wrnovra res bse
HtSTOKJCAL RFViEW PROGRfilil
TITLE; Principles Of Deep Cover
AUTHOR: C. D. Edbrook
A colledion of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol Intelligence.
All statements of laci. opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of
the auihors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Govemmenl endorsement of an article's faciual statements and interpretations.
Cardinal considerations incovert personnel abroad tn quasi-permanent private citizen positions.
PRINCIPLES OF DEEP COVER C. D. Edbrook
gence service has for getting Its unwelcome officers covertly Into other countries Is to assign them to cover Jobs In Itsdiplomatic missions, consulates, and other official representations there. The Soviet bloc services call this "legal" cover, most Western services simply "official" cover. Aside from providing for communicationsecure place to work,easure of protection from prosecution for espionage. It has the advantage that the cover duties can usually be made light enough to leave most of tbe officer's tune free for Intelligence activity. The official position also opens the way to many useful contacts, although It precludes others. It has tho accompanying disadvantage thatretty shabby one. It requires no Herculeaneffort to determine which foreign officials probably have Intelligence connections; they can be keptbut not really secret Moreover, some kinds ofactivity cannot be carried out from an official position.
It Is therefore necessary to supplement the "legals" withhe Intelligence officers under official cover withunder "deep" cover, living as legitimate privatewith such authenticity that their Intelligencewould not be disclosed even by an Intensive andinvestigation. These officers are sometimes career staff employees of the Intelligence service and sometimesof either the sponsoring or another country vlth aor agent relationship to the service. For the sake of simplicity we shall speak of them all aslthough they areifferent category from the indigenous agents recruited locallyase officer. They do have an agent
relationship to an official-cover case officer, for they must usually depend on the official-cover"legal rezjden-tura" In Soviet usage, the "station" intheirand administrative support and, at least In most Western practice, for direction and operational guidance.
Nonofficial cover Is sometimes used for brief ad hocand fixed-term operations, but the difficulties andof really deep cover are felt mostong-range operation of Indefinite duration, one expected to continue as' long as^lt'produces userul lnformatiOb?<perhaps thrp.ughkhe"^'. full career of the agent Infiltration into high circles ofgovernment an oppositionilitary clique, or an ethnic minority, or,estern service, penetration Into an Orbit Installation or the leadershipommunist party are types of missions for which deep cover of indefinitemay be required. It is the principles of thla kind of cover that concern us here.
Primacy of the Objective
Because the deep-cover agent must usuallyarge share of his time to carrying on his ostensible legitimatebis intelligence production is quantitatively small. He Is therefore an expensive agent, Justified only by the uniqueness ol the Information he produces or can be expected In long term to produce. The 'establishmenteep-cover operation should consequently derive without exception from the objective to be achieved, not from the availability of the agent or the opportunity for cover. Although this principle should be self-evident, it Is not in practice unusual that an intelligence service begins with an agent whoeep-cover assignment tries various kinds of cover on him for size, and then, more or less as an afterthought,lausible mission for him. Negligence of the objective through aon the agent's part with the establishment of cover is another frequent fault In one caseoung man was permitted to spend tour years exclusively building cover for himself, being required only toniversity in the target area and then establish himselfalesman there. By the time he wasosition to start producing he had lost interest in the Intelligence objective and resigned.
Importance for Planner!
Sometimes the unfailing symptomsig hurry to go nowhere In particular betray the fact that the planners of an operation have lost sight of Its long-term objective. Some years ago the cover specialists ot an agency were asked to produceflexible cover" that would give an agentot much work hi the way of cover duties, andogical reason for interest In diversified localt was not specified tn what way the ooverwas supposed,lex.^iwhatmlaees the agent shbulcTO'abl^ what kinds of local groups he should have an Interest There was available,over position in market research which seemed to meet these requirements and In which the agent had bad some experience; but this would require him toonth's training prior to departure, and It was therefore rejected. So he was put Into free-lance writing,he had had no experience in that field. The hope that an operation so thoroughly conditioned during its formative stage by an early departure date would somehow serve an Intelligence purpose was ofain one: when old Mobile and Flexible came back two years later he had produced nothing.
The rational preparation and conduct of an operation can have no other guide than Its purpose, and this purpose must therefore be defined at the outset. Mobility and flexibility may Indeed be required by somecientist or labor expert, for example, whose intelligence assignmenthim to meet target colleagues atumber of neighboring countriesover Job that gives him sufficient timelausible reason tothese conferences. But other Intelligence missions can be fulfilled only by agents whose cover work keeps themertain place, and there are on record cases Ineep-cover agent has been unable to give the necessary attention to his operations because bis cover job kept him constantly moving about The end must determine the means.
The purpose should alsoorthyeep-cover mission Is not Justified If it can do no better than wander along the fringes of an intelligence target, eliciting scraps of Information and mlslnformaUon. or "collect operational lnfor-
mation available In tbe normal course of cover work and spot potential agentt is wasteful toeep-cover agent doing the routine Jobs that can be done Just as well by an ofQcial-cover man or his ordinary local agents andThe targets that call for deep cover are those to which official government representatives lack access or In which they must conceal their Interest or from which only anchannel will elicit information not meant for official consumption.
he primacy ofa rigid sequence in which cover and agent cannot even be considered until the objective has been determined. It means only that the Intelligence objective should be establishedthe steps are taken that commit the service to theThe service's headquarters will have negotiated cover openings and Its Held stations will have spotted coverof various kinds without regard to any specificoperations. There are also usually available some good agents for whom there Is no suitable assignment at theIt Is better that these cover openings and these agents should remain unused for the time being than be misused ln the pursuit of an unworthy objective only because they are available. Experience shows that the successful operations are generally those in which the planners have arrivedalid objective and made sure that the cover and the agent were suitable tor the pursuit of that objective before going ahead with the implementation of the project.
The Intelligence objective, once chosen, Is of course notConstancy of purpose Is of vital importance in most long-range operations,ervice should be ready to make the most of any unexpected opportunity that permits it to raise its sights. In recenteep-cover agent who had been sent to the field to work through locally recruited agents suddenly found himself in the entourageigh-priority target; another, after one uneventful tourransfer under the same cover to another country, gainedto the toner circleery important target person. These agents were able to capitalize on their opportunitiestheir cover had been well prepared and they had been careful to preserve It during periods when operationalwere not bright.
Nevertheless, one cannot rely on chance to provide anwith purpose. The untimely termination ol coverintended to be long-range is often charged to the un-sultablllty ot the agent or the Inadequacy of his cover, but close examination may reveal that the faulty element Is itself the result of an underlying failure of the planners to derive the operationorthy purpose clearly understood at the start by everyone concerned.
a lack of specific purposeery disquieting effect on agent morale. Agents sometimes express the belief thatthought Is not given by their contact man, the field station, or headquarters to the ultimate achievement that Is desired from them on their project. Their remarks areto the effect that there Isonsistent plan orthat they are given the blanket advice "to get out and see what can be developed" with regard to practically any political party or government agency, that they are seldom given the opportunity to learn how, If at ail. their activities are Integrated into the overall area program or objectives, and that this iseliberate effort on the part of the field station or their station contact to keep them compart-mented but rather an indication of the nonexistenceong-range plan. Such impressions, even If groundless, are not conducive to vigorous and purposeful activity.
The field station has an essential role to perform inthe objective as well as the meanseep-coverin Its area and it must share in the early planning. Chiefs of station should keep headquarters currently informed as to which long-range Intelligence objectives they and their successors will need to approach through nonofflclal cover, what kinds of cover would be the most effective in reaching those objectives, and what kind of agent would beand personally suited for the cover job and thetasks Involved. Headquarters, in turn, should consult the station In the early planningarticular long-range cover project.eadquarters area desk willreater or lesser understanding of the field situation. Its information may be dated or Incomplete. The field station certainly has the most Intimate knowledge of the problems
said In addition will nave more faith In the prospects of an operation and feel more deeply committed to Its success If It has helped to shape it.
A few years ago an agent was placed under commercial cover and sent to the field "to assess the area for deep-cover andpossibilities and to develop intelligenceheretation In the area and It should have been able to assess cover and operational possibilities, but apparently headquarters had not discussed with it what objectivesgTi*nc^^
agent wouldood chance of attaining them; nowas made to define the kind of operations the agent was expected lo develop or to specify the nature of thehe was to work against. This agent had neithernor operational experience; yet he was expected tousinessountry that had Inhibitory laws on trade and on currency exchange, toifficult assessment of operational possibilities, and to seek out his own Intelligence mission. The operation failed and was terminated after two years.
Collaboration between headquarters and the field station Is needed In the early planning stage In order to bringroad central view of Intelligence needs and an Intimate knowledge of the local scene. These two complementaryare required to give anrecise orientationriority objective, and this objective must beearly enough to Insure that the cover and the agent are suited to It
Preparing the Means The period of preparation is one of commitment; Ita series of major steps which steer theourse that becomes Increasingly difficult to change or halt,oint Is reached where the service is committed to go ahead with whatever Investment of funds and manpower may be required- These major steps have to do with the selection and preparation of the agent and his cover. Hasty preparations have no place In long-rangeHaste Is Justifiable and even necessary ln situations of urgency where one must work at top speedhort-term goal; In such cases security and durability are knowingly
. sacrificed to the extent required by the pressure ofBut to be durable, cover must be genuine, and to be genuine it must be preparedace consonant with the normal pace of the cover pursuit Itself, not according to an operational timetable. This is the only way to avoid buDt-ln causes of failure of allproblems, sdmlnistra-
i Uve snarls, unsuitable agent, thin cover, and other security hazards.
The first requisite of cover Is that it should convincingly explain the agent's presence In the area. This requisiteincreasingly stringent with time, and to endureheover must be such as to appear logical ln its own terms. There have been too many salesmen who did not sell, students who did not study, consultants who were not consulted, some of them livingenerous scale with large families, deluding themselves that all was well until perhaps the chief of station was queried by his cover boss, "Is so-and-so one of yours? He looks as phony to me as anyone I've ever seen I"
A few years ago an agent who had had medical training was sentity described In the project asistorical mecca for graduateis cover occupation was the sale of medical supplies and his intelligence mission was to develop sources In the scientific field. One month after his arrival the station estimated that his cover would be good for at least nine years. After six months, however, therequested his transfer because the cover was wearing thin. Now It came out that the day when the historical mecca enjoyed an excellent reputation for Its medical faculties had long since gone. Something had obviously gone wrong with someone's objectivity; the tendency to overstate the meritsroject Is particularly strong when It Is first submitted for approval
There had been warning indicators when this cover was being negotiated: two medical supply firms that had been approached had said they would not place their own men In that area because it would not be profitable, and one of them agreed to send the agent there only because the service wanted it that way and was willing to foot the bill.ervice
chooses to Ignore the counsel of old-line companies whose business it is to know what worksertain place and what does not, It should be tor compelling reasons and with an appreciation ot the problems ahead.
