Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spies like Us

Spying, boiled down, is a matter of stealing information and planting information.

In poker terms, either reading the other guys cards or bluffing.

The real work of spying is no doubt boring, repetitive, dull monotonous and anonymous. Forget James Bond. Real spies don't call attention to themselves. They're nobodies, chameleons, people who don't stand out. They fade into the background.

I imagine that the real work of spying is amazingly compartmentalized, bureaucratized and specialized. There would be information gatherers and information analysts. Special ops teams (which isn't really spying) would have their own department. Another branch would manage the control of public perception (theoretically in foreign countries) through the spread of information and/or disinformation.

In effect, spies in foreign countries would do the work of reporters and PR agents without trying to looking like reporters and PR agents. They'd be gathering stories and planting stories. Some, of course, would actually be reporters and PR agents. Actual field operatives would be a tiny minority.

Most people working in the intelligence community would be nerds in various cubicles sifting through data to find patterns.

None of this makes for good film or TV.

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