December 13th, 2011
10:26 PM ET

Hezbollah claims to reveal 10 CIA spies in Lebanon

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

The militant group Hezbollah claims it has blown the cover of 10 alleged CIA officers working in Lebanon.

In the latest round of an escalating spy war, Hezbollah's media arm, al Manar, posted a video Friday accusing the CIA of running espionage operations from the diplomatic cover of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.  It discloses the alleged names of the current CIA station chief (including his birthdate), the former station chief, and three other officers, as well as code names for five others.

If those are indeed the names of CIA officers, their covert abilities have been compromised, and they will likely leave the country, according to two former CIA agents.

"The truth is, almost everybody probably knows who the station chief in Beirut is - at least if you're the bad guy," said former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht.  But if the identities of officers have been publicly revealed, he said, "they (agency officials) most definitely yank you."

Former CIA officer Robert Baer, who once served in the agency's Beirut station, said, "If I were there, I'd close the place down.  You just have to assume that all your sources are compromised. Your tradecraft is compromised.  It could be a year, doing a damage assessment, then you have to send in new people - who haven't been exposed, and operate in a completely different way."

The Hezbollah video says the CIA tries to recruit Lebanese officials, politicians, religious and social leaders, and opponents of Israel.  When an informant is recruited, "a detailed personal file is prepared, about him" and the "network of persons acquainted with him," the report alleges.  The CIA meets with its assets in restaurants like McDonalds and Pizza Hut and Starbucks, or in a car being driven around the city, and "every bit of information is extracted from him," the Hezbollah video claims.  The video is illustrated with animated re-enactments of such meetings.

A CIA spokeswoman did not confirm or deny the accuracy of Hezbollah's report.

"The agency does not, as a rule, address spurious claims from terrorist groups," said CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood.  I think it's worth remembering that Hezbollah is a dangerous organization, with al-Manar as its propaganda arm. That fact alone should cast some doubt on the credibility of the group's claims."

Baer said the loss of human intelligence assets, if true, could cost the U.S. valuable intelligence.

"Any time we ever had any breakthroughs - whether it's getting (Osama) bin Laden, or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - it's always been thanks to human intelligence," he said.  "And now we've lost that in Lebanon, for quite a while."

But one U.S. official, who would not confirm or deny the report, said, "No one is giving up against Hezbollah, the group that has killed more Americans than any other terrorist group except al Qaeda."

The official added that "repeating Hezbollah's claims does nothing but serve that group's interests, making things harder for Americans in Beirut."

The alleged names are not being disclosed by CNN.

In 1984, the CIA station chief in Beirut was kidnapped by Hezbollah and killed. Baer described the group as a formidable counterintelligence adversary.

"Every single (computer) hard drive in Lebanon, they're into it," he said.  "They're into police files, they're into military intelligence files, they can get on any Skype message, they can tap telephones, get into phone databases - you name it, they can do it. And they're very good at it."

The dissemination of those identities, if genuine, comes on the heels of another recent setback for the U.S. intelligence program in Lebanon.  In June, Hezbollah claimed that it had arrested two or more CIA informants in the country.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent, was asked by CNN whether he was concerned that the CIA has suffered a setback in Lebanon intelligence gathering.

"I'm confident the agency is making adjustments where necessary," he said.  But he also said that multiple reviews of the CIA's spying tradecraft were under way.

"We're having separate reviews of tradecraft as it applied - and I'm not speaking specifically to your question, but I'm talking about around the globe."

Hezbollah is the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite group regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States.

CNN's Pam Benson contributed to this story

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Filed under: CIA • Hezbollah • Intelligence • Lebanon
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Jentonio

    Praise the Lord Jesus Christ the satanic israel and america will fall hezoballah i disagree with their faith but this zionists are killing millons of people deciving billons of people and stealing trillons of dollars from the people hopefully leaboane will be free

    December 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Rana

      Firstly, ita0has to be clear that no comment will be ahtourized and published containing any impolite words, naming or qualifications. a0Now into the subject:This argument was taken from a context where on one side, a Hezbollah supporter was claiming that he is defending the Right of Lebanon, while the other side answered that the Right of Lebanon stands against any type of corrupted leaders. I liked that then, and today it is news.a0If you look back in history, no resistance has been done solo, the french took off resistance from England, Vietcong needed the Russians/Chinese, Ben laden was supported by the Americans in afghanistan, having said that, yes you are right, the resistance needed needed Iran Syria, and yes you are right again it needed all, quoted, bold underlined all, Lebanese.Where I differ with your comment is where you transfer the full credit to the supporters/sponsors when the true players, including me and you are discredited.That was then.a0Today, clearly Hezbollah's actions made him loose credit internally. He did not know how to stop while he's ahead. And in my opinion unless he gets the full lebanese support, ie gain your trust (before your leader's trust) he will not be doing so well later on. Problem is that all Lebanese won't either. What hides the future, I cant tell, but I'll always, stand against the use of arms from any Lebanese against any other Lebanese.a0Internally, also, Lebanese are fed up of sacrifices for greater causes especially when it comes along with corrupted persons. You want your cause, well I want to live honorably, time for you to adapt. This is applicable for Hezbollah, but isn't applicable to all parties as well?

