Sunday, August 1, 2010


Intelligence professionals often adopt an alias to insulate themselves from the consequences of operational  failures. Often the choice of alias will follow an established pattern, probably utilizing the person’s true initials, so the individual can be easily identified by the organization should the need arise. The use of an alias is  different from a confidential pseudonym, which CIA personnel routinely use internally. In July 1963, when  MI5 agent Stephen Ward protested at his trial that he had acted for the Security Service, he was disbelieved
because he could not identify his case officer, “Mr. Woods of the War Office,” and Keith Wagstaffe had  taken the precaution of disconnecting his contact telephone number. Similarly, Paul Henderson, a Secret Intelligence Service agent and director of Matrix Churchill reporting on Iraqi industrial installations, was unable to name his handler in 1995, but under pressure the British government reluctantly admitted full knowledge of his activities and the charges of having supplied dual-use machine tools to Baghdad in breach of the arms embargo were  dropped.