expand cyber spying capabilities: Report

24 February 2015 14:58

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The Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan intends to expand the agency’s cyber-espionage capacity, including employing foreign officials as informants, current and former US officials said.

The plan, which is part of a wide restructuring scheme, shows that the CIA considers its current spying program outdated with respect to massive use of smartphones, social media and other technologies, the Washington Post reported.

“Brennan is trying to update the agency to make sure it is prepared to tackle the challenges in front of it,” said an anonymous American official familiar with the plan.

The official said, “I just don’t think you can separate the digital world people operate in from the human intelligence” mission that is the CIA’s conventional domain.

Last year, Brennan told the agency’s workforce that he was convinced “the time has come to take a fresh look at how we are organized.”

According to some US officials, the initiative requires increased use of cyber capabilities in almost all operations’ categories.

The operations range from identifying foreign officials to recruit as CIA informants, confirming the identities of people targeted by drone strikes and snooping on terrorist groups like ISIL.

Several officials stated that the agency’s chief has even contemplated creating a new cyber-directorate.

They said that Brennan has already briefed senior members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on his objectives, adding he will start the implementation of the plan this month.

Meanwhile, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd refused to elaborate on the matter, saying the “final decisions have not yet been made with respect to agency reorganization efforts.”

Michael Allen, a former White House and the author of a 2013 book about intelligence reform, called the plan “a huge deal.”

According to Allen, the agency has had no comprehensive structural reform since 9/11.

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