Wippl Publishes Book Review on the Process of Spy Recruitment

Joseph Wippl, Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, published an article in the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence reviewing The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence by Douglas London.

In the review, titled “Successful Case Officers: Chameleon Meets the Confessional,” Wippl praises the book’s focus on the process of spy recruitment, or hiring individuals in foreign countries to spy for the government of the United States. Contrasting his own experiences as a CIA offer with London’s, he outlines skills that recruiters need to be successful in convincing others to join, concluding that officers “need to develop and foster deep connections with a diverse group of targets and thus adapt to each type.”

Wippl concurs with London’s arguments about shifts in the intelligence community post-9/11. Wippl cites the reorganization and bureaucratization of the CIA as one of these changes, subsequently adjusting the CIA to focus on terrorism and adding layers of red tape to hinder action. He also explores the issue of transparency and accountability with intelligence organizations. An excerpt:

“London makes a case for the need for accountability. London enumerates that no CIA officers were held accountable for the intelligence failure of 9/11; the Enhance Interrogation Program,; renditions that went awry; the bombing in Khost, Afghanistan; and the failure to identify the rise of the Islamic state. While agreeing with him, where was the accountability of other government agencies, and where was the accountability of the political leadership? Everyone wants accountability, but no one wants to explain accountability to the workforce. Explanation and leadership are the hard part. Accountability issues are not limited to the CIA. Regrettably, they include the government on all levels and the private sector. When I heard the words “we have to move on,” it meant to me that the organization could not deal with what happened. It is the recipe for making the same mistakes again and again.”

You can read the full book review here.

Joseph Wippl is a former CIA officer. He spent a 30-year career as an operations officer in the National Clandestine Service (NCS). On assignments in CIA headquarters, he served as the Deputy Chief of Human Resources, as the Senior NCS representative to the Aldrich Ames Damage Assessment Team, as Chief of Europe Division, and as the CIA’s Director of Congressional Affairs. Prior to his arrival at Boston University, he occupied the Richard Helms Chair for Intelligence Collection in the NCS training program. Wippl has taught at BU since 2006, and speaks and writes widely on issues regarding intelligence. Read more about him on his Pardee School faculty profile