Press Releases

HUMINT

Human intelligence is the collection of intelligence from human sources, including defectors, voluntary sources, spies recruited to betray their country or organization, prisoners, diplomats, information from allied or liaison intelligence services.

The US needs to reconfigure how it uses HUMINT tools by examining their effectiveness in the recruitment-centered model. When using this tool, the collecting agency finds a member of an adversarial group with access to important information. He then turn him or her into a spy by building a personal relationship and eventually popping the question, “Will you spy for me?”

Back pocket agents are nefarious agents or assets, loosely associated to the Company. The key is an “agent” has a narrow meaning and in the espionage business one ought not use words and terms that are loosey-goosey. An agent generally is paid and proven. An asset may not be paid nor in agreement with the nation state.

This model dominates since the Cold War, when spying followed fairly predictable guidelines. The organizational solution to the question of penetration was to rely on finding agents ‘in-place’ and to develop an approach in which agent recruitment played the fundamental role in HUMINT operations. However, even using ‘in-place’ sources had its difficulties. The normal process of developing and managing a HUMINT source consists of a cycle of Spotting, Assessing, Recruiting, Handling, and Terminating an asset In the Recruitment Cycle.

Driving this is an organizational culture that elevates recruiting in the hearts and minds of the Clandestine Service cadre. Career paths are driven by asset and agent recruiting, ‘hallway reputation,’ and ‘scalp-hunting,’ which measures performance for promotions. The highest value is given to recruiting and personality traits that facilitate it. In the Cold War that meant infiltrating the diplomatic scene of embassies and consulates under the guise of ‘official cover’ – cover where an officer’s affiliation with the US is not concealed, but his or her status as an intelligence officer is.

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