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TITLE: What To Do With Defectors
VOLUME: 5 ISSUE:
A colieciion ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol intelligence.
All staiements of faci. opinion or analysis expressed in Siudies in Intelligence are those of
the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entiry. past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's faciual statements and interpretations
Guidelines for the reception and initial handling of important deserters from the Soviet Bloc.
WHAT TO DO WITH DEFECTORS1
he several modes of Intelligence collection, the ex.
^ploiUttondf defectors, by definition sources of especial taterest
to intelligence for either operational or analytic purposes, Is urdquetaite peculiarities. Although the handlingefector is simplified by the fact that he, unlike an operating agent, cannot regain access to his former sources of information, it Is greatly complicated by our acceptance of responsibility for bis creature comforts, his welfare, and his ultimateSome of the problems intrinsic in defector handling and the prevailing characteristics of defector personality call for continuous, attentive, and understanding but cautious treatment.
Prom the defector's point of view, he has taken ain givingamiliar world in exchange for onehe knows little or nothing. He has lost all thatcomprised his life, gaveense of values, andhis standards of Judgment. If he waa aformer Communists are usually the most valuablehe has also lost his ideals, hisis lifeHe is often stunned, and the officers handling him may
difficulty getting through to him or understanding what
he tries to tell them.
From the operational point of view, handling problemsby the fact that overt as well as covert segments
of the intelligence community are inevitably involved. The defector, to be sure, is notlandestine source. Even
'Anarticle, Stanley B. Farndon'a The Interrogation ofStudies TVT, described their handling at aas the one In Oermany established exclusively for thatpaper treats parallel problems and procedures In thean ordinary field station, to which the early phases of defector
exploitation often fan.
if his defection has not been publicized (as It often Is notwas an Intelligence or security service officer),can Inventory their Intelligence losses by theof his absence. They can usually determine fairlythe vanished person Is alive or dead, and they are oftenposition to estimate reasonably well hisIt is usually desirable to employ clandestinein the reception, exploitation, and protection of a
There are some clearly established requirements forin the receptionefector who declares himself at an official installation; they are found In the Inter-Agency Defector Committee Operating Instructions underIA officer Is to Interview or direct the Interviewing of the defector and take custody of his passport. The defector's basic biographic Information should be taken down on the first visit,omplete description of him .made, withIf possible. His local address and telephone number should be recorded, and security precautions arranged.
He Is to be debriefed about hisost Important step, particularly as an aid In later establishing his bona fides. Any promises or seeming commitments to remove his family or other dependentsenied area should be carefully avoided. His apparent fields and depth of knowledge and his "general level of Intelligence and potential operational value" are to be appraised. Most urgently in this respect it must be ascertained whether he may possess perishable or criticalinformation, especially in the early-warningor operational leads to other potential defectors orLast, but of much importance, he must sign astatement in his own language that he freely and voluntarily seeks asylum in our country.
On the basis of its initial assessment the field station must decide whether to recommend that the host country beof the defection. It must also, if it Is to handle theitself, set up its plans for probing his bona fides and for exploring his knowledge or operational potential In arriving at this assessment, one of the first questions facing Intelligence
personnel who And themselves suddenlyefector'sline ts that of his motivation in defecting.
Motives of Defection *
Was his act induced by an intelligence service, was it promoted by foreign friends without intelligence connections, or iswalk-In" who made his decision for reasons of bis own; and what were these reasons? The motives for defection are subjective,ertain extent evanescent, and liable tond ovenut they-axe not therefore the less important. They are determinants of the defector's attitude and the degree to which he willwith us, as well as of his potential for redefectlon.
If his defection has been induced (very few ofnd for truly ideological reasons (fewerhe receptionare minimal. If healk-in (as mosthe ordinary routine of the field station can be utterly disrupted, sometimes for protracted periods. These walk-in defector! that take us by surprise and divert and tie down ouroften turn out to be Individuals previously regarded as hard-core opponents. Party wheelhorses, or other diehard anti-Westerners. The assessment of their motives, or perhaps it would be clearer to say assessment of the plausibility of their ostensible motives, therefore becomes one of our first tasks. It Is seldom an easy one, because the defector often tellsart of the truth.
