A fairly decent video report from CBC News on the modern espionage boom and its effects on Canada. There are two important takeaways that, while not surprising to anyone who has studied the current state of the intelligence world in any depth, would probably surprise many people who have not.
Although awareness of the fact of economic espionage from China is spreading, people do not realise the far-reaching economic and geopolitical effects that come with it. This is not just about stealing the Blackberry. This is about stealing billions of dollars worth of investment, research and development that underpins major high-tech industry in North America and Europe and shifting that knowledge to China for nothing. Beside that huge espionage-based economic shift, the theft of military technology seems almost trivial.
“Seems” because the other major takeaway from this video is the spread and ease of military and military-industrial espionage. The GRU, Russian military intelligence (ironically most famous in the West for plagiarising the Batman logo), has always been the quieter and more competent of Russia’s two major covert intelligence agencies, and it never closed shop. It appears that the Delisle espionage case is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the access they have. Russian intelligence in particular was always a little secret-happy, and it appears there’s a push on to extract as many secrets from the West as possible. China, of course, has not only vast cyber-espionage resources, but it has been publicly acknowledged that the Chinese have stolen plans for everything from nuclear weapons (see video) to the F-35. Combined with the fact that China makes a great deal of the electronics for the US military, it is a very uncomfortable situation.
Although the report focuses on Russia and China, other countries (this is where people in the intel world might cover their mouths and whisper “France!”) do exactly the same thing on a smaller scale. The point is that in a high-tech world, covert intelligence seems to have gained a palpable edge over counterintelligence.