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International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence
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Toward a Theory of Deception
J. Bowyer Bell a a International Analysis Center, New York City. Online Publication Date: 01 January 2003
To cite this Article Bell, J. Bowyer(2003)'Toward a Theory of Deception',International Journal of Intelligence and
CounterIntelligence,16:2,244 — 279
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/08850600390198742 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08850600390198742
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International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 16: 244–279, 2003 Copyright # 2003 Taylor & Francis 0885-0607/03 $12.00 + .00 DOI: 10.1080/08850600390198742
J. BOWYER BELL
Toward a Theory of Deception1
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Deception is an aspect of human perception that is in turn shaped by objective reality along with physiological and psychological factors. Humans apparently require consistency and cohesion in perception. Thus, sense is made of reality by the translation of the real world into agreed patterns. Physical — objective — reality consists of the accepted pattern determined by both physiological and psychological means. A general consensus has been reached on the nature of colors, the touch of water or the presence of a moon. Although one observer may see the moon as a satellite of the earth in a small solar system on the edge of a minor galaxy, and another as the largest body in the sky circling in a crystalline sphere the earth at the center of the universe, both agree that the moon exists. Deception is the conscious, planned intrusion of an illusion seeking to alter a target’s perception of reality, replacing objective reality with perceived reality: gamblers mark cards, magicians make an elephant disappear on stage to delight the audience. Deceiving, cheating, oﬀering the false is an integral aspect of human society. Loaded dice have been found in Egyptian tombs, and audiences are fooled by magicians the same way they were ﬁve hundred years ago—and with variations of the same tricks. Deception may also be imposed by nature. An optical illusion creates ambiguities or contradictions in an observer’s perception. A stick thrust into water is seen as crooked. Lines can be made to appear longer or shorter. Some drawings are ﬁrst seen as two proﬁles, and then as a vase, and cannot be made stable by the observer. All of these arise from the structure of the brain that translates data into image.
Dr. J. Bowyer Bell is President of the International Analysis Center, New York City, and a member of the Editorial Board of Studies in Conflict & Terrorism: The author of numerous books and articles on terrorism and guerrilla warfare, his most recent work is Murders on the Nile : The World Trade Center and Global Terror (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003).
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE
TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION
But the most common examples in nature are those illusions that have evolved over time, to the advantage of a speciﬁc species. The deceptive characteristics or behaviors are patterns that deceive enemies, attract friends, encourage breeding, or oﬀer some advantage. A zebra’s stripes, very visible in broad daylight, hide the animal at the twilight hunting hours. The cuckoo ﬁnds a surrogate mother for its egg. The evolutionary process has resulted in an adaptation that aids in survival, but the cuckoo did not plan the coloring of the egg or the zebra the stripes. These natural phenomena lie outside deception planning concerns. They may be useful as examples or analogies for the planner, just as optical illusions may be useful; but deception is a human construction, not a product of physiology or evolution. Deception may also be the result of self-deception when a congenial illusion is preferred to objective reality. The observer sees what he chooses to see. Then the process channels a pattern onto a mirror, so that the illusion is both sent and received by the same individual. Desired reality becomes perceived reality, and is taken as objective reality. What is seen is not only what is expected — as is mostly the case — or what someone wants seen, as is the case with deception, but also what is wanted. An illusion is thus imposed unconsciously on reality. A general may seek and then create evidence of his opponents’ weakness. His enemy may or may not exploit such predilections to hide their formations and reinforce the illusion. A deception planner thus can exploit natural deception as example and self-deception as opportunity but, in most cases, must fashion a compelling ruse, and channel the results, hoping that the target will accept the illusion and act on the new pattern. A universal means of such planned deception has been lying, i.e., adjusting the spoken word to advantage. Easy to do, cheap to do, and often visibly eﬀective. The goal of the lie — the ruse accepted as illusion — may vary. Those who lie to themselves are involved in self-deception and need only the planner’s encouragement. Those who lie may be seeking only the gratiﬁcation on the acceptance of a lie — a frisson of control. Any lie will do if believed. A lie may be a social lubricant, validation of a swindle, a means to achieve a special end, a way to hide motive or guilt, to sell a stock or to win a lady. The lie is part of a process that adjusts reality, a process that sells the stock or wins the lady. This deception process is a cycle that is valid for all ruses, no matter how constructed. The ruses may include the eﬀects of optical illusion, and the hope that the delusions of the target can be manipulated to advantage, but the construct is largely shaped to be a compelling pattern that will impose an alternative reality that will lead to the planner’s advantage: the enemy general defeated, the armada saved, the stock sold, and the lady won. Something is hidden, something shown, a pattern composed and the target
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VOLUME 16, NUMBER 2
the wheel is regularly being reinvented. predilection. and responds. In sum. agreed vocabulary but also adjust to objective reality — the real world. Understanding this deception process has been clouded by those who deceive naturally. The buyers saw what they chose to see — some stayed content and others in time became outraged that their ‘‘vintage’’ print was INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . or a coat of paint.’’ and there is considerable confusion as to the nature of ‘‘surprise’’ — often taken as a goal when actually the byproduct of the termination of an illusion. No clear diﬀerence in usage exists between ‘‘wile’’ and ‘‘ruse. The investment in the deceit may be enormous or merely a cloud of dust to simulate an army. personal prejudice. Much deception depends on perspective and interpretations. DEFINING DECEPTION Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 Deception is the transformation of a target’s perceptions by a planner channeling one or more ruses. The planner analyzing the result. hid the Suez Canal. by a lack of a speciﬁc vocabulary to refer to the dynamics involved. The military uses congenial terms. but each is integrated into a general deception cycle. no matter the long ancestry of practice. A wide variety of terms that have long been in everyday usage have overlapping and ambiguous meanings. Many vintage photographic prints were not done at the time by the photographer or authenticated. BOWYER BELL deceived. the response of the target. a bit of mud to hide the soldier. do so without theory or contemplation. manipulated. may maintain the ﬁrst channeled ruse or devise other validating ruses to channel or discontinue the eﬀort. Deception is essentially by a qualitative not quantitative activity — often a matter of judgment. And in matters of deception. many words in everyday usage are used variously. or an artiﬁce and a trick. deception is the process of advantageously imposing the false on a target’s perception of reality. and convenient. and in 1944 the Allied deception planners oﬀered the Germans a huge notional army through a combination of ruses and channels. In the summer of 1941. A ﬁb may serve to deceive. that once accepted as an illusion changes objective reality and the target who accepts the false as real. composed of simulative (showing) and dissimulative (hiding) constructs. the contingent. the British camouﬂage expert Jasper Maskelyne hid the city of Alexandria and created another. and the dictionary deﬁnition is often of limited assistance in distinguishing between a copy and a forgery. Magicians have their own extensive language to describe their deception activities with special meanings: a ‘‘method’’ is the means by which a trick is done and the ‘‘illusion’’ is what the magician creates and the audience accepts. In deception planning. any theory must not only have a speciﬁc. For example.246 J.
