In a report that has sent shock waves across the American intelligence community, the estimable New York Times reported that as many as 20 CIA operatives and informers in China, were killed or jailed by the Chinese Government in a three-year span from 2010 and 2012. According to former CIA officials, there is strong suspicion that the disaster was brought about by a mole in the CIA.

An intelligence nightmare

The CIA had spent years in building up its intelligence in a country that had proven to be notoriously tough to penetrate over the years and the revelation of the identities of the operatives over that period must have come as a hammer blow for the agency.

The CIA got wind of the nightmare when the flow of information came to stand still at around 2010 and the following year, operatives started 'disappearing'. The New York Times report states that many were executed and some arrested, including a public shooting of one informant by the Chinese authorities. Former CIA officials believe that no hacking had taken place and in fact, it was a CIA agent who was suspected of having passed on sensitive information to the Chinese. The CIA did conduct an investigation but could not gather enough dirt that could lead to an arrest. There is growing belief that the goings on between 2010 and 2012 has seriously affected America's intelligence operations in China and it might take a long time to reestablish another robust information gathering network in China.

No one knows what actually happened

Even though former CIA officials believe that a mole within the agency was responsible for the events, no one actually knows with any certainty about what actually went down. The New York Times journalist Mark Apuzzo, who had been involved with the said NYT report, concedes that the American intelligence community is unsure about the breach.

Some believe it could have been a CIA mole, others believe that the agencies computers might have been hacked and there are others who think that the operatives in China got careless, which eventually led to their troubles. Be that as it may, the Chinese affair is, without a doubt, one of the most damaging setbacks for the CIA in their recent history and could also pose a problem with agents in other countries, who might now feel a bit wary about being informants for the American government. The CIA, however, has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the story in any shape or form and in fact, have declined from issuing any statement in response.