THE LIBYAN AS AGENT

Created: 12/1/1963

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INTELLIGENCE

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A psychological framework to guide the handlingpecial personality.

THE LIBYAN AS AGENT Titus Leidesdorf

Any attempt to characterize Sivmembersociety in common istereotype, subject to error inapplication. This study of the Libyanelation to intelligence operations cannot be made abed on which to scale every Libyanasis fora case officer's assessment of his particular agent. But if the Chinese are devoted to their families, the Italians to their wine, the French to their loves, and the Irish to thelr sod, then the generalities ln this study have some such at

the old hand embarkingewcteristlcs described here shouldseful frame of

The Libyan Personality

The typical Libyan Is an outward-looking individual, acutely aware of other people, of events, of social pressures, demands, and obligations; and he has difficulty concentrating on any one event because there are too many other things competing for his attention. He respects and admiresachievement, and he accordinglyarticular effort to acquire and retain information. But he lacks the intellectual discipline to do very much with it. He isape recorder, absorbing masses of Information uncritically without integration and depending on bis ability to play them back to achieve status among his fellows, it Is more lm-

'The study Is baaed on an analyna>or psychologicalmlnJa te tedibyan workers at Wheel a* Air Force Base ln Januaryaugmented by social contacts and Interviews with seTcral educated TrlpoUtanlarw and discussion* with American officers and supervisors who haveand dealt with Libyans for periods from several mouths to several years.

portant lo rum to "know" something than to be productive creative, or skillful.

He is likewise conscious of the rules and proceduresby his culture and experience, but also of conditioning circumstances which affect the application of the rules, so that while he thinks in terms of rules he tends to beto applying.them. Heolerance fornd fp>:'raOonalization; heto Justify an action. His behavior thus is governed more by reference points than by absolute dicta, and it is seldom predictable; one can know the factors bearing on bisbut not the precise way in which he will rationalise or resolve them.

In interpersonal relations he tends to suppress spontaneous feelings and intuition in favor of an examined and deliberated behavior. He tends to be suspicious and defensive, to "second-guess" what is going on, and so to respondontrolled and calculated way. When he acts angry or charming, It may be only because he thinks that's the way he should act at the moment. Much of the time he is trying to be something that he is not and behaving in ways different from the way he feels. Beneath the superficial expression his attitude mayegative one of social insulation or withdrawal.

Acutely aware of the group, the family, the mass, and the heritage of which theyart, many Libyans struggle to assert their Individual Identity. This defensive individualism, coupled with suspiciousness and negativism, makes them poor candidates for effective organization and group effort-tba more so since their tendency to rationalize and examinemakes it difficult for them to focusollective course of action. They do, however,apacity for loyalty, particularly of the personal variety based on the satisfaction of recognition and acceptance by an admired leader. This loyalty is dependent on continuous justification and reinforcement, being particularly frangible In the face of rejection, humiliation, or "unfairness."

Much that the Libyan docs is determined by the immediatethe need to take care of whatever is going on at the moment. He canommitment for the future

because that's what's required at the present; whether he fulfills it will depend on the conditions that prevail at that future time. He will cross that bridge when he gets to it. The Worker

The ordinary Libyan workersow general level ofIntelligence. Tbe overwhelming majority areand the average workeran who, given^the^ppjor-tunlty, at best might struggle through the sixth grade.rainee, moreover, he comesechnically Impoverished culture and lacks the general mechanical conditioning which Is part of the growing-up experience of the Westerner. He has no basis for filling in the most elementary gaps inHe can not be expected to do things on the basis of "commonince he has had no opportunity toit in technical matters. Together with his capacity to find exceptions to the rules, this deficiency can lead toproblems. He can fail to carrynown action solely because something is the wrong color, or because It's Thursday, or because he "didn't see it" or "you didn't tell me this time"

He also lacks any preconditioning In theort to make him understand the simplestand expectations taken for granted by the Westerner on even his first Job. He Is likely to feel that his obligations are fulfilled merely by being hired or by being present Partly out of self-assertion and partly through naivete, me-too-Ismarge factor in his expectations. If his co-worker Isor three days, he feels entitled lo three days of sick leave, too; and If someone isonus for some special effort, he feels he should have the same reward, on the grounds that he would have done Just as well If asked.articular area In which the Libyan worker does not share the American's sense of value. The fact tliat he Is able to do so much work In so much time carries nothat he will. His failure is not necessarily perversity; It is partly due to distrac lability, partly to unawareness of what is expected, and partly to ^effective seU-oiganlzatlon.

