The CIA is an integral part of the United States’ global security state, which collectively has contributed to the proliferation in airport security screening measures since the September 11th attacks. Yet, this may not exactly serve the agents who have to travel under cover.
A secret CIA manual publishedby WikiLeaks and titled, “Surviving Secondary,” details how airports around the world pose a threat to covert operatives traveling through any of the world’s airports. It provides some rather incredible examples of security measures, which the CIA believes its operatives must be aware of in order to avoid having their cover blown during “secondary screening” when a traveler is pulled aside for additional scrutiny.
It was the second release of CIA material in a series that WikiLeaks started on Thursday. (And another manual on the European Union system for border control was published as well.)
The “Surviving Secondary” manual was put together for “officials who hold appropriate clearances at Executive Branch departments/agencies of the US government,” according to the secret intelligence document. It suggests “recipients must obtain originator approval prior to written or verbal communication of any portion of this product to state, local, tribal, and private entities and for all other uses not pre-approved by the originator.”
According to this manual, “Even when the traveler does everything right, the best protection during secondary screening is to be well-prepared with a cover story, according to an experienced CIA traveler.”
“In one incident during transit of a European airport in the early morning, security officials selected a CIA officer for secondary screening,” the manual recounts. “Although the officials gave no reason, overly casual dress inconsistent with being a diplomatic-passport holder may have prompted the referral. When officials swiped the officer’s bag for traces of explosives, it tested positive, despite the officer’s extensive precautions. In response to questioning, the CIA officer gave the cover story that he had been [given] in counterterrorism training in Washington, DC.”
“Although language difficulties led the local security officials to conclude that the traveler was being evasive and had trained in a terrorist camp, the CIA officer consistently maintained his cover story. Eventually, the security officials allowed him to rebook his flight and continue on his way.”
The “Surviving Secondary” manual also suggests, “Hostile and probably even allied services seek to identify US and other foreign intelligence officers,” and, “The combination of procedures available in secondary, a stressful experience for any traveler, may pose a significant strain on an operational traveler’s ability to maintain cover.”
Anyone in secondary inspection would “likely have no right of access to their embassy or to other outside assistance.”
“Consistent, Well-Rehearsed, and Plausible Cover is Important”
It advises that “smart phones, iPods, and MP3 players, can pose a vulnerability to alias travel because of their requirement for subscriptions. If border control officials can establish a link between the device and the traveler’s true name,this could present a difficulty for someone traveling in alias,” which is a classic concern of those critical of the global security state.
“Consistent, well-rehearsed, and plausible cover is important for avoiding secondary selection and critical for surviving it,” the manual advises. “A frequent operational CIA traveler to Asia and Europe advises that the most effective prevention of secondary is to have simple and plausible answers to the two most frequently asked questions, ‘Why are you here,’ and ‘Where are you staying.’”
Operatives are to travel with “everything that officials can use to examine their bona fides—including passports, travel history, baggage, personal electronics, pocket litter, hotel reservations, web presence” and determine it is all consistent with their covers.
To that end, it warns that Internet access allows airport security officials to examine travelers’ social and business network accounts to confirm that their Web presence corresponds with their persona. For example, Foursquare and LinkedIn are business equivalents to the Facebook social network.”
“Security officials might also expect a sales or marketing traveler to have a Twitter account. The absence of such business-related Web accounts probably would raise a business traveler’s profile with officials.”