Every few years, major news breaks about spying, with stories of spectacular heroism and shocking betrayal. What goes on in the mind of those who inhabit the clandestine world?
In early May, the world learned of a real example of heroic espionage. Intelligence officials foiled an al Qaeda plot to bring down a plane by having a suicide operative smuggle on board a nonmetallic exploding device concealed beneath his clothing. The terrorist group failed because the operative they chose for the mission was widely reported to have been an agent of British or Saudi intelligence. For those of us in the business, it was rare to see an agent’s heroism come to light, though we get to witness their bravery covertly on a routine basis in our daily work. What do people outside the clandestine world not see?
More here: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/07/05-spy-wilder