Posted by: NiTessine | March 5, 2012

The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms

Apparently, the Anonymous hacked into the files of a private intelligence agency called Stratfor sometime last year. More recently, they released a lot of the stuff they came up with on Wikileaks. Most of it is just the usual kind of dirty laundry, but there’s one item there that I consider worth pointing out to the gaming community.

It is the Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms.

It’s exactly what it says on the tin, a collection of (presumably) authentic, modern-day spy jargon. It’s also written in an amusing fashion. A few select quotes from the funny end of the spectrum:

Businessman: A source that does what he does for money. Businessmen will sell out to the highest bidder so are considered temporary employees. You must find a way to make them scared shitless of you. A high SS quotient is the foundation of a warm, lasting relationship with a Businessman.

Fucking French: Fucking French.

Hoover’s Dress: Yes, Jedgar liked to pop a dress on once in a while, just to kind of kick back and relax with Clyde. The dress is classified Top Secret and kept in a vault in the basement of the Hoover Bldg. Play with that thought for a while and then decide if this profession is for you.

Smiley: A man who is much smarter than he looks. He’s schooling you all the time you thought you were doing him. From John LeCarré’s George Smiley. Never screw with a Smiley. If a man looks too dumb to reproduce, first check his Smiley quotient.

It’s a valuable document for anyone running any kind of techno-thriller or spy game. Brings it that flavour of authenticity. If I ever run Spycraft, this’ll be the first thing I hand my players.

In addition to being a hilarious read, it also allows us a glimpse into how an intelligence operation is run, with concepts such as the following:

Center-of-gravity: The place to locate an operative at the lowest cost with the maximum return on information. COG is frequently counter-intuitive. The best source of information on Nigeria is not to be found in Nigeria. The COG for Nigeria is in London. This theory was created by people trying to get sent to London instead of Lagos. COG is not a hard and fast rule. There ain’t no handbook for the amateur spook on this.

Compartmentalized: Information so sensitive that it is broken into pieces with few given access to all the pieces. The more you compartmentalize, the less you can be compromised. The more you compartmentalize, the more difficult it is to figure out what the hell is going on. Finding the sweet spot is part of the Craft.

Craft: Intelligence is not an art or a science. It is referred to by the professional as The Craft, after Alan Dulles’ (a founder of CIA) book The Craft of Intelligence. Craft covers all of the skills and abilities of intelligence from writing to briefing to spying. People are said to have “good craft, or “bad craft” or “no frigging craft at all.” A man with good craft can go into a bar, meet a beautiful woman assigned to seduce him, get seduced and wake up in the morning with the woman working for him. That’s great craft. Or a man is picked up by a beautiful woman, convinces himself that she really likes him in spite of the fact that he is fifty, balding and overweight. After two drinks he comes to feel that they really are soul mates. He describes his latest operation in detail and never gets laid. This is a total lack of craft. All operatives, like all fighter jocks, think they’ve got great craft. A man’s got to believe in himself, right?

Also, there’s that certain cowboyish attitude that oozes off every entry, a too-cool-for-school authorial voice that drips from the pages – and hell, why not? If I were employed as a real, no bullshit spy, I’d probably also have a ginormous ego.

Even moreso, I mean.

There’s also how the document was obtained that makes it even niftier. I mean, this wasn’t written for public consumption. It’s an internal document that we’re only reading because the company got hacked. It is illegally obtained material. Immediately makes it sexier, doesn’t it?

Disclaimer: really, I have no idea if it’s real and not just something that got knocked off by the Anonymous, or it’s a spook e-mail joke or something. All I know is that it looks like it could be real and it was dumped on Wikileaks with a load of stuff that has partly been verified to be genuine. However, for the purposes of a roleplaying game, that’s not much of an obstacle. It’s exactly as real as the GM needs it to be.


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