Seminar in Tradecraft and HumInt

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Part of the Strategic Studies curriculum

What is a Seminar?[edit | edit source]

A seminar style of learning involves students studying facets of an issue and teaching the other students. There is not considered to be a definitive body of knowledge on a seminar subject. On the contrary, the job of the students in a seminar is to collect references, do their own independent study, and bring that knowledge back into the seminar. This page will therefore be in a constant state of flux and addition as new students come in with their own study interests and flesh out the page more and more. Students with interest in given topics but without the resources or background to study those topics should request assistance below. People who can contribute to the discussion in any way should. Debate is encouraged. Occasionally, projects may be put up on this page to encourage students to debate given issues. Current events are always welcome in a seminar.

Pages the Seminar Should Develop[edit | edit source]

Please place the topics in which you have interest here. You and others can then flesh out the references for the topics and we can deepen the knowledge base of all seminar participants.

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Intelligence Tradecraft Topics: Surveillance & Counter Surveillance Acquiring Human Intelligence

Agnor, Francis. "The Interpreter as an Agent." Studies in Intelligence 4, no. 1 (Winter 1960): 21-27. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 29-34. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

This article is not about the technical aspects of the interpreter's art, but rather focuses on the use of interpreters for intelligence collection in both domestic and foreign assignments. The author notes that the immediate information take from such assignments "is likely to be limited," while "the improvement of personal assets can be considerable."

The editor of the Yale University Press collection of articles from Studies in Intelligence stumbles somewhat with a throw-away line in the headnote to this article: "It may be obvious and time-honored ... that language interpreters are used for intelligence collection (and presumably also for some disinformation), yet the literature has neglected this practice." (p. 29) The editor's presumption is erroneous. There is nothing in Agnor's article that would encourage or support such a presumption, so it must originate solely with the editor. The statement betrays a lack of understanding, not just of the methods of intelligence, but of good practice, tradecraft, and common sense.

Bolfrone, Kenneth E. "Intelligence Photography." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 2 (Spring 1961): 9-16.

Westerfield: Even amateurs may have occasion "to photograph a scene that may be useful to intelligence. Here is how to do it, with ordinary equipment."

Brigane, David V. "Credentials -- Bona Fide or False." Studies in Intelligence 4, no. 1 (Fall 1960): 37-49.

"As a tool in the investigation of enemy agents, document analysis can be used to great advantage not only in making an initial detection but in the handling of known agents, inducing them to talk and confirming or refuting their statements.... Document analysis ... can be equally valuable in determining the reliability of one's own agents and in assessing their reports and missions."

Brugioni, Dino. "Spotting Photo Fakery." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 1 (Winter 1969): 57-67.

Westerfield: "A guide for the layman."

Bull, George G. "The Elicitation Interview." Studies in Intelligence 14, no. 2 (Fall 1970): 115-122. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 63-69. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

Elicitation seeks "to obtain information without giving the subject the feeling that he is being interrogated." The author interviewed West German scientists "in order to determine the nature and extent of their contacts behind the Iron Curtain." The purpose of his efforts was to identify individuals with some potential for being recruited as agents. The article discusses some "practical problems" attendant to these kinds of interviews.

Bury, Jan. "From the Archives: The U.S. and West German Agent Radio Ciphers." Cryptologia 31, no. 4 (Oct. 2007): 343-357.

Abstract: This article presents a "translation of an in-house research paper of the communit Polish counterintelligence depicting the ciphers and the one-way radio communications patterns used by the U.S. and West German intelligence services against Poland in the 1960s and early 1970s."

Constantinides, George C. "Tradecraft: Follies and Foibles." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 4 (1986): 97-110.

Compendium of egregious lapses in tradecraft, across time and borders.

Cooper, H.H.A., and Lawrence J. Redlinger. Making Spies: A Talent Spotter's Handbook. Boulder, CO: Paladin, 1986.

Peake, IJI&C 4.1: "[E]xamples of the authors' lack of grasp of their subject abound."

Copeland, Miles. Without Cloak or Dagger: The Truth about the New Espionage. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974.

Petersen notes that Copeland's views on CIA operations are "held unreliable by some experts."

According to Ameringer, U.S. Foreign Intelligence (1990), p. 9, Copeland's book is "one of the few works of nonfiction to concentrate upon the techniques of spying.... Though Copeland's book received unfavorable reviews for hyperbole and allegedly inaccurate details about specific operations, he himself is a former clandestine operator, knowledgeable in tradecraft, and he conveys the sense of espionage as an art, stressing the human factor."

Czajkowski, Anthony F. "Techniques of Domestic Intelligence Collection." Studies in Intelligence 3, no. 1 (Winter 1959): 69-83. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 51-62. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

The focus here is on gathering information from U.S. businesspeople, scientists, and academicians with contacts or who travel in denied areas, and from refugees who have settled in the United States. The article was written while this activity was still handled by Contact Division of the old Office of Operations. There are some good, common-sense thoughts about information elicitation expressed here.

Dimmer, John P., Jr. "Observations on the Double Agent." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 1 (Winter 1962): 57-72. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 437-449. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

Dimmer closes his article with some "Do's and Don'ts" of running double-agent operations.

Duffy, Michael, and Timothy J. Burger. "NOC, NOC. Who's There? A Special Kind of Agent." Time, 27 Oct. 2003, 36-37.

"Some Bush partisans have suggested that the outing of Plame is no big deal.... But the facts tell otherwise. Plame was, for starters, a former NOC -- that is, a spy with nonofficial cover who worked overseas as a private individual with no apparent connection to the U.S. government. NOCs are among the government's most closely guarded secrets, because they often work for real or fictive private companies overseas and are set loose to spy solo. NOCs are harder to train, more expensive to place and can remain undercover longer than conventional spooks. They can also go places and see people whom those under official cover cannot. They are in some ways the most vulnerable of all clandestine officers, since they have no claim to diplomatic immunity if they get caught."

Hansen, James H. "RX: Intelligence Communications -- Use Acronyms, Allegories, and Metaphors Only as Directed." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 2, no. 1 (Spring 1988): 21-26.
Hart, John Limond. The CIA's Russians. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2003.

In the "Foreword" (ix), William E. Colby noted that the author brought the approach of a "professional intelligence operator who also is a scholar" to this work. "[H]is depiction comes from many years of involvement in the recruitment, management, and sometimes even psychological counseling of real spies."

Peake, I&NS 19.2, finds that "[d]espite the relatively small sample of cases, Hart combines his experience and access to the case files to reach some first-order conclusions. They are important though not surprising." Seamon, Proceedings, Aug. 2003, adds that the author spices his stories "with illuminating insights commendably free from any taint of professional jargon."

Jonkers, AFIO WIN 20-03, 27 May 2003, calls this an "[o]utstanding book. Get a feel for what these spies were really like as human beings. Good, useful reading."

In his review, Joseph C. Evans, IJI&C 17.3, focuses on Hart's handling of Yuri Nosenko and James J. Angleton, and finds little to please in the book. Evans believes that an "unstated but blatant purpose of the book is to defend Nosenko.... A second, yet by no means secondary underlying purpose ... is to denigrate" Angleton. "Instead of helping the intelligence historian or the current case officer, Hart has transformed the CIA's Cold War operations into mere polemics."

Hubest, Alfred. "Audiosurveillance." Studies in Intelligence 4, no. 3 (Summer 1960): 39-46.

"During the past 10 years there has been a great new surge in the use of audiosurveillance by intelligence services. This phenomenon can be attributed in large part to the development of improved listening, transmitting, and recording devices, new installation tools and techniques, a systematized operational approach to making audio installations, and advances in rapid processing and full exploitation of the take."

Hurley, John A. "A Technique for Coastal Infiltration." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 3 (Summer 1962): 25-28.

"A submarine escape procedure applied to clandestine penetration." The method described is "buoyant ascent from a submerged submarine." (italics in original) Paul X. Kelley, "Coastal Infiltration and Withdrawal," Studies in Intelligence 7, no.2 (Spring 1963): A13-A17, discusses some of the complications involved in using the buoyant ascent technique for debarking agent personnel from a submerged submarine.

Inquirer. "The Practice of a Prophet." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 4 (Fall 1962): A29-A41. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 83-92. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

The author recounts the story of Ernst Hilding Andersson, who spied for the Soviet Union against his native Sweden from 1949 to 1951. The focus is on tradecraft practices and the capture of Andersson because of "the ineptitude of an ill-trained young case officer sent out from Moscow."

Kelley, Paul X. "Coastal Infiltration and Withdrawal." Studies in Intelligence 7, no.2 (Spring 1963): A13-A17.

