The CIA has issued a warning to all former agents via email cautioning them against getting employed by any foreign government in any form, the New York Times has reported citing the leaked message. The agency's Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Sheetal T. Patel reportedly drafted the email months ago, but sent it only on 25 January.
According to the newspaper, the intelligence agency normally reminds former agents of their obligations and duties when it meets them personally for various events or briefings. The email form was apparently chosen because of the restrictions applied by the pandemic, the NYT suggested.
Patel reminded former intelligence agency staff that their employment by another country's government might be viewed as undermining the CIA's mission and benefiting American adversaries. The email reportedly cited the deteriorating situation in this field.
The CIA claimed to see a "detrimental trend" of "foreign governments, either directly or indirectly, hiring former intelligence officials to build up their spying capabilities," the email reportedly said.
Patel's communication also cautioned former agents against revealing too much in conversations with media, podcasts or on social media, the NYT reported. According to it, the CIA fears that even remarks which in isolation contain no classified information might when analysed alongside statements made by other former CIA employees, be dangerous.
The email from the CIA specifically requested former agents not to disclose any specifics that might endanger classified material, according to the newspaper.
"The risk of unintended disclosure of classified information, or confirmation of classified information by our adversaries, increases with each exposure outside established US government channels," Patel reportedly said in the message.
It is unclear why the spy agency chose this time to warn former employees about the dangers of talking too much and working for foreign governments. The last time a former CIA agent was embroiled in any spy scandal was 2018, when ex-case officer Kevin Mallory was convicted for espionage for China. The former spy was approached by Beijing via an online networking platform while he faced severe financial hardship. The prosecution insisted that Mallory sold several classified white papers to Beijing for around $25,000, but the former CIA agent himself insisted that he did no such thing and actually tried to lure Chinese operatives into the hands of the American spy agency. The 62-year-old was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in May 2019.