“Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.”—Friedrich Nietzsche

My entry into the world of intelligence-gathering began in 1996 when I joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Before my retirement in 2014, most of my career was spent overseas as an operations officer in countries comprising the former Soviet Union.

Serving abroad in the CIA was a great way to increase my understanding of the world. As an operations officer, I was trained and charged to identify, develop, and recruit foreign nationals to provide information to me—which in turn was passed to the U.S. intelligence community (IC). The IC uses HUMINT (human intelligence gathered from live sources),  in conjunction with SIGINT (signals intelligence) and other forms to aid United States policymakers in making clear-eyed decisions about matters of foreign policy.

This is the purpose of the IC. Regarding HUMINT, people’s reasons for spying against their own country are numerous. The motivations of money, ego, or ideology have been behind history’s most damaging spies. Compromise or coercion have also been important factors (most often used as tools against the West by hostile intelligence services).