The cover with the best chance of enduring In any area Is one that docs not feed off tbe area but contributes needed skills or knowledgeommodity that is lacking. Inthat are trying to develop economic autarchy the au-_thortties may acrutinlze the wUvltlesrelgnbusb^esmen with'^cr^*ruuTr| that^enyrated enterprise must benefit the national economicHere agents Involved In businesses that are not financially sound or have no significant volume of business are sadly out of place. But local firms may need citizens of another country to help them In their dealings with firmsIn that country, and such employees would probably have greater freedom of movement and better access to local targets than those of the local branchoreign firm, as well as protection in case of expropriation or nationalization of foreign assets. Or non-commercial cover may be morein some places: In newly Independent countries, for Instance, teachers or technicians may be more needed and welcome than business representatives, and the desire of the new governments to get them elsewhere than from the former colonial power may provide another nation with coverfor its own nationals or for third-nationalhe plan for long-range cover must take Into account any likelihood of drastic changes in the area that could affect the viabilityarticular type of cover. If there is such aan agent cannot use cover whose survival depends on an Indefinite continuation of the status quo. Aside from the hazards to commercial cover entailed In the trend towards economic autarchy, there may be political changes which would make It more difficult for Westerners, or citizensarticular Western country, to move about. Such prospects call for timely preparations in the establishment of third-natlonal cover agents in advance.
Finally, the most Important element of cover durability is legitimacy. There are suspect covers Just as there are suspect persons,over cannot confer upon the agent ait does not itself possess. ewly founded company
once offered to cover any numberervice's agents asln several underdeveloped countries, expecting that the service In return would subsidize its own earlyThese consultants would have come under the scrutiny of the genuine foreign consultants who had been there for years, and the Inevitable checks on the standing of the borne office would have quickly exposed the masquerade. Cover and the Objective
The function of explaining the ugent's presence1 difficult though It Is under unfavorable circumstances, Is stillart of what cover should do for an operation. Cover should always be considered ln relation to the intelligenceand insofar as possible It should provide legitimateto the targets being attacked. The ideal solution is achieved when the activities of the agent in doing his cover Job provide the basis for the operational contacts desired. If this ideal arrangement Is not possible, the cover should at least be compatible with the objective. Otherwise, there can be only competition and conflict between them.
One agent, married and with children, was recentlyto be workingeek for his cover firm andoeek for intelligence. The poor fellow was running himself ragged, neglecting his family, and even so not doing Justice to either of his unrelated Jobs. His cover had been chosen almost exclusively to establish him In the area, too little attention being paid to the operationalit should provide. The two functions must beconcurrently during the planning stage; If avenues to the intelligence objective are left to be Improvised later, the agent's access, if be ever develops any, may be to targets already within easy reach through the official cover of the station, and his presence In tbe field, while adding to tbeproblems, will not add to its resources-There isecurity advantagelose relationcover and Intelligence work. If the two occupations are unrelated, the operational comings and goings do notfrom the protective interpretation that the known cover Job should normally suggest to observers. The field stationosition to know which specific cover pursuit canand explain operational contact with the target persons;
in tact, the station would normally want to have an agent under cover only after finding it Impossible, or unwise ortoerson already In placeimilar situation.
Knowledge of the facts of the local situation will reduce the large amount of guesswork that often goes into the choiceover and thereby obviate the unreasonablethat otherwise come to be placed on it. An agent was
once sentolonial country to recruit agents within# ^Europeanfcommunlty. but twb'years IrtnfrJ&bW&tti'*
his efforts should have been directed at the native groups. His cover did not permit him to make this about-face, and so the Impasse was blamed on "rigidertain amount of latitude may be desirable In some forms of cover, and this latitude can be planned at the start tonownneed, but latitude or flexibility in cover should not be usededge against failure to study and Interpret the pertinent facts In the first place and toover hi the light of those facts. The factors that enter into theof cover that Is both durable and operationallyare numerous and Intricate, and that la why it Is risky to go ahead without the best knowledge of the field situation tbat the station can provide.
Cover negotiationsusiness firm afford thealuable preview of what kind ot collaboration It can expect In the Joint enterprise. If the firm wants the service toisproportionate share of the business expenses. It Isthat Its professed desire to contribute to government alms is specious and that Intelligence interests will be pushed aside. There is no need for high cost In an agreementompany already doing business In tbe area In question, particularly if the agent is already in place or Is destined to go there. If the company goes out of Its normal way andadditional financial expenses and risks, the servicehas toarger share of the burden; but if the company offers to place any number of agents In all sorts of positions without regard to the facts of business, it probablyuick and generous bounty from the government rather than reasonable business profits patiently earned.
The cover negotiations can of course also give the company some idea of the seriousness of the service's intentions. If the service professes to need andound and durable cover and at the same time proposes to use it to rotate aof agents on two-year tours, the firm cannot be expected to think very highly of Its long-range planning, or of Itsof cover, or of Its practice of economy for that matter, and may be tempted to make the most of the opportunity
The agreements witha3^snnpleian*dV clear as possible and understood In the same way by both parties. In addition, those arrangements that affect the agent should be clearly understood by him at the very start and be made known to tbe field station involved at the same time; otherwise the station case officer's meetings with the agent and his correspondence with headquarters will be taken upong time by the too common three-way debate on the substance and Interpretation of tbe cover arrangements, to the detriment of tbe operation.
over agreement Is negotiated It should be decided early who In the company has to be made witting. If theis left for spot decisions to be mode as arrangementsthe number of people In the know will keep growing as one after another Is brought into the picture to facilitate the solution of problems that arise. There is no assurance, of course, that the witting company people will observe tbe need-to-know principle, but the firm Itself has an Interest insecret Its connection with intelligence. The wittingare more likely to maintain secrecy If they know that there are very few of them and If they realize the Importance tbe service attaches to keeping that number small.
