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  • Chinese spies are trying to infiltrate the US.

  • From universities to the FBI

  • A former FBI undercover agent

  • Reveals their operations.

  • This is China Uncensored, I'm Chris Chappell.

  • Ever hear of a honey trap?

  • A honey trap is when a hostile foreign government uses,

  • say, a beautiful woman,

  • to seduce someone—a politician, a businessman, a scientist.

  • They might give information to her

  • that could pose a national security risk.

  • Or she could just use the salacious encounter to blackmail him.

  • And let's just say,

  • Chinese leaders know a thing or two about honey.

  • I sat down with former FBI operative Marc Ruskin,

  • author ofThe Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI”...

  • to find out how Chinese agents are using honey traps

  • and many other techniques

  • to infiltrate the United States.

  • Thanks for joining me today, Marc.

  • Hey, it's my pleasure, Chris.

  • Thank you for inviting me.

  • Sure.

  • Well, so as a former FBI agent,

  • what have you seen are some of the ways the Chinese Communist Party

  • is trying to gain influence in the United States?

  • Well, the Chinese intelligent services along

  • with other hostile intelligence services exploit

  • a number of vulnerabilities that exist in the United States.

  • And to a large extent, and this may be surprising

  • to some of your viewers,

  • but the majority of the data that they seek

  • is actually available through open sources.

  • Much of it is available legally to anyone

  • who takes the trouble to look for it.

  • Is this what you mean by vulnerabilities?

  • Yeah.

  • By vulnerabilities, I'm talking about open ...

  • manners in which data which can be of use to a hostile power,

  • such as China, can be accessed without necessarily

  • violating any federal or American laws.

  • A lot of the data that is significant

  • and can be used for a hostile adversary purposes

  • is actually available through open sources.

  • Much of it is information, for example,

  • such as a technical report, research, engineering,

  • which has been conducted on a very sophisticated level

  • and has not yet been classified.

  • So there's often a lag time, for example,

  • with advanced research,

  • the publication of the research not being reviewed

  • and being ultimately classified as secret or top secret.

  • But since the Chinese intelligence services

  • are very active and on the ball and alert,

  • often they've already accessed the information

  • and it's out the door prior to it being classified.

  • So what does China do with this information?

  • Well, we're talking,

  • I'm thinking basically information of a technical level,

  • which can then be used by own engineers and their own researchers

  • to advance their own level of sophistication,

  • bypassing the research that they would've had to do themselves

  • in order to reach the same point.

  • In other words, they're taking advantage,

  • and this is a problem with academia in the United States

  • and that we have a very open society.

  • And by having this kind of openness,

  • it gives more access to hostile services to obtain information

  • either through a variety of methods,

  • but often not necessarily to espionage,

  • but often it's simply by being alert

  • and being quick and accessing the,

  • and knowing where the look and when to look.

  • So that's kind of similar to how recently it came out

  • that the Chair of Harvard's Chemistry Department

  • was getting funding from China.

  • Right.

  • Just last month,

  • just at the end of January,

  • there was an arrest of Professor Lieberand announcements by the special agent in charge

  • of the FBI in Boston,

  • Bonaventura,

  • who he explained in his statements that right now China is,

  • in his view,

  • and presumably reflects the view of the FBI today,

  • China's the largest intelligence threat to the US.

  • Whether it's larger than Russia or not,

  • it's kind of like how many angels

  • can dance on the head of a pin type of question.

  • In either case,

  • they're all hostile intelligence services and need to be,

  • we need to take a preventative,

  • counter-intelligence type measures

  • in order to protect ourselves from a hostile act.

  • So, you've talked about how China

  • takes advantage of open source information.

  • How in the case of the Harvard Professor Lieber,

  • how money can buy off people.

  • How does China use foreign agents in the United States?

  • Well, historically there've been a number of ways

  • that the Chinese have used traditional espionage techniques.

  • One in particular that's been very successful is,

  • and it may seem reminiscent of John Le Carre novels,

  • but it's the reality is what's referred to in trade craft

  • as a honey trap,

  • which is using an attractive female case officer,

  • intelligence officer,

  • to develop a relationship with someone

  • who has access to classified information.

  • And it's a longterm proposition to develop an intimate,

  • ultimately physical relationship or maybe even the relationship

  • that the target believes is a legitimate emotional relationship.

  • There was an FBI agent, a Supervisor, James,

  • and his last name escapes me right now,

  • but who with Katrina Leung,

  • was the name of the intelligence officer.

  • Not her real Mandarin name,

  • but she developed a relationship with him

  • and for 20 years that relationship continued.

  • It's hard to imagine for nearly two decades,

  • and he was the supervisor of a China Counter Intelligence squad

  • in the FBI's Los Angeles office,

  • and he was taking, apparently, from what I understand,

  • confidential classified documents to his rendezvouses with her.

  • So until ultimately he was arrested

  • after he retired and entered into a plea agreement

  • with the US Attorney's office.

  • How common are these honey traps?

  • Unfortunately, it's a question that has no real answer

  • because all we know about is the ones that were caught.

  • Right?

  • So from time to time,

  • in the FBI it's not very common that we know about.

  • The first one in the history of the FBI

  • involved an agent called Richard Miller,who was seduced by a Soviet at that time,

  • Soviet Union agent,

  • whose name was Svetlana Ogorodnikova.

  • And so, how often does it happen in other agencies?

  • I would suspect it happens more often in other agencies.

  • The FBI has a pretty serious vetting process for recruiting agents.

  • And as the CIA does as well.

  • But there are other areas where these honey traps could be used

  • and which are not to infiltrate America's Counter Intelligence services,

  • but simply to infiltrate, say academia.

  • You could have this kind of technique being utilized

  • with the college professors or engineers

  • working at nuclear research laboratories,

  • which we wouldn't know about

  • because they haven't come to surface yet.

  • So besides these methods, what other tactics

  • is the Chinese Communist Party using in the United States?

  • I guess the one answer would be

  • whatever they can imagine and come up with.

  • As we all know, the Russians, the Soviets were,

  • since the creation of the Soviet Union

  • has been attempting to influence the American elections.

  • With regard to the Russians, we can read about it

  • because since the fall of the Soviet Union,

  • many ex-KGB officers who worked in the US

  • have been able to publish their memoirs.

  • So you can go to the bookstore and buy Kalugin's book

  • and see how they were in New York and in Washington

  • doing their best through all types of clandestine activity

  • to influence the elections.

  • Now, presumably if the Russians were doing it,

  • the Chinese were doing it also.

  • However, we don't have a bunch of ex-Chinese

  • intelligence officers publishing their memoirs

  • because I would imagine that their longevity would be very dim indeed

  • were they to attempt to do so

  • as would the health of their family members, right?

  • Probably.

  • So we don't know firsthand, but what we do know

  • is what has been uncovered just through ordinary criminal investigations.