Leaks shine light on breadth of US spy operations around the world

By Terry Evans
May 1, 2023

The leak of top-secret papers from the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff has shone a spotlight on Washington’s vast spy operations aimed at allies and antagonists alike. This material was apparently ferreted out not by a foreign agent, but a 21-year-old gamer in the military.

The U.S. rulers’ spy operations are an integral part of the drive to defend their class interests. Amid Moscow’s war on Ukraine and mounting friction with the expansionist regime in Beijing, Washington sees cracks and fissures in the “world order” it has lorded over since emerging as the victor in the second imperialist world war.

The leaked files detail Washington’s spying on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to double-check on whether his government plans to launch airstrikes inside Russia. They show the vulnerabilities in Ukrainian air defenses and limits Washington has placed on providing weaponry. One file predicts the war is “heading for a stalemate throughout 2023.”

The documents show the depth of U.S. spies’ infiltration of Moscow’s military and spy apparatus. “U.S. intelligence appears to have penetrated nearly every Russian military body, including the General Staff, the Defense Ministry and the GRU military intelligence agency, as well as the private mercenary group Wagner,” the online Moscow Times reported.

Spy operations against allied governments in Egypt and Israel are also disclosed.

The alleged source of the leaks, Jack Teixeira, a member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was seized at his home in Massachusetts by heavily armed FBI agents in full combat gear April 13. He was charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense records and willful retention of classified documents. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

Teixeira is alleged to have disclosed the secret documents — which he had crumpled, stuffed into his pants pockets, waltzed out of work with, photographed on his kitchen countertop and put online — to impress some other young people in an online chat group.

After decades of revelations of political spying and disruption aimed at workers and social struggles, the FBI is keen to refurbish its reputation. It boasted Teixeira’s arrest “exemplifies” its role targeting “those who betray our country’s trust.” In addition to spearheading the criminal investigation, the FBI is working with Pentagon officials on “damage limitation.”

The leaked material, however embarrassing, shows nothing new about the skullduggery of the U.S. rulers and their government.

Under capitalism there has never been a time when the ruling-class families — driven by competition to maximize their profits — haven’t spied on any and all to strengthen their ability to get their way, whether by arm-twisting or unleashing their military might.

Their international intrigues are an extension of decades of undercover surveillance and assaults on the working class in the U.S. and its vanguard, who the rulers recognize as the most important threat to their system of exploitation and oppression during times of heightened working-class struggles.

Leaks reveal sharpening conflicts

The recent disclosures show the growing instability and sharpening conflicts the U.S. rulers face worldwide today. Competing capitalist regimes are being driven to seek new alliances and support while stepping up moves to build up their militaries in preparation for the inevitable clashes and wars on the horizon.

In the face of growing challenges, Washington maintains some 750 military bases outside its borders to defend the ruling families’ profits and prerogatives, far more than any other ruling class, with more being constructed. By contrast, with all its expanding intentions, China has only five, all — except one in Djibouti, Africa — on islands Beijing built in the South China Sea.

Leaks of Washington’s far-reaching intelligence efforts highlight just how much governments in Asia rely on the U.S. rulers to counter the rising economic, political and military reach of Beijing.

The South Korean government “has found no ill will from our ally in the U.S.,” its National Security Office claimed, putting its best face forward despite documents showing Washington spied on its security agencies. Seoul has expanded its military collaboration with both Washington and Tokyo in recent months.

Taiwan’s defense ministry says it “respects outside opinions about its military preparedness,” after the leaked Washington spy reports revealed concern about Taiwan’s military weaknesses in the face of Beijing’s growing military capabilities and its threats to invade.

The documents also show Washington’s concern over the Russian rulers’ rising influence with U.S. rulers’ allies amid swirling deals playing out in the Middle East. In one file, U.S. spies say they uncovered plans for a Russian defense company to build a service center in the United Arab Emirates for missiles purchased from Moscow. UAE officials denied this.

The Egyptian government, one of the world’s largest recipients of U.S. weaponry, said reports in the leaked materials that it planned to send Moscow 40,000 rockets weren’t true.

Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Josh Rogin says the leaks show that Beijing is “improving its capacity to strike thousands of miles from its shores and prevent the United States from intervening.” He urged a further escalation of the U.S. rulers’ massive military arsenal “to nullify the new threat.”

The far-flung spy operations maintained by U.S. imperialism worldwide are mirrored by the extensive reach of the FBI here at home. Today they are part of an expanding assault on constitutional freedoms being pushed by the Biden administration and the Democrats as they try to keep a grip on the White House. The real target of this spy and disruption operation is the working class.