TITLB: Experience With Types Of Agent Motivation
AUTHOR: Paul Tolliue
A collection ol articles on the historical. operational, doctrinal, and theoreiical aspccis ot ittelUoence.
All siaicmcnis of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies 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 Govemmeni entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
On the importance of knowingoreign agent works for money, ideals, venture, dig-nitp.or love, and what Uis he loves.
EXPERIENCE WITH TYPES OF AGENT MOTIVATION Paul Tollius
Laic In Worldoung, relatively Inexperienced Chief ofad an eye-opening introduction to human motives for intelligence agentty The young Moroccanin my office at the American Legation in Tangier was said to have worked very successfully for the Germans in the past. He was now offering to collaborate with tbe United States. His motive for changing over, and indeed the conditionto his offer, be made clear, waso away with his rival for the handair maiden Uving in Tctuan. over in the Spanishhought he was Joking, and must have betrayed my incredulousnessealized that he was absolutelyave to confess that our interview that day failed to produce any plan for collaboration.
At our second meeting,anaged (withoutto do his unworthy rival in) to persuade him to furnish some proof of his own worthiness, the good faith of his offer. On the spot be tendered the Informationons of canned fish consigned to Germany were being stored under our very noses,uge warehouse near Uie Legation. The German intelligence services had bought It some time back, he said, but as German and neutral ships had become scarcer and scarcer they had not yetay to get it to aport.
We found the fish, mostly tunny, just as he had described it;ever saw the agent again. The full story of histook some reconstructing. His original bloodthirsty proposition may have been prompted by unwarrantedfrom the fact that another Moroccan who had worked for tho Germans had been found dead in the well on the proo-
crtyived in Tangier.hink he (ell in trying toget
a drink.)When the agent realized teom his flxst contact
me that there was little likelihood of our literallyaxe on his rival, he made us the instrument for as
low as he was able to deliver him at the moment: It was the rival'searned later, when as Allied1 took over the German consular files in Spanish Morocco, who had sold the fish to the Germans. They had paid him. but left the fish for cover in his name, and he was hoping against hope that it would never be delivered, that the ending of the war would leave him with both the money and the fish.
Motives and hesvlts The brief collaboration of my Moroccan did not Justify any
great psychoanalytical effort on my part, but the motivation
ontinuing agent is, or should be, the subject of constant
study on the part of his case officer. Why ise arethe desired results out of an agent, that we worry about his motivation? Given the complexity of human behavior, you may say. the determination of any but the mostmotivesob for an expert, and If we like what the agent Is producing we shouldn't particularly care why heit.
Maybe we shouldn't, until something goes wrong; but ifby then It is likely to be too late. Results, the takeoperation, are withoutrimaryso is the agent's possible dlssa flection if it shouldhis passing our Information to the enemy. And eventhat extreme,ase officer knows what It ishis agent he cannot know to what lengths thego, freely or under pressure, what risks he is willingat what point he will break, tell anotherwhat he is doing, or simply stop producing.is really more important than learning Just whyIs willing to take the chances entailed in And the closer the case officer comesrue
ment of his agents motivation, the more Ukcly that
be able touccessful, long-term operation.
The experience of almost twenty yearsSifcJv..dling of agents has begun to provide usody of knowl-
edge about their psychology from which it should beto;'generalizations:he subject, several types ol needs or wants which lead men to become agents can be distinguished and described. There is the ideologically motivatedind that was notto find during the war. There Is the seeker for personalafter the defeat of Germany, the same agent who had earlier been motivated by the highest principles. There Is the agent pursuing one aspect or another of financial gain, the camp-follower of intelligence networks sinceman first spied on enemy tribes. There is the adventurer, the hater, the criminal, the patriot, the man driven byzeal.
Ethically, the motives can be noble, crass, or base,elieve this moral scale is not without useful application in the assessment of anew case histories may serve to show how the value of an operation is affected by theof the agent's motivation and by our understanding it.