The Avant Garde

The elite rising middle class of educated and substantially more Intelligent young Libyans differ from their poorer, lower-status countrymen largely in being confusedigherhey are greatly concerned about their futures, their dlverse and manifold opportunities, and their uncertainties. They are thoroughly immersed inan,uncertain effort to break away from the "old" and to embrace the "new" and thereby heavily involved in an intellectual and emotional conflict of serious proportions. They are militantly mmridualistic and anxious to carvenique and independent existence, one of the criteria of which is toillion."

This young elite reflects at its level the workers' hyper-awareness and distractabllity, omnivorous but undisciplined Intellect, avoidance of simplicity in favor of rattoruUization and the perusal of alternatives, capacity for superficial,expression and emotion, pursuit of independence and individuality at the expense of group identification and group effort, and unwillingness (if not Inability) to be consistently productive in any one direction. With all their need to be Individuals, they have an equal need for emotional support from outside, for someone to depend upon, to guide them, to accept and understand them.

It is Important to note the severe limitations of the sample on which these generalizaUons are band: the Investigator met some SO of these avant-garde TrlpoUtanlans and had lengthy conversaUoru with perhapsozen. Undoubtedly these were alln tome way or other, by variousfriend* or sources ofa more or lest common milieu which may or may not represent the "true" society of rising middle-class young adults, and other fortuitous circumstances which brought them into view. Nevertheless, as with the worker sample, the consistency of their psychological pattern was so marked as to encourage broad gencralizaUon.

Americans are attractive to these people (albeit withambivalence) If only because they personify sothe New World to which they aspire ln contrast to the Old Order from which they seek to escape. But their desire to change their ways and their recognition of the need to change is exceeded only by their awareness of thesinfulness of trying to change. This conflict brings an earnestness, anense of illicit passion to their

TJtf tibyofl

intercultural relationships. They will approach newwith trepidation even as they adopt new waysengeance; much that they learn will be superficial; much of Uictr behavior wUleneer; much of their enthusiasm will carry with it an under layer of guilt or shame or at least uncertainty as to what they should be about.

It Is virtually impossible to deal with suchibyan is much luce acquiring* mistress: once the cautious, tentative, defensive sparring is over, the relationship grows progressively deeper, broader, more involving, more consuming, more demanding. While the affair can be gratifying, it will rarely be tranquil; and there is always the risk that the wrong word, the wrong deed, the wrong interpretation will bring everything to an abrupt haltrecipitous reversal.

Operational Implications: Mass Action

As we have seen, the Libyan Is generally not anMan. He is too Individuaustlc, suspicious, diffuse with respect to goals, and vague about the mechanics ofA group of Libyans, endeavoring as peers to organize themselves for some purpose, could well start out with the notionommon task, but they would soon beby alternative courses of action, competingproposals, and wrangling fortrong natural leader could impose organization and direction; but the group's effectiveness would depend almost entirely on his ability to perpetuate bis control by commanding loyalty on the basis of Individual, man-to-man relationships.

A respected outsider gifted with organizational know-how and capitalizing on admiration for intellectual prowess and achievement could similarly infuse organizationibyan group if he could keep all of the adniinlstraUve reins in his own hands.aster-minded group would ordinarily be vastly more effective than any which Libyans could create on their own. and Libyans on their own would have greatcountering It. By way ot corollary. It Is reasonably safe, when any well organized and systematically effective Libyan group ostensibly chances to emerge, to Infer that it has some outside direction.

