U.S. intelligence officials remain concerned that China has compromised the methods that the CIA uses to communicate with overseas informants, dampening agents’ enthusiasm after the Monday arrest of a former CIA officer for allegedly retaining classified information, Fox News reports.

Between 2010 and 2014 it is being reported that 18-20 KEY CIA operatives went DARK. U.S,. officials are calling this one of the worst intelligence failures in decades.

Intelligence indicates that the CIA was aware of a “MOLE” that was providing CIA intel on operatives in China.

New York Times reported:

It was a life-or-death call. The Chinese government had been systematically picking off American spies in China, dismantling a network that had taken the C.I.A. years to build. A mole hunt was underway, and the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, was the prime suspect.

In 2013 the CIA found their MOLE and made a critical decision, which they described as “LIFE OR DEATH”, in which they decided to use the CIA Officer to gain intel on the turncoats umbrella of contacts.

At the time, they found classified documents in the CIA officers luggage, some argued that he was not the MOLE and they did not want to arrest the agent as it could jeopardize alerting the real MOLE.

The CIA Secret Task Force and the FBI made the decision to let Jerry Chun Shing Lee to return to China.

The CIA Task Force knew this was a gamble but based their decision on needing more intel before they could make such an arrest.

What followed over the next 5 years was a complete dismantling of the United States spy network in China.

Cathay Pacific flight at Kennedy International Airport on Monday, FBI agents made their move and “detained” Mr. Lee as he returned to the United States.

At this time Mr. Lee is charged with, “illegally retaining top secret information whose disclosure could cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.” According to the affidavit filed against Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee had confidential information on CIA Agents and operatives in China, that included their real names and locations as well as their phone numbers.

Fox News reports that, In fact, veteran U.S. spies and senior officials are skeptical that Lee will ever be charged for any crime relating to the apparent collapse of the CIA’s network in China, multiple outlets reported.

For more information on Mr. Lee, the NYT has put together his background and the intel released by the FBI, the following is part of that report, “CIA MOLE HUNT“:

Mr. Lee, 53, took an unremarkable path through the C.I.A. He became a United States citizen and, after four years in the Army, studied international business management at Hawaii Pacific University. He graduated in 1992 and received a master’s degree in human resource management the next year.

From there, he joined the C.I.A., posing as an American diplomat while serving as a clandestine case officer. From old address records, he appears to have served in Tokyo from about 1999 to 2002. Officials say he also worked at the East Asia Division at C.I.A. Headquarters and the agency’s Beijing station before he left in 2007 and took a job in Hong Kong.

When the C.I.A. noticed in late 2010 that its spies were disappearing, suspicion did not immediately turn to Mr. Lee, according to current and former officials. But as fears of a mole grew, the government set up a secret task force of C.I.A. officers and F.B.I. agents. A veteran F.B.I. counterintelligence agent, Charles McGonigal, was assigned to run it, former American law enforcement officials said.

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