CIA Procedures to Identify Deception

intelligence analystThe highest quality of any intelligence analyst is to arrive at conclusions from seemingly disparate pieces of information. We call this connecting the dots. Most people believe that this is more of an art than science. However, the truth is that this is more of a science than art.

Morgan D. Jones was an intelligence analyst at the CIA decades ago during the Cold War, and what he found was that deception was very difficult to detect within the “wilderness of mirrors” of intelligence and counterintelligence. In his book, “The Thinker’s Toolkit” (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998), Jones summarized the findings of his career at the CIA with an interesting thesis, in which Chameleon Associates believes and embraces in its Predictive Profiling seminar — that is, structure must precede analysis.

Morgan posited that the reason we were so prone to mistakes in judgment (succumbing to deception by terrorists or enemy intelligence services) was because our thinking processes interfered with objective analysis. That is, our inductive logic (experience, biases, inferences) interfered with our deductive logic (objective, mathematical structure). In other words, human beings were inherently vulnerable to deception because of our reliance on inductive logic for most of our thinking in life—Jones even believed that this phenomenon occurred even when we were consciously aware of our biases. In other words, we tend to choose to believe what we want to think, and we conform the “evidence” to fit our views. We make the apparent evidence “prove” our theories. Thus we are vulnerable to deception.

To put the idea in another way, deductive thinking is counter intuitive, which is why – when confronted with situations of terrorism or intelligence threats – Jones insisted that we structure the issues, and then begin the process of analysis. In this way, we force the deductive approach to analysis, and so limit the interference of our own biases, experience, and preconceived notions to the problems.

The Predictive Profiling method operates on the same methodology. Chameleon Associates provides its clients the trade craft to “red team” the role of the terrorist through a process. By using this process, we identify the adversary’s methods of operation, which, in turn, provide us an objective list of suspicion indicators. By using the suspicion indicators, the Chameleon Associates provides its clients the best methodology for discovering deception by people intent on committing acts of terrorism. In other words, our methodology relies on structure before analysis—or, to put it another way, we make an art of science.


  1. James Bartel on July 11, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Thank you for bringing the book to my attention. I just ordered a copy. Will let you know how good it is. Jim Bartel

  2. Anonymous on August 2, 2019 at 5:56 am

    Thank you

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