CIA INTELLIGENCE NETWORKS
This article is reprinted from Full Disclosure. Copyright (c) 1986
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The Central Intelligence Agency like many revoluntionary organizations
(including the Russian KGB) organize their agent networks on a "cell" system,
with small groups who meet and carry out specific activities. The small groups
have very few connections with the rest of the organization. Typically, the
connections between cells will involve only one person in each cell. See
sample organizational chart prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency for use
in Nicaragua by the "Freedom Commandos" (reprinted from Psychological
Operations in Guerrilla Warfare, the CIA's Nicaragua manual).
When this structure is used and a member of a cell is discovered and forced
to talk, he can only inform on members of his own cell. If he was the person
with a connection to another cell it is possible that other cell will also be
compromised, but only after the connection is traced. However, the tracing
procedure is very slow, giving the organization time to regroup.
Although the tracing of the cell structure is very slow, intelligence
information can be passed to the main organization quickly.
The main problem with such a cell structure is that the messages which pass
through many cells can get grabled and since the cells have great autonomy they
sometimes work at cross purposes.
The CIA extends the cell system to include Police Departments, Labor
Unions, Student Associations, Medical Associations, Reporters/Editors etc.
These cells are created by recruiting (or placing) an agent within the
organization. The placement of the agent would depend on the main purpose of
infiltrating the organization: information or control. Usually, most of the
people in the "organization" cells don't know that they are working for the
Central Intelligence Agency.
In addition, the CIA controls numerous "private" corporations. Usually,
only a few of the top officers are aware of the CIA connection. The
corporations conduct normal business operations, and are also available to
provide services for the CIA whenever necessary.
A top-secret memorandum from Brigadier General Edward Lansdale to General
Maxwell Taylor published in The Pentagon Papers, described "unconventional
warfare resources in Southeast Asia" as follows:
CAT [Civil Air Transport] is a commerical
air line engaged in scheduled and nonscheduled
air operations throughout the Far East, with
headquarters and large maintenance facilities
in Taiwan. CAT, a CIA proprietary
[corporation], provides air logistical support
under commerical air cover to most CIA and
other U.S. Government Agencies' requirements.
CAT supports covert and clandestine air
operations by providing trained and experienced
personnel, procurement of supplies and
equipment through covert commerical channels,
and the maintenance of a fairly large inventory
of transport and other type aircraft under both
Chinat [Chinese Nationalist] and U.S. registry.
CAT has demonstrated its capabilities on
numerous occasions to meet all types of
contingency or long-term covert air
requirements in support of U.S. objectives.
During the last ten years, it has had some
notable achievements, including support of the
Chinese Nationalist withdrawal from the
mainland, air drop support to the French at
Dien Bien Phu, complete logistical and tactical
air support for the Indonesian operation, air
lifts of refugees from North Vietnam, more than
200 overflights of Mainland China and Tibet,
and extensive air support in Laos during the
When the goal is to control the organization, the agent would be in a
powerful place, like a Sergeant in a Police Department. This would enable the
CIA to make use of the Police Department resources, computer data banks,
The police officers might perform surveillance on a target for the
Sergeant, not knowing that they were really working for the CIA. According to
Philip Agee/1, "Thousands of policemen all over the world, for instance, are
shadowing people for the CIA without knowing it. They think they're working
for their own police departments, when, in fact, their chief may be a CIA agent
who's sending them out on CIA jobs and turning their information over to his
Agents in Labor Unions can encourage strikes to cause economic difficulties
when the CIA wants to stir up political problems in foreign countries.
Reporters and editors can be used to plant propaganda in the press or have
information withheld when its in the CIA's best interest not to have it
When the goal is information collection the target organization would more
likely be other intelligence services, medical or technology associations. The
agent would be placed so that he would have access to as much information as
possible. This could be a communications or mail clerk, etc.
The CIA also targets banks for infiltration. They are good organizations
to provide cover for CIA personnel in foreign countries. The bank can provide
necessary accounts in bogus names. They can also provide faked account
balances so that background checks would out come out positive. Banks are also
used for funding mechanisms. The Bank of Boston was used for such purposes by
the CIA in Brazil/1.
When the cells aren't aware that they're working for the CIA, or think
they're working for someone else, they can be put to other devious uses. For
example, if the CIA controlled a cell which thought it worked for the PLO, they
could send it on a terrorist mission with the intent that they be caught. This
would have a two fold advantage for the CIA, first, the PLO would be blamed
(providing a good opportunity for the U.S. government to expouse propaganda
against the PLO), and secondly, it would allow the CIA to commit a terrorist
attack with extremely little risk of exposure -- to achieve a greater level of
interference in the affairs of foreign governments.
The CIA can also use cells within an organization which aren't aware of
their connection to the CIA for less devious purposes. For examples, they can
make public statement which have the effect of alienating their supporters.
When one section makes offensive public statements, major disruptions can occur
within the organization.
/1 Inside the Company: CIA Diary (by Philip Agee)
/2 See Full Disclosure article "I've Got a Secret"