Friday, April 11, 2008, 4/11/2008 12:56:00 PM

Friday Historical Vault: Mother Jones Says CIA Prepared to Aid in Trade Secret Theft for American Companies

By Todd
Well, it's Friday and there's little going on in the trade secrets world. That being the case, we thought we'd link you in to a fascinating article from 1994 in which Mother Jones contributor Robert Dreyfuss suggests that the CIA was gearing up to assist private businesses to engage in economic espionage. History demonstrates Dreyfuss was far off the mark - that government sponsored economic espionage DID become a reality but the perpetrators of this espionage were from Asia, and particularly China, and not the United States. We thought you'd be interested in this piece from the archives and quote a fascinating predictor from that piece below:

"Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has been abuzz with talk about using the CIA for economic espionage. Stripped of euphemism, economic espionage simply means that American spies would target foreign companies, such as Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, and then covertly pass stolen trade secrets and technology to U.S. corporate executives.
R. James Woolsey, President Clinton's CIA director, has said repeatedly that the CIA will not engage in corporate spy work. Targeting foreign companies and giving that information to American companies is "fraught with legal and foreign policy difficulties," Woolsey says. But there is not the slightest hesitation among other top CIA officials that such information, when obtained, ought to be shared with American automakers.
The idea of using the U.S. intelligence community to give American companies an edge is an explosive subject that has divided the CIA and provoked bitter debate in Congress. It also raises troubling questions about whether a free society can accept the kind of help that the CIA provides when the question is not one of national defense but simply dollars and cents."

Enjoy your weekend.

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