Intelligence: Striving to Steal Stealth Secrets


January8, 2007: The U.S. Department of Defense has a counterintelligence operation that tries to keep tabs on foreigners who spy on the United States. Most of this espionage is seeking American technology secrets. No surprise there, as the United States is the source of most new technology on the planet.

The Department of Defense believes that over a hundred foreign countries have people in the U.S. engaging in this kind of espionage. But there are major players; China, Russia and Iran. China's efforts have been the most extensive, and resulted in the largest number of arrests and prosecutions. The Russians benefit from still having some of their Cold War era expertise, and contacts. The Iranians have also been running a technology smuggling operation for over twenty years. However, now the Iranians have found that their smuggling network can also obtain technology secrets, which can be sold or traded to China, Russia, or even North Korea.

A major area of interest is stealth technology, followed by satellite navigation, communications and reconnaissance systems. Most of the other tech sought involves weapons, and especially stuff involving guided weapons. Most of the "spies" are amateurs. China is noted for using many Chinese students and visiting business or technical folks who don't even know they are spying. In the last year, the Department of Defense has detected nearly a thousand espionage attempts. Most of these don't result in arrests, much less indictments and convictions. Many more spying efforts go undetected. The Department of Defense won't comment on all they know, for obvious reasons.


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