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Digital Afro Media
The CIA and Defecting Foreign Spies
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An individual may want to leave their service at once, perhaps from high-level disgust, or low-level risk of having been discovered in financial irregularities and is just ahead of arrest. Even so, the defector certainly brings knowledge with him, and may be able to bring documents or other materials of value.

Starts in A
Leaves and goes to B

Philip Agee is an example of a US CIA officer who came to the belief that he was working on behalf of an ideology he had come to hate. Eventually, he resigned, and clandestinely went to Cuba, telling their intelligence service everything he knew, with the stated goal of damaging the CIA. Agee claims the CIA was satisfied with his work and did not want him to leave, although the author, John Barrow, claims that he was close to being discharged for improper personal conduct.

Soviet, and now Russian, doctrine has some interesting insights that might well be useful to the West. For example, rather than use the term “defector”, which has a negative connotation, they use The Russian word is dobrozhelatel, “well-wisher,” as used here virtually the equivalent of our “walk-in.” This term has a positive connotation, and may reflect how the service views such people, as described by Ivan Serov, former chief of GRU (Soviet military intelligence)

While the term “well-wisher” may be positive, in Serov’s view, he does not assume a well-wisher has value to offer. Pointing out the majority actually turn out to be offering material of no significant value, the first task is to determine if they are random sympathizers who fail to understand the subject they propose to discuss, or are active provocations being run by foreign counterintelligence.

Provocateurs obtain some value if they can simply identify the intelligence officers in an embassy, so the initial interviews are, unless there is a strong reason to the contrary, conducted by low-level staff. Serov points out that even if some walk-ins have no material of value, “Some are ideologically close to us and genuinely and unselfishly anxious to help us; some are in sympathy with the Soviet Union but want at the same time to supplement their income; and some, though not in accord with our ideas and views, are still ready to collaborate honestly with us for financial reasons.” A genuine sympathizer without useful material still may become useful as an access agent, courier, or support agent.

Other walk-ins simply are trying to get money, either for nonsense information or for real information with which they have been entrusted. Physical walk-ins are not the only kind of volunteer “well-wisher,” who may communicate through the mail, by telephone, or direct contact. If, for example, contact is made with someone who really is an intelligence officer, there is immediate reason to believe the person does have intelligence contacts—but further investigation is necessary to see if they are real or if they are provocateurs from counterintelligence. A provocateur can be from the local agency, or even from a third country false-flag provocation.

“Persons wanting to make money usually produce a large quantity of documents and talk much and willingly about themselves, trying to make a favorable impression. Extortioners and blackmailers usually act impudent, making their offer in the form of an ultimatum and even resorting to open threats.”

The first thing to consider about a double agent is that he is, at least minimally, a trained intelligence asset. He may not be a full case officer of the other side, but he may, at least, have been an agent of theirs. They had some reason to trust him. Like all other intelligence operations, double agent cases are run to protect and enhance the national security. They serve this purpose principally by providing current counterintelligence about hostile intelligence and security services and about clandestine subversive activities. The service and officer considering a double agent possibility must weigh net national advantage thoughtfully, never forgetting that a double agent is, in effect, a condoned channel of communication with the enemy.

Before even considering double agent operations, a service has to consider its own resources. Managing that agent will take skill and sophistication, both at the local/case officer and central levels. Complexity goes up astronomically when the service cannot put physical controls on its doubles, as did the Double Cross System in WWII. In the Double Cross System, the double agents were motivated by coercion: they knew they would be executed if they did not cooperate. Few of them were highly trained intelligence officers, but opportunists to start.

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