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Intelligence Problems in the Zigzag Case - Linking the Success of Controllers and Agents



In my last post I did a quick review of a book looking at the Zigzag (Chapman, above) case during the second world war.  One of the problems of the Abwehr (Geman Military Intelligence), bearing in mind it is sometimes questionable how successful they wanted to be, hearkens back to the post I did on intelligence problems of the East India Company in early modern Afghanistan.

Linking the success of controllers, and indeed the agency itself, with the success of an agent was a recipe for poor intelligence.

The author described how the 'mutal dependence of spy and spymaster was not peculiar... it was the central defining flaw of the German secret service.'

The small branches of the Abwehr, and even individuals within the branches, operated essentially in competition with each other - ones political worth and standing was essentially tied to the success of agents, in the Zigzag case this even included skimming money off the top of funds paid to the agent - there was therefore no incentive to find any fault with the intelligence of an established agent.

In some cases it may even be true that known disinformation was accepted as true purely for selfish reasons.

This is of course a problem for intelligence agencies, however it is not limited to them - it is a fault that can be introduced into almost any system, be it intelligence gathering, economics or martial arts.

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