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CIA Agent on How to Recruit 'Traitors'

Jason Matthews, a 30-plus year CIA veteran, shared how he and fellow "case workers" convinced people to betray their country and share secrets with the United States. First, the CIA agent has to earn the trust of the asset. Second, the agent must assess the target's aspirations, fears and desires. "You must know what motivates the potential recruit so that you can better exploit his vulnerabilities and, in the end, put him in the right frame of mind for your 'pitch.'"

In particular, ego or pride is one of those vulnerabilities that an agent must learn how to exploit. Matthews writes:

The agent motivated by ego is a blessing and a curse. Properly stroked, he can be responsive, motivated, and focused. But once the stroking starts, you cannot stop: He will be needy, moody, demanding. Ego is one of the most powerful human motivators ….
A case officer also looks for prospects among individuals who seem to be in search of an ego, their spirits stamped flat by purges, cultural revolutions, or [government harassment]. In the late 70s, one agent with abysmal self-esteem and a nervous disposition was told (falsely) by his case officer that his intel tidbits had been reported to the White House to rave reviews. His shriveled ego flowered: He now had people who counted on him and admired him! That's all it took for the meek little man to ignore his fears and begin bringing out classified documents—all in the belief that he was personally spying for [President] Jimmy Carter, God help him.

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