US President George W. Bush has approved a new strategy to combat foreign spies or extremists attempting to steal US secrets and influence US policy, officials said on Monday.
The new counter-intelligence strategy also aims to "ensure a level economic playing field" by protecting US trade secrets and technology from foreign spies, according to a summary which was made public on Monday.
"This strategy is the first of its kind and will require substantial changes in the conduct of US counterintelligence," said Michelle Van Cleave, the national counterintelligence executive in charge of the new effort.
"These changes include a renewed intelligence focus on hostile services and intelligence capabilities, including those of terrorist groups, and proactive efforts to defeat them," she said in a statement.
Counterintelligence operations that traditionally have been scattered across a variety of agencies would be brought under the direction of Van Cleave, who reports to the new national intelligence director, John Negroponte, the former US ambassador to Iraq.
"US counterintelligence will shift from a reactive posture to a proactive strategy of seizing advantage," the summary said.
Rather than pursue spy cases piecemeal, US counter-intelligence would be conducted as a concerted government-wide effort driven by assessments of an adversary's presence, capabilities and intentions, the summary said.
"This requires looking beyond customary targets, such as known intelligence officers, to a larger population of foreign visitors and others whose activities suggest they might be involved in intelligence collection activities against the United States," it said.
The new strategy also calls for greater efforts to protect US technology, including closer cooperation with the US private sector.
It said more than 90 countries target sensitive US technologies, using visiting businessmen, scientists, students and trade shows to gather information.
In addition, the summary noted the danger posed by intrusion and manipulation of US cyber systems by foreign intelligence.
Counterintelligence should become "an inherent part of the mission at research laboratories, defense establishments and with partners in industry," it said.
"We will reach out to the private sector, especially those in the science and technology community, to increase intelligence threat awareness by providing threat information, and educating these audiences to the variety of ways our adversaries acquire and steal information," it said.
US counterintelligence "will seek to identify foreign intelligence operations conducted against US business and industry and we will provide the appropriate threat information to enable them to take such risk mitigation measures as they deem prudent," it said.