U.S. Congress cracks down on ex- spies, following Project Raven

After the UAE’s Project Raven hacking scandal, the U.S. congress, specifically the Intelligence Community is implementing a budget bill to impose espionage control over former intelligence spies conditioning any opportunity to work as contractors for a foreign government.   

Following the UAE’s hacking scandal spreading over global governmental establishments, former U.S. ex-intelligence officials’ misconduct towards their country has pushed lawmakers to examine the possibility of implementing new prohibitions, restricting preceding federal operatives from indulging in deeds that could jeopardize U.S. national security.

“People in the intelligence community develop skills necessary to protect our country against foreign bad actors, and that intellectual property really belongs to the United States,” Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and a California Democrat informed Reuters in an interview. 

“It is not to be used by foreign governments to spy on Americans or to violate human rights or dissidents. We are going to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” he added. 

The operation, dubbed “Project Raven,” initiated between 2016 and 2019, involved former National Security Agency employees, Marc Baier, Ryan Adams, and Daniel Gerick operated for Emirati Cybersecurity firm “Dark Matter.” They served as cyber mercenaries to help the Middle Eastern monarchy gain access to computer systems worldwide, with the U.S. was among them.

To rectify their misconduct towards the U.S., former intelligence operatives agreed to submit a fine accumulating to $1.685 million, a segment of a negotiated prosecution agreement, as an ultimatum to committing to a jail sentence.

In reference to the court’s documents, Adams, Gericke, and Baier’s demeanor exposed the U.S. to severe national security threats, was illegal by definition, as the defendants “used illicit, fraudulent, and criminal means, including the use of advanced covert hacking systems that utilized computer exploits obtained from the United States and elsewhere, to gain unauthorized access to protected computers in the United States and elsewhere and to illicitly obtain information, material, documents, records, data, and personal identifying information.” 

Now, the U.S. intelligence community’s formulated budget bill will impose additional control and restrictions on ex-U.S. spies, strengthening the government’s grip and potentially annihilating any chance they might have to obtain a project as contractors or mercenaries for foreign authorities. 

The Committee on Intelligence Bill for the fiscal year 2022, passed through the House Intelligence Committee, is on the way to gain full chamber support for consideration before its final legislation by the House of the Representatives and finally reaching the presidential office for signature. 

The Bill’s constituents strictly prohibit any former U.S. intelligence officials from conducting any work related to “national security, intelligence, or internal security,” with any foreign authority or establishment mirroring that authority’s objective for 30 months after resigning or leading their position. 

In the event of breaking the bill’s orders, additional reporting demands must be fulfilled where intelligence operatives must submit detailed information about “post-service employment” for a period of five years to the leader they used to report to.

“This bill singles out the intelligence agencies for some of the most sweeping and punitive post-employment restrictions Congress has ever adopted,” said Stewart Baker, former U.S. National Security Agency General Counsel. 

According to Reuters, Project Raven focused on spying on an extensive category of targets, ranging from American journalists to Middle Eastern human rights activists and the UAE’s domestic political opponents.