The "Practical" Mercenary
The agent who is working for purely "practical"be expected to play it practical all the way.eminently practical step he can take is to keep theservice or the police of his own country informedhe is doing,ind of insurance policy againstoccupational hazard of spying. This is why theagent is suspect It is not man's normal nature toof fear when he is doing dangerous work. Althoughagent who frightens you by his disregard forunfortunately youris fearlesshe is not well balanced, the lack of fear is mostto "reinsurance" with the local service. And it Isbefore the agent who is in touch with his ownto wonder what the Russians or anotherwould pay for what he knows. If he doesnt getby himself, his local service Is likely to give himhelp in establishing contact with other services-
There may, of course, be practical reasons for notthis irisuxance.
haps had convinced himself, that be was not working for the
money but out otmercenaries wtl) nottheir trueposedieoretical*question,'about one ot my other agents.sked,this man, since he was working solely for money, go to the police of his country and tell them about his activityeans ofe replied, "the police would have made him tum over most of his pay tohism certain, that tbe police, corrupt in many countries of the world, wouldarge cut, is the only deterrentood many mercenary agents from keeping the local police or intelligence service fully Informed
The Ideological Zealot
Among the Ideologically inspired agents plentiful during andime after the war, of particular interest were the anti-Franco Spaniards, and especially those of Socialist bent, those whose frustration and pent-up fury had been wreaked on the Communists during the last grim defense of Madrid. Case officers who recruited Spanish Socialist agents early in World War II from the refugee camps in French Africa haveto their vitality and devotion to the Allied cause. Most Spanish Socialists withecame acquainted wereby the expectation that the Allies would finish thelr wartime Job by effecting Franco'shain of these men withame in contact5 lived with the hope that their efforts would culminate in the defeat andnot only of Hitler but of the dictatorship in Spain. These agents worked unsparingly and with fervor.
enewed contact with groups of theset first found their motivation cooled but their work still sustained by the same hope. When5 the UN. countries had recalled their ambassadors from Franco Spain, there had been general elationeeling among them that their objective was finally in sight But in0 the United States and other UN. powers resumed diplomatic relations with Franco. Now the bottom fell out of these agents'
Their disillusion soon began to color their work.lose scrutiny of their efforts as reflected In their reportsubstantial falling off In both the quality and thet information produced. As good case officers, we made every
effort to revitalise their spirit and motivate them anew. This effort; continued for several years,inal assessment convinced us that the spark was gone, the desire to work. intelligence no longer there. Not only in theseother Spanish republican elements scattered around the world, particularly in France and Latin America, had also lost heart. Our worst problem was with those who remained agents. In spite of having concluded that the fight was over, for entirely practical considerations, the necessity ofivelihood. Continuing to go through the motions and in some instances camouflaging their disinterest, they were harder to assess and more troublesome to terminate when their contribution had become of questionable value.
The Patriot, Bound by Personal Tie
An agentad inherited from. agencyuestionable Individual We were in great doubt about bis true reason for working for tbe United States and had some reason to believe that his close acquaintance with Communist leaders in his country might mean, not that heenetration of the Party on our part, but that heommunistas constantly pushing him to prove by the revelation of Communist Party secrets that he was in fact on our side We spent the better partear In close fencing over this issue, and during thisook great care about what leads were given him.
evolution, rather bloody for his peace-lovingcountry, broke out. He was In the midst of the fighting and obviously very close to the Communist element which bore the brunt of the battle. Before the finalin which the Communist element was routed, the agent sought refuge in myid him for some three days. Whether because his presence was suspected or becauseot of sniping was coming from the direction of myas called on by armed riflemen wanting to search theold themoice loud enough to be heard by the agent in hidingould not permit them to search the home of an American diplomat but thatad nothing toould be glad to have them in and talk with them. They were young boys, obviously nervousifle,(more friendly than hostile.
came Inroughtozen cans ofTbe beerappy Choice, something they had
had and all that was needed to distract them. Theymore Interested In carrying this loot off to their
rades than In searching the house. They were inurry to go that one young man forgot his riflead to call him back forew days later,eep with license plates bearing the Americanrove the agentundred miles Into the back country to his father-ln-law'a home. He emerged when things had quieted down andto work.
Whatever his leanings may have been before, this agent never forgot his rescuerecarious situation. Before this incident, he told roe years later, he had fell that the United States never trusted him and he therefore had little reason to trust us. He feared that we were even capable of ejnposlng him to the Communists. Throughout the next ten years he proved beyond doubt bis devotion and honest intent to serve the aims. intelligence.
Double Agent or Regenerate Adventurer?
