Many professionals encourage conversation,especially discussion of theories, concepts, andplans. It’s a spy’s dream come true! Because elicitation is subtleSo, remember, on your next trip or during any and difﬁcult to recognize, youconversation with a foreign colleague: Be awareof the person with whom you are speaking and should report any suspiciouswhere your conversation may be reported. Don’t conversations to the DHS Ofﬁcebe paranoid, just be careful. of Security or your local security ofﬁcer.What To DoIf you ever feel that you are being drawn into a To report a suspected elicitationconversation that makes you uncomfortable, keep attempt to the DHS Ofﬁce ofthese points in mind: Security, please use the contact● You are not obliged to tell people any information below. information they are not authorized to hear; that includes personal information about you or your colleagues.● You can simply ignore any question you think is improper and change the topic. Elicitation● You can deﬂect the question with one of your own.● You can give a nondescript answer.● You can simply say that you do not know. Would You Recognize It?● If all else fails, you can state that you would have to clear such discussions with your Security Ofﬁce.Reporting ContactsPresidential Decision Directive NSC-12 requiresthat government employees report all contactswith individuals of any nationality, either withinor outside of the scope of the employee’s ofﬁcialactivities, in which:● illegal or unauthorized access is sought to Department of Homeland Security classiﬁed or otherwise sensitive information. Ofﬁce of Security Phone: (202) 447-5010● the employee is concerned that he may be the E-mail: OfﬁceofSecurity@dhs.gov target of actual or attempted exploitation by a foreign entity.
What is it? Appealing to One’s Ego Volunteering Information (in hopes of getting something in return)In the espionage trade, elicitation is a technique Intelligence Ofﬁcer: “You must have an importantfrequently used by intelligence ofﬁcers to subtly position in your agency. Our host seems to think Intelligence Ofﬁcers are always willing to tradeextract information about you, your work, and very highly of you.” information. Don’t feel obligated to respond inyour colleagues. kind merely because someone tells you something You: “Well, how nice of you to say so. As a matter interesting.Said another way, elicitation is the art of of fact, my job isn’t all that important. What I doconversation honed by intelligence services to its is...” Assumed Knowledgeﬁnest edge. Flattery often coaxes a person into a conversation If your companion talks as if he is knowledgeable that otherwise would not have taken place.The Dilemma about a particular subject (computers, nuclear Expression of Mutual Interest physics, whatever) or if you have assumed that heYou never know if elicitation is being used is “up” on the subject, then what’s the harm incasually to pass the time or if it is being used to Intelligence Ofﬁcer: “Oh, you have a background in discussing it, right? No, wrong. Assume nothing.gather intelligence data. computers; so do I. Perhaps you’d like to try out Tell nothing. the Sun Workstation I have at home. It’s reallyWhy Elicitation? What is Its Appeal? powerful!” The Threat ● Elicitation is non-threatening. It is hard You: “Yes, I’d like to do that. That sounds Today’s world of openness offers almost unlimited to recognize as an intelligence technique interesting. I’ve always wanted to try out a opportunities to gather information through and it is easy to deny any wrongdoing. powerful workstation like that. I use a CAD/CAM direct personal contact. Each year, thousands of ● Elicitation is easy to disguise. It’s just program, but my computer...” U.S. Government ofﬁcials and scientists come into conversation among colleagues and You have just agreed to extend your relationship contact with foreign colleagues both in the U.S. and friends. beyond the immediate social situation. This works overseas. ● Elicitation is effective. to an Intelligence Ofﬁcer’s advantage. He now has Intelligence services invest signiﬁcant resources in the opportunity to establish a deeper relationship identifying individuals who possess the knowledgeTechniques “off-line,” in a venue that he controls. they desire. The information may not be classiﬁed, but it will be useful to their nation’s well being.There you are, at a social gathering, deep into a Deliberate False Statementsconversation with someone you don’t know very Elicitation requires patience. Pieces of informationwell. There are questions back and forth over a Intelligence Ofﬁcer: “Everybody knows, of course, that collected over an extended period of time canwide range of topics. How do you know when the Pakistanis have had nuclear technology for only provide the ﬁnal piece of the puzzle to a complexthe conversation is merely social and innocent two years.” problem or save the expenditure of scarce researchand when it is being conducted for other You: “Actually, that isn’t true. They started in 1978 money.purposes? with a program to...” PotentialYou don’t know, really. There are, however, some Such statements have the curious property oftried and true techniques of gaining information. producing denials, along with the real facts, out of Keep in mind that a key element in any espionageThese techniques are used by ordinary people in the listener. This is based on the deep-rooted need operation is to make it as easy as possible forordinary conversations, as well as by intelligence that most people have to correct misstatements, to the target to share his information. After all, theofﬁcers in some not-so-ordinary conversations. inform people, and to appear to be “in-the-know.” elicitation is only conversation among colleagues and friends. What is more natural than that? WeHere are some common techniques you may do it all the time.recognize: