Basic Types of Intelligence Operatives

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Intelligence Officer

A professionally trained intelligence operative employed by a foreign intelligence service. Such an officer is often deployed to foreign countries by his/her home intelligence service, often under cover as a diplomat at an embassy or a consulate. From here, the officer can attempt to identify, assess, target, and recruit and run agents who have access to information of interest to the intelligence service.


This is a general term that covers a broad range of operatives. Essentially, an agent is an individual who performs tasks for a foreign intelligence service, often after being recruited by an intelligence officer. Such an individual may work in an organization that possesses information of value to a foreign government. Alternatively, an agent may also provide services, such as identifying potential recruits or assessing a targeted individual’s willingness to be recruited by a foreign intelligence service. Agents do not necessarily have a clandestine relationship with the foreign intelligence service they are working for. For example, some agents may be in a position to maintain what appears to be a completely overt, legitimate relationship with a foreign intelligence officer. Also, some agents can even be unwitting in that they are not necessarily aware that they are being manipulated and providing information to a foreign intelligence service.

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