The likelihood of your being targeted for
initial assessment usually depends upon circumstances over which you have little or no
control. Circumstances that increase the chances include the following.
- The most obvious consideration, but not
necessarily the most important, is the value of the information, people, or places to
which you have access. The greater the value of your access, the more likely you are to be
selected for contact, assessment, and (if you appear susceptible) for recruitment. Your
value to a foreign intelligence service does not depend upon rank. Support personnel
such as secretaries, computer operators, and maintenance personnel may be able to provide
access to very valuable information. It is easy to overemphasize the extent to which the
value of your access determines your chances of being targeted. Foreign intelligence
officers are under pressure to recruit agents just as salesmen are under pressure to make
sales. Their career advancement depends upon it, but they also need to avoid getting
caught. As a result, they may go after the easiest or most available target, rather than
take the risk of going after the most valuable target.
- You are more likely to be targeted and
assessed if you are stationed in a foreign country or often travel there. All foreign
intelligence or security services have far more resources available in their home country
than in the United States. There is much less risk for them when they are operating on
their home turf, and they are far more active and aggressive there.
- Even within the United States, you are more
likely to be targeted if you are in an area and in a position where it is relatively easy
for foreign nationals to contact and assess you. For example, foreign diplomats,
journalists and lobbyists are constantly working Capitol Hill in search of contacts and
information. Personnel at industrial sites and national laboratories that have foreign
scientists on site and many foreign visitors are more likely to be targeted than personnel
at sites with few foreign nationals on site and few foreign visitors.
- If your cultural, ethnic, or religious
background differs from some so-called norm in any obvious way, you are also more likely
to be targeted and assessed. Many foreign intelligence operatives have limited
understanding of American culture and commonly think in stereotypes. If they put you in
any stereotypical category of persons they believe are more likely to be supportive of
their interests or to be disadvantaged, bitter, or alienated, you are more likely to be
targeted for initial contact and moved quickly into the operational contact phase. Foreign
intelligence operatives find it easier to contact, build rapport with, assess, and
manipulate individuals with whom they can claim to share a common interest -- including a
shared national, ethnic, or religious background. 1
Personnel in these more vulnerable categories need to be aware of their
vulnerability and be especially prompt in reporting any significant foreign contact.
The more attractive you are as a target, the greater the chances that a foreign national
who befriends you is an intelligence operative.
There is no reason to suspect that personnel
in any of these categories are more susceptible to recruitment than any other American.
Vulnerability to being targeted is very different from susceptibility to being recruited.
Lest there be any misunderstanding on this
point, there is no evidence that naturalized citizens are less loyal than native-born citizens. Many naturalized citizens have a stronger loyalty to the United
States than native-born citizens, who often take their country for granted. There is also
no evidence that members of any disadvantaged or minority group are more susceptible to
recruitment than other Americans.
Opportunities for foreign intelligence
officers and agents to arrange face-to-face meetings to assess targets in the United
States have increased dramatically. The openness of the post-Cold War environment, growing
global commerce, and increasing espionage by our friends in addition to our adversaries
have increased the vulnerability of all of us to assessment by multiple foreign
1. Tony Capaccio, "FBI: Ethnic Targeting Common Tactic in
Economic Espionage," Defense Week, March 25, 1996. Article is based on
presentations at a seminar sponsored by the National Counterintelligence Center, March 11,