It has not been a good time for U.S. counterintelligence.
First, came the news that Chinese intelligence service had inserted a penetration agent in the CIA. Now comes the news that Russian military’s Main Intelligence Directorate, the GRU recruited a spy from the U.S. Army.
The GRU allegedly offered Afghan rebels a bounty for killing U.S. soldiers, although not all U.S. intelligence agencies were convinced.
The evidence is much stronger that two GRU agents were behind the poisoning of Sergey Skripal, a turncoat Russian intelligence agent living in England.
I’m not aware that the GRU has ever previously successfully penetrated U.S. intelligence, much less for 15 years.
From the Department of Justice:
According to court documents, from December 1996 to January 2011, Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, a former member of the U.S. Army, allegedly conspired with agents of a Russian intelligence service. During that time, Debbins periodically visited Russia and met with Russian intelligence agents. In 1997, Debbins was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents and signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve Russia.
The Russian agents were from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Debbins allegedly provided the Russian intelligence agents with information that he obtained as a member of the U.S. Army, including information about his chemical and Special Forces units. In 2008, after leaving active duty service, Debbins disclosed to the Russian intelligence agents classified information about his previous activities while deployed with the Special Forces. Debbins also provided the Russian intelligence agents with the names of, and information about, his former Special Forces team members so that the agents could evaluate whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service.