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Biometrics, Smartphones, Surveillance Cameras Pose New Obstacles for U.S. Spies

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Surveillance cameras.

CIA officers now face such digital obstacles as omnipresent surveillance cameras.

Credit: EyeEm/Getty Images

Operatives widely suspected of working for Israel's Mossad spy service planned a stealthy operation to kill a Palestinian militant living in Dubai. The 2010 plan was a success except for the stealth part—closed-circuit cameras followed the team's every move, even capturing them before and after they put on disguises.

In 2017, a suspected U.S. intelligence officer held a supposedly clandestine meeting with the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, days before the latter was assassinated. That encounter also became public knowledge, thanks to a hotel's security camera footage.

Last December , it was Russia's turn. Bellingcat, the investigative website, used phone and travel data to track three operatives from Moscow's FSB intelligence service it said shadowed and then attempted to kill Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Bellingcat named the three. And published their photographs.

Espionage and covert action aren't what they used to be.

From The Wall Street Journal
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