The United States Department of Commerce (DOC) just issued new guidelines to further restrict release of sensitive American information and materials to potential spies from foreign countries that may in turn pass them along for military instead of the intended civilian use.

DOC Guidelines Highlight Fake End Users AKA Spies

Why should cleared personnel concern themselves with awareness of DOC guidelines? There are many reasons. However, one in particular should remain with us. Some countries fight against us with sham private recipients of items from the United States. These imposters then pass the information, designs, and components along to their own national militaries. Others serve as nothing but fake end users. These recipients actually collect the materials from America, then secretly ship it off again to yet other foreign governments banned or sanctioned by US or international law from reception of such goods. This includes not only aircraft related components, but also certain chemicals, computer related materials, and a host of other dual use manufactured items. Here’s what this means in the secret world. Espionage will increase if the collection of these American made materials is made harder to get. If an adversarial nation like Russia, China, or Venezuela can’t get something through previously employed means described above as ‘civilian purchases’, then they’ll try to get it by stealing it. Hello espionage.

A Lesson From WWII

During World War II, as the Germans overran France, underground organizations sprang up all over France. They were composed of enraged citizens, retired military veterans, monarchists seeking restoration of royalty, liberals wanting free government, arch conservatives wanting old ways, young adventurers, and a host of other causes. The underground organizations were unprepared, untrained, and knew virtually nothing of how to operate and survive underground.

An Unlikely Tutor in WWII

There was one exception in the early years of Nazi occupation: the French communists. For years, they had been banned. They had become adept at conspiratorial activities. The French communists had collected weapons, and they knew how to compartment themselves into cells. They knew how to plan, execute, and escape from sabotage actions, as well as how to get information. The French communists knew how to spy. 

They also knew how to steal based on information about German supplies, and employe this knowledge to destroy military necessities. The French communists discovered where parts and weapons were being developed or manufactured in France for their German conquerors, and they knew when the trains carrying these parts would be on a targeted bridge. The Communists had years to plan for just such an eventuality as the coming of Nazi occupation in France. The Communists were ready. In our modern world, new sanctions by the United States against those who get our materials relatively easily have been planned for by our adversaries for many years before we took action. They planned for circumstances like this. 

Spies Find the Easiest Paths of Entry

Adversarial nations plan on a host of ways to get our materials. They watch for the weakest link in our armor to get it, or prevent us from benefiting from our own materials. If we think our jet fighters will protect us, or are far superior to the aircraft deployed against them, our adversaries will target them. Of course we won’t know how they are targeted.

Visitors Patiently Collect Information on U.S.

An adversary will use the simplest, least costly, but most easily accomplished and effective approach for their thefts. Our adversaries as a rule tend to have one skill which we Americans sorely lack. Patience. They will deploy many, many visitors, students, and others to a given target who are in the states to collect information and return it to their home country. This method, however, is haphazard, anecdotal, partial, and easily compromised. They know this.

Posted Information is Also a Target for Watchful Eyes

Thus, before they consider ‘espionage’ on such a scale, with many ‘reporters’, they will plan and seek out easier ways. One is by looking around for what is freely posted by the company with what they want. Or they order information through formal requests. Or they engage members of the company to come ‘discuss’ their work, or ‘give lectures’ on their new products in public events in their country. Fake companies are employed to receive the information or materials before passing it on to their government or military later. Only when all the easy, freely available information is secured, will they then resort to some more subtle, illegal activities.

Accidental Compromise is Still a Compromise

New sanctions create new means of getting around them. Clearance holders need to remember that what we’re protecting is not to be revealed to others, nor is it to be compromised by giving away components that can be used against our ‘secret’ efforts later. Know who receives your parts and information, and know where it ultimately ends up. After all, we wouldn’t deliberately compromise something. Why have someone take us for a sucker and get it anyway? 

Related News

John William Davis was commissioned an artillery officer and served as a counterintelligence officer and linguist. Thereafter he was counterintelligence officer for Space and Missile Defense Command, instructing the threat portion of the Department of the Army's Operations Security Course. Upon retirement, he wrote of his experiences in Rainy Street Stories.