James Olson, former chief of counterintelligence at the CIA and senior lecturer at Texas A&M’s Bush School, and Michael Waguespack, former senior counterintelligence executive with the FBI, described how the U.S. faces a threat rarely seen or heard of by the public — spying.
“There are friendly countries, but there are no friendly intelligence services,” Olson said.
Olson and Waguespack described a world hidden from the public, where countries use sophisticated spy networks to steal U.S. political and technological secrets and to compromise U.S. spy networks abroad.
Olson named China, Russia and Cuba as the primary threats in U.S. counterintelligence.
“Never in my memory has our country been more in peril at home and abroad than it is right now,” Olson said.
Olson said foreign intelligence agents use a wide variety of covers to seek U.S. intelligence, from business and diplomatic covers to student identities. Olson said the Chinese, for example, have gained access to U.S. nuclear weapons data and sophisticated technology that has allowed them to upgrade their combat aircraft and submarines to levels more advanced than their domestic technology would allow.