Spy Games

Working with the CIA by Garrett Jones : An interesting and informative article written by a retired case officer for the CIA. His stated goal is to provide insight into the working relationship between the military and the CIA. Basically, what it comes down to is communication: The CIA doesn’t understand enough about the Military and its operations, and, conversely, the Military doesn’t understand enough about the CIA and its operations. Good, effective communication is essential. In the course of explaining the ins-and-outs of the profession, Jones illuminates some of the unique logistical challenges of the profession, as well as some of the “pretty strange people” you meet when recruiting intelligence “assets”:

Before everything else, human assets are recruited because they have access to secret information that can be obtained in no other manner. This means that not only may the asset not be a nice person, it also means he was not selected because he was brave, smart, or particularly hard-working.

Thus, by definition, the best assets are pretty strange people. The case officers handling these assets normally develop a fairly complicated relationship with their assets, becoming everything from father confessor to morale booster, from disciplinarian to best buddy. Like sausages and laws, if you have a queasy stomach, you don’t want to see the case officer-asset relationship up close.

As usual, crappy movies and video games have given us the wrong idea about the intelligence community… Spies aren’t super-commandos or James Bond-like secret agents, they are mostly just repeating what they’ve heard from people or what has come across their desk. They do not react favourably to being asked to do something new and strange. Additionally, Jones notes that “existing CIA stations were not established in order to support your mission, and existing CIA human assets were not originally recruited to support your mission”. What this means is that intelligence is slow, and that there will be a lot of frustration and anxiety before the situation improves. Again, its a fascinating article, and well worth the read. [found via the Punchstack]