. . .The story involves China and the senior U.S. senator from California, and former chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Democrat Dianne Feinstein. It was buried eight paragraphs into a recent Politico exposé on foreign efforts to infiltrate Silicon Valley, as a passing example of political espionage:
Former intelligence officials…[said] Chinese intelligence once recruited a staff member at a California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the source reported back to China about local politics. (A spokesperson for Feinstein said the office doesn’t comment on personnel matters or investigations, but noted that no Feinstein staffer in California has ever had a security clearance.)
Later comes additional detail:
According to four former intelligence officials, in the 2000s, a staffer in Senator Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco field office was reporting back to the MSS [China’s Ministry of State Security, its intelligence and security apparatus]. While this person, who was a liaison to the local Chinese community, was fired, charges were never filed against him. (One former official reasoned this was because the staffer was providing political intelligence and not classified information—making prosecution far more difficult.) The suspected informant was ‘run’ by officials based at China’s San Francisco Consulate, said another former intelligence official. The spy’s handler ‘probably got an award back in China’ for his work, noted this former official, dryly.
This anecdote provides significantly more questions than answers. For starters: Who was the spy? For how long was the spy under surveillance? What information about “local politics” was the spy passing back to China? Just how close was the spy to the senator? Did law enforcement officials sweep vehicles and other areas for listening devices? Was there an investigation into whether others in the senator’s circle may have been coordinating with Beijing? (Read more from “Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Ties to China Go Way Deeper Than an Alleged Office Spy” HERE)