Espionage in the United States has changed since the Cold War ended. For
the first three decades of the Cold War (1947-79), about two Americans a year
were caught spying for a foreign country. During the last decade, that went up
to about ten a year. This jump had a lot to do with things falling apart in the
Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. More communist intelligence organizations were
compromised, and spies in the U.S. revealed, or discovered. As the communist
governments collapsed, their intelligence services got sloppy. On the down
side, it was dispiriting to see how much communist spy agencies had penetrated
the United States.
end of the Cold War, China, Cuba and Islamic radicals have replaced the Soviet
Union as a source of espionage in the United States. The post-Cold War spies
are older and more ideological. Most are foreign born and more do it without
pay. Actually, in the first three
decades of the Cold War, 53 percent of U.S. spies had friends or family in
communist countries, while since the end of the Cold War, 58 percent of
American spies had "people in the old country." It's much easier to get someone
to spy for you if you can hold some kin hostage.
Internet has made it easier to be a spy, and easier to get caught. Electronic
files have figured in most post-Cold War espionage cases. CDs, hard drives and
memory sticks are now a convenient way to ship the secrets out. The Chinese
have also capitalized on the fact that there's a lot more information leaking
out to where anyone can pick it up and ship it back to China. This is called
the "thousand grains of sand" approach, and it makes just about every Chinese
citizen (and many Chinese-Americans with kin back in China) potential sources
for innocent (or not-so-innocent) bits of information. All this stuff can be
stitched back together in China, to produce some very useful stuff.
Cold War, the Russians used very well trained KGB and GRU agents to recruit and
supervise spies. Not as much of that anymore. Since the Soviet Union
disappeared, it's mostly amateur hour. But there are now more spies, operating
at lower levels and are thus harder to detect and catch.