20th Mar 2018

CIA manual tells agents how to fool EU border guards

  • Secret CIA documents instruct US agents to fool border guards at EU airports (Photo: afagen)

Classified CIA manuals instruct US agents with fake identities on how to maintain cover during EU border checks, according to two manuals released by Wikileaks on Sunday (21 December).

Both are marked "Noforn," meaning "no foreigners", which stop them being shared with allied intelligence agencies.

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The first document, "Surviving Secondary", is from 2011 and explains what to do in case a border guard singles out an agent for extra scrutiny.

The second document, "Schengen Overview", is from 2012 and explains the exposure risks posed by electronic border control checks like the Visa Information System (VIS) and others.

Most of the instructions in the "Surviving Secondary" manual appear to be based on common sense tactics.

For one, it says the best way to fool a border or security guard is to have a "consistent, well-rehearsed, and plausible cover".

The 15-page manual provides an example in which one US agent was stopped by security at a EU airport after traces of explosives were found in his bag.

Pulled aside for extra questioning, the agent fooled the guards into believing he had received counter-terrorism training in Washington DC. He was released.

Other tips include: Create an online persona that fits the cover story; be mentally prepared; and avoid carrying any electronic devices that could blow your fake identity.

Agents should also not bite their lips, volunteer too much information, perspire, or qualify sentences with phrases like “swear to God”.

The 12-page "Schengen Overview" document provides an overview of the differing electronic border control systems in place in the EU.

With one future possible exception, it notes that the systems are not designed for counterintelligence and therefore “pose a minimal identity threat to US operational travellers”.

The possible exception is the Entry/Exit System (EES), which is set to become operational next year.

EES records and stores the time and place of entries and exits by non-EU travellers, including those who do not require visas.

“The European Commission is considering requiring travelers who do not require visas to provide biometric data at their first place of entry into the Schengen area, which would increase the identity threat level for all US travellers,” notes the document.

Among the systems seen as unlike to result in an agent's identity being exposed is Europe’s largest, the so-called Schengen Information System (SIS), which stores information like records of people denied entry into the EU.

Unless the operative is travelling with a nationality that requires a visa, the Visa Information System (VIS) is also of little counterintelligence use because US citizens do not need a visa to enter the EU.

The VIS identity threat for non-US-documented travellers is set to expand, it notes.

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