An agent's motivation can be changed, cither byor through the efforts of an interested andofficer. Some of the less desirable motivehatred, love of adventure,beareful program of indoctrination designedout whatever finer purposes the agent has. Evenof the enemy-controlled agent can be and hasthrough this process combined with asuperior tradecrafl. It is surprising to see the effect onagent, one whose whole aim has been to serve hismaster faithfully, when he comes to believe that theofficer is the superior of bis Russian handler. Thisskill, coupled with bits of mteUigence calculated tohim that we know infinitely more about him andthan he ever suspected, causes him to wonderIs working for the wrong or losing
It is often necessary to work with an agent when the dlrec- - - of his primary allegiance Is not clear and histo fathom. One such agent came to our.
by virtue of his contactnown Soviet intelligence offl-
cer. Our preliminary investigation ol him had not even
begun when it was reported from another area that the
had come in and told the story ot his work for the Soviet case officer. He came quiteact verified by closeand substantiated by his willingness to help entrap the Soviet case officer and get him declared persona non grata. He admitted freely, however, that his walking in to confess waseans of buying insurance with the authorities of his own and. government It was also, although he did not sayeans for protecting his jobteamship line which regularly called. ports.
Probably the best present test for double agentrylose analysis of the importance of the agent's take and theof the target to which he has access. There are few intelligence services today that willinglyouble agent access to highly sensitive material.lose scrutiny of the use of this agent by the Russians led us to believe that they may have planned that he eventually become andouble agent The peculiarity of the requirements givenprocurement of unclassified material with limited commercial distribution, for example, material thecould get through any number ofus to the conclusion that they were being used for test assignments.
Further, the usually penurious Soviets seemed eager to pay exorbitant prices for this material, evidence that they believed the agent's motivation to be monetary and were building up inependence on his new Income. The superficialconclusion that the agent was motivated by greed was derived from his having bargained hard when first contacted, rationalizing his act in working for an unfriendly service with the justification that If be made them pay enough his crime would become honorable or at least forgivable.
While it was evident that this agent needed money and that this need motivated him. motivation is rarely simple,only one element It Is as complicated as human nature, and changes with changing circumstances. This man had got
along without moneyong time, and fundamentally
was not the type to whom money meant much. When be had
It he spent it; when broke he cut down to cigarettes andis fixed weekly pay from the steamship line covered the sup-
port of his estranged wife and chUdren. Be must, we thought.
be driven by some fnore compellingv.
We kept the agent under close observation, usingand technical means. It gradually becamebe considered his life to dale pretty much atwo marriages badailure. Although besuccessful with women, now in middle age theof the chase was gone.ess than morose orstock-taking of bis own worthwhileness, he hadthat his ledger was heavily weighted on the
We could only theorize, on the basis of our study, that he wanted somehow to do something worth while for himself and country. By chance he had become involvedather shady business which he finally recognized as an opportunity lo do something against the Russians and for the West This was the only solid reason we could find for his decision to carry on In the work. And If eyebrows should be raised at thisIt can be added that he also needed money, the most common motivation of tbe cold-war agent, and that he was intrigued at the Idea ofspy."
Was this enough to explain what made him tick? It would have lo be, for the present, until the rope from which all agents dangle became so short as to reveal his soul. Sooner or later we would know, but probably notood long time, perhaps not until after his termination.
The Hungerer after Recognition
An intelligent European exiled from his native landthrough his ability and hardind ofIn his adopted country. He was an intense, strangewhose driving force permitted him no rest and whosecharacter defied analysis. He was recruited by awho spoke his native tongue and was ableersonal rapport that made for successful Among other things, this officer didn't
that the agent dictated bis reports, using him asf,
On the departure of this case officer the agentounger, less experienced one, who had been born ilver spoon in bis mouth. At bottom democraticawawa.
basically unaffected, he nevertheless usuaUyleft anot aloofness and perhaps miidescension'on'many less well bom. This new case officer found It unpalatable to actecretary. In meeting after meeting he cajoled the agent to write out his reports. Be tried every trick and gimmick to this end. While the agent became more and more taciturn and stubborn, the officer grew Increasingly determined that he would get him to write rather thanear of effort along these lines ended Innce productive operation barren.
iew to salvaging thisompleteof the agent was nowareful scrutiny led to the conclusion that the agent's work for us was based largelyesire to be accepted as an equal by the service. He also wanted to be accepted In the American community and in diplomatic circles. He needed this recognition both for its own sake andeans of expanding bis businesshis analysis was correct, he should respond to carefully arranged invitations to cocktail parties of the localand diplomaticew case officer who couldsuch invitations was assigned, and be effected aabout-face on the part of the agent The question of dictating reports was never brought up. and after each party the reports began to flow as never before.