InabiUly to organize effectively does not Imply that Libyans will not organize at alL In view of their susceptibility to charismaticwhen the appeal laas well as sensory andIs not difficult toibyan mob. But it Is one thing toob, another to energize and direct It, and still another to contain and controlibyan mob would beerd ofcollection of Individuals rathereal social force, physically Imposing and threatening, but individuaUy rather docile, controlled, and even cowardly; capable ofbut also able to be deflected; incapable of any really sustained collective action; and quite likely to scatter itself aimlessly and dissolve into Its component parts as other needs, interests, and attractions came to attention.ob Is atimited and unreliable tactical weapon, and no basis for any real social or political reorientation.

In general, Libyans are particularly susceptible to demogogic leadership, the strong emotional appeal which plays upon generalized hostility, sensed oppression, etc. But under such stimulation they are more likely lo be whipped Into negative action than positive. Theyreater capacity towhat exists than to create something better.

Vte o/ A'ets

With respect to ordinary Intelligence operations, whenever therehoice between handling Libyans as Individuals and using them In teams or groups the individual approach Is vastly more desirable. Both the operational direction and the personnel handling are much more difficult In the group. It Is possible to make use of natural groups, pre-existing cultural organizations like the family where control of the headegree of established control over thebut Lo general it is more realistic to think of Libyans as singletons than as nets, as surveillants than asteams, etc.

Except for such natural groups, any attempt to use Libyans in pairs, nets, or teamsroup effortost of difficulties. The principal basis for motivation and controlirect personal relationship between the trusted case officer

and the Libyan agent, and anything which makes thisip less diiect makes for more difficulty in handling.

Employed together. Libyan agents will be suspicious of each other and jealous of their positionsts the case officer Bach will be out for all he can get. and in the ensuinghe will expend more energy quibbling over his proper due than ln accomplishing his tasks. Tho case officer will be continually hsrassed to render reassurance to each one In bum and will find It virtually Impossible to set rewards ortasks on the basis of merit andood analogy is thatan with several wives, each demandingthat she is Number One.

elationship has been establishedibyan, any effort to impose another in the chain of command, whetherrincipal agent orut-cut. invites disaster. At tbe least Ithreat to the original agent's sense of Identification and personal security; if he doesn't lose ail of his motivation, he will at least make efforts to re-establish personal contact, meanwhile nursing his jealousy, mistrust, humiliation, and feeling of inferiority.

Handling the Singleton

Working with the singleton Libyan does not eliminate the problems, but It makes it possible to handle them Individually. The Libyan's relationship to the case officer willery personal one; tbe case officer may take an objective and business-like view of It. but the Libyan wont, even if he makes It look that way. The fact that the relationship exists means that the Libyan Is bringing loarge capacity for personal dependency In his need of guidance and support, and also his personal loyalty, eagerness, enthusiasm, and hisofwith all the negative corollaries of jealousy, suspicion, sensed rejection,and general sensitivity.

At any particular moment the most important thing to the Libyan is to mam tain the relationship at the mostlevel. Hence his enthusiasm and willingness to agree to anything that Is asked of him, and hence also his propensity to conceal any failures and If necessary to lie In order to de-

liver what he thinks the case officer wants. In bothhe is responding to what Is most important to him, now.

While his capacity to reach agreement andnow, is thus very high, his capacity to carry out what he has agreed to do Is likely to be less; and it is conditioned not only by his real abilities but also.byrequirements and relationships when *he time comes for action. When he is engaged in his operational tasks the pressure of thesituation is much stronger than that of thelaid upon him earlier. Heew set of personal relationships to maintain, and he may find that thearen't "exactly" as expected and therefore therules and guidance aren't "exactly" applicable. Then in reporting back to his case officer he is again disposed to make the review as pleasant as possible. At the very least he will be able to rationalise any failure to perform the task as intended; at worst he may fabricate the procedures, the conditions, and the results.

It should not be construed that the Libyan agent isa pathological liar, or intentionally evasive, or wilfully negativistic or misleading. On the contrary, he Is enthusiastic and conscientious in his way; but he is not objective, practical, or self disciplined. Thus he can ovcrcommit himself, partly out of eagerness and partly because he is ignorant of orabout his own limitations. In carrying out his tasks he is susceptible to distraction and deflection, and he isa creature of the circumstances In which he finds himself. Thus it is unfair to expect that he will do things wrong In any Intentional sense, but it is appropriate tothat if something can go wrong it probably will. The case officer hasore than ordinary need tohis agent's skills and abilities and to evaluate theunder which any operational task Is going to beThe reliability of the agent will depend in large measure on the case officer's ability to Judge Independently whether he can reasonably be expected to perform this task under these circumstances.

