CIA appoints David Marlowe to lead espionage operations

WASHINGTON — In his first major move, CIA Director William Burns brought in a 30-year veteran of the agency to conduct espionage operations at a time when the spy agency was increasingly focused. more about China and is revamping human intelligence gathering in an era of increasing digital surveillance.

David Marlowe, who will be the new Deputy Director of Operations, is a veteran officer who has served overseas as a senior Central Intelligence Agency officer, known as the Station Chief, “in several of the most important environments. larger and more complex, including war zones “. said a CIA spokeswoman.

Mr Marlowe, whose post does not require confirmation from Congress, will lead a branch at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. That oversees undercover agents who recruit foreign spies, ranging from foreign government officials to military men. business through disgruntled members of terrorist networks. The operations department also carries out covert actions abroad when headed by the president.

The CIA spokeswoman described Mr Marlowe’s appointment as a normal change in leadership.

He replaces Elizabeth Kimber, who in 2018 became the first woman to head the operations department, which has been a male-dominated stronghold for much of the CIA’s 73-year history.

“Dave is a very experienced and widely accomplished leader, and he picks up where Beth, an exceptional Agency officer over 36, left off to position the Operations Directorate for the future,” said Mr. . Burns.

CIA Director William Burns said modern surveillance techniques and technology have made his agency’s job more difficult.


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Bill Clark / Zuma Press

Little is known about Mr. Marlowe’s career. The CIA does not normally publicly disclose the overseas assignments of its employees. CIA officials described him as an Arabic speaker who spent 20 of his 30 years at the agency in field missions abroad. His most recent post, they said, was deputy director of the CIA’s Near East Mission Center, which brings together operations officers, intelligence analysts and other specialists to focus on the Middle East. .

Mr Marlowe takes over the work of CIA operations in what current and former intelligence officials say is a pivotal time for the spy agency. Its counterterrorism mission, which dominated the agency’s operations for nearly two decades after the September 11, 2001 attacks, is shrinking, replaced primarily by the multifaceted challenge from China. Beijing, according to US officials, carries out aggressive human and computer espionage, and the CIA is also tasked with monitoring its internal politics, economy and military.

At the same time, current and former officials said they were operating as an undercover CIA officer; recruit and meet spies; and crossing international borders have become more difficult in an era of increasing digital surveillance on a global scale. CIA agents – and their foreign intelligence adversaries – face biometric checks at many airports, cell phone and social media tracking, and surveillance cameras in cities around the world, so that they are trying to operate clandestinely.

Mr Burns admitted upon confirmation to the Senate in February that the agency’s espionage mission has become more difficult.

“One of the great challenges of today [for] operational craftsmanship is omnipresent technical surveillance, the ability of a number of our adversaries to make the conduct of traditional craftsmanship much more complicated, ”he said.

Write to Warren P. Strobel at [email protected]

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