Newspaper Finds Covert CIA Workplaces, Employees via Internet Searches
The identities of 2,600 Central Intelligence Agency employees and the locations of two dozen of the agency's covert workplaces in the United States can be found easily through Internet searches, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune
The newspaper obtained the information from data providers who charge fees for access to public records and reported on its findings in Sunday editions. It did not publish the identities or other details on its searches, citing concern it could endanger the CIA employees.
Not all of the 2,653 people the newspaper said it could identify as CIA employees were supposed to be covert, an issue raised in the Justice Department investigation of whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003.
Some in fact were non-covert analysts or senior executives, such as former CIA Director George Tenet. But the newspaper said it shared some of its findings with the CIA, and that the agency acknowledged the partial list of names included covert employees.
"Cover is an issue we look at all the time, and we are always looking to improve it," CIA spokesman Tom Crispell told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Through the data providers, the newspaper said it identified people by telephone listings, real estate transactions, voting records, property tax records and other financial and legal documents. The investigation also uncovered internal office phone numbers of the agency and covert mailing addresses used by undercover operatives.
"Cover is a complex issue that is more complex in the Internet age," the CIA's chief spokeswoman, Jennifer Dyck, told the Tribune. "There are things that worked previously that no longer work."
The Tribune also located two dozen CIA facilities in Chicago, northern Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington state. Some of the facilities are heavily guarded, while others appear to be private residences with no obvious connection to the CIA.
One of the facilities, a CIA training area dubbed "The Farm" at Camp Peary, Virginia, was a well-kept secret for decades. The agency refused to publicly acknowledge its existence, even after former CIA personnel confirmed its presence in the 1980s.
But the Tribune said an Internet search for the term "Camp Peary" produced data identifying the names and other details of 26 people who apparently work there.
Additionally, a review of aviation databases for flights at Camp Peary's airstrip revealed 17 aircraft whose ownership and flight histories also could be traced.