Principles of Clandestine Communications


By Steven Barry

Face-to-face meetings, conducted secretly between operational personnel, are known as clandestine meetings. Such meetings are employed frequently in the field; chiefly with regard to management and administrative func­tions.In general, the advantages of clandestine meetings are 1) they save time, 2) they are used as a countermeasure against some forms of eavesdropping, 3) they offer a measure of certainty, and 4) they provide a means of exercising control. The stress and delicacy of secret work make human contact between an agent and his handler imperative, if an operation or organization is to survive and function effectively. The disadvantages of clandestine meetings reflect concerns of security. Participants may be under visual surveillance and the link between them may be discovered by direct or indirect betrayal. Accidental ob­servation is also a consideration, as are snap searches. In cases where something physical is being passed, apprehension of the participants will provide direct evidence of clandestine activity.

Clandestine meetings are, for our purposes, divided into four categories: 1) meetings between unacquainted operatives; 2) meetings between acquainted operatives; 3) meetings between operatives and outsiders; 4)silent meetings, or brush contacts.

Meetings between unacquainted operatives require secure prearranged identification signals and special briefing. The general description and distinguishing features of each operative must be established and according to operational necessity known to one or both. The security problems inherent in the meeting must be analyzed. There may be risks in permitting certain operatives the ability to extensively describe others they are to meet.There may be liabilities in deny­ing this knowledge. The description must preclude the possibility of accidental recognition of legitimate parties who just happen to be at the meeting site.


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