Most defectors start out by saying that they bolteddeological reasons, but the rare defector with true ideological motivation is likely to be less vocal about It than those who use it to veil their real reasons. One of the least vocaloung Polish army officer-Interpreter who defected at Panmunjon toward the close of the Korean hostilities. He presented from the outset no handling problems, and theofficers were never able to discern any personal troubles that might have-eansed or precipitated his defection, ne had simply not liked the governmental system In Poland, and this was his first opportunity abroad to slip out from under It
See also on this subject John Debevclse' "Soviet Defector Motivation" and Delmege Trimble's "Defector Disposaln Studies np.f.
Transported overtly to the United States and used briefly for intelligence and propaganda purposes, he was soon settledidland community, of which he has nowespected citizen.
Thus, with all its regimentation, the Communist system Is not without individualists, independent thinkers, and rebels who if they get the chance may turn their backs onand walk out. But most defections occur for otherof the subordinate whoight with his boss, of the man in trouble for breaking rules and regulations; of 'the Incurable malcontent, of the psychoUcally disturbed. These are not lacking in any society, and the Communists have their fair share. In many defectors the motivation IsIn background butrecipitation.
Our Intelligence officers abroad are thus faced with the need to make prompt but well-considered Judgmentsalk-in appears, declares that he Is seeking political asylum, and plops himself downhancery reception room until something is done about his situation. Field stationstheir first walk-in tend to be incautious In their hasty appraisal of the authenticity of the defector's story. One field station, in its eagerness to deliver its first achievement of this kind, was unfortunate enough tooviet diplomaticwhom experienced officers could have peggedew hours' Interviewing as mentally unbalanced.
A less extreme and more typical psychiatric case was thatoviet Journalist who walked In with the usualstory. His physical act in deserting his post had beenhowever, we later determined, by sweeping mental reservations and evasions. He would not, for example, divulge "Soviet classified Information" to ua. The real reasons for his apostasy proved toisagreement with his superior, adisputatlousness, his marital problems, and the strong attraction of the material advantages of the West. He later reversed himself and, to accordance with our policies, was returned to the custody of Soviet officials.
On the psychiatric borderline stands the caseedium-ranking officer of the Soviet State Security service, the civilian KOB, who defected "for politicallthoughfrom the moment of our first contact with him. he was
eventually found to be Inefugee from himself. He could not tolerate incompetence In superiors or personality differences with them; he had resented the authority assumed by the Soviet diplomatic mission chief's wife; he had not been Informed by his government that his mother had died; he hadad first marriage years before in Moscow. He was, In effect, an unhappy man who had come to believe that his only chance for happiness layomplete change of scene. By defecting he got tbe change of scene; whether
- clinical psychologist and trained intelligence officer, after
working closely with this man and another much like him, came to the conclusion that the usual defector is amalcontent, one who had rebelled at most constrictions of the environment he had known and would have done the same in other environments, and that the man who defects once may wellecond time, may re-defect. The experience of fifteen years supports thisubstantialof defectors from the USSR3 have eventually returned to their homeland. It Is Important that this re-defection potential and Its attendant counterintelligence risk be kept In mind during the handlingefector. Organizing the HandJeri
If the field station concludes from its initial assessment that Its walk-In should be acceptedefector. Its next problem is to set up handlers to take care of him, to probe his story, and to explore his store of useful Information. There should always be at least two interviewers; the more the better. It has been empirically demonstrated that handling personnel should be selected not only for their experience and linguistic ability, but also for their knowledge of Communism, ofand especially of whatommunist tick. Thisrequirement Is overriding; yet sometimes It cannot beand some redefecUoos are traceable to bad handling.