The future Marine Corps Commandant discusses some of the complications involved in using the buoyant ascent technique for debarking agent personnel from a submerged submarine. See John A. Hurley, "A Technique for Coastal Infiltration," Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 3 (Summer 1962): 25-28.

Knobelspiesse, A.V. "Captain Stephan Kalman: A Classic Write-In Case." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 4 (Fall 1962): A1-A13.

Westerfield: "What to do about a 'write-in' who never becomes a 'walk-in?'"

Langton, James. "CIA Fights to Hide Its Invisible Ink." Electronic Telegraph, 11 Apr. 1999. [1]

"CIA lawyers say that classified First World War documents must not be made public because its spies still use the ink to send secret messages.... The formula is the oldest classified document still banned from public viewing at the National Archives." The judge who heard the freedom of information request in a Washington court in March "agreed, ordering the six files relating to the invisible ink kept secret until 2020."

McCadden, Harvey B. "Cover in Unconventional Operations." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 3 (Summer 1961): 31-35.

Cover is one "consideration to be weighed in connection with any examination or re-examination of the modus of unconventional operations." It "must be treated as an integral part of the plan for the conduct of any clandestine operation.... [T]he conduct of the operation must be shaped to fit its cover legend."

Mineur, Michael L. "Defense Against Communist Interrogation Organizations." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 4 (Fall 1969): 49-74.

The advance preparations of endangered agents "are very often decisive in determining the outcome" of any resistance effort. "The agent must be prepared physically, organizationally, and mentally."

Northridge, A. R. "The Selectively Reluctant Informant." Studies in Intelligence 11, no. 3 (Summer 1967): 107-110.

"In debriefing an informant,... one must always take care lest he prove unreliable on some one point, possibly of little significance, for some obscure reason." The author debelops an example from his experience with the 14th USAAF in World War II.

Onate, Benjamin F. "Catch-as-Catch-Can Operations." Studies in Intelligence 20, no. 4 (Winter 1976): 27-29. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 93-96. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

An account, probably notional, certainly fictionalized, of improvisation in agent handling, with lessons learned.

Ornstein, Jacob. "The Articulation of Babel." Studies in Intelligence 4, no. 4 (Fall 1960): A1-A9.

"Planning is the answer to the language problem of the intelligence service, planning based on a long-term view of predictable requirements."

Orr, Kenneth G. "Training for Overseas Effectiveness: A Survey." Studies in Intelligence 4, no. 4 (Fall 1960): A11-A21.

Reviews non-government programs to prepare Americans for various kinds of service abroad.

Pincus, Walter. "The Spies Who Are Really Out in the Cold." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 22-28 Jan. 1996, 18-19.

"[O]ne of the most sensitive debates in the U.S. intelligence community is whether to step up the overseas use of NOCs ["nonofficial cover" officers], not only by the CIA but also by the Pentagon's Defense Humint Service and the FBI, both of which also can work abroad under cover." Pincus quotes a former official for a host of problems associated with the use of NOCs: expense, control difficulties, support costs and complexities, and stress on the individual, among others.

Pribbenow, Merle L. "The Man in the Snow White Cell: Limits to Interrogation." Studies in Intelligence 48, no. 1 (2004): 59-69

The author reviews the South Vietnamese and U.S. interrogation of Nguyen Tai, "the most senior North Vietnamese officer ever captured during the Vietnam War." His conclusion that there is no place for physical torture in the American ideal has much to recommend it.

Schnell, Jane. "Snapshots at Random." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 2 (Summer 1961): 17-23.

"If you have a batch of photos taken anywhere abroad, properly identified and preferably with negatives, the [CIA Graphics] Register would like to look them over.... And if it knows in advance that you are going to have a tour in some less well frequented place, it may be interested enough ... to supply you with camera and film."

Stanton, George. "Defense Against Communist Interrogation Organizations." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 4 (Fall 1969): 71-101. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 415-436. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

This article constitutes a cogent manual on how to resist interrogation by counterintelligence organizations.

Steinmeyer, Walter. "Installation Penetration." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 3 (Summer 1962): 47-54.

"Objectives and techniques of acquiring assets in East European official missions around the world."

Weiner, Tim. "Master Creator of Ghosts Is Honored by His Kind." New York Times, 19 Sep. 1997, A11 (N).

At an 18 September 1997 ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Tony Mendez, a retired technical services officer, was honored as "one of 50 all-time stars of the spy trade.... He helped create the escape plan, the false identities and the disguises that got six Americans out of revolutionary Teheran while others were held hostage in 1980."

Weiser, Benjamin. A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. [pb]

The paperback edition includes a brief addition to the "Postscript" noting Kuklinski's death on 11 February 2004 and the return of his ashes to Poland.

Clark comment: This may be the best book on human intelligence ever published. The people -- on both sides of the case officer/spy tandem -- are real people. The author allows their humanness to come through in both their words and actions. The dilemmas faced by Kuklinski and his handlers are presented in such a way that even those who have never had to face such decisions can readily understand and even identify with the potential harm that could come from a wrong move. The use of tradecraft -- the excellent use of tradecraft -- by the CIA officers and Kuklinski is carefully blended into the fabric of the story and is not overstated. Tradecraft is given the appropriate appearance of being little more than a normal part of the life of those who have to live by what otherwise would be rather strange-seeming activities. As Tom Troy says in Studies 48.2, "A Secret Life is a joy to read. Col. Ryszard Kuklinski is a hero, and Benjamin Weiser has written a great book about him." See also, my review in Defense Intelligence Journal 16.2 (2007): 155-156.

Eisner, Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2004, comments that "this well-done biography ... reveals the passions and tensions faced by Polish leaders under the thumb of Moscow during the 1970s and '80s. Weiser has produced a fascinating portrayal of Kuklinski, who decided that the best way to serve Polish nationalism was to become a spy for the West." The author's "lively narrative describes Kuklinski's nine years working for U.S. intelligence, converting interviews and a mountain of documentation into a page-turner."

For Jajko, Intelligencer 14.1, this is "a lucid, tightly organized book" and "a magnificent tale." The author's "narrative flows smoothly, explaining clearly and concisely all the main events of Colonel Kuklinski's double life without descent into tedious detail."

Troy, Studies 48.2 (2004), says the author's "riveting account .. of Kuklinski's life as a spy is superb; it should be 'must reading' for anybody interested in intelligence matters, the Cold War, or simply a good read.... Weiser never introduces extraneous material, embellishes the story, or speculates about what people were thinking, saying, and doing.... Col. Ryszard Kuklinski is a hero, and Benjamin Weiser has written a great book about him."

To Fischer, IJI&C18.1 (Spring 2005), this book offers insights into CIA tradecraft in "denied areas." However, Weiser approaches Kuklinski's story "from a human-interest angle and with a strong desire to recount the life of a courageous man to whom his Polish countrymen and Americans owe a debt of gratitude."

Chapman, IJI&C 18.2 (Summer 2005), reminds us that this "book was the first to detail the secret tradecraft used to run an agent deep inside the Iron Curtain in the face of competent counterintelligence police." This review is well worth reading as an essay on the subject of its title: See Robert D. Chapman, "Patriot or Traitor?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 364-374.

For Hansen, JIH 5, no. 2 (Winter 2005), Weiser's "is an important work done by a writer who ... has a fascinating way of telling an ex[c]iting story." Arnold, AIJ 24 (2006), finds the book "more engaging and much easier to read than many biographies that examine complicated and covert lives." In addition, Weiser "offers much to students of HUMINT tradecraft."

Szalacha, I&NS 22.2 (Apr. 2007), calls Weiser's work "an eminently readable volume that tells a controversial story in a relatively straightforward fashion." In what seems to be a rather strange interpretation, the reviewer thinks that A Secret Life "was written with an eye to glorifying the CIA as an institution, rather than to praise or vindicate Kuklinski."

Weiser's remarks to a CIRA luncheon on 6 October 2004 are well worth reading. See "Speech by Ben Weiser," CIRA Newsletter 26, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 3-14.

White, Ralph K. "Empathy as an Intelligence Tool." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 1 (Spring 1986): 57-75.
Wiant, John. A. "Reflections on Mail-Order Tradecraft: The Sears Catalog." Studies in Intelligence 37, no. 5 (1994): 59-61.

The author finds an alternative way to pay indigenous agents in Vietnam in 1966-1967.

An Introduction to Tradecraft[edit | edit source]

Articles on Tradecraft[edit | edit source]

  • The Moscow Rules - The seminal guideline on conducting human intelligence gathering.
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