Experience shows that there are security problems both ways, from cutting In too many people and from not cutting in enough. The problem In both cases generally stemseal or imagined urgency which prompt* the service towith the natural development of cover. For Instance, It has an agent who Is not very well qualified for the cover Job and is not company-trained, perhaps not yet hired by tbe company; but he Is ready to go! The personnel manager Is cut In to hireection chief Is cut ln to streamline bis training, the field manager is cut In so that he will not expect
too much from him, and so on. Or else the companyremoves all obstacles by fiat without explainingto anyone; everyone is hostile and suspicious, and the operation is offad start. Time Is wasted In trying so desperately to save it: the agent often returns from anassignment without having done anything for the service.
Career Contract Agents
^One of^en?os*tvserious has been the uncertainty about career that results from their dual status in the Intelligence service and in their cover; they have felt the demands of both pursuits and the reassurance of neither. Some services have tried to protect their own Interests by requiring that agents going into business firms waive at the outset, when the cover arrangements are made, any right to transfer to their cover firms for some years after resigning from the service, the firms for their part agreeing not to hire them for that period.rovision confines the agent to his intelligence career, In which, however, he may tend to have less and less confidence the longer he remains on the outer rim of the intelligence organization. In such circumstances It is probably wiser for the service to permit immediate transfer to the cover firm and maintain Itsrelationship with the agent by means of contract.
In one suchtaff agent with three years ofexperience but still quite clean was placedover Job while yet young enough to be startingareerprior Job experience. An intelligent, enterprising, andyoung man, he did excellent work for the cover firm foronths; he looked genuine to the general public, and his long-range intelligence prospects seemed good. But his Intelligence performance, according to rigid standardsapplied, did notromotion In the service. It was clear that he would be better off with the cover salary and allowances than with his service pay, and the discrepancy was likely to Increase as time went on.
Re was therefore transferred outright to the firm, which was happy to have himermanent employee, with aassurance from the service that it would attempt tohimuitable grade if he should lose bis Job
cause of his Intelligence association or for some other cause not of his own making. Heontract agent of the service, paid according to his usefulness and reimbursed for expenses incurred on its behalf. The release of this sgent does not mean that intelligence Interests will be sacrificed or that Intelligence work will be only Incidental, because heigh-caliber young manent for Intelligence, and his motivation lies In the very nature of the work. It is unlikely that the service will ever lose Whl^ laauasmwnn'JfM^-- *WJWVIthe manue>'thantrH?*fact of separsWn'froro the taffervice that deprives It of the work of trained and experienced officers.ood agent has found careerand security In his cover firm. It Is sensible tothe transition and put an end to his equivocal status If the transfer stands to serve the Interests of all concerned. Similarly, agents can be allowed or even encouraged toprofessional or other types of self-employed cover to the point that their economic security rests principally on their cover activity, buttressedtipend from the service and underwritten by the understanding that, if they do wellthey can be assuredareer in the service In case unavoidable circumstances destroy their cover.
This kind of arrangement has two great advantages: first, the cover takes on real depth and solidity as the years go by, and second, the service Is freed from Innumerableheadaches that may otherwise plague its cover operations. One of these administrative headaches Is that dependableto relations with the agent, the recovery of coverthat exceed his service entitlement. One terminated agent felt so strongly about kickinghristmas bonus that be wrote to headquarters, saying he was willing tothe money to the cover company but would not turn It over to the service under any circumstances. WhenIn the cover firm Is rapid and the difference between cover salary and service pay gets progressively larger, thetangle becomes so frustrating that there have been serious proposals to freeze the cover salaries of agents while their colleagues are being promoted. Such an expedient would violate security as well as decency, and it would beto expect an agent In such circumstances to give the coverroper effort.
If lo particular Instances tbe interests of the service and the agent call for his retention on the staff although assigned to long-range cover duties, the career contract should bewith special administrative provisions to assure him of service rights, benefits, and career opportunitiesto those he would have on regular duty. Thenature of nonofflcial cover requires destandardlxedand diversified personnel patterns. This diversification can be further advanced by greater use of natural cover.
Many of the problems of deep cover are avoided whencan recruit suitable agents already embarkedompany president who claimed noexperience once suggested out of common senseof placing its man in hiservice mightone of his employees ln the overseas branch Inwas Interested. In anotherovernmentInformation on the deployment and activity offorces did not have tooan under cover becausein the area recruited one of Its own citizens whoa gasoline company and was In constant contactofficials of the target air forces. This agent was ablethe needed informants in the normal course of
Some companies are willing to furnish Information on all the young men they recruit for their foreign branches and to make those selected as potential agents available forwith reasonable assurance that they will eventually be assigned where the service wants them Similarly, someare willing to furnish biographic and evaluativeon their overseas employees for assessment andrecruitment, and to arrange to bring back the recruitsraining period- The agents recruited In these ways would continue to pursue normal business careers and tofrom that source their salaries, allowances, bonuses, and promotions, as well as their financial security and their status In the community. They would be compensated equitably for intelligence services rendered, and there should be noproblems or dual-status administrative difficulties.
The recruitment of persona already employed or about to be hiredirm would require fewer company employees made witting than the placingan from the service; normally it should be only one or two key officials. There would be none of the difficulties which the family of astaff employee has to face when It needs to adjustew mode of living. The greatest advantage of all. however, lies in the quality of the cover Itself. Natural cover Is the most convincing of all, and the best way to fool alljthe time is to be genuine Only^on rare occasions, -aucuover reassignment, would there perhapseed to interfere discreetly with the normal course of events. The principal dangers, here as elsewhere, would be impatience and the real or fancied urgency of short-term goals.
Once It has been decided what forms of cover can serve the Intelligence objective, the task Is to find an agent who has the qualifications for one of the possible cover Jobs and who can, hi addition, do the Intelligence Job that constitutes the sole reason for the undertaking. It Is easy to hope for, but very difficult to find, the ideal agent who has dualThe problem, in fact. Is often regardedilemma: If the agent Is already established in the cover company he never really gets the feel of Intelligence; If he Is anofficer venturing forth into the business world, he Is generally unconvincing In his cover life, and his tour of duty is of short duration despite original long-term plans; in the rare cases where the experienced Intelligence officer has good cover qualifications, the service risks losing him to tbe cover pursuit, and sometimes does. Notilemma, thiserious problem which can be solved only by making
over operation Is to endure, the agent's qualifications for his cover Job must be unimpeachable. These qualifications are more exacting In some pursuits than In others and the amount of expertness required may be lessoung agent than for an older man, but no agent can be expected toIn his cover unless his cover preparation and performance are convincing in their own terms. For this reason, when the
ideal agent with dual qualifications is not available (or along-term cover mission, cover and durability must take precedence over Intelligence training andeficiency in these is not Insuperable if the agent has the necessary aptitude for Intelligence work. His training will have to be highly concentrated to suit his specific rnisslon, and his experience will have to be gained on the Job under the close direction of his case officer.
capable of living his cover effectively, an operation which Is successful in terms of cover will still fall if the agent lacks the ability to perform his Intelligence mission. In sacrificingexperience to requirements of cover, therefore. It is vital not to sacrifice on the point of the agent's native ability tolandestine intelligence Job. Many people areby espionage and like to talk about it, even in firstbut not so many are suited, by character andto engage ln it. There are even loyal and patriotic businessmen who question the need for the clandestineof information; one company president being sounded outover possibility quickly put an end to the exploration when he remarked that he did not "see the need for such devioushisather widespread attitude among businessmen, who in their own highly competitive fieldappreciate the importance of obtaining andinside information.
On the other hand, there may be Indications of an agent candidate's flair for intelligence work In the amount ofand discretion hehe conduct of his overtIn any case he willot to learn andot of energy to learnative ability for intelligence work entails not only the right attitude but also the necessary amount of drive; and the cover agent must possess thedynamism and resourcefulness needed to workat the end of the line. The translation of an agent's native ability Into the skills required by his mission isIn the next section of this article.
Conduct of me Operation
Living one's cover Is an around-the-clock job. It requires first of all that the agent In his cover work have as much competence and put out as much effort as his colleagues in comparable Jobs. In certain Instances special qualifications like language skill or area familiarity may compensate for other lacks, but he must conform to whatever pattern Is es-
tlve field feelewcomer; any special treatmentIn order to get things done easily and quickly, suchhortening of company training or protective intercession by the top management, will only Intensify this hostility and arouse suspicion. And, of course, the agent himself mustthe very human tendency to surround himself with the mysterious aura of one engaged ln special work-Occupational Interest Is an important factor in living one's cover because competence and Interest go together and each helps the other. It Is only natural, moreover, that the agent should be expected to show an Interest in the occupation he ostensibly has chosenobby can therefore be an Indication of an agent's suitabilityarticular cover position- One manassion for firearms was placed under cover as the representativeealer ln small arms; wherever he was the conversation inevitably turned to guns, and his cover took care of Itself.
There Is an important corollary to the requirement for good performance on the cover job. and that Is the need to live the kind of life that goes with tbe Job. Here the demands on the agent are extended to his family, and the difficulties of living in accordance with cover status sire generally greater for the family than for the agent himself. When there are young children there may be real hardships that should beBut It shouldrerequisite for any deep-coverthat the agent and bis family be able to adapt themselves to the living conditions and social life of people In the cover situation.
Tbe pull exertedrivileged way of lifeonstant danger among staff agents who have previously served under
official cover. No amount of cover work can hide suchbreaches as access to PX suppliesloserwith the official government colony than tbe cover occupation would normally bring about. Staff officers are often vehement in their professed desire to go out under non-offlclal cover but, once there, unwilling to forego any of the amenities of official cover; they are probably not so muchby the challenge of the lone game as repelled by the regimentation at headquarters and the larger stations. Aand fiUblr^fiiaff cjffleer under.nonoffleial
iompulsive urge toowling alley where he knew many of his former associates wouldeague; when the Incident was raised with him laterrobable security hasard, he ruefully admitted hisbut explained that he Just had to see someone with whom he could identify himself.
