honey pot — noun / hon·ey·pot — A sting operation that involves one going undercover to seduce an individual into a compromising position for future extortion purposes.
Spies deal with double agents, dead-drops, propaganda, and dangled moles. Perhaps the most underappreciated of these tactics is the honey pot. Allow me to set the stage: A few cocktails into a foreign embassy gala, a scantily clad woman, straight off the page of Maxim magazine, approaches you for conversation. Either you’ve got mad swag, or you’re about to be mind-fucked. If the latter, the chances are you’re being probed for these two things:
- Access to specific documents and information
- Vulnerabilities in your personal life (marital affairs, drug use, and white-collar crime are all examples of things that can be exploited by a foreign government)
The sexy and villainous honey trap is tasked with drawing this information out of you. If you meet the two requirements above, then you have a very high probability of being pitched.
The gig is up for you; they know you’re a spy. Being pitched is a career killer. CIA employees are required to report this type of aggressive foreign act. If you chose to hide it, chances are you’ll pop on the next random or mandatory five-year polygraph. You can be within years of retirement and get forced out because of a negative polygraph. The “pitcher” has to be careful, too. If he/she has read the situation wrong, and the pitch is refused, then they are now exposed and effectively finished.
Beating the polygraph
Yeah, right. Did you really expect me to tell you how to beat it? All the paleographers I’ve dealt with have zero personality and are socially awkward. They obsess with catching you in a lie and walk around in dark hallways like zombies trying prevent another Aldrich Ames from squeaking by. For those of you who are paleographers, pardon me for any offense. This isn’t meant to be a generalization, but it does reflect my experience.
Think of it like a game of chess. Each side strategically utilizes foresight, manipulation, and deception to knock a piece off the board. People in the intelligence industry have spent entire careers tracking someone who is just a dangler—smoke and mirrors. This is when the other organization puts someone in play who acts like they have access to information, but are really just trying to get recruited to pass misinformation. Both sides do it.
There are instances where people with access have offered to spy for us. Reasons may include money, ideology, or a lack of appreciation. During the Cold War, we turned people down and later learned of their legitimacy and hatred for their own country. It’s a complex game with unfathomable layers. The point is to exhaust the other side’s resources on what they perceive to be there. Then you can operate more effectively in a free and clear environment.
Defeating the honey pot
The spy versus spy world is a very interesting and complex atmosphere. Unintentionally or not, how many of you out there have boasted over cocktails while trying to impress that special someone? Next time, ask yourself, are you being probed? Do you have access and a vulnerability to exploit? Does a simple action like exchanging comments about this article with the author now give me access? Cheers!