is not always sharp-edged. certainty. categories merge. NUMBER 2 . An assistant who tried to sell his own ‘‘Kosabi’’ work was successfully sued. A target may respond to deception in ways that lie along an arc of intensity — a line of increasing presence of the element under consideration — or a ruse increasingly composed of simulative elements. but with Flavin’s imprimatur. or a mix. subject to qualitative factors and entangled with the contingent. gaming dice shaved in ancient Egypt. An individual may buy worthless stock or visitors may be impressed with the powerful voice of the Wizard of Oz.000 rather than $30. The buyer must have a document that tells him what is being seen lest he be deceived. In fact. an illusion—to achieve advantage. What is seen is a matter of desire and consensus rather than objective reality.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 247 Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 not as vintage as imagined. shows or hides. may be in the eye of the beholder. and the muddle of time. or the Arab assumption in June 1967 that the Israelis would not attack. the physiological to oﬀer a target an alternative reality—if accepted. And the deception planner anticipates gain—a sale or power and inﬂuence in Oz. Dan Flavin made light sculptures out of ﬂuorescent tubes easily purchased at a hardware store but oﬀered with a certiﬁcate of authenticity: the ﬂuorescent bar was the same in all ways. And like the art world. The art world is replete with painters copying their earlier and more valuable work. DECEPTION PROCESS Deception is a conscious process that mingles the psychological and. and galleries running oﬀ unauthorized prints. Much is a matter of degree. all realist paintings are illusions: perspective or likeness achieved by the ruses of paint on a ﬂat surface. Perceived reality is determined by the observer. Deception can engender a change in a target’s perception that can be rigorously analyzed but not precisely quantiﬁed. Objective reality is the physical world as perceived. in some cases. worth $150. but worth. They are deceived about the nature of reality. denying earlier work they no longer like. The contemporary artist Kosabi has a studio assistant paint ‘‘his’’ paintings and limits himself to deciding on the title. What is really there. The illusion may be a Man Ray print bought as vintage. continuity. The response to an illusion or the degree of a ruse is either simulative or dissimulative. the unforeseen. Not only beauty. or an illusion. They prefer to see what AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. Objective reality is edited by individuals or monitors when received into perceived reality. The ruse and an illusion mesh in varying ways at varying speeds. In all cases. want patterns. the real world is not easily modeled. and distinctions have muddled edges. and may be identical with objective reality. observers seek coherence. optical illusions in the service of art.
what ‘‘ﬁtted’’ his predisposition was true—or at least valid. In astronomy. and over long periods of time. And the long-held illusion of the sun rising and setting on an orbit around the earth remained a popular perception for centuries. They have ﬁtted the world situation up to this time. The new data. Like old soldiers. Data was adjusted until. the particular means of acquisition. BOWYER BELL Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 they expect to see. the consensus became that the earth orbited the sun. In 1921. Even in the physical sciences. The innocent eye does not notice that there is a bonding design in brick walls composed of the headers (short ends) and stretchers (the long side). often slowly. Perception of reality has changed. so much so that at times. no one perceived that women had the same INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . Henry Ford. The consensus-reality is constantly adjusted to absorb any new data until such a process becomes too complex.248 J. Perception at Work Perceived reality can even repel hard evidence. pattern. In fact. Even the alert have a predisposition to accept perceived reality — almost any ‘‘surprise’’ attack. or to absorb as illusion. the perception of patterns—usually assumed as a facet of objective reality—there is a tendency to adjust the accepted to repel or absorb new evidence. Even novelty is apt to be adjusted to a congenial pattern or simply ignored. without discovering the ruse. Some scientists never give up the comfort of the old theory. comes as a surprise: the conviction is that tomorrow will be like yesterday.’’ Thus to Ford. even against the forewarned. They ﬁt now. The motor car magnate. For a millennium. when the ruse is revealed. the acceptance that the earth was not the center of the universe came slowly. Old patterns and expectations persist. noted after the revelation that ‘‘The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they ﬁt with what is going on. but sees merely ‘‘bricks. and preference. the eye is no longer innocent and no subsequent brick wall is perceived the same. they persist in believing the illusion.’’ When the pattern is disclosed. over time. Deception planners can often rely on the target to adjust to expectations of arena. The New York Times revealed that the widely circulated document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion that oﬀered evidence of a malevolent Jewish plot for world domination was a forgery. and the implications of challenging authority are questioned rather than the old pattern. even novelty. Everyone ‘‘knew’’ that larger objects fall faster because Aristotle said so — and so no further experimental data was needed. there are still those who believe the earth is ﬂat and evolution a delusion. no matter how ﬂawed as a description of reality. the consensus and so the pattern changed — the illusion was that the sun circled the earth. old certainties fade away. The pattern expected is the pattern perceived. who had long cited the work. The familiar has an enormous hold on perception.