The

Obviously, the Libyan agent needs particularly detailed guidance and direction. One of the case officer's continuing obligations will be to impress him with the need to carry out tasks precisely in accordance with detailed agreement He needs step-by-step procedural instruction and direction, since he has neither the background nor the particular kind of mental discipline necessary to think through practicalogical, productive manriS^ bisIMF<'

The Libyan agent has an unusual capacity for sensingnuances, ambiguities, etc. as reasons why he shouldn't do something and as Justification for his failures. He does not share his case officer's system of values with respect to obligations, commitments, productivity, or objectivity; forearned procedure is notlueprint foran agreement to do something is not necessarily ato carry It out, failure to carry out an agreement Is notource of guilt or anxiety (particularly when there Is some "reason" fornd lyingailure is not necessarily bad, but rather can be construedocial propriety, an extension of the little white lies whichlubricate social communication and keep people from getting mad at each other.

Operational Characteristics

The Libyanood observer In that he Is very much aware of things that are going on around him. lie Is an omnivorous spectator,atural ability to remember events which he has witnessed. He has alsoense of the value of knowledge and thus will make some effort to acquire Information which enables him to lookBut while he can absorb and retain Information, he is less able to organize or Interpret It or to use It effectively to govern his own actions. Thus he can participate Inwithout necessarily understanding what Is going on, or he may actually misunderstand what Is going on. By the same token, while he Is capable of absorbing details, he may be dependent on others to Impart meaning to them.

His reporting, accordingly, is likely to be accurate as tobut confused or misleading as to context organization, and over-all meaning If someone else has made an interprcta-

.

tion for him. however, he is likely to be accurate inthat. For example: His reportolitical rally is Ukery to be accurate with respect to who was there and what was said This may be Inconsistent with his interpretation of the implications of the meeting; but this interpretation may, in turn, be an accurate report of something which was said there, or of something told him by way of explanation

xsWpfeEarly ifigg to error, especially when there is room for coloration through the influence of loyalty, suspicion, or other source of bias.

The Libyan should have little difHculty, relative to hismental level, learning the mechanics andclandestine but his ability to learn them does notor discipline in applying them. There are fewfor out-and-out conditioning, in the purestto insure that he will carryarticular set of circumstances: hisbe practical, repetitious, and continuous In thisConversely, it wouldistake to assume thathe has learnedn academic sensethen be left to his discretion to carry through as r

His attention to security will be compounded of natural sus-piciousness. personal fears and anxieties, and statushe Libyan is both self-protective and self-assertivearily he will not do anything which he recognizes is arisk; but he may underestimate the risk involved in bragging about his accomplishments and associationssubtle the approach, the best means of keeping himwould seem to be "to scare hell out of him."

Contrail

As already noted, the best control over the Libyan agent Is the quality of bis persona! relationship with his case officer. To the extent that the case officer Is the One Man who has understood him, respected him. been fair to him. trusted rum,tc.ondition which must be developed over time and at the expenditure of much Christian Virtue, tongue-biting, cheek-turning, andhe Libyan can be' loyal, dedicated, earnest, and sincere. He will remain sensi-

.

tive and trun-skinned, however; and while it is pennisslble and appropriate tor the case officer to be firm and legalistic, he must scrupulously avoid slights, insults, and humiliations.

Beaching an agreement with the Libyan with respect to conditions ol employment, as in the task briefing, isby his capacity to rationalize and be specific,r interpretive as suits his interest, and by the fact that he is 'oriented towarar*the? future whfie'cionimated by the'presentHis assertion of Word and Honor is earnest enough, but it does not connote the same specificity and quid-pro-quo as to the Westerner. While being honorable in fulfilling an obligation heapacity for continually'reinterpreting theand expectations of the commitment For example, he can insist on being paid "as agreed" even thougharticular period Is nil, or he can insist on the adequacy of an inadequate product by debating the criteria, the circumstances, etc.