The handling arrangements can sometimes be elaborate.tation with considerable experience in defectoronce found Itself unexpectedly confronted withemale army officer might soon be In Its hands. Iteam consisting of twothe team chief and senior Interrogator, theounterintelligence
three women, one to act as reports officer and part-time companion, one who spoke the prospective defector'stongue to act solely as companion and friend, and one to do the secretarial work for the team. It was calculated that if the men confronting the defector were outnumbered by the women, she would adjust herself more quickly to the situation and the exploitation of her Information would be speeded. The validity of this theory was not to be tested, however; fearing the fate of her parents at home, the woman
-uw wiiuuy coop-
erative. Is to choose two Intelligence officers and use them toittle drama around him. One of them, anbusinesslike, purposeful, and tough-minded'Inquisitor, Is the villain. He is forceful, unbending, and If necessary thoroughly Incredulous. The defector needs,enefactor to protect him from the villain. Theshould be chosen for his resemblance to the defector in age. In physical size, and If possible In ethnic origin. He acts the role of an understanding, easy-going, comfortingHis Intelligence questions,ull biography has been obtained, are Impersonal, concerned with non-sensitive aspects of the defector's knowledge and experience.
A vigorous ostensible tug-of-war Is soon flourishing between benefactor and Inquisitor. The defector Is likely to confide to the benefactor things which he has obstinately orwithheld from the inquisitor. The Inquisitor can use the information thus obtained by the benefactor along with the statements he himself gets from the defector as the basislose scrutiny of the defector's story.
Ideally, the inquisitor should be represented by several trained Interrogators, specializing respectively in areacounterintelligence, and perhaps propaganda; and the benefactor shouldroup of off-duty escorts and(If security officers act as guards or companions they should be under the managerial direction of the operations officer int Is better not to have to eat, sleep, and playerson whom you are trying to squeeze dry of every bit of information he has; the two functions are At headquarters there Is usually no excuse for
combining them, but few field stations have the resources to achieve the Ideal separation.
The handling of the handlers themselves Is anotherof the management problem. It is usually necessary to take these intelligence officers suddenly away from theirduties and often physically move them to another place to devote their full attention to the defector. They need time to study their debriefing guides In advance, to compare them with questions already put and answers received, tonother, to transcribe or dictate* raworts, to compile personality and security evaluations, to eat, sleep, and rest. The pressures on them are great, andpromising apprentice Intelligence officers have more, than once found their undoing in the handlingefector. Even as the defector must be treated with purposeful pressure and consistent discipline on the one hand and with understanding and tolerance on the other, his handlers must be pushed, but with consideration. They must get out the reports, but they must also have time to study and discuss their problems with colleagues and supervisors, and they need days off completely away from tho defector.
Prooino fhe Story
By the time the handling Is well orgajuxed, information from headquarters concerning the defector's backgroundflowing Into the field post This may indicate that the man is not soource as he was initially assessed to be or as he himself believes. Or he Is more important. Or he Is withholding Information concerning past intelligence or security service connections. Or he has not told us about hisell-known biographical item in his home country, which possiblyearing on his defection. There may be traces of past embezzlement, larceny, murder or other criminal acts. And so on. The field Intelligenceshould expect the appearance of discrepancies, should look for them, and do their best to get to the bottom of each element of mystery.
On the other hand, any unnecessary duplicate questioning may impair the genuine defector's morale and attitude. Often the bulk of the information availableefector has come from other defectors; birdseather flee together. Many
detectors survive in their new worlds by becoming, plainly, career informants, dispensing over many years their stores ofood proportion of such persons become attached more or less permanently to established intelligence services,ested personal interest in retaining thisSome of them will therefore, consciously or not. submit Information intended to disparage, disprove, orompetitive new defector. The intelligence service sometimes thus finds itself in the position of having to choose between two incompatible sets of purported 'facta advancedr sources.
Every moment of Interview, every question and answer, should beunless the defector Is hostile For this purpose the magnetic tape recorderumber ofover cylindrical or belt-type office voiceand mere notes, longhand or shorthand, are quiteThe tape can be replayed to the defector If details In his story later turn out to be contradictory, confusing, or misleading. His awareness that every word he utters istaped,mall archives Is being built up onhe admits, denies, volunteers, and withholds, willalutory influence. The persistence necessary to clear up discrepancies can sometimes spoil the relationship between the defector and his handlers, perhaps rendering him useless for further exploitation under clandestine conditions. If this happens, the field station Is best relieved of him, and the sooner the better.
