Counter-intelligence - Running Offensive Counterespionage Operations

Running Offensive Counterespionage Operations

Control is the capacity of a case officer of country B to generate, alter, or halt agent behavior by using or indicating his capacity to use physical or psychological means of leverage. And a case officer working overseas does not control a double agent the way a policeman controls an informer. At best, the matter is in shades of gray. The case officer has to consider that the double from country A still has contact with country B.

Before the case officer pushes a button on the agent's control panel he should know what is likely to happen next. For example, pressure exerted bluntly or blindly, without insight into the agent's motivation and personality, may cause him to tell the truth to the adversary as a means of escaping from a painful situation.

The target service (A) inevitably exercises some control over the double agent, if only in his performance of the tasks that it assigns to him. B, in fact, has to be careful not to disrupt the double's relation with his own service, warning service A of a control. Even if the positive side is being run so poorly that the misguided agent is in danger of coming to the attention of local authorities whose intervention would spoil the CI aspect too, the case officer must restrain his natural impulse to button up the adversary's operation for him. At the very most, he can suggest that the agent complain to the hostile case officer about insecure practices, and then only if the agent's sophistication and relationship with that case officer make such a complaint seem normal.

Physical control of the double is likely only with agents captured in war. The best possible outside capture is either to have the double live where he can be watched, or at least work in a place where he can be watched. Control of the agent's communications is very close to physical control. Communications control, at least partial, is essential: the agent himself is controlled to a considerable extent if his communications are controlled. But even when his communications are completely controlled, a welltrained agent doubled against his will can appear to be cooperating but manage at an opportune moment to send a signal to his own service indicating that he is under duress.

With only partial control, if the agent is in communication with the opposition service through a courier, dead drop, or live drop, some control or surveillance has to be established over these meetings or servicings. The double agent who makes trips in and out of the area where he can be physically controlled presents a multiplicity of problems.

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