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Intelligence head: CIA did not pull officers out of Beijing after hack

Intelligence head: CIA did not pull officers out of Beijing after hack
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The CIA did not pull officers out of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing following the hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the nation’s top intelligence official said Monday.

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Speaking at a Defense One conference, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper flatly contradicted September media reports that such action had been taken to protect agents whose identity might be revealed as a result of the hack.

“No,” Clapper said, when asked if the U.S. had removed agents from Beijing, adding, “Don’t believe everything you read in the media.”

Current and former U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Washington Post that the agents were allegedly withdrawn as a precautionary measure.

According to The Post’s sources, the Chinese could have compared background check information from the stolen OPM data with embassy personnel lists. A name that didn’t appear on the embassy list could be outed as an officer.

The breach opened up the personnel records — including background checks — of 21.5 million federal employees and others. Intelligence leaders have characterized the incident as a traditional intelligence-gathering operation, not an “attack.”

Officials still have yet to publicly point the finger at China for the intrusion, although Clapper earlier this year hinted that Beijing is the “leading suspect.”

Asked Monday if he knew who was behind the breach, Clapper drew laughter with his response.

“We have a fair idea,” he said.