The Right Case Officer
Thereendency at large stations to entrust the less active operations to the less experienced case officers, and long-range cover operations are of course seldom productive Immediately. Operations that have prospects of quick and valuable Intelligence dividends are often run as vest-pocket affairsop station officer or the chief himself; those that have no prospects of quick results are often delegated far down the line. Field stations are pressed with work and pressured to produce,tation's chief should work out adistribution of Its effort between immediate needs and long-term investment
Nonofflelal-cover operations cannot be mass-produced and run by the book; each one has Its own character and Its own problems, and each requires the right ease officer for tbe right agent If It Is to have any real chance of success. The casetask Is to develop and maintain the agent'sand he cannot succeed in this task without the agent's absolute confidence in bis competence and reliability. He must have the necessary experience, maturity, andto deal with that particular agent He Is generally the agent's sole link with the service; In fact. In tbe agent's mind he Is the service, and his merits and fallings are extended to the servicehole. His whole manner with the agent must
suggest that he has no duty more Important than that ot directing and supporting the agent in his mission. Thepractices whose importance he wants to impress upon the agent he must teach by his own example and not by precept alone. Finally, he mostell-balancedof imagination and Judgment in order to deal with the constant novelty ot deep-cover situations and problems.
It Is also Important to provide for the availability of the same case officerelativelvf.
-man any other kind to ihe disruptive effect of frequent case officerItrequent complaint of agents that with each change of case officer there appears tohange inand guidance, and inasmuch as the case officer Is the sole channel for the agents direction, there Is no corrective for this Impression of Inconsistency.ase officer must be replaced, the transition should be planned well enough in advance not only to permit the choiceuccessor wellprofessionally and personally to direct the particular agent but also to allow this successor to get the feel and tempo of the operation. The agent will not fear that the operation Is apt to be swayed by the whim of bis immediate handlers if the new case officer introduces any necessary changesmooth period of transition.
The procedure for initial contact with the agent should be decided before he Is In place, and it must be compatible with the ultimate purpose of the operation; If the agent's cover Is to endure, he has to be handledensitive agent from the veryontinuous clandestine relationship is needed from the outset to condition the agent properly for his role; It will help keep his clandestine mission ever present In hisdespite the demands of cover work, and It will sustain his morale by demonstrating the Importance the case officer attaches to the security of the operation. Tbe regularity, the relative frequency, and the average duration of case-officer contacts necessary to the successful developmentong-term mission require that most if not all of them be clandestine meetings under safe conditions.
Whether or not there should be overt contact andof overt contact would be advantageous are problemsa number of factors. The best bet Is to keep theentirely clandestine until both case officer andanalyze these factors and make an Informed decision.necessary to restrain the tendency towardoften characterizes the period of coverthe agent more or less abstains fromhe tendency,e!.complacent is all the
alion can change quickly and it may then be too late to tighten up.
The factors that should influence the decision to surface or not to surface the contact lie In the nature of theand of the Intelligence mission Itself. In areas wherecontact between the nationals In question or between them and local persons is commonplace, an occasional overt contact may serve to avert suspicion In case one of the clandestineis accidentally exposed. Many successful operations are handled In this manner. In other areas, overt contactcase officer and agent may not be advisable. The agent's mission may be such as to make overt contactIn any circumstances, for instance one In which he is acting the partolitical renegade.
There Is another consideration that should enter Into the decision whether or not to surface, even in the mostoperational climate. Case officers under official cover whoarge number of legitimate overt contacts may feel that one more will appear equally Innocent to allBut not all onlookers will add the same figures and reach the same totals, and It may be that this one relationship will arouse the curiosity of certain persons and lead them to probe beneath the surface; it Is always possible to chance upon the right conclusionartial set of facts. There arevalid arguments both for and againstise decisionnowledge and appraisal of the fine points Involved before the Irrevocable act Is committed.
ecision to surface has been reached, the coverof the two principals should determine the manner of the surfacing. It should be done inay as to appear
natural and to minimize any suspicion of contrivance.and case officer who had children in the same schoolin school support activitiesoddingsusceptible of further development. Somelegitimate reason to consult the case officer in hiscapacity. Others meet their case officers at themutual acquaintances. Still others may have tomeeting If their overt positions do noteadyJustification for their
ThcreSls also tne^question of frequencyvert con tacts. One chief of station avoids all but the rarest social contact with his covert agent because, he soundly reasons, theopposition, if alerted, would probably never bear the contrived explanation but only note the fact ofAnother case officer reports that some close friends whom he saw severalonth were wrongly suspect to the opposition, whereas his deep-cover agent, whom he very rarely saw overtly, was apparently considered clean. If these officers should relax and slide Into the habit of carelessthey might soonoint of no return: onceinterest in an agent is suspected the damage cannot be undone.
It is Important to maintain regular contact with the non-official-cover agent from the very start, even though he may not yet be fully embarked on his intelligence mission. The case officer must condition his agent to live according to his cover status, within his ostensible cover Income, and be sure that he does not allow himself telltale benefits such as the acquisition of PX commodities to which he is not normallyThe period when the agent establishes his cover Is the critical time when his attitude towards his twofold Job takes shape Too often an agent is allowed to occupy himself solely with cover workong time; afterwards it is always difficult, and In some cases It is impossible, to revive hisIn Intelligence. The cover-Job, for lack of competition, quite naturally occupies the agent's full time and interest, and the longer one waits the more difficult it Is toa second Job.
Furthermore, the case officer has an operational interest ln the successful establishment of cover, that necessaryto active operations. One case of agent neglect during this early period had consequences even worserift away from the intelligence objective. Two agents were placed together in the same cover office, told to build cover, and left pretty much to themselves. Theyitter hostility toward each other which the station was either unaware of or unconcerned about. Headquarters repeatedly heard of*his yery,eo-operatlve person must haveoor opinion of the kind of supervision exercised by the service, and the agentscould not have helped making the inevitablebetween the commercial and the operational management.