This is the case of Mr. X, exiled one-time general secretaryuropean Communist Party, who in his late fifties showed the physical tollife divided between open andstruggle butental giant beside thethen leading the Party he hadhort, bent, burly, grey-haired myopic, shambling along on his cane, whose very quietnesseil to cover the dangerous quality lurkinglowed and greying but still fierce bear.
He had challenged Stalin's high-handedness and come out only slightly scarred. He had beenrisoner for some months in Moscow, but was finally released to return borne. Ultimately he broke with the Kremlin. His brother-in-law, who had also been released from prison In Moscow, withiderably less prudence continued his Party contacts. In a
street rendezvous with Kremlin agentsesterncity he was stabbed to death.
Now Stalin was dead and the Sovietsack.the Communist Party he had become an
lelt-wtng Socialist. The Kremlinoncluded, wanted to replace the Party leaders In his native land. These had been hand-picked by Stalin and were undoubtedly somewhat suspect,
A contact of mine wholose friendalled on me urgently one day to report that an important Soviet official had visited X. The Russian had offeredrip to Moscow to talk things overiew to resuming the Partyin hisad turned the proposition down. My contact believed, however, that he could get him to reconsider and accept. backing. Controlled general secretaries are not easy to comeaseal try.
Every means we could muster and many hours of work and planning went Into this venture. It was of noould not go back. He feared he would meet the same fate as his brother-in-law if the Russians ever got him into the Soviet Union. He was eager to establish himself favorably in the eyes of the West but gave good reasons why he could not undertake this operation: ir he went back and even became general secretary again, he would still have to do as the Kremlin told him on all major matters. He was sureeneral secretary wasuppet He no longer believed In Communism and would soon be
found out by thewould do nothing that might reflect on his sincerityto socialism or that could unfavorablyroleew government in his country. It wascards that sooner orew governmentformed in which socialism would, after an Interim,
an important if not dominant role. He was mortally afraid of tbe Russians.
X did agree to another Russianeeting ^
France or Italy to discuss their plan, and was willing to go
. backing If weistinct prior understanding that he would accept no Russian proposal to return to the fold. This opportunity to explore exactly what the Russians had In mind was deemed not worth to the United States the costound tripnd his wife. It was rejected, and this was the end offfair.
It should have been fairly evident to us from thehat he could not be Induced to go back toby our glowing offers. Although he workediving, money was no inducement. He had no burning desire for revenge, nor was he attracted by the possibility ofthe Russians. From our viewpoint his motivation was negative. His having no children or close relatives blocked another channel through which some agents can be enticed. For this operation his basic Interests were diametricallyto our desires.
Nevertheless we had doggedly persisted. In insisting on the allefused we ended up with nothing. We failed to develop the obviously more realistic opportunity toey man and continuing bait for the Russians. Surely what the Russians had really planned was to use him as aof the Socialist Party; this must have been the main reason they wished to rehabilitate him.ad been agreeableorking arrangement which might even have given us time tootive he did not now have. We failed because we did not understand the motivation of the agent; we had lost sight of the agent's own desires.adeaker character and we had been able to persuade him to accept the Russian offer, it would haveorry affair indeed.
Ethics and Pragmatics
These cases illustrate how motives noble, crass, and base are made to serve intelligence objectives, but not with equal value. It can be argued that full control of an agent is more readily achieved if he is motivated by some base desire or want: the unprincipled man soon compromises himself,himself to blackmail, or falls subject to some other hold. It is my view that no type of crook can be trusted and that the best agents will be found among those who ore moved by the nobler purposes.
Some Intelligence officer* scoff at motivation based onand respect.'feeling that neither Is necessary or evenAs each caseatter for the individual agent and the Individual officer, It is certainly true that operations have been run in which even hostility was the order of thebetween them There are agents considered so low and despicable by the case officer that the working relationship has been reduced to pure physical control and mtimidatlon. In my view, these agents won't last, are the source of many double agents, and are intrinsically unworthy of the time and money they cost. The crass and base desires, perhaps good enough for the short haul, are not of the itufl that will pay off over any prolonged period of time.
The higher motives, such as ideological zealarent's aspirations for his children, or religious devotion, are extremely reliable ones. In my own experience the best agent motivation has been his respect for the case officer and friendship with him. backed by an Identity, even Ifotal one, between his alms and the basic aims of the United Suites and its allies. There can be no question, even among those who may think these views ingenuous, that the case officer must know as nearly as possible what it is that drives bis agent on.Original document.