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Tradecraft

The Covert Comic

 

Secret 923.6.  You are what you can neither confirm nor deny.

The following document contains proven principles of intelligence tradecraft, as compiled and officially not published by CIA officer John Alejandro King.

In the intelligence world, tradecraft refers to the set of techniques employed by espionage officers to ensure the secure and fruitful conduct of intelligence operations.  These techniques include the collection and transmission of sensitive information, care and handling of agents, covert political and/or paramilitary action, the securing of book deals, film rights, merchandising agreements, etc.

Aspiring and established spooks alike are encouraged to study and internalize the concepts in this document, and officially not put them into practice in their own intelligence careers.

 

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The , the whole  and nothing but the .

... So help me .

 

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Secret 653124141.  Experience is a double agent.

  

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The possession of facts is knowledge; the use of facts is wisdom; the creation of facts is covert action.

 

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Not only are things not what they appear to be, they're not even what they are.

 

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Secret 1.1.  In the beginning was the Classification, and the Classification was with the Word, and the Classification was the Word.

 

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Actionable intelligence.  1. (CIA Headquarters) Information, typically sensitive, the obtainment of which enables the furthering of US policy objectives.  2. (CIA Hindquarters) Information, typically insensitive, the obtainment of which enables the furthering of universal fertility objectives.

 

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They are also clueless, who already know the answer.

 

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Secret 6.329.  The contact you're cold pitching is always you.

 

 

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Note: the following information should be treated as sensitive.  It has feelings too.

 

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Infiltration is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

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Secret 9591514.  If history is written in blood, it's redacted with urine.

 

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Anyone without a trace of spy dust on their person is a spy.

  

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Secret 29916091.  It may be easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, but it's smarter to get ordered to do it. 

 

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A CIA intelligence estimate is only as inaccurate as its subject matter.

 

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Secret 5691316.  Never confuse power with greatness.  Power is far greater than greatness.

     

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My mother used to tell me: “Always wash between your ears.”

 

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Sex in the future will be much like it is today.  That is, it'll be in the future.

 

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Transparency implies cover.

 

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If you write on the mirror with your finger before it steams up, you're CIA material.

        

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Any first-year analyst can tell you what's happening.  But it takes a seasoned intelligence professional to show that nothing's happening at all. 

    

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The E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. Principle

When practicing tradecraft, highly decorated intelligence officers employ the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle.   Use the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle in your own intelligence operations each and every day!

 

E stands for ESPIONAGE.

Comment: This is to help you remember that it's called the 'E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E.' principle.

S stands for SPYING. 

Comment: Interestingly, the word 'spy' comes from the word 'espionage.'  Knowing this fact can further assist you in remembering the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle, and can make you fun at parties (which are often useful venues for intelligence gathering).

P stands for PRACTICE.

Comment: Always practice good tradecraft (and always practice memorizing the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle!).

I stands for INTELLIGENCE.

Comment: In the US Intelligence Community we practice the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle because we know we can never have enough intelligence.

O stands for OPERATIONS. 

Comment: Useful intelligence is the result of effective intelligence operations.  Effective intelligence operations are the result of good tradecraft.  Good tradecraft is the result of constantly studying the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle.  Constantly studying the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle is the manifestation of a deep-seeded inner hunger that is ultimately inseparable from one's essential being.  One's essential being is the expression either of the willful act of an intelligent creator, or evolutionary mechanisms such as natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, and/or gene flow.  Which of these constitutes the true source of essential being is a fundamental question of human existence.  Whatever the answer turns out to be, I think we can agree that good tradecraft, and hence the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle, are sure to play a key role in helping humankind figure it all out.

N stands for NON-DISCLOSURE.  

Comment: A critical element of tradecraft is the protection of classified information, sources and methods.  For this reason, you should never disclose the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle to uncleared persons.  But if you're thinking 'How does he know I'm not an uncleared person?' please see below.

A stands for AGENT.

Comment: In the intelligence world, an agent is a person recruited by an operations officer to provide sensitive information regarding the plans and intentions of a foreign government and/or multinational media corporation, as well as promote that officer's memoirs, spy novel, screenplay or other manuscript, negotiate film, video game, reality TV, action figure and/or other rights, and otherwise protect and enhance our national security.

G stands for .

Comment: .

E stands for ESPIONAGE. 