An agreement topecified amount for generalto be rendered therefore invites an inadequate product and leaves the case officer no recourse against the agent'sthat he did what was required. Similarly, asalary against tasks "to be defined"ontinuing reduction of effort or Insistence on increasing pay forincreasing requirements. Insofar as possible, the whole scope of tasks, duties, and expectations should be laid out in detail at the beginning. Otherwise the biterof duties can be construed as new requirements over and above the initial agreement

Perhaps the best payment-for-value control existsraduated piece-work arrangement within which paymenton the effectiveness with which various criteria are met. This will not eliminate haggling but at least confines It to specifics and provides the caseasis for educating his agent In what Is expected of him. Escrow accountsarrot-and-stick value provided precautions are taken against any implications of automatic payment; and they should be embellished with bank books or other concrete devices to give the agent satisfaction in the "now" while encouraging him to continue producing.

Contracts arc at least an ambivalent and atarginal form of control. In his system ofibyan's Word is his Honor. Whatever the reservations in an Arab's use ol these terms, his Word Is therefore as binding as any formal agreement; and he may construe insistenceontract as an affront to his integrity. On the other hand,art in his own legal structure (as witness the marriagend to some Libyans this localization of the agreement mayeifying value. In this sense It Is worth pursuing. If obtained, iteference point (though notmding one) in futuret Is atay of reminding him of what he agreed tootwithstanding all the changes which he will note have since taken place. Contracts are thus worth getting if It can be done easily, but there Is not enough Intrinsicvalue in them to risk damaging the relationship in going after them.

The ability to conduct surveillance (technically, or with third-nationals. In view of the difficulty ofibyan urveillance team) caneal asset to the case officer,ince the Immediate circumstances, rather than require-roents and agreements, have the greatest bearing on the Libyan's behavior when on target, it follows that he has little uilt. little anxiety, little conscience about not following through precisely as expected. He sees nothing wrong In do- ng something wrong or in rationalizing or lying about It; the nly thing wrong is to get caught at It. Surveillance bringsim closer to being caught at it, andittle conditioning of this kind he mayubstituteig-brother-is-watching-me concern which may make the caseadmonitions and requirements more bmding in thesituation.

Application of the polygraphontrol mechanism iscomplicated with Libyans. The mere Introduction of the deviceersonal threat, an insult, aof his Integrity; if this is true In general, it is more Intensely so with Libyans because of the particularand defensiveness with which they regard suchas Word, Honor, and Trust. The situation Is patently paradoxical: the Libyan cannot tolerate an objective test of

v

these qualities, knowing that they will be found in some ways lacking, the very strength of the polygraph is thus itsthreat,isk to tbe relationship. Theof mistrust and rejection can mean to the agent that the case officer is. after all. no better than all the otherln the world he's never been able to get along with.

Aside from this very persona) and very emotionalthe use of the polygraph. ,tlierc will be .room for _

confusion In the mterrogatlon in identifying whai the Libyan is reacting to. Within his over-all emotional reaction his specific reactions can be very equivocal because the values on which they are based can be quite different from the values inferred by his managers. It willreat deal ofas well as personal bislght to know what he feels guilty about; he is not likely to be defensive about many things which the case officer feels are Important, and he may be very defensive about things the case officer is unaware of oras Insignificant. There may be some value In introducing the machine

lightly, with no intention of really probing, In order to expose

the agent to this aspect of the case officer's

to threaten him. but to reveal the potentiality of the threat.

But for conventional appueations. If it is necessary to test

the agent but also to preserve the relationship. It is best If

possible to use procedures which keep the case officer out of

the picture.

The Libyan is vulnerable to blackmail because of hisabout his reputation and public Image. For most Libyans guilt is associated with being caught and exposed; all will rail against an exposed culprit. The Important thing for tbe blackmailer is toircumstance whichiolation of the Libyan's moral code, since many things which are wrong to the Westerner are of little significance to him.

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