In their own (code) words: 3

Welcome back to another edition of ‘in their own (code) words’ wherein we look at the words of the world’s spymasters. I’m looking at Allen Dulles’ rather stolid The Craft of Intelligence, written in 1963. Dulles (1893-1969) had a long and storied career in intelligence, including a role as the first civilian director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This week, we’re looking at one of the side effects of the espionage game — paranoia. Once you know that not only should you not believe everything, but that you shouldn’t believe most things, and the things that you do believe might be deliberately constructed to look like things that you shouldn’t believe, meaning that you should believe them… well, what can you really believe in at that point?

A short bit from Dulles this week:

When one deliberately misleads, sometimes friend as well as foe is misled. And later the deceiver may not be believed when he wishes to be. This is the situation of the Soviets today after Cuba.

Often the very fear of deception has blinded an opponent to the real value of information which accidents or intelligence operations have placed in his hands.

As Sir Walter Scott wrote:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!

If you suspect an enemy of constant trickery, then almost anything that happens can be taken as one of his tricks. A collateral effect of deception, once a single piece of deception has succeeded in its purpose, is to upset and confuse the opponent’s judgement and evaluation of other intelligence he may receive. He will be suspicious and distrustful. He will not want to be caught off guard.

This post originally appeared on the Mister 8 website (December 4th, 2009).

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