, Salem, MA

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May 17, 2013

US-Russia spy game continues


The Russians are famously adept at identifying and catching spies. The Russians have netted at least a dozen agency officers conducting clandestine activities over the years, former CIA officials said.

To reduce its exposure, the CIA goes to great lengths to train its officers to avoid what happened to Fogle — if he was doing what the Russians said.

Agency officers undergo intense training at the CIA spy farm in Virginia, taking what is known as the "field tradecraft course." It's a basic spy course in which agency officers learn to identify when they're being followed.

In CIA jargon, they're taught to perform surveillance detection runs. They are supposed to perform these before a mission. The rule of thumb: If a CIA officer sees something twice over time and distance, he or she is likely being watched.

For those going overseas to places such as Moscow, they receive further training, including a hostile environment tradecraft course.

FBI agents in Washington and New York, who have the most experience following spies, put rookie case officers through their paces. These FBI agents are also trained by the CIA. They play rough, giving the young agency officers a taste of what Fogle likely experienced. The course formerly was known as "internal operations" for CIA officers living behind the Iron Curtain.

The wives or husbands of agency officers stationed in Moscow also took the course. Everyone was expected to be prepared.

Despite precautions, Moscow is a place unto itself. Former agency officers call them "Moscow rules" because of the complex cat-and-mouse games. It can be a hard place to do business, perhaps one of the toughest places in the world to recruit agents. In the past, paranoia has swept through the CIA station in Moscow.

In the late 1980s, when the Cold War was still raging, the Moscow station was practically paralyzed, believing its officers were under constant surveillance. There was no way they could leave the station and recruit people without being spotted. Operations almost came to a halt. By the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the CIA figured out it could do business again in Moscow.

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