CIA moves onto NSA’s turf with plan for cyber espionage

Cyber operations could soon rival human intelligence-gathering at the CIA if the agency's chief gets his wish.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan wants to pursue a dramatic expansion of hacking and cyber espionage in a shift that could reorganize power and create tension with the rival National Security Agency (NSA).

As cyber threats become more prevalent, the best-known U.S. spy agency is eyeing new ways to advance its operations online. Brennan wants spies to embrace technology as they gather information, whether that means hacking adversaries or finding new informants abroad.

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The possibility of the restructuring was reported Monday by The Washington Post, which said some of Brennan's changes could be implemented as early as this month.

The news was shared with the Post by CIA officials on the condition of anonymity.

Some said Brennan has weighed creating a new directorate for cyber affairs, a move that could threaten the supremacy of the traditional operations and analysis branches. The potential for a reorganization has angered some older members of the spy community, while younger recruits are more likely to embrace the ideas, the Post reported.

Cyber espionage is a growing part of the U.S. approach to gathering intelligence around the world. The NSA conducts vast surveillance work and is known to target adversaries outside the United States with cyberattacks as part of its mission.

Brennan has briefed senior lawmakers on the House and Senate Intelligence panels about his plan, the Post reported.