Although many of his colleagues
in the CIA considered him paranoid, James Jesus Angleton
believed that enemy intelligence services had the capability
of establishing moles in sensitive positions in US intelligence.
Moles such as Robert Phillip Hanssen in the FBI and
Aldrich Ames in the CIA should, in his view, be expected.
What remedy did he propose to
the mole problem?
It was neither strapping people
into "lie-detector" polygraph machines nor expelling
Embassy diplomats in Washington DC.
Angleton believed, rightly or
wrongly, that the recruitments of moles was inevitable.
Individuals in a poorly-paid bureaucratic matrix were
not an equal match for a resourceful head-hunting intelligence
service with unlimited tricks to tempt and compromise.
To deal with this problem, he
had proposed a "mimicry program." It was analogous to
the method used to control mosquito infestations. In
the case of mosquito control, a plethora of sterilized
female mosquitoes are intentionally released so that
male mosquitos, unable to discriminate between the fecund
and the sterile females, would waste their time mating
with ones that could not be reproduce and missing ones
that could. Similarly, in mole control a la Angleton,
counterintelligence would dispatch a plethora of "sterile"
volunteers to make contact with Russian diplomats so
as to exhaust their limited recruitment resources.
In terms of its mechanics, the
contact need not be personal meeting in which they could
be closely assessed or tested. Instead, they could send
messages designating dead drops in which they would
leave documents and in which the intelligence officer
would leave in exchange large cash payments. Or they
could make "brush" contacts, surreptitiously exchanging
their attache cases or envelopes. They would have to
provide real documents for the mimicry to work, but
these documents could reveal what the Russians might
already know or suspect— such as a tunnel under their
embassy— or collection programs and agents that have
been abandoned. Unlike strategic disinformation programs,
which need to be continually kept credible, a mimicry
program works effectively even when it is not continually
credible. It can even be blown intentionally. Because
when the targeted intelligence service learns through
such slips that it is "mating: with sterile agents,
and paying for the privilege, no less, it tends to suspect
the real moles. And the real moles cannot prove their
bona fides, since the documents that they provide are
similar to the real documents delivered by the fake
If such a mimicry program succeeds
in confusing the real with the fake, the risks for Russians
in recruiting a sterile agent outweigh the rewards of
recruiting a real agent, at least in terms of their
career advancement. It also depletes the Russian's "buy"
money by many million dollars and, can even be, self-financing.
Result, if it works: a diminishing of the infestation
For more on Angleton (From my
diary) see http://www.edwardjayepstein.com/diary/angleton.htm
On damage, by two moles, see