      November 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  2. Anya

    Hezbollalala murderers should be prepared for what happens iran is not there to back up their terrorism

    December 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  3. Richik

    Hezbollah will fight for freedom from Israeli and US Imperialism to the death. I give applause to anyone that can stand up to those kinds of people. Hopefully they will have luck in their fight for freedom. Anyways, I don't like the idea of USA aiding Israel, especially considering their many questionable actions. So it's good these CIA officers were found. The US has been responsible for overthrowing many legitimate governments, and we can't let them play world bully any long.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  4. Chris

    The CIA seem's to be dropping the ball alot lately...

    December 14, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Reply
    • nadie

      oh, come on all oh, come on all the issues with Iran and then all of a sueddn this happens it's either a bold face lie or the government sold out their own operatives with what happend to SEAL team 6 they were probably sold out by the suits Welcome to the NWO Americans change you can believe in!

      April 5, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
  5. Jason

    The federal government is the terrorist. You war mongering sheep are going to have a difficult time with the coming revolution. Maybe you are the zombies that the bible speaks of.

    December 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Reply
    • Error404

      dude you're so incredible. You see what no one else can! Since you typed it as "You war mongering sheep", that excludes you! You're not one of "us". Please become our new leader because you're so awesomely incredible! Then you mention the bible because you're also very religious. Now you're just another crazy =)

      December 15, 2011 at 4:01 am | Reply
  6. Skorpio

    Most Muslim clerics (ayatollahs, imams, muftis, mullahs, ullemas, sheiks, etc) know who are the terrorists and the spies. They exert an absolute power, control and supervision over their people. They are the main instigators of all violence, terrorism, hatred, vengeance, resentment and discrimination around the world. These evil creatures are aware of most violent actions, because they promote and justify them. They are the new inquisitors version and nothing happens unless these guys approves it.

    December 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  7. ram

    ...and you get upset when american technology is being sold to China et al.

    December 14, 2011 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • Enisi

      Well U.S mnoervgent Well U.S mnoervgent is playing with fire, they have become Israel’s proxy for nothing, while Israel sits back and enjoys the show it is the victims of U.S mnoervgent that are going to suffer the most from both sides. If they attack Iran it is going to be very bad and ugly for both sides. There is no need for this at all Iran is not going to be Iraq or Libya, not even Vietnam. I hope the U.S mnoervgent come to their senses and stop this stupid and pointless enmity with Iran.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:36 am | Reply
  8. Ed

    God bless USA. We will overcome our debt situation and will continue to police the world until we will get rid of all the radical islamist who launched a jihad war at us and our allies.

    December 14, 2011 at 6:47 am | Reply
    • Jason

      Ed, really? How are we going to overcome a financial crisis, including the huge financial burden of policing the world, when our dollar is only worth the amount of confidence that people pretend to have, or not have? Can you not see how policing and dictating world affairs causes people have 0 confidence in us? If only there was something that we could attach the dollar to in order to make it hold value no matter what.....

      December 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Reply
      • Manisha

        On the verge of On the verge of building a nlcaeur weapon where is the evidence for this statement ? because there's nothing in either the IAEA report, or the US's own NIE which claims this, so where is brian ross getting his information ?.is brian ross an agent for someone, i wonder ?.

        April 7, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  9. Jannai

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2. America invaded Iraq in 2003 and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and displaced 5,000,000+ Iraqi.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government and installed dictator.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. America's public debt will be 23 trillion by 2015.

    December 14, 2011 at 2:36 am | Reply
    • CNNReader

      Jannai, you're statements are mostly full of hateful lies. There's no 'root' of terror, that lies in the acts of all those who partake in it.
      Yes, America invaded Iraq, however the overwhelmingly vast majority of lives lost and persons displaced was due to post invasion flare up in Shia-Sunni warfare that's common in the region and is a result of Saddam's life long suppression of the Shia majority.

      December 14, 2011 at 10:28 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Your an idiot! Where are you getting your numbers? Try a little research before you go spreading your lies and stupidity around... are you Catholic or something?

      December 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Reply

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