Arguably more temperamental and difficult to handle than technical sources, the recruitment, management, and retention of HUMINT is an essential part of any efficient security or intelligence apparatus. Whereas a satellite or listening devices may provide valuable information, only a human source can give indications of political intent. However, the development of human sources can be extremely risky and may compromise case officers. In addition, individuals willing to betray their families, tribe, country, or other allegiance may prove difficult to handle and liable to work to their own agenda, fabricate information, or become a double agent.
Reluctance to engage in this potentially most sordid part of all intelligence work results in an overreliance on technical sources and the dangers inherent therein—and has particular disadvantages in counterterrorist operations where the targets are less vulnerable to technical surveillance.