aka: Deep cover.
Mod note: This thread is about a few subjects in one, even though it highlights some previously covered topics.
Similar to how a police officer might go "deep cover" to make a bust for organized crime, the CIA and Pentagon had a similar program which was using
people without diplomatic cover in various nations to bring in intelligence.
Problem was, was that the intelligence wasn't considered worthy so they are scaling back the initiative. The norm of course is to put them in
diplomatic positions which allow them to hobnob with the ruling elite, gain intel through sexual favours, blackmail, bribes and all the other juicy
You didn't think diplomats were just there being diplomatic did you?
When stationed abroad, the vast majority of CIA case officers pose as American diplomats. This type of cover allows them to mingle with —and
attempt to recruit— foreign officials. It also offers them the added benefit of diplomatic immunity, which minimizes the possibility of their
long-term imprisonment or even execution in the hands of adversaries
This dates back a long, long time. Heck, even missionaries and religious institutions were the front for subversion for hundreds of years, but I
digress, besides the point.
Recently Robert Levinson grabbed headlines
, an American
"Businessman" who went missing in Iran.
Levinson flew to an Iranian resort, Kish Island, in March 2007 to investigate corruption in the country, with hopes of also gleaning information
about Tehran’s suspect nuclear program, the reports said.
But he vanished, and US officials have publicly said that he was a private citizen traveling on private business.
In violation of CIA rules, a team of analysts had hired Levinson — a seasoned FBI agent with expert knowledge about Russian criminal circles — to
gather intelligence, the AP and the Post wrote.
Some are really upset about the press the case got, because they claim it puts Levinson in danger when it's not known whether he is alive or dead,
yet, I highly doubt at this point Iran really cares, because if they scooped him up, they probably were on to him. Especially given his past with the
feds. (Although that is a presumption on my part whether they had access to that information.)
- They do get cover identities and backstories, but with internet the way it is today it's a wonder if anyone can truly be 'erased' -
About 3 billion was spent on the "NOC" program, backing this unofficial spies in various parts of the world.
The reason is that members of non-state groups like al-Qaeda cannot be recruited on the diplomatic circuit. To penetrate these groups, CIA case
officers must hit the streets of cities like Sana’a, Peshawar, Basra or Mogadishu.
These case officers, who operate without diplomatic immunity, are known at the CIA as non-official-cover, or NOCs. They typically pose as business
executives, students, academics, journalists, or non-profit agency workers, among other covers.
The idea is that working outside of American embassies and consulates, they can be more successful in recruiting members of non-state terrorist
entities. In the past decade, the CIA has spent over $3 billion on its NOC program, and has increased the number of active NOCs from several dozen to
What I find interesting is the claim of no relevant information coming to light. Unusable intelligence. When you consider how effective the diplomats
are doing the same job. It's kind of like when police spend a huge budget to nail that one guy, when they have a few dozen people about the same
level working for them as informants and are also involved in the same kind of behaviour.
LA Times did an article:
CIA's anti-terrorism effort called 'colossal flop'
CIA officers given 'non-official cover,' often posing as business executives, tried to collect intelligence on terrorists. The NOC program
reportedly has had few successes.
They claim language barriers being a major issue, among other things, yet with 5000 or so undercover spies, they couldn't find any good meat.
Which gets me to thinking...
The entire clandestine service is believed to total about 5,000 people.
But because of inexperience, bureaucratic hurdles, lack of language skills and other problems, only a few of the deep-cover officers recruited useful
intelligence sources, several former officers said.
It seems like the only time good intelligence is being gathered is when it's either force-fed information from the other side, or its bunk
information that's being fed from a "friendly" on the other side, and then of course you have all those little "operations" where the government
is arming people with fake weapons and encouraging them to attack someone or something and just as they are about to "SURPRISE! haha, just kidding,
we're going to arrest you now…"
Food for thought.