Intelligence Agencies and Covid

July 11, 2020

Ever since (probably before) China unleashed the COVID-19 virus on the world, countries have prepped their intelligence agencies one how to gather information about a vaccine. Ekathimerini spoke with retired CIA operative Marc Polymeropoulos about gathering intelligence in, “The Key Role Of Intelligence In The Corona Virus Battle.” Polymeropoulos stated he would have deployed agents around the world to not only gather information, but potentially recruit people to assist the CIA. He also said:

“ ‘The first matter of business for the secret service in the pandemic is not looking for ventilators or diagnostic tests, as Israel’s Mossad did. It’s checking whether the scientific data being reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by China, for example, is accurate or not. To do this, they recruit whistleblowers, tap communications between civil servants, and mine information from open sources,’ says Polymeropoulos. ‘Their second mission is to evaluate whether the spread of the virus and the reactions of the public in the places that are being hit the hardest are affecting the stability of their governments…”

Whoever had the latest scientific information related to the virus would mean billions of dollars for the winning country. Polymeropoulous, however, explained that the US secret services were warned about COVID-19 back in January, but dropped the ball. He believes once the pandemic is over, Congress will investigate why it got out of control.

VOA News has a similar story: “COVID-19 Offers ‘World Of Opportunity’ For Spies, Terrorists Australians Spy Boss Says.” Australia’s spy chief and Australian Security Intelligence Organization warned that the world is going to face more cyber-crime, extremist propaganda, and espionage during the pandemic. The panic associated with the pandemic makes people ripe for exploitation.

“It believes that extremist groups have spread their ideology and tried to radicalize Australians.  Other common scams include phishing for personal information, online shopping fraud and the theft of pension funds, as well as fake crypto currency and celebrity endorsements.  There are also allegations that foreign governments have used the pandemic to covertly gather sensitive information online.”

The pandemic has promoted fear, which makes people more susceptible to disinformation, cyber attacks, and scams. Some politicians even use it as an excuse to spy on their citizens and restrict their privacy rights online.

Maintaining order and safety is paramount during crises, but no one has found the right balance between citizens’ rights and government power.

One thing intelligence agencies know is that human behaviors have changed based on past emergencies.

Whitney Grace, July 11, 2020

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