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One day in 1989, a CIA intelligence satellite expert delivered top-secret information to an Iraqi intelligence agency. He gave them satellite photos that showed the location of Iran’s military force, their concentration of weapons and their supply vessels. The CIA agent also showed what Iran was doing to dodge satellite surveillance. They were using special equipment to elude thermographic cameras and hiding missiles behind stacks of water pipes. This revelation is considered one of the biggest mistakes in modern espionage history, because the Gulf War occurred two years later.
Iraq gained a significant amount of information from the CIA, including the know-how to hide Scud surface-to-surface missiles from enemy detection. Although the coalition forces monitored Iraq 24 hours a day, they found just a few Scuds. The missiles launched toward Israel and Saudi Arabia caused numerous deaths.
The Chinese army was able to intervene in the Korean War because of an information leak. The leak came from Donald Maclean, a British diplomat in Washington. Recruited by the Soviet intelligence KGB, Maclean learned the Harry S. Truman government would conduct a limited war in Korea, which meant they would not deploy nuclear weapons or attack Manchuria. As Lin Biao, the Chinese army general during the Korean War, admitted later, China did not want any risks. China would not have entered the Korean War unless the Soviets were able to assure them the United States would not attack China.
Maclean is considered the greatest success story out of the KGB espionage missions. The British diplomat also handed over decisive information in 1948 when he worked as a representative for the British-American Nuclear Energy Council. President Truman deployed B-29 bombers in Europe to discourage the Soviet Union’s assault. However, Maclean revealed that the B-29s had only conventional weapons, although Truman wanted to act as if the B-29s were armed with nuclear weapons. With nothing to fear, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin could rest assured while expanding the Iron Wall.
National Intelligence Chief Kim Man-bok will be investigated by prosecutors. He secretly visited North Korea a day before the presidential election, only to have his visit discovered immediately afterward. He also had to confess that he leaked his dialogue with Pyongyang. He made a series of mistakes in judgment. One is concerned that such a person led the National Intelligence Agency. I do not wish that the National Intelligence Agency had the skills and capabilities of the KGB, but at least they should not make the same mistakes as the CIA.

The writer is an editorial writer of JoongAng Ilbo.

By Cho Hyun-wook [poemlove@joongang.co.kr]
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