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Ted Shackley on recruiting foreign agents


David Andrews
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Ted Shackley's autobiography Spymaster discusses CIA techniques for recruiting foreign nationals working in a third country as covert agents. The method may be useful to studies of Oswald at home and abroad.

"…nstallation penetration, more than any other type of intelligence operation, requires teamwork – between the surveillance team manager, the telephone tap coordinator, the tape transcriber, and the access agent. In the latter category, I liked to have the target in touch with a local from the country where he was assigned, be it a businessman or a diplomat from the Foreign Ministry. Then, for the different view that this gave, I tried to have a third-country national in touch with him. Third, I always liked to have an American who knew him, who could develop him slowly over a long period of time, in place as the least aggressive of the three. The idea was to weave a cocoon around the target, to dominate his time.

"Then, finally, there were the recruiter and the agent handler, not always two different people, but frequently so. It often happened that in the preliminaries leading up to recruitment, the new agent got to know a lot about the recruiter. In such cases it might be considered prudent to let the recruiter fade out of the picture and be replaced by a man or woman who could maintain a clandestine relationship with the agent.

"To complete the matrix, the agent handler needed the support of specialists at headquarters if the limited time he had available for meetings with his agent was to be made as profitable as possible. The agent, if his absences from his usual haunts were not to be noticed by his colleagues, might be able to spend only thirty minutes with his handler. Some of this time had to be spent in social chit-chat and some talk about the agent’s problems. (Most of them did have problems.) This might leave as little as ten minutes for the agent handler to ask his agent questions and obtain vital answers, the end product of all the work that had gone before. It was and is headquarters’ responsibility to ensure that the right questions are asked so that this time will not be wasted."

Ted Shackley with Richard A. Finney, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, 2005, Potomac Books, Inc., Dulles VA.

Edited by David Andrews
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