“It’s a very dangerous and lonely thing, I imagine, to be a spy: to have friendships that are deceptions, that are not honest.” — Mark Rylance
“We at Crypto International have never had any relationship with the CIA or BND — and please quote me.” — Andreas Linde
. . . . . . . The CIA is a many-tentacled kraken that uses countless techniques in its bid to harvest all the information of the world. Much like Google claims to be the public face of capital-I Information, the CIA covers the dark side of that moon with its programs and devices and people which all go into ferreting out the unknown, and sticking it in a government folder.
. . . . . . . The CIA is generally nonviolent. They practice deception on a large scale to ensure that nobody gets hurt. In fact, the world of spies is surprisingly peaceful. Though there are executions from time to time — or imprisonments of local spies who have betrayed the fatherland — the spying environment is kept peaceful because the spies of all backgrounds and nations want to go on living. If spying descended to a brutal level, then everyone would suffer, so everyone generally agrees to practice deception and not James Bond-style gunplay and fists.
. . . . . . . One of the deceptions the CIA uses is to stage academic conferences. Say it wants to recruit a scientist from Iran’s nuclear program: it establishes a fake scientific conference and issues an invite to the event to targeted scientists from that country. Iran might send bodyguards to watch over the scientist, but the CIA has ways to get around that, including “bumping” into the attendee at the “conference” “accidentally” and building up a relationship. At the critical moment they announce I’m from the CIA and I want to take you to the United States.
. . . . . . . The U.S. has such a strong allure in world culture. California is perhaps the most desirable place on Earth in which to live, earthquakes notwithstanding. But even places like Boston or Minneapolis have charm in the world’s eyes, despite their cold climates. The U.S. can get someone to defect based on the premise of the Good Life, something American capitalism can generate for the top half of the population at the very least. If you love McDonald’s and enjoy Miller beer, then America is the homeland for you. There’s a fucking McDonald’s on every corner, and the beer … well, there’s a joke in Canada where I’m from. What’s the similarity between American beer and sex on a pond? They’re both fucking close to water. But I kid. Americans love their beer, and Budweiser claims to be king of it all (the Europeans might differ on this … Heineken and Guinness especially. But I digress.)
. . . . . . . The CIA isn’t the only American spying agency, of course. While it concentrates on foreign espionage, the FBI handles domestic threats. A tool in the FBI arsenal is the Carnivore computer program, written to allow FBI officials to monitor someone’s electronic communications, based on a workstation with a removable Jaz disk drive. Now in its DCS1000 incarnation, Carnivore or its descendants have been around for more than a generation of human time. This form of ELINT is invaluable because it’s cheap and effective. Electronic intelligence (ELINT) in general is to be preferred to human intelligence because it’s cleaner and less fuzzy. Everything is clear-cut in the ELINT world. You have the hardcopy of the email, you know what the terms in the email refer to, you have a closed case, open and shut.
. . . . . . . The most successful spy ever recruited by the CIA in Moscow was Adolf Tolkachev. He was an engineer working in airborne radar. Technicians are useful for spymasters because they have hard data. Tolkachev helped confirm that U.S. cruise missiles would bypass Soviet defenses successfully. He painted a picture of a future war that would help the United States win it (nukes notwithstanding).
. . . . . . . Meeting a score of times with his CIA masters, Tolkachev managed to elude the dense anti-CIA thicket of KGB operatives who roamed Moscow’s streets. Tolkachev was an American bargain. In exchange for a little money and some American record albums for his kid, he saved American TWO BILLION DOLLARS in weapons research and development. He practically paid for part of the CIA’s budget for a year.
. . . . . . . And that’s the final lesson of spycraft: You’re operating ultimately to make your country more efficient, i.e. more profitable. For what is profit but the implementation of efficient measures? Nations are like megamegacorporations: they exist to serve their shareholders. In the case of national policy, the shareholders are the common citizens of the United States. Efficiency works for the benefit of the Average Joe, drinking his coffee, chewing his burger, sitting on the bumper of his pickup truck. Actually, a picture should hang in the CIA, not by Kathy Krantz Fieramosca, but a photograph instead of a man sitting on his Ford F-150 (“Tougher than ever” — Ford website.) Americans are tough, hardy people, despite their beer bellies, who demand the finest in Intel. The CIA meets that need admirably. Although the VA hospitals are not as good as Johns Hopkins, the government and its civilian contractors do an elite job in the military and in spying. The M-1 tank … and the Tolkachev CIA handler. Both are among the best in the world. The lesson for America’s enemies? Like the rapper says, If you’re going to come at the king, you’d best not miss. Osama bin Laden found out that lesson when he got a bullet to the head. (Song: BULLET TO THE HEAD, BULLET TO THE HEAD, YOU MESSED WITH AMERICA, NOW YOU’RE DEAD.)