Monday, 3 May 2021




The modern definition of 'TRADECRAFT' as it relates to all things spying is:

Tradecraft, within the intelligence community, refers to the techniques, methods and technologies used in modern espionage (spying) and generally, as part of the activity of intelligence assessment.

It's a 'catch-all' word, anything and everything used in a specific way to further the aims and goals of those who tread what is, after all, a lonely path.

For example, did you know the part played by the humble telephone during the Cuban missile crisis? No, I'm not referring to the later establishment of the 'Hotline' between Moscow and Washington. I'm referring to the tradecraft use of a simple phone by Oleg Penkovsky, said to be the most important spy of the Cold War. You see, when Oleg wanted to set up a meeting, all he did was call a certain telephone number, that was it, he called he hung up and the meeting was on.

There were variations of this approach and a notable one was when Oleg called a number, let it ring 3 times, then he hung up and repeated that step. Call, ring three times, hang up. Call, ring three times, hang up. Simple! But the meeting was about a particular subject, when this sequence was used, it meant:

'I have some very important information to share with you about an imminent nuclear attack'

Amazing isn't it? Even more amazing is the fact that it actually happened, that's just how close the world came to disaster.

Another interesting tradecraft ploy used in setting up meetings was to leave a copy of a book on view in the window of a car. Hmmm, I wonder...


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