Agents of foreign governments are an ongoing threat to U.S. intelligence, and since the Cold War ended, have been dangerously overlooked. If allowed to steal government secrets and technological knowledge, the spies of foreign governments can cause unforetold damage. Recently, it was revealed that Russia’s government had ten undercover agents within Washington D.C.’s high society, a terrifying prospect should those spies be able to extract U.S. intelligence. It also shows just how far foreign governments will go to destroy the United States.
The case of Robert Hanson and Aldrich Ames is another example of the danger of foreign governments extracting U.S. secrets. Both these individuals were responsible for selling intelligence to foreign governments, proving yet again that the FBI’s Counterespionage unit has its work cut out in not only identifying but catching spies and double agents. This is why the Counterespionage team recruits only the best law enforcement ages from the FBI and other organisations, and trains them to the highest possible quality.
Job Description for Counterespionage
Counterespionage agents are tasked with guarding the U.S. most important, and most secretive information. The job involves identifying and constantly monitoring suspicious behaviour not only through Federal government employees, but in related industries as well. Counterespionage agents must respond to tips handed in, reported security breaches and other intelligence available. They must also be active in creating strategies to anticipate threats and stop them before they occur, including extracting information from captured foreign operatives about the spy operations of their corresponding nations.
Counterespionage jobs include:
1. Constantly monitoring personnel, major intelligence facilities and assets.
2. Responding to security violations and suspicious behaviour within agencies, and other tips pointing to possible foreign intelligence threats.
3. Responsibility for FBI integrity and the consistent employment of tests to make sure high levels of security are maintained across agencies.
4. Developing counterespionage techniques to stop spies infiltrating U.S. intelligence while also aiming to undermine the security networks of other countries.
5. Monitoring suspected foreign spies and their activities within the U.S. and abroad.
6. Interrogating suspected espionage agents and gathering information to do with their activities.
7. Testifying in court regarding information gathered in counterintelligence and espionage cases.
Special Agents in the Counterespionage Section within the FBI will earn salaries with pay ratings from GS-10 up to GS-15. However, GS-14 and GS-15 salaries are generally given only to high profile FBI staff in supervisor or executive roles. The General Schedule for salaries also applies to white collar support professionals, but the pay grade may be lower than that available to Special Agents, and may beginning at an opening salary of GS-7 or GS-9 grade. However, promotions might be given, and rely on the level of the professional’s education and their prior experience in the military or in law enforcement. Having pre-existing counterespionage skills also helps.
Living adjustment is also accounted for, and the FBI will often provide 12.5 to 25 percent of a base salary in order to cover this. Some staff might also qualify for Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime, which would be between 10 to 25 percent of a base salary.