Dangers Of Counterintelligence

The task of counterintelligence is to figure out what the other side is doing, how they are deceiving us, what double agents they have planted in our midst. Counterintelligence is predicated on double deceiving and triple deceiving the other side into believing fictions nested within fictions, always leavened with some facts, just enough to seem real.

Counterintelligence a dangerous game. You have to be willing to sacrifice pawns to save queens. Those pawns may be local agents but nothing you have told them, no promises or pledges, can stand in the way of letting them go when you have to, letting them be tortured or killed or imprisoned for life to protect a plan of action.

Many counterintelligence experts, like James Angleton come to suspect everyone. Whenever a mole was uncovered in our ranks, Angleton believed that he had been allowed to discover that mole to protect a bigger one, higher up.

You see how the Mobius strip twists back onto itself. Every successful operation is suspect. If you discover double agents in your own ranks, it is because the other side wanted you to find them. The more important the agent you uncover, that is how much more important must be the one you have not yet found.

It takes a particular kind of person to do this sort of work. Not everyone is cut out for distrusting everybody and everything, for thinking that whatever they accomplish, they were allowed to do it to protect something more important. Daily life for most people means accepting the facts of life at face value and trusting the transactions in which we are engaged, trusting the meaning of words, trusting that there is firm ground under our feet.

Otherwise we inevitably tend where Angleton tended. Every defector considered a plant, every double agent considered a triple agent, everyone in the American network considered compromised. Angleton tore the agency apart looking for the mole he was sure the moles he found were protecting.

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