A more rewarding aspect of the defector processing is his systematic topic-by-topic intelligence debriefing. We have noted that the Initial assessment of the defector Included an areas-of-knowledge list or chart. This can usually be prepared by an experienced Intelligence officer afterr IS hours of Interview. For example, in the caseolish militaryofficer who had been attached to the International Control Commission In Viet Nam, ten major areas ofwereorganization and operation of theUnited Workers (Communist)rganization and operation of the Polish Ministry ofolishcommitments outsideilitary and political
bulld-up In the Democratic Republic of Vietintentions of the USSR and Communistand operations of the Polish Ministry ofrganization and operation of therganization and operation of other Polish ministries andpplied Marxism-Leninism In Poland,) Western propaganda weaknesses in
The areas of Information on which Intelligence and csm^spMk with
are apt to be unclear. Some of these operatives
are remarkably ill Informed, sometimes even misinformed,organization and personnel of their former services.jand security personnel can most often provide val-
uable background Information on government and Partypast coups, trials, and purges, and other poliUco-hiitori-cal events.
Iflerk-analyst should card each question to be asked the defector and later cross-reference his answer. In one debriefing conducted In Washington, where it wasto keep good0 distinct questions asked two Soviet defectors were tallied during the firstonths.
During the debrieflngs the Intelligence officers need totheir imaginations to tbe full to keep the defectoras well) keen and productive. ormal day's
questioning sessions run about six hours; but when thehas been led into information areas of great personalthere may be days when he begins talking right after breakfast and does not finish until the wee hours of themorning. At other times he may be sullen, confused,od, whatr plainly recalcitrant. During his periods of depression he should be afforded all the amenitiesegree of privacy consistent with whatseem advisable against the possibility of suicide or self-mutllatlon. Happily, this latter problemare one. but we have had defectors who became morose to the point of will for self-destruction. We have also had raving maniacs (one In particularatellite intelligence service) who have had to be kept under sedation or In straltjackeli. or both.
Yet another problem may be piled on the field station's heavy burden of tasks in systematic exploration of theareas of knowledge, determination of his bona fides, and ministration to his needs, moods andofpublicity concerning the defection. The discreet and expeditious handling of information obtained from andefector is difficult enough within the bounds of our own country; in the field, it can pose some monumental problems.
determination of the defector's bona fides. Thisis made at headquarters with the participation of the Inter-Agency Defector Committee on the basis of theItems submitted by the field:etailed biography of the defector (which is then checked against all availableand extantomplete record of hisand intelligence functions and connections; (c) the recordedical examination. Including Interviewsleared psychiatrist; and (d) the resultsolygraph test In some cases the determination can be made within two to three weeks of the time of defection, but generally it Is more like two to three months.
Now agreements are made with the defector concerning country of resettlement. Immigration, assistance inemployment, Interim financial aid, transportation for his family, and so on. One or more of his handling officershim to the next point on his Itinerary and remain with him long enough to obviate any confusion or panic anda smooth transfer to the new handlers. The fieldpart of the job Is then done, and the defector Is readyong series of exhaustive interviews to develop minute detail on subjects that emerged prominent in the fieldexplorations of his areas of knowledge.
Do's and Don't's in Defector Reception Do:
Have the defector write andtatement of his desire for asylum.
Cable headquarters for guidance at the earliest moment House the defectorlace not previously usedand lo be discarded after he leaves.
If youhoice, prepare 'estimate travel documen-Ution for defectors and case officers rather than move
Make the defector prove his own bona fides; take thethat he must do something for us before we can do things for him.
Assume that heest or provocation or that he wfji re-defect until headquarters has concurred in theof his bona fides.
discipline at the samo level as In your regular agent operations.
Press for critical positive intelligence and operational leads.
Provide the amenities, including means for amusement andreading material, phonopTaph radio and TV if security permits.m. sound movies' sports facilities, short trips, company of the other sex etc
Make any commitments of any kind to the defectora general promise to help him, without priorfrom headquarters.
Give the impression that our interest Is only in milking him dry before disposing of him like an empty
Show any sign of disagreement or rivalry among the handling personnel except In the context of thetactic
Let himituation by displays of temper,or other emotion.
Let himosition of superiority orhow of ego to advantage.
Blame headquarters, the organisation, or the government for delays and difficulties which the defector construes as showing disinterest in his case His questions or criticisms can be met with the reminderreat deal of orgaiuxing, coordinating, and planning Isto make the right decisions and take the actions dictated by his own best Interests.Original document.