Human Intelligence

Authored by: Len Scott

Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415507523
eBook ISBN: 9780203762721
Adobe ISBN: 9781134480296

10.4324/9780203762721.ch9

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Abstract

When most people think about intelligence they think about espionage (or spying). Espionage pre-dates modern ideas of intelligence and indeed modernity itself. Sun Tzu wrote in the fifth century BC that, ‘an army without spies is like a man without ears or eyes’ (Tzu 1987: 95). HUMINT (or human intelligence) is usually seen as a synonym for espionage, though some human sources are not run as agents. The term ‘agent’ is also sometimes applied to intelligence officers. Within the CIA spies are called assets. Further semantic confusion arises when the term ‘spying’ is used to cover other forms of intelligence-gathering, such as in reference to ‘spy planes’ or descriptions of signals intelligence. Indeed GCHQ, in a rare public utterance, made use of the term ‘spy’ when describing its activities (Richards 2012: xx). For the purpose of this chapter, HUMINT will be taken as a broader term than espionage, though discussion will primarily focus on spies or agents.

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