Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The CIA's Travel Tips

Via The Economist:

ON SUNDAY, Wikileaks released two documents that the group claims are secret Central Intelligence Agency manuals for officers travelling abroad. The first, titled "Surviving Secondary", is dated September 2011, and focuses on helping officers get through secondary screenings at airports with their covers intact. The second, "Schengen Overview", is dated January 2012, and explains the ins-and-outs of Europe's visa-free Schengen Area and the threats various European biometric databases might pose to undercover operatives. Genuine or not ("We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported stolen intelligence documents," Ryan Trapani, a CIA spokesman, told Bloomberg via email), they are both fascinating reads.
Julian Assange, Wikileaks's founder, justifies the release of the documents by claiming that they "show that under the Obama administration the CIA is still intent on infiltrating European Union borders and conducting clandestine operations in EU member states". This is hardly a surprise. But it is also hard to see the release of these documents, if authentic, doing much damage to American intelligence efforts. Terrorists no doubt already know the techniques "Surviving Secondary" emphasises: "The Importance of Maintaining Cover—No Matter What", for example, is just common sense. For their part, European officials surely know the capabilities of their own biometric databases. And, despite their protestations, European politicians no doubt already know what Mr Assange and Wikileaks are treating as news—that American spying on the continent continues unabated, as the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former American National Security Agency contractor, showed all too clearly.
The documents do, however, offer a nice lesson for business ttravelers travel like a CIA officer. Security officials are on the look out for people who look out-of-place or nervous. You can save time, and avoid extra scrutiny, by simply remaining calm during airport security procedures. And if you get picked out for extra screening, do what the CIA does: stick to your story. It'll be easier for you because your story has the added benefit of being true. Maybe you can even show the security screeners your client presentation.

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