The case officer's concern with the period of coveris not only protective, that is to avoid cover pitfalls and prevent the agent from losing Interest In intelligence. This period must also, and principally, serve to prepare the agent for the tasks ahead. The nature and extent of the preparation needed will vary from case to case, depending on the agent's prior experience and training and on the trade-craft and reporting demands of his Intelligence mission.training, valuable as It is. Isreparationubstitute for It, and the case officer will have to develop the results of any pertinent past training the agent may have had into practical skills.
First of all, the case officer must keep abreast of the agent's cover problems and progress ln order to blend matters ofimport Into his activity at the right time and ln the proper gradation. At the same time he must make sure that the agent understands his mission thoroughly, for that Is the entire purpose of the operation, anything else beingeans to the end. He must see to it that the agent gets sufficient practice, to the point of perfection if necessary, in the particular tasks that his mission will require, such aselidtattoo, and assessment, practice that can be done In the normal course of cover work. The product of these exercises should behe form ofbiographic reports, target data, general Information reports, and written assessments. The agent may need technical skills, some of which, like photography, can be practiced as a
eclusion.skills he needs he must roaster, for there should bedeficiency in the makeup of the long-term agent trilningn0tSn-
The agent should regularly report his contacts, somemay be of interest to tbe station whether or notfor him to use them. He must be trained toaccurately and completely, and he the. imrjortauU (tlaWpelauonal 'data m'the
of his Information. He must be alert to tbe by-product* of his work toward his own objective, such aa spottingand other operational leads. He must understandomplementary purposes ofprotect the agent and expose thehe must learn to use his own cover safely and effectively. These fundamentals will naturally have been covered ln his briefing and training, but the case officer needs always to bear Ln mind that an agent who Lives in Isolation canurprisingly short time become oblivious of the most elementary principles ofnless they are kept constantly before him.
A long-term nonofficlal-corer agent, we have noted, must hove the right attitude towards clandestine work and the necessary drive to keep going without constant prodding. There is much that he can do by himself In preparing for his mission, and If he Is to become conversant with all aspects of the situation related to his Intelligence mission, no amount of briefing can make up for his own lack of Initiative. It Is up to the agent, with appropriate station support, to acquirebackground Information and keep up with overt developments ln his field of Intelligence Interest, so that he can recognize the significance of his requirement* and of the Information he collects to fulfill them. If his objective, for instance, is the penetrationolitical group, he should findeasily available on Its leaders present and potential. Its sources of support. Its stand on Important Issues, Its allies and enemies. It* relationships abroad, the divisions within its ranks, and so on; and he must of course also beith tbe wider national background In which the group operates.
All this information is ^dispensable for the agent'sof his mission, but it Is Important even Ln thestage when he discusses with his case officer hisobjectives, his Ideas with respect to attaining them, and his progress in working his way closer to his targets. The intelligence tasks and discussions of this early period will work toward the necessary correlation In the agent's mind of his cover occupation with his intelligence mission, and they will
officer expressed It. where he views his whole environment "through Intelligence eyeglasses."
At the same time, the exercises and discussions willunning gauge of the agent's competence and enable the case officer to keep currentlyorkable progression of Intelligence tasks. This progression should nourish the agent's confidence and self-reliance and help him advance smoothly to the point where he can develop and handle his own sources of Information, the primary skill of ancollection officer. There are Instances where theof tasks does not quite achieve this desired result; In these, the case officer may further ease the agent'sto active operations by turning over toecure going operation If thereuitable one at hand In thesector of his intelligence mission.
A long-range Intelligence agent under nonofficlai cover isone operator in the sense that he can be expected to work without direction. For reasons of security he must be able toonsiderable amount of Isolation from the service, but It should be clear to him that this Isolation is an operational necessity, not the result of neglect or oblivion. His morale has to be maintained over the years, andood agent can be sustained only by the Innerthat he Isaluable job as an integral part of the service. This feeling cannot be Instilled by reassuring words; It can come only from the agent's own day-to-day recognition of the value of his mission and his work ln furtherance of the
broader missions of the station and even of the servicehole. An agent once pictured his uneasiness in these terms:
"The rule is followed that there Is no use showing the agent any material that does not concern his project. He has little opportunity to call on someone else for advice. It is unlikely that he will ever hear what happens to the Information he turns In, or whether headquarters found It useful or not. He Is In the unfortunate position where his shortcomir .almost instants an
Too narrow an Interpretation of the need-to-know principle can demoralise the man at the end of the line. In theof his effectiveness no less .than of his morale, the agent must beufficiently well-rounded interpretation of his progress; and that means that the case officer himself has to be well Informed on the station's general operational program and performance In order to discuss the agent's work with him In its wider context. The agent should also receive currently, beyond the usual requirements and targetany background data and any general guidance that will help him recognize operational opportunities outside of his assigned tasks and propose new approaches to his ownIf he receives anything less than all-out operational support, the expensive deep-cover agent will be workingraction of his capacity.
Furthermore, the considerable amount of time and effort required toood agent primed for his bestIs not so much an operational overhead as annot only should Itetter intelligence product, but it should also develop andound Initiative in the agent and enable him to become less dependent on his case officer for day-to-day guidance. In short, nothing is more Important to the agent than timely evaluations of hisand production, and there is no better stimulus and guide for Improvement. If It Is at all possible, an occasional secure contact with the station chief would contribute to the agent's sense of belonging and It wouldhoHn-the-arm for him to hear from the topew well-informedabout his work and Its value. The goal of Intelligence support of the long-term agent Is to keep him constantly oriented and Inspired towards his informational objectives.
