Foreign intelligence agencies invest heavily in the ability to collect sensitive medical information about world leaders, seeking to place sources where they would have direct or indirect access to these discussions, former and current officials said.
“Any foreign intel service worth its salt is going to want to have assets on the ground (spies and sources) who can report on POTUS’ health,” said Steve Hall, former CIA station chief in Moscow. “It’s a key requirement that gets to what we usually call ‘plans and intentions’ of a foreign government.”
Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA senior intelligence service officer who retired in 2019, said it would be part of “routine tasking” by foreign intelligence services to gather information during such a crisis — and that as an intelligence officer himself, such tasking on the U.S. side was normal in every country he served in.
“It was often feasible to collect information