Some of the ruses became classics: Monty’s Double or the Man-Who-Never-Was and. the Soviet Union largely destroyed British intelligence because of the reports of a few hidden agents working only for ultimate sanctuary. deployed illusory radio networks. the observer did not observe closely. So. The runner in football. On the other hand. In fact. using hundreds of channels for thousands of ruses. since all knew that Adam had lost a rib for Eve. may engender only minimal responses. There was no need to adjust to the problem of the unexpected rib. and plywood. in Operation Fortitude’s ‘‘Quicksilver’’ plan — the ‘‘Army Group Patton’’ (FUSAG). feinting one way and going the other. for two years the Allies invested enormous eﬀort in hiding the nature of Operation Overlord. the invasion of France. and so Israeli deception ruses had a ready audience. Unlike the Arabs in 1967.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 249 Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 number of ribs as men. oﬀering false options. There were rigid constraints: the Germans knew that an invasion could use only certain beaches at certain times of the year. seemingly based in East Anglia waiting—even after D-Day—to strike at Calais. The Arab states in June 1967 felt no need to go on alert. the deception planner may rely on not only the power of existing patterns. and only when the tide was right. in part because their own threat was not intended to lead to a real war. not because the Russians went to great eﬀort to deceive him. once accepted. just as one hat on a stick can mimic a target. or at least predisposed to accept an illusion made appealing. used captured spies as channels and constructed tanks and airplanes out of canvass. but others can engender a vast strategic transformation. The course of battle could be changed by a cloud of dust. just as a few horses raising a cloud of dust may win a battle. Classic Ruses For a generation. One horse behind a hill dragging a blanket to raise a cloud of dust can mimic an army on the move. there is always the prospect that the target of any deception plan will be self-deceived. rubber. because reality was already known. and in the second. only to see what was expected. some illusions. Of course. He was predisposed to anticipate the Calais area as the focus of any Anglo-American invasion of Europe in 1944. The perceptual advantages for a deception planner are often coupled with low cost: deception can be made to work and work cheaply. NUMBER 2 . In the ﬁrst case. need not observe. but yet may reap a highly satisfactory return. hardly invests either thought or eﬀort. but the predilections of the target — in some cases so intrusive as to be delusory. the Germans knew AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. Plan Bodyguard created notional armies. Hitler believed in his imaginary divisions in the spring of 1945 because the alternative was too distasteful. false documents. and so eased the task of the Allied deception planners. out of habit.
a contest in opposing ruses that arise from experience and necessity. Generally. The military often deploys deception in response to a special opportunity or obstacle.250 J. a successful invasion meant the war would be won. the impact of the accepted illusion of another thrust by FUSAG remained a factor in German headquarters’ considerations for sixty-six days. The results were well worth the investment. lost. more often than not. Balancing Expectation and E¡ort The complexity of the ruse does not necessarily determine the scope of the response: one little lie can transform an empire. done without recourse to theory or even a clear understanding of the deception process. Thus. For the Allies. and for the Germans. however. Football coaches have no theory to deceive their opponents. Generally. according to Barton Whaley’s estimate. simply maintains existing conditions. but spend great eﬀort in devising deceptive formations and procedures. A lie may win a lady. rather than as a conscious and integrated part of doctrine. To contrive and deploy ruses. accepted as an illusion. strategic or tactical or technical. In a sense. then the enemy remains oblivious. is. in part. the level of ruse and response. but usually only after the deceiver invests in a long prologue. Even after D day. to seek to deceive a target. The Allies felt the success of Bodyguard came cheaply. the investment is assumed to have disproportionate results: more for less. Many in the Allied command did not believe it possible to ‘‘hide an invasion’’ — just as there are those who believe that space is too empty to hide a satellite. Still. the deception eﬀort was a bargain: one percent of the D-Day eﬀort. however determined. Objective reality appears to be the same to the enemy admiral. BOWYER BELL Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 there would be an attack in 1944. But what is wanted by the planner may be that the oﬀered ruse. and were aware of the need for both keen observation and counterdeception. in some aﬀairs — military especially — deception is always possible. oﬀered many ruses and channels. and extensive. complex. An American football game is. Deception was worth the price — and advocated on the highest level. nearly always. standard operating procedures. and the ruse successful. The nature of reality. Allied deception was strategic. or that magicians can make an elephant disappear on stage. the response sought is commensurate with the eﬀort expended: the planner anticipates a reaction related to the assets invested in the ruse. Yet. the predisposition of the involved. a force multiplier. Such an accepted illusion may produce no change at all on the part of the target: if the illusion hides the armada. is similar in scope and complexity. and past experience shape all planners’ approaches INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . but not always on the checklist of desired actions. or the false stock sold for far more than the cost of printing the certiﬁcate.
a vastly stronger team need not invest in the unnecessary deception eﬀort. the deception planning is usually determined as much by experience and necessity as doctrine. In fact. any resort to deception is widely considered an indicator of weakness. the advantages of deception become more obvious. beyond the stage. The Chinese consider America the most duplicitous country. . And such planning may address major national policy interests—rearmament. not for us. in any case.’’ Thus. Capacity will override all else. If Miami were to play Harvard. the larger aggressor need only dispatch overwhelming power: how could Grenada repulse the forces of the United States? Even in the Desert Storm operation. as the power of his armies increased. and in only a few cases is that cycle incorporated into a doctrine. the process follows an inevitable cycle. reticence to deploy deception has been taken abroad as still another example of Washington’s deceptive policies. in war and under pressure. Napoleon. deception was institutionalized in the Soviet Union and Great Britain. and as expected. undeclared war. and somehow also unethical. operating in a closed universe and guaranteed an observant audience. what others call cheating is merely prudent behavior. Americans tend to assume that deception is cheating and cheating unethical — a trick — and. even to the Americans who ﬁnd cheating distasteful. deception was almost unnecessary. Power and capacity. unneeded. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. King. so did their grasp of deception planning. In all cases. not the just and righteous.2 In 1943. and misdirection would be unnecessary—included in the Miami quarterback’s repertoire only because they were in the playbook.S. Funding deception research engenders ethical opposition by those who hold government to ‘‘high’’ and conventional standards: swindlers cheat. appeasement—that need to be hidden or exaggerated. in turning down the advantage of surprise that miniature submarines oﬀered. the Iraqi military implodes. In sports. fakes. On the other hand. in the United States. or merely the concerns of a patrol into enemy territory where mud is applied as camouﬂage. NUMBER 2 . The apparent U. National characteristics are merely one of the factors that encourage or shape deception planning. trick plays. and employed so conventionally as to deceive few. relied more on force and less on cunning and misdirection. in real life. In fact. . only magicians. and at times even incorporated into the Pentagon structure.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 251 to deception. have a consistent doctrine of deception. can make deception unnecessary. In some societies. Admiral Ernest J. as in real life. Mostly. In any case. In an invasion of a small country. once those Americans involved in Bodyguard returned to civilian life or retired from the military. American military strategy has often been based on deploying maximum power and technological capacity without recourse to duplicity—‘‘more’’ is more and force needs no enhancing. said it was the tool ‘‘of despair of have-not-nations .