Maintenance of Purpose
We have already stressed the fact that the agent mustlear understanding of his mission at the outset and that he and his case officer must keep It constantly in mind.and the station must have the same understanding of the purpose of the operation, they must both agree to It, and if this purposealid one they should stick to It The temptations to redirect cover operations are many and varied: they should be examined thoroughly and, unlessmX^-'f no?estionably*ior^^
There Is no surer way to bewilder the agent than to force him repeatedly to change his course, and often there is no more certain way to doom theadical change Inaa for example from one ethnic group to another, will be wholly incompatible with the pattern of activity already established by the agent, and It may be Incompatible with his basic cover.
Frequent organizational and personnel changeserviceuccession of officers with differing views Into control of cover operations, and some new officers are prone to make changes before they fully understand the intent of theirSometimes deep-cover operations are diverted and exposed for the sake of expediency: the chronic urgencies in some unsettled areas lead, sometimes Justifiably, to theof cover resources to purposes for which they were not originally intended. Much less Justified are those purely administrative urgencies whichervice loonofflclal-cover agentoutine and perhaps Insecure operation because someone Is needed and he happens to be at hand. Operations in which such hasty resort is made toare usually characterized by general Lazily: thelimits of the cover are overstepped, the elements of risk are glossed over, and tradecraft Is Ignored. One Long-range agent who was well established In his cover and had obtained good access to targets was assigned toeparting case officer In charge of an operation that was already com promised; he had to be withdrawn from theew months later. The agent was lost without benefit to the operation. Long-range operations demand consistency.
progress and Production
The unorthodox nature of the deep-cover agenteed to Judge his work by different standards from those used in evaluating the performance of persons under official cover. Even among themselves deep-cover operations differ from one another, and their value cannot be determined by anycriteria. Some operations officers, who may complain loudly when deep-cover operations are put through the budget wringer along with the rest of the^wash, areistiU -prone to>hrasureHHelr*yBJue" with the same yardstick they use for other agent operations, that is production statistics. Some officers, on the other hand, miy go to the opposite extreme, treating the agents as sleepers and demanding patience and the long-range view without giving any Inkling of the time and manner of the awakening.
The right view, of course, Is In the happy medium, aeasier to state than to define. The long-range agent should not be pressured to produce as soon as he is In place, but except In rare cases he Isleeper, exempt from all operational performance. In the preceding section we have described tasks he can perform from the very start, tasks that will contribute to his training and experience, maintain his interest and morale, and sometimes be of Immediate value to the station. These tasks will also hasten the day when hetruly operational. If no Intelligence production IsIn the early stage, there must still be progress, and the operation should be Judged by the operational headway It makes toward Its objective, according to an estimate ofonabte expectations outlined In advance.
A premature demand from headquarters for production may change tbe case officer's concern from operational progress to project Justification, he mayesult direct the agent towards readily accessible targets, and the operation win haveewownong-rangeoperation deserves headquarters' patience; but headquarters In turn Is entitled to progress, and eventually to production. There Is no placeature service for the epitapherminated operation that It had beenvaluable as experience" although it had produced
nothing or for the consolatory viewalingering agent thatot producing but "his cover Is excellent"
The goal of clandestine intelligence operations la theof clandestine Information. If thereajor defect In an operation, that Is If It Is apparent that It cannot and will not become productive. It should be terminated In order to give the case officer time to develop better operation* To the question, when should one expect production to begin? there is no single answer, because circumstances vary with the op-
dabMt"Is probably not^
progressing towards production. Thereatural reluctance tooing operation, even If it Is not going anywhere It was once reported In the review of an operation thatind of operational Inertia set In. and It was easier for allto let the operation run than to terminate it and sort out theut to prolong an unsuccessful venture on mere hope or through force of habit Is an expensive exercise In futility.
long-range cover operations will always be difficult toand to maintain, and there Isertainty ofThey are always vulnerable In the sense that one weak element can nullify the excellence of all the others, and even the soundest cover operation can be destroyed by pure bad luck. But although one can never be sure of success, the odds against it can certainly be reduced. They can be reduced by not persisting in doing things the hard way. The recrult-ment of suitable agents already under natural cover and the transfer to career contract agent status of staff agents who make goodover organization can limit the use of staff agents in long-range cover operations and spare much of tbe grief that stems from their morale problems and their tight-fitting, buttons-in-the-back administrative suit, with salary adjustments, bonus kickbacks, covert tax returns, and so on.
Chances of success can be improvedore basic way by keeping In check the habits and the tempo that sometimes ooze over from official cover practices to nonofflclal cover, with lamentable results. NonofScial cover requires, not theefficiency of the assembly-line worker, but the pa-
tlent Inventiveness of the artisan, and an official-coverIs especially harmful to operations Intended for long-term coverage of sensitiveepetition of previous mistakes is generally the result of congenital hasteondness for short cuts: long-term cover operations allow few concessions to expediency.
This paper has laid particular stress on planning andbecause the early period is decisive;ertain point the die Is cast and little .can be done to lmproreorannd yet. though totally sterile) it may continue for years, at great expense andime-consuming treadmill for the case officer In whose lap It falls. That Is why long-range cover operations require patient and painstaking effort from start to finish.Original document.