A double agent, commonly abbreviated referral of double secret agent, is a counterintelligence term used to designate an employee of a secret service or organization, whose primary aim is to spy on the target organization, but who in fact is a member of that same target organization themselves.
Double agentry may be practiced by spies of the target organization who infiltrate the controlling organization, or may result from the turning (switching sides) of previously loyal agents of the controlling organization by the target; the threat of execution is the most common method of turning a captured agent (working for an intelligence service) into a double agent (working for a foreign intelligence service) or a double agent into a re-doubled agent. It is unlike a defector, who is not considered an agent as agents are in place to function for an intelligence service and defectors are not, but some consider that defectors in place are agents until they have defected.
Double agents are often used to transmit disinformation or to identify other agents as part of counter-espionage operations. They are often very trusted by the controlling organization since the target organization will give them true, but useless or even counterproductive, information to pass along.
Read more about Double Agents: Double Agents, Re-doubled Agent, Triple Agent, Events in Which Double Agents Played An Important Role
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Famous quotes containing the words agents and/or double:
“Modern mans capacity for destruction is quixotic evidence of humanitys capacity for reconstruction. The powerful technological agents we have unleashed against the environment include many of the agents we require for its reconstruction.”
—George F. Will (b. 1941)
“Well, I had gone and spoiled it again, made another mistake. A double one in fact. There were plenty of ways to get rid of that officer by some simple and plausible device, but no, I must pick out a picturesque one; it is the crying defect of my character.”
—Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (18351910)