DARPA Document: "On Countering Strategic Deception"

Old, but interesting. The document was published by DARPA in 1973, and approved for release in 2007. It examines the role of deception on strategic warning systems, and possible actions to protect from strategic foreign deception.

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 9:54 AM • 7 Comments


CuriousJuly 21, 2016 3:25 PM


"Ad hoc efforts of intelligence anlysts to cope with deception have been notably unsuccessful; judgments of captured enemy war plans have been significantly worse than
would have resulted from coin tossings. Four of five genuine plans were treated as forgeries, five of five deception plans were accepted as genuine."

Presumably, they learned at some point later which plans were fake and which ones were authentic.

Mike BarnoJuly 21, 2016 7:38 PM

@ Curious,

If the document's authors and editors felt confident enough to characterize those captured enemy war plans as having actually been fake or real, there is little doubt that the confirmation came at the cost of quite a few human lives.

WilliamJuly 21, 2016 7:41 PM

Here is also a similar book written by Richard Heuer a few years later.

'Psychology of Intelligence Analysis'
by Richard J. Heuer

Richards J. Heuer “is a former CIA veteran of 45 years and most known for his work on Analysis of Competing Hypotheses and his book, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. The former provides a methodology for overcoming intelligence biases while the latter outlines how mental models and natural biases impede clear thinking and analysis.”

ThomasJuly 21, 2016 7:58 PM


If you simply invert the advice given by your analysts you have a system that works 9 times out of 10!

(until the analysts learn what you're doing and pre-invert...)

AaronJuly 22, 2016 10:17 AM

Just an odd observation - I can't find another example of Robert Gates signature resembling the handwriting on the cover. It struck me because it looks nothing like the signature on my TAMU degree, which looks identical to all the other examples I can find online.

Slime Mold with MustardJuly 22, 2016 5:44 PM

Wow, photocopiers really sucked in the 1970's.

The essay itself is also handicapped by that perspective. Although at least the existence of the " Double Cross system ", run by the British against German intelligence, had been revealed a year earlier. Many more critical secrets of WW II were yet to be disclosed (i.e. the MI-19 operation to bug high ranking German POWs conversations , details of FORTITUDE ).

Another glaring instance of ignorance include claiming the " Red Orchestra " ( Die Rote Kapelle ) was infiltrated and run by the Abwehr (page 21 in the PDF, 10 in the document). The Bay of Pigs is listed as having achieved surprise (page 27/16). That surprised me.

The errors and omissions recall an issue the author bespake at the outset: Is it possible to quantify or qualify the shadows without a flashlight (access to classified files)? I doubt it.

If however, you want an education in the field of deception, try the corporate world.

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