Clandestine HUMINT Asset Recruiting - Recruitment - Assessing Potential Recruits - General Assessment

General Assessment

It has been the general experience of intelligence agencies that potential recruits, recruits early in the development process, and those currently reporting to a local case officer, still need to be checked against master biographical and other files, which will help spot foreign counterintelligence. This counterintelligence interest could be from their own or third countries.

Once an individual is seen to have potential access to information, the recruiting officer or staff considers why a presumably loyal and trusted individual might be willing to betray his own side. A basic set of reasons are the classic MICE motivations, with further insights in attitudes predisposing to cooperation.

Headquarters may have access to information that a field office does not, such as being able to access credit records to identify financial stress, through a cutout that hides the request as having come from country B's service. Another area where a central office can help is to correlate possible penetration attempts by an individual who approaches one's own, or allied, intelligence services in different locations, as, for example, embassies in different cities.

There are both local and headquarters-based means of validation. The case officer should compare information, provided by the agent, with locally known facts, both from overt and covert sources. Some services, especially the Russian/Soviet, may not have formal or extensive OSINT, and either the case officer may need to check such things (or set up checkable requests) within the station/residency.

Some definite warnings, which may come from local or headquarters reporting, include:

  • The agent's information contradicts other information believed to be true
  • The agent's information has appeared in local open sources
  • The information is true, but is too old to be of operational value. This was one of the key techniques of the World War II British Double Cross System
  • If there are inconsistencies in the agent's life story, which the case officer can query periodically through social conversation, the truth is usually in the consistent aspects. It is easier to make a mistake in keeping up a lie, than in telling the truth, which is the reason criminal investigators ask a suspect to repeat their statements.
  • If the agent makes predictions, be very sure to see if they become true
  • In the event that the recruiting officer's service uses technical means of detecting evasion, such as polygraphy, voice stress analysis, interviews by psychologists and psychiatrists, and perhaps more in the future, brain imaging, make use of these within the agency policy. Be aware that penetrators may be trained to resist them.

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