as well the impact of past INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . The planner’s analysis of the target’s response through a spectrum of feedback may lead to immediate success or failure. Thus. and both will be entangled in the decision-arena. and may in fact prove costly. has been invented over and over. to deceive is not suﬃcient. or elaborated passing through the channel that. What is wanted is a proper response — the target to do something or nothing. in turn. the American military has often generated work on the value and application of deception and has employed deception. More has remained More — and assumed better or good enough. without greatly inﬂuencing United States military preferences. is to determine the result desired from a successful illusion. may or may not be adjusted by the analysis of the feedback. each and every time. the target either accepts all or part—or none—of the ruse as an illusion. a cycle moves from the desire to deceive by means of a ruse that is channeled to establish an illusion. nor lack of formal doctrine have prevented the repeated recourse to deception in most ﬁelds—American generals still hide their intentions. There. the ﬁrst step is the recognition by a potential planner of the need or opportunity to deceive a target. For strategic planners. or the construction of further ruses. There is a spectrum of responses to the illusion that can be discerned by the deception planner only through feedback. military journals have oﬀered articles by majors and colonels on the advantages of deception without changing the priorities of the generals and admirals. often lopsided. Mere acceptance of a ruse as an illusion may not be advantageous. new and parallel ruses. In fact. deception follows a predetermined cycle. And. Thus. DECEPTION CYCLE In deception. The channel can be as complex as the ruse. Entry at the planning stage of the cycle oﬀers the opportunities and limitation of objective reality. the persistent dispatch of the existing ruse that may or may not be altered. and oil stocks are printed in the basement. Yet. on to the planner’s response to the success or limitations of the target’s response to the illusion. The deception-wheel. and often is not. from the planner’s concept to the planner’s analysis of the result. BOWYER BELL Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 For generations. What must be done in deception. and the counter-deception actions of the target. just as football quarterbacks fake to the runner. neither the predilections of national character. the dangers of self-deception. a shift in channels. perceived need.252 J. To this end follows the planning and construction of a ruse that can be channeled within a decision-arena. but without the need of a basic theoretical foundation.
the angle of the sun. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. and the limits of existing resources. Deﬁning the terms further: (1) Deception Planning: objective goal. This automatically assures some sort of adjustment. It may succeed or fail. or the reverse. cost beneﬁt. or discarded. an army emerges out of radio broadcasts or air reconnaissance photographs or the reports of false spies. gossip spread. For example. The process to deceive may be adjusted by the changing needs of the deception planner or the changing perceptions of the target. with the deception planner adjusting or maintaining the goal. especially doing nothing. and the height of the planes must be considered when the camouﬂage is chosen. conﬁrmed. What is needed is the time or radio operators and the false messages. to suggest great strength. If the illusion is to be eﬀective. is oﬀered for reception as an illusion. Further planning and commitment can be given to additional. may suggest further ruses. parallel. even doing nothing — sometimes. NUMBER 2 . the planes will be hidden from the radar. The channel (the medium as message) entangles the constructed ruse with a means of display that may be contrived or natural or both: e. (10) The Cycle Continued. the contingent and unforeseen. changes will have to be made. standard operating procedures. (3) Channeling Selection: the projection of the ruse by use of eﬀective means. if painted to blend with the sky. a radio broadcast meant to be monitored. and so the antiaircraft guns cannot ﬁre. in all or in part. Further channels and ruses can be considered.. The goal may be to protect airplanes against antiaircraft ﬁre and so. commitment. (5) The Decision-Arena: where the ruse. the radio broadcast. In all cases. codes that are meant to be broken. (7) The Target-Response and Response-Spectrum: to the intended imperatives of the illusion or to the perceived imperatives of the illusion. should be invisible. (4) Ruse-Channeled: at this point the ruse is projected to impose a change in the perceived reality of the target. Here. (6) The Illusion is accepted. radio traﬃc is created that mimics a larger army. or an open safe ﬁlled with false documents. or may in a few cases persist without further reinforcement. These factors — characteristics (charcs) — when combined generate a basic ruse.g. (2) Ruse Construction: the combination of factors necessary. and the target thus adjusts to the imposed pattern as an aspect of objective reality-acceptance. The crews ﬂying the ‘‘hidden’’ bombers report that antiaircraft ﬁre is at times directed eﬀectively at the camouﬂaged airplanes.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 253 experience. benign. ﬂawed cost-beneﬁt analysis. but what is crucial is the channel. i. An eﬀective channel may validate an ineﬀectual ruse. and choice of both ruse and channel. (9) A Decision to Respond to feedback: The weather. or advantageous. by the intrusion of objective reality. visible to the target. For example. the ruse can be adjusted. The illusion is not dispatched but created within the decisionarena. (8) The Illusion-Impact and Analysis of the Feedback is conducted by the deception planner of the target response.e. may impose unexpected change—baleful. the pressures of time..