Comment: That's right, espionage again!  It's a way of coming full circle to the realization that good tradecraft begins, and ends, with the E.S.P.I.O.N.A.G.E. principle! 

 

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Secret 100268.  The more important the briefing, the fewer the people in the room, toward a limit of -.

 

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Dead drop.  A location and/or process utilized for passing messages between intelligence operatives such that the operatives aren't required to physically meet.  Examples of dead drops include hollowed out tree trunks, hidden niches along footpaths, draft folders in obscure e-mail accounts, and being married.

 

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I have a strong sense of moral purpose.  I can typically detect moral purpose from well over a kilometer away.

 

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According to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, you can know the position on key issues of a foreign head of state you've recruited, or how fast he or she is fleeing the country, but not both at the same time. 

    

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If I'm no bigger than the things that annoy me, then I'm potentially as big as the things I annoy.

 

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The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to fill out and submit a Possibility Limits Discovery Request Form.

   

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Secret 92.11.  If it's a covert operation, you deny that you did it, but you don't necessarily deny it happened.  If it's a clandestine operation, you deny it happened, but you don't necessarily deny that you did it.

 

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The hell with cutting to the chase – let's cut straight to the crash.

 

 

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Secret 84910211.  Who gets briefed is what gets briefed.

 

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Official cover.  Notional employment affiliation – typically 'backstopped’ – assigned to and used as an operational facade by a covert intelligence officer.  (See 'self,' 'universe,' 'God').

 

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Secret 23580614965015.0.  Toward an upper limit of five, for each word in the Executive Summary of a National Intelligence Estimate he or she actually reads, a policymaker's influence on policy making decreases by twenty percent.

 

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If charity begins at home, I bet I know in which room.

 

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My wife thinks I'm suffering from depression, but I'm just experiencing a reduction in gross domestic product over two consecutive quarters.

 

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There's nothing I wouldn't do on your behalf, if I could just get my hands on it.

 

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Tolerance and hatred aren't mutually incompatible, they're mutually indispensable.

 

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Carpe diem dulcis: Seize a nice day!

  

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I've never been caught up in a love triangle, but I have had sex in a pentagon.

 

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Secret 8.i.m.  Gentlemen do not read each other's mail.  They write it.

  

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A tiger can't eat you if you hide in a lion's stomach.

 

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If problems are opportunities in disguise, opportunities are work in drag.

 

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Secret 9861046.1.  Never place a romantic interest above an intelligence relationship, unless the three of you are comfortable in that position.

   

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Any man who has to be taught how to fish probably has a limited life expectancy anyway.

 

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Fortune favors the brave.  They taste crunchier.

   

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For a mid-level government employee, James Bond sure doesn't seem to get much sex.

 

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Insensitive data.  Data that’s callous or inconsiderate, deficient in sensibility, lacking in acuteness of feeling or/and unclassified.

 

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Actually, real charity should care if it's tax deductible or not – if it is, it can donate the tax refund to charity.

 

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There's nae business like spae business.

  

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Secret 8391924.  Sometimes down and out is better than up and in.

  

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St. Genesius is the patron saint of clowns and lawyers.  Clearly, the Lord doesn't always work in mysterious ways.   

 

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Money isn't everything, but it's anything.

 

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I have nothing against an open society.  Some of my best friends are open societies.

 

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Death before dishonor.  One thing at a time.

 

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The only alternative to co-existence is co-extinction.  And even then the difference is mostly packaging.

  

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It's doux diligence where I come from.

         

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If there's no magic bullet, how do you explain all the magic bullet holes?

 

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Please don't insult my intelligence – my sources are doing the best they can.

   

 

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The world is your safe house. 

 

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Secret 9780309084369 .  Never lie on a polygraph.  The needles get all bent, then they ask you even more questions.

 

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It's not a 'loophole,' it's a policy flexibility assurance aperture.

 

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Technically speaking, you can't be incompetent and corrupt.

    

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Sensitive But Unclassified is the poor man's For Official Use Only.

 

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A whisper is a porn link everyone clicks.

  

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If the Information Age is over, why are you telling me?

 

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Einstein said: "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

Of course, good luck finding the "middle" of something in 4-dimensional curved space-time.

 

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Universal Intelligence Estimate

Kingdoms fall

Temples crumble

All because a girl

Consents to take a tumble

Kingdoms rise

Temples men construct

All because a girl

Declines to get amorous

      

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If you hear someone shouting 'Help!', go to them immediately – it may be first come first served.

 

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Whatever you smash, call an idol.

  

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Secret 3.25.1.  If your heart tells you one thing and your head another, give the deciding vote to your ass.

  

   

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Hold my government while I take over this drink. 

 

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Secret 35.44.30.  Countersurveil others as you would have others countersurveil you.

 

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3.0 x 100 cheers for scientific notation!

 

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Action may speak louder than words, but it's still just a bunch of talk.

 

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CIA brainwashing.  Wet brain and apply CIA liberally, gently massaging into lobes.  Rinse brain thoroughly.  Repeat as needed.

 

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I have overcome the desire for material things.  There's way more money in antimatter.

 

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Secret 6, 3-4.  Life is a false flag operation.

 

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Casual sex causes sexual casualties.  I got laid for coming up with that.

 

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The data isn't fudged, it's semi-sweetened.

  

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Plans and Intentions:

An Intelligence Typology

1.  In the Southern Hemisphere, the intention is to have a plan. 

2.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the plan is to have an intention.

 

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I'd rather look at all the trannies orbit me, than have a transorbital leukotomy.

 

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Real ultimate fighting means learning to be friends.

  

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Definition: Secret writing.  Writing.

 

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Why yin-yang?  Why not yang-yin?

 

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The state of confusion has more than two senators.

   

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What millions died that Caesar salad might be great.

 

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You'll never recruit a more valuable intelligence asset than yourself.  

That's what the CIA instructor told me when I flunked the training exercise.

 

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The ultimate invasion of privacy is privacy.

 

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Better to be a Christian fed to lions, than a lion fed to Christians.

    

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I'm not questioning that I shouldn't bite the hand that feeds me, I'm questioning whether that's a hand.

 

 

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Art infiltrates life.

 

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They pulled the rug out from on top of me. 

 

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If silence is golden, turning state's evidence is at least platinum.

  

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Robert Frost said “Hell is a half-filled auditorium.”

Obviously Frost never briefed an overcrowded SCIF.

  

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The CIA is changing.  We're slipping into something more comfortable. 

   

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Youth declares 'It fell.' 

Maturity confesses 'I dropped it.' 

Wisdom affirms 'It fell.'

 

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The United States does not employ the 'honey trap' method to recruit foreign intelligence assets.  The United States is the honey trap method.

 

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Secret 430.354.  Don't believe everything you be.

 

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The public enemy number is always one.

 

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How much of your to-do list is really a to-have-done-to-me list? 

 

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The Achilles' heel of Achilles' heel was Achilles.

 

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We say “I don't know whether I’m coming or going” ... as if it were somehow possible to do only one at a time.

 

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There's no such thing as finished intelligence, only finished intelligence officers.

 

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Canada was supposed to be a melting pot too, but the fuel lines to the heating element kept freezing.

 

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Secret 354.430.  When searching your soul, always check for false bottoms.

 

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We Americans like to say we can't be the world's policeman.  But at two o'clock in the morning, who's sitting in the world's donut shop wearing Kevlar and a nine-millimeter, eating Bavarian Crèmes? 

 

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To learn that all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten, I needed to go to graduate school.

 

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After forty years in an abusive relationship, I finally found the courage to tell myself to get the hell out of my life. 

 

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If you ever did, you shouldn't.  These things are fun, and fun is goodn't.  – The Classified Dr. Seuss

 

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Never mistake kindness for weakness.  Kindness has been known to kill people for doing that.

 

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Secret 5891368291035.  The same asset can save your life, and get you killed.  And not necessarily in that order. 

 

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Can I not pay attention and just be outraged all the time?

   

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I standby my principles.

  

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It isn't that you can't cheat death, it's that death can't cheat you.

                          

 

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Fête the power!

 

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In retrospect, it must be acknowledged that the Agency's secret rendition program was morally problematic – though as a CIA officer I stand by the quality of our in-flight movies.

 

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I deny aiding the enemy.  And as for abetting the enemy, I won every single wager.

  

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What part of don't you understand?

 

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Secret 42R.  The crowd isn't booing, they're saying "Screw you."

 

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When laughing because you must not cry, what if you laugh so hard you cry?

 

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Secret 0.361929.  Know thyself, but officially disavow the relationship.

 

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If you've thrown up in one black helicopter, you've thrown up in them all.

 

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What time isn't it?

 

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The map is not the territory.  The territory contains way more errors.

 

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There's nothing I can tell you now that you don't already not know. – To a newly certified CIA case officeress

 

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Note to self: When casting my fate to the wind, make sure to cast it downwind next time.

 

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Not only am I willing to die for my beliefs, I'm starting to get pretty good at it.

 

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If, as the saying goes, we are descended not only from monkeys but from monks, who hit on whom?

 

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Come to think of it, pretty much any word combined with 'intelligence' is an oxymoron.

 

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They say a good briefer always leaves his audience laughing.

… Ha ha ha ha ha!

- Concluding remarks, while waving and walking off the stage

  

 

Appendix

Tradecraft Exercises

The following exercises have been shown to provide significant value in the development, maintenance and ongoing enhancement of intelligence tradecraft skills.  While not exhaustive, this exercise set addresses many core elements of tradecraft as practiced by successful intelligence professionals throughout the IC.  Readers need not attempt every exercise in this section, though it is recommended that they try each exercise at least once.  Professional and aspiring intelligence officers alike are encouraged to periodically review this list and repeat selected exercises from time to time as appropriate.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 1.  Agent recruiting.

Imagine that people you meet are potential intelligence assets to be developed and recruited.  Establish rapport and build trust; listen to and empathize with people’s experiences, thoughts and feelings; offer assistance as needed without creating the impression that you’re pursuing an agenda, etc.

Comment: When performing this exercise an actual recruitment pitch should not be attempted, unless you possess diplomatic immunity and/or a ready escape route.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 2.  Covert operations.

Develop your covert ops skills by secretly performing small, helpful acts for people.

Comment: In the event you're detected performing small, helpful acts for people, the government may officially disavow knowledge of your existence.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 3.  Operating under surveillance.

Pretend that every one of your actions and statements – even your innermost thoughts and feelings – are being monitored and recorded.

Comment: Engaging in rigorous tradecraft exercises like this can help you 'raise the bar' and position you for success in an ever more demanding, technologically advanced intelligence world.  Furthermore, if classified reports of the existence of an all-seeing, all-knowing Light are accurate, then regular practice of this and other tradecraft exercises can prepare you for a successful intelligence career beyond this physical plane.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 4.  End poverty and injustice, and save the world.

Comment: Ending poverty and injustice and saving the world can be highly valuable in the development of a well-rounded intelligence professional.  Studies show that intelligence officers who end poverty and injustice and save the world enjoy a markedly greater degree of job satisfaction, and are significantly more likely to attain success in field assignments.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 5.  Practice pain tolerance.

To enhance your ability to withstand torture during interrogation, as well as survive physically demanding operational activities, develop techniques for successfully responding to physiological and/or psychological trauma and stress.  Pain tolerance methods commonly employed by intelligence officers include breathing exercises, meditation, spiritual reflection and/or prayer, or/and judicious consumption of Calimochos de CIA, a popular intelligence community drink consisting of Burgundy or another red wine, a caffeinated soft drink such as Diet Coke, and at least 90 proof vodka, gin or schnapps.

Comment: Mix and vary ingredients as appropriate.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 6.  Crafting and perfecting disguise techniques. 

Develop your ability to avoid being recognized as an operations officer by hostile services.  Study your appearance and public persona, and look for ways to make yourself less 'visible.'  Cultivate a calm, ordinary demeanor; create the impression of being humble, friendly and cooperative.  To make the disguise complete, actually be this way as frequently as possible (preferably at least 99.9% of the time). 

Comment: Remember, the most effective disguises involve neither make-up nor props.

  

Tradecraft Exercise 7.  Sell everything you have and give the money to the poor.

Comment: Selling everything one has and giving the money to the poor offers significant tradecraft advantages with respect to operational cover, budgeting and logistical considerations, and more.  For additional information see the following intelligence publications: Lk 12:33, Mk 3:21, Mk 8:21 and related documents. 

 

Tradecraft Exercise 8.  Practice pleasure tolerance.

Comment: See Exercise 5 above.

 

Tradecraft Exercise 9.  Get married and have a bunch of kids.

Comment: If you're already married and have a bunch of kids, it is recommended that you skip this exercise. 

 

Tradecraft Exercise 10.  Enjoy a sunset.

Comment: For maximum tradecraft benefit, let the sunset enjoy you too.

 

The Covert Comic.

I am the true tradecraft.