CNN reports: The militant group Hezbollah claims it has blown the cover of 10 alleged CIA officers working in Lebanon.
In the latest round of an escalating spy war, Hezbollah’s media arm, al Manar, posted a video Friday accusing the CIA of running espionage operations from the diplomatic cover of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. It discloses the alleged names of the current CIA station chief (including his birthdate), the former station chief, and three other officers, as well as code names for five others.
If those are indeed the names of CIA officers, their covert abilities have been compromised, and they will likely leave the country, according to two former CIA agents.
“The truth is, almost everybody probably knows who the station chief in Beirut is – at least if you’re the bad guy,” said former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht. But if the identities of officers have been publicly revealed, he said, “they (agency officials) most definitely yank you.”
Former CIA officer Robert Baer, who once served in the agency’s Beirut station, said, “If I were there, I’d close the place down. You just have to assume that all your sources are compromised. Your tradecraft is compromised. It could be a year, doing a damage assessment, then you have to send in new people – who haven’t been exposed, and operate in a completely different way.”
The Hezbollah video says the CIA tries to recruit Lebanese officials, politicians, religious and social leaders, and opponents of Israel. When an informant is recruited, “a detailed personal file is prepared, about him” and the “network of persons acquainted with him,” the report alleges. The CIA meets with its assets in restaurants like McDonalds and Pizza Hut and Starbucks, or in a car being driven around the city, and “every bit of information is extracted from him,” the Hezbollah video claims. The video is illustrated with animated re-enactments of such meetings.