Sunday, 21 December, 2008

Understand a few home truths about spies: By Maloy Krishna Dhar (Ex-Indian spy chief)

• Every informer is not a SPY, but every Spy is an informer.

• No government would ever admit charges of carrying out espionage and sabotage activities.

• Spies are, if they are, a group of professionals, who are exposed to usual professional risk, like a soldier at the front and a policeman before a rioting mob. They are trained to get killed and maimed. They do not come back home amidst sounds of cymbals and horns. They return, if they return at all, quietly and live as quietly for which they are trained and paid.

• Espionage is not a salariat (in Urdu), meaning salaried job with encoded service rules. This trade is based on unwritten laws governing their tradecraft training, single or continued compensation package, security instructions, and no lost baggage claim principle.

• The entire trade is outside the purview of media glare and not based on any Act of the country.

• The media have unwritten sets of rules to honour national secrets and to ignore certain facts even if such hypes are likely to increase their TRP.

• The Public are expected to be more patriotic and heroic to the point suffering great personal loss, which nave been exhibited in cases of our soldiers and security personnel martyring themselves in action fields. Millions have perished in several wars, but nations have survived. Individuals and organised societies survive honourably only when the people gain strength to suffer silently. War losses are not matters for street-wailing. Intelligence warfare is another kind of war nations wage through extended diplomatic activities.

From the lowest category of spies or agents to the highest category there exist several intermediary layers. A mere trans-border smuggler used as a “single task” informer or a “deep penetration itinerary spy” is different from a well trained, embedded Long Term Resident Agent (LTRA) or a trained saboteur. Sabotage and subversion activities are unadmitted tools of silent or proxy-warfare. Most nations do and deny it. The ultimate test of success is the desired results and Deniability. No country would own up a lost, caught and punished spy. No country makes a hero out of a spy like Pakistan did to Abdul Kader Khan, the great nuclear bandit and pirate, aka a scientist.

Self-confessed informers like Mohanlal Bhashkar, Ruplal and Kashmir Singh (as claimed by them) are single task border smugglers and itinerants. They work on a specific task and after successful completion; failure or abortion the handling officer has no legal and moral responsibility towards their welfare. One-package-compensation is the law of the game. The person who agrees to do the job does so willingly out of a genuine or generated motivation. Creation of motivation is part of the tradecraft. Getting motivated is part either a part of patriotic feeling or simple greed for easy money.

Their brief is limited and the tasks are specific. Most of these trans-border human assets are not elaborately trained and briefed. As most of these border smugglers and illegal traders are left to device their own security aspects. They move like eels across international borders and straightaway sent to the frying pan when caught. Such assets are “feed and milk” type human agents. Some of them are known as “double agents.” A same talent may work for Indian and Pakistani agencies.

However, well trained, indoctrinated and Tradecraft oriented deep penetration Long Term Resident Agents are akin to classical agents of the type of Philby, Ethel and Julius Rosenburg etc. Such spies are very rare to come by. The agency takes full responsibility of locating, cultivating and if possible retrieving such highly priced agents. The lucky ones manage to trek back. Some are retrieved and most are lost, once detected by the agencies of the target countries. Some are forgotten and some are transported to folklore.

Spies are unsung soldiers and heroes of Statecraft. No country would admit spying in another country. They would deny existence of any agent, once they are caught in action and maintain deathly silence even if the media hype up such incidents. Normally the media has an unwritten understanding of the rules of the game and acts of successful or failed espionage activities do not form part of TRP increase marketing device. Every nation follows this golden rule, except, perhaps India, the infinite free country, where one is free to peep into the forbidden areas of statecraft.


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