in reality. what ruse may work to that eﬀect.254 J. having already responded. Counter-Deception The planner hopes that the target may not be in a position to exploit the revelation of the illusion. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 The key transition in the cycle is the transformation of the channeled ruse into an illusion and out of control of the planner until the return of feedback that suggests an appropriate response. as was the case with the Protocols of Zion. and so continues to oﬀer to the original planner the illusion that the ruse has been maintained. the spy is either monitored or turned. no diﬀerent in structure. and the appropriate means to oﬀer a change in pattern that will be accepted as an illusion. What is wanted is perceived as a deception-goal. (11) or the Cycle Closed. DECEPTION PLANNING Deception planning begins with the aspiration to adjust existing reality to the advantage and the agenda of the planner. and thus manipulate the target to respond as desired. Most ruses have a built-in termination date. The planner anticipates that the illusion will exert control on the target. but at times the target can initiate a duplicitous response to the illusion. or can be one without a ﬁnal date. without further change. generally the better. usually on the revelation or discovery by the target that its perceived reality is an illusion. What the planner seeks from the beginning is a means to oﬀer a convincing option— a pattern—that will impose a new reality on the target. the costs related to the beneﬁts. Deception has been countered and an alternative cycle. there can be a counter-cycle by the target when the illusion is revealed or discovered. the spy is secure. according to the aspiration of the deception planner. Such manipulation may be intended to have a very short existence. initiated by the target. The spy dispatched is taken as a recruit until a background check reveals that. An illustration of this follows. achieved through duplicity. guile. instead of execution. as does a hat on a stick. Thus. Secrecy is necessary to guard INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . or monitoring the ruse as long as the necessary illusion as accepted persisting. and so not only counter the deception but also exploit it. and his report valid. and so manipulate a desirable response. The now-former target can seek to project a counter-ruse that will oﬀer an illusion to the original planner as to the impact of the original ruse. thus manipulated at a distance. but then. and cunning. BOWYER BELL congruent or maintained ruses. The less information about the planner in the possession of the target. he is an enemy of the state. The planner must deﬁne what is wanted. when hiding is no longer necessary the illusion self-liquidates.
The returns of the investment in a pyramid scheme may be so compelling that caution is discarded — and logic. There is. The investment must come with a certiﬁcate. both physically and psychologically. But the dynamics of self-deception diﬀer from those of deception. Rarely does a planner examine existing problems with a deception checklist to hand. Formal planning stresses the need for secrecy. This is not true with the target’s speciﬁc prejudices. the means. and be sold with enough conviction to convince even the greedy. habits. and poker players protect their hand. Then. the pleasure of deceit may hide the vital necessity of the purpose of deceit. and yet eﬀective for the planner or the work of hundreds over a period of months. The deceiver can thus count on the natural attraction of apparent gain or reassurance. the runner in a football game merely and without thought oﬀers options — misdirection — to avoid tacklers: soldiers hide if possible when under ﬁre. not merely to have an illusion acceptance. If the target possesses an insight into the planner’s capacity and habits. as was the Bodyguard plan. a clever ruse may create a cunning illusion. as noted.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 255 the nature of the ruse. the particular habits of the target. as well as the skillful composition of the channeled ruse. and are often irrelevant to most deception planning. experience. at times the target’s commitment to a preferred reality. or otherwise compelling evidence to reality. NUMBER 2 . At times there is little planning. Most deception appears to the involved to come naturally. the potential target prefers the reﬂection from a mirror to the confusion of objective reality. A deception planner may be aware of the target’s propensity for certain illusions. A planner may be able to predict the possible response to a speciﬁc ruse by the target through analyzing past practice and predilections. The deception cycle may be all but instant. the cost of deception. as well. or may arise from personal and private perspectives. And only a desired reaction indicates successful deception planning. an almost spontaneous display of a ruse that is immediately accepted as an illusion that provokes target response. but not to the magicians who have a doctrine. and predilections. barely planned. self-deception when an illusion is preferred over objective reality. deception is more diﬃcult. At all times. but the new reality must also convince the target to respond to the advantage of the planner: what is wanted is to shape a reaction to the illusion. but must still create and deploy a ruse to generate a compelling illusion. These predispositions may arise from an institutionalized self-deception. These may be of vital use to the planner in understanding the target. may be the universals of perception. Finally. by the target. but such knowledge may be of advantage if properly exploited. and so a swift analysis of the response. not to those who paint camouﬂage. On the other hand. and the returns. or to those selling fake oil stock or oﬀering three-card Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16.
the Italians moved their troops away from what the accepted-illusion oﬀered—an attack in the South—and moved them to ‘‘safety’’ in the North in the path of the real attack. the investment in cardboard and lumber or rubber planes and tanks could be eﬀective only if the German air reconnaissance photographed the ruses. the point of a military attack. however. replicates the deception-cycle as a basis. What is attempted is to deceive the generic trout (a few ﬂies may be tied to deceive a speciﬁc ﬁsh but this is unusual) that the ruse is either Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . the lack of resources of the company. must have a high allure component: there is no point in oﬀering a ruse that is unwanted. however. Only over time is a doctrine of deception likely to be available that. is that for it to work the illusion must impose a desired response. What is often forgotten. each taken as illusions by the Italians. and many do not seem to realize that the ruse and channel become integrated when perceived by the target. running a spectrum from simple to complex. Many deception planners tend to focus on the ruse that will fool the target. and often little. Time and eﬀort went into the creation and channeling of ruses. Only a few military commanders deny their forces the seeming advantages of using some ruses. and without doctrine. Many ruses appear obvious to the planner: hide the location of troops. So. knowing or not. less to the channel. the strength of the cards held. instead of reinforcing the South and thus weakening the North. The tied ﬂy. some deception planners give great thought to the means — the channel — that can most eﬀectively present the ruse to the target. Deception planning varies.256 J. Planning may be spontaneous. The channel was crucial. or the health of an athlete. Wavell had his ruse accepted as an illusion. and so devised a plan to persuade the Italians he would attack in the South. and aware of the need for feedback. integrated with goals and ends. and always the intention of the planner. halting. but had lost his investment. BOWYER BELL monte as a means to riches on the street corner. cognizant of the purpose of the illusion and the nature of the target. in love or war. as well as thoughtful. and compromised his prospects in Abyssinia. as did Wavell. Deception is their trade. At some early stage. General Archibald Wavell intended to attack in the North. However. from strategic to technical. In FUSAG. and social lies make society work. The Fly Fisherman as Deception Planner A trout ﬁshermen is engaged in deception from the construction of the ﬂy to the analysis of the creel. A successful channel may even validate a dubious ruse. like any eﬀective ruse. and so devises a ruse to that purpose. the planner opts for the perceived advantages that a successful illusion oﬀers. In Britain’s World War II campaign to seize Italian Abyssinia. to the result.
as well as the Allies with Operation Bodyguard. the ambient noise — or the contingent and unforeseen. What is attractive to the deception planner is the careful construction of a ruse. the temperature of the water. if this proves to be the case. the ﬂow of the current. been denied because of the time of day. analysis. NUMBER 2 . for the liar or the magician. but this oﬀers little explanation as to why. cunning. no matter how appealing. for the card shark. In the ﬁrst case. If the trout does not. the deception planner creates a ﬂy that it is assumed will. desperation. the oﬃcer charged with hiding the Suez Canal. In all cases. Each stage oﬀers the planner desirable opportunities: the skill deployed to tie the ﬂy. is reused or reﬁned. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 For the ﬂy ﬁsherman. the diﬃculty for the deception planner is that the reasons for refusal can only be extrapolated and never discovered. At rare times the trout can be seen to deny the lure. the temperature. planning usually shapes the ruse to a perceived need. given the secretive nature of a trout’s decisionmaking process. ingenuity and practice — and at times innocence. or the trout may not be striking any object. and ignorance. guile. and ﬂexibility. the wind. not the speciﬁc ﬂy oﬀered. the amount of weed in the water. and the problematic results that set in motion further deception cycles. the skills required to channel it by casting. the weather. the degree of weed. the cycles of the moon. a bite. Those involved often ﬁnd the actual construction and channeling of the ruse equal to evidence of eﬀect. then there are a variety of adjustments that the deception planner can make to the ruse or to the arena: (a) retie the ﬂy or (b) reconsider the impact of the time of day. cunning. The ﬂy may not have been seen. to the trout. the deluded trout striking at an illusion. Repeated refusals of the same lure are taken as evidence that the ruse cannot create an illusion. The lure-ruse is channeled by an invisible line tossed into harm’s way. may have been noted by a trout not feeding. AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. The problem for the deception analysis is that the illusion taken by the trout can be analyzed only by uncertain feedback. the ruse is created by a planner deploying skill. The uncertainly of feedback and the impact of intangibles and variants assure a constant challenge to be met with skill. the ﬂy-maker devises a lure-ruse that is assumed attractive to the generic trout and. The trout may be taking any small objects. the philanderer. the degree of light. look like what has been delightful in the past: mimic reality and so engender the desired response. What is clear is that the trout either does or does not strike. just as repeated strikes indicate to the planner that the lure works. In the second.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 257 a real ﬂy and so worth sampling or else a novel oﬀering equally worth sampling. or the noise level. the skill displayed in channeling the lure with a casting rod — and the intellectual challenge of when and where and how this is done and then the analysis of the limited feedback result — and so the eﬀort to build a better trout ﬂy.
the liar. The liar lies almost automatically. in fact. A channel is at times more crucial than the ruse. is always found in the response. and some may work as intended. no ships at sea. the attitude of allies. The combined impact of the channeled-ruse. has no control. and troop morale. not merely to have the ruse channeled and accepted as illusion. as well as his position. the habits of the senior commanders. unappealing or dangerous: each initiating a desired response. some may be compromised. A military planner. no matter how complex. for example. The channel may be as important as the ruse—the liar as convincing as the lie. benign. In the course of a complex deception eﬀort. The falsehood. And. take into account the existing reality: the weather. and the enemy’s dispositions. and oﬀers a simple ruse. for the target. no communication with his leaders. or building dummy tanks that are not noticed by enemy air reconnaissance. There is no use in sending duplicitous semaphore signals to the blind. one penny among a pile. A ruse may be intended to create an illusion that. naturally. is merely a clerk until activated. without great thought. (1) To be unnoticed the illusion must integrate the illusion into the existing pattern of perceived reality: all continues to appear normal. In World War II. as well. a falsehood. but also capable of imposing a ruse within the decision-arena. and so the whole illusion is accepted. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . the tides. must. This special clerk. the course of battle. many require detailed planning. BOWYER BELL If some ruses are oﬀered nearly spontaneously. no break in the routine or standard operating procedures. the channel must be not only acceptable and convincing. no new troops on the move. appealing or unappealing. The British could hide the Suez Canal from the Germans with Maskelyne’s ruses because the channel — aerial reconnaissance — was vulnerable to manipulation. the terrain. The planner should have an insight into what ruse would be most eﬀective to achieve the desired purpose. The authenticity of the false documents is accepted because the channel is very convincing. regularly riﬂed by a spy. relies on acceptance in part by the reputation of the channel. the Britishcontrolled German agents reported back through their usual channels so that their false information was validated by the means of transmission. absolutely hidden since there is nothing to hide but potential.258 RUSE-CHANNEL PLANNING J. and more easily neglected by the planners. until activated. The spy as clerk — a mole — does nothing. contradictory ruses may be taken as authentic because they are contradictory. composed of ruses: the ambassador’s safe at the embassy. Some channels are. denies the truth. is ﬁlled not with secret papers but forgeries to achieve advantage. hides past action or future intention. will be unnoticed. desirable. some channels may contradict others. is no diﬀerent from other clerks.
so that innovation is often a planner’s choice. when the style is copied. And. prestige. vengeance. or merely a football formation organized for a pass when the defense is prepared for a run. as long as the channel is convincing. Canadian forces in the Afghanistan campaign used camouﬂage uniforms that made them more rather than less visible. The channel may be ‘‘coded’’ but easily penetrated to give further authenticity: no signs on the mine ﬁeld but its position leaked by agents. False battleships may oﬀer the enemy air force a target. inept ruse planning may lead to swift discovery: Recently. the provenance being as important as the impact of the image. easy to commission or compose. A feeble lion with a large growl may deceive a hunter who on past experience takes the decibels as an indication of power.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 259 (2) (3) Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 (4) (5) On the other hand. Denial. A planner can operate through a ruse intended to create an unappealing illusion. A mirage of an oasis is a natural illusion that oﬀers a desirable illusion (salvation) to the desperate traveler. A military ship may be made not invisible by camouﬂage. The most eﬀective ruse is simply a clone of reality —exactly the same but diﬀerent. The planner may also seek the acceptance of an illusion that will be perceived as dangerous by the target and so generate a desired response: a false secretweapon. but rather into an irrelevant tramp steamer. if the target is aware that a ruse is being oﬀered. but can more eﬀectively be shaped to the three stages: mimicry. Most forgeries and fakes hope to be taken as desirable and thus generate same advantage for the planner: sales. rather than simply hide one’s assets or intentions. he may oﬀer patent fakes with false signatures at an auction where ‘‘bargains’’ are available and the bidding dazzling — the target becomes involved in the process of acquisition and the ‘‘Picasso’’ becomes less visible. if neither the talent nor provenance is available to the planner. A mine ﬁeld may be marked as such to deﬂect an enemy’s line of advance because removal of the ‘‘mines’’ is not worth the eﬀort. NUMBER 2 . allowing secret maneuvers by the real battleships. the spectrum runs from the least complicated to the most complex. has a better chance of success. An innovative creation of a ‘‘new’’ Picasso. and ambiguity. The three states might be to hide by oﬀering a ruse of one grain of sand among many. Deception is often used to transform something into an irrelevant form. and then hiding. absorbing their interests and assets — and. perhaps. oﬀered through a legitimate dealer — risks comparison with the real. a false armada. is often less compelling as a means to force a target response. however. by creating a false cactus and ﬁnally by AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. innovation. one more grain of sand in the Sahara. A clone — an almost exact copy of a Picasso. RUSE-ILLUSION TAXONOMY Within each major division in a deception taxonomy. just as is ambiguity.
and deployment of deception-ruses may incorporate an enormous investment: with each ruse composed of a complex of ruse-factors. to appear as small as possible when under ﬁre: ‘‘naturally. so obvious is the necessity to hide the moment of attack. but can be placed close to one of the three foci of a long spectrum from the least shift in the pattern of perceived reality to the greatest shift. each illusion will either hide or show and. composition. the ruse and the illusion may be composed of a few simple elements —the hat-on-a-stick — or a huge and complex bundle of ruses employing various channels. however. is almost always less than the cost of having no illusion accepted. in all cases. Thus the ruse may (1) copy reality. all those Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . The planning. with ambiguity on one side with reality blurred. In the placement of a ruse in a taxonomy. The best lie is the truth. varies in each case. BOWYER BELL relying on a ‘‘mirage’’ to confuse existing reality. the intrusion of reality. The ideal for the deception planner is the core-mimicry. often so many that the discovery of a few does not prevent acceptance of the one-great-ruse. or (2) create a novel reality. the lack of secrecy. once channeled into the decision-arena. To do so. But all ruses seek to create an illusion that will oﬀer varying degrees of change in the pattern perceived by the target: from nothing generated by eﬀective camouﬂage to a major strategic initiative — in World War II the Allied attempt to hide the time. and so a complex. strategic illusion. or in the twenties the Germans’ hiding of their air capacity to evade a treaty obligation. and later the Nazi regime exaggerated the Luftwaﬀe’s capacity so as to intimidate potential enemies. a key factor is the degree of change in perceived reality. The deception planner is aware that he can multiply his forces or hide them. and strength of the 1944 Normandy invasion.260 J. and the contingent and unforeseen. and those as well rising from more basic structures. and innovation on the other with reality created. (1) In the ﬁrst example what is seen is what is expected — nothing but rocks or normal radio traﬃc or a beach without defenses. as well. discovery may assist in validation.’’ in World War I. While it is obviously more productive of the investment of assets to opt for a simple ruse to shape a simple illusion—one hat on one stick—there is an intellectual challenge in seeking to impose a greater change on the perceived reality of the target: all ruses may not be economical. Each ruse. The deception planner hardly plans at all in some cases. location. or in the last resort (3) blur reality. Such an investment. In fact. confuse or intimidate an enemy with a smaller investment than the advantages of an increase in his forces. This pattern of simulative and dissimulative factors. to rig for silent running when the destroyers are searching for the submarine. will also interact with objective reality before an illusion is accepted or rejected. These strategic ruses are bundles of other ruses. in some cases. or a prepared enemy will cost.
what is seen is beyond expectation: the addition of new but mock rockets in a parade to reveal nonexistent capacity. oﬀering novelty to either disguise the real or to adjust perceived reality. the planner may choose to confuse the observer — blur the edges. Mimicry tends to hide by displaying a pattern that resembles in all necessary ways perceived realty (an illusion): tanks camouﬂaged as trucks. Most shape a ruse or a channel pragmatically. Dazzle Showing real distractions to blur reality. but the categories contain all the potential ruses and illusions. in whole or in part. No pattern is pure. display a distraction. The target of the ruse looks up or down and perceives what is expected. Few ruse planners have a neat checklist to mix a bit of dazzle with some mimicry. Some recognize AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. an undiscovered Picasso. Misdirection Hiding the real within groups of the potentially real. or a leaked battle plan are innovations created to appear real. In all cases. What is hidden is that they are false. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 DISSIMULATION AND SIMULATION Mimicry To transform the real by oﬀering a false copy of the real transforming what is to be hidden. suggest other valid options.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 261 who had to attack across an open ﬁeld leaned forward to reduce their apparent size—blurring that proved futile but persisted for four years as a natural response. may be aware that a channeled-ruse is being oﬀered but the illusion and reality ﬂicker. The target. of an eﬀort to impose an alternative pattern on objective reality. and the primary means to shape such a pattern. A false army. thus. The real is repackaged as another sort of reality. NUMBER 2 . airplanes painted to blend with the ground when seen from above. increase the noise or the data or the number of channels. Ambiguity When the target is aware. Innovation The creating of an illusion that changes unexpectedly the objective reality of the target. a dangerous shoal. the ruse and so the illusion can ﬁt into a taxonomy that oﬀers spectrums of simulation and dissimulation. (2) In the second case. or with the sky when seen from below.
create or eradicate reality. as long as the Birnam Woods merely hid MacBeth’s enemies. diminishing or debasing. the mirrors and wires. each of the categories of illusion arises from the eﬀectiveness of the ruse. however unexpected and well made. a no-longer secret compartment. and the ruse from the skills and insights of the planner choosing from items within the taxonomy. Intent may be hidden or strengthened. disguised or novelty introduced. in each case seemingly transform objective reality in such a way either to evade notice or to oﬀer the target an eﬀective pattern and force a desired response. In any case. since there is no longer the amazement of the impossible occurring on stage. the intent is to amuse and awe. exaggerate or minimize reality. The planner chooses what to show and what to hide. or in some way altering the target’s perception. the curtain drawn and then opened to reveal the maestro on the other side waving to the audience apparently having walked through the brick wall. dazzling him with the improbable. simple characteristic dispatched.’’ but delighted. The change in the target’s perception of reality may be achieved by enhancing or exaggerating. are not as compelling as the elephant disappearing on stage. A desirable. or unappealing illusion is more likely to oﬀer the planner a visible response by the target than those intended to be unnoticed or benign. maestro can use the actual rather than perceived arena to squeeze through and appear to have managed the impossible. They come anticipating compelling illusion. Thus. In the case of magic. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . The eﬀective planner’s ruse is always oﬀered in hopes that it will be accepted as an illusion and that this acceptance will produce the desired response. and so an audience does not feel ‘‘betrayed. the arena may be secretly extended or weakness transformed into strength by a successful ruse on every level between a single. no response was necessary or visible — but when the ‘‘woods’’ began to move on him. For the construction of a ruse. A magician often relies on the audience’s assumptions of an arena — the stage — and so a maestro can move from one side of the brick wall built on stage on a carpet to the other — waving to the audience on one side. dangerous. the actual rather than the perceived reality of any arena may encourage success. And the purpose of the ruse often determines the components and the result. he had to respond. BOWYER BELL that there are factors involved other than the characteristics of the ruse or the cunning of the channel to consider. All that is left is an impressive technique. The chosen ruse may.262 J. as well. what to channel and what is wanted. Once the means of the eﬀect are known. appreciation of the trick repeated drops appreciably. What the audience does not perceive is that by opening a trap door under the carpet and the brick wall. or by the investment in a massive cluster of ruses in the service of one great illusion. skilled card handling.
For example. The deception planner in both cases has fashioned a ruse to appeal to the target or. with the hat shot oﬀ the stick. with the hat untouched. The magician’s audience accepts the illusion knowing it is false. In deception. The bigoted target accepts the illusion because it ﬁts existing prejudices. and the planner might consider further ruses. Since the ‘‘rocks’’ are previously uncharted (a novel intrusion into perceived reality). the reality of the rocks — a not unexpected aspect of perceived reality — but respond counter to the deception planner’s aim. once the illusion is accepted the target is in control—more ruses to create more illusions to further alter behavior may not be able to adjust the original impact of the illusion. The planner must wait on events. Seemingly real ‘‘rocks’’ would be visible when the enemy ﬂeet arrived. but sometimes the planner needs access to more detailed information in order to estimate the success and impact of the ruse. but all that Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. Control within the cycle is not reasserted until the feedback is analyzed—this may be swift. The intent is to conceal strength and so lure the enemy into battle. or to dispatch parallel and congruent ruses. or ambiguous. The ruse was shaped to hide through mimicry. like the target general who assumes no one can cross the river in the rain. but that i ll u s i o n w a s ‘ ‘ u n e x p e c t e d ly ’ ’ t a k e n a s s h o w i n g d a n g e r t h r o u g h the unanticipated presence of navigation hazards. wait to discover the impact of the ruse. repeating hats on sticks or some other decoy. but there is always a diﬀerence between the ruse dispatched and the illusion accepted. Swift. or because the target had penetrated the ruse.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 263 Thus all targets have a limited perception of reality — the world as imagined and many a predisposition to accept certain illusions as congenial. The illusion was accepted. decisive feedback is often possible. a ruse that takes advantage of the nature of the arena. the purpose and planning of deception. Often. in order to respond eﬀectively — to accept failure. In any case. of course. the result sought did not occur. camouﬂage does hide as intended and the target responds as expected. The target may accept the illusion. The result was counterproductive. NUMBER 2 . to draw ﬁre—or give up and move on with the battle. again. thus both showing the false rocks and hiding the real warships to any enemy observer. the planner may deploy a ruse intended to hide the navy by camouﬂaging the vessels as rocks. And. or may have been noticed but ignored because of other matters. All ruses can be placed into a taxonomy but in real life such ruses are apt to contain a variety of elements—both mimic and create—and all are both simulative and dissimulative: some that hide need show nothing. The hat may not have been noticed. the target judges them a danger and withdraws out of reach of the planner’s navy. the choice of channels. a ﬂawed channel. and the projection into the decision arena are controlled. the ruse construction. to adjust present ruse and channels.
and the other shows the buyer a means to acquire. BOWYER BELL Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 show must hide something. Each ruse must involve both hiding and showing. if accepted. And each ruse may contain aspects of one of the three major categories in the taxonomy: a military message in code. A forger may also forge the documents that authenticate a copy of a painting — a copy made real by using old canvass. hide the fake painting or show the false gun ports. An admiral in the eighteenth century may have painted extra gun ports on his ships to deceive the target as to his ﬂeet’s ﬁrepower. although all ruses and all illusions oﬀer both components. the illusion is deﬁned by the target. and was so accepted by the Trojans. The enemy would ‘‘see’’ capacity where none existed. but deploying past patterns of broadcast behavior may give an insight on which Patton army is which. can oﬀer the dazzle of other broadcasts and the reality of encrypted message — the listener knows that he hears a military message but the content is hidden. One hides the weakness of the navy. an antique frame. The urgency of the task — delay meant that discovery would be too late for an eﬀective response—was thus hampered by a ruse that combined hiding and showing. In the ﬁrst case. Thus the radio orders to the Patton ‘‘divisions’’ dazzled — to counter-dazzle. and in the second. the target must discover which messages are real and which false. and sow the false: more guns and another masterpiece. if at cost. The planner and then the target’s assumptions tend to make the ruse either simulative or dissimulative—a matter of degree.264 J. if it does not fail. but the planner usually oﬀers a construct that is intended to either hide reality from the target or oﬀer an alternative reality. while the Trojan horse devised by the Greek warrior Epeus was meant to oﬀer a new reality. as well as the style of the artist — and to make the ruse more eﬀective by planning the new provenance within a museum’s records. a channel that oﬀers spurious authenticity where even the suspicious would look only for reