Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Whether Spies Focus Mostly on Enemies or Also on American Allies

As longtime friend and NY Times bestselling thriller author Barry Eisler says, “The CIA is the post office with spies." My own little addition would be, "The business of spying is concealing truths and spreading lies.” Which raises the question: Is there any difference in how we treat our allies and how we treat our enemies?
At the CIA, for example, there are “country desks” where specialists who understand a country’s language and culture are grouped. These desks aren’t peopled with spies, they’re analysts. And, yes, we have country desks for every important country.
In similar fashion, every spy is trained to understand the turf they are sent to spy within. Every intelligence service on the planet uses a similar organization. The weakness in such an approach is that at some point, the same faces in the same places tend to get recognized.

Every country spies on every other country. Ally or enemy, doesn’t matter. Yesterday’s enemy may become tomorrow’s friend, and visa versa.
One other point: Moles, doubles, triples and whistle blowers. Every country has those nested within their intelligence services, and every other country tries to leverage these. It matters not whether the country being ripped off is a friend or an enemy. In spycraft affairs, there are no rules of behavior.

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