Friday, May 23, 2014

How much economic espionage is too much?

WASHINGTON — “If we spy for military security, why shouldn’t we spy for economic security?”

Those were the words not of an aggressive Chinese spy but none other than Stansfield Turner, the Carter-era CIA director, who in 1992 argued that the United States should more aggressively carry out intelligence operations aimed at securing America’s leading economic position in the world.
If it weren’t for matters of patriotism, the former CIA director probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at allegations of Chinese spying unveiled by a Pennsylvania grand jury and the Department of Justice this week.
Indeed, the tactics the Obama administration has accused China of using have also been debated at the highest levels of the U.S. government as possible instruments of American power.
Other countries haven’t been so gun shy and have carried out operations strikingly similar to those a Pennsylvania grand jury have accused Chinese spies of carrying out.
In the 1970s and 1980s, French agents planted moles inside IBM and Texas Instruments and forwarded the material they collected to a French computer company. Microphones planted in the seats of Air France to pick up talk among traveling businessmen have become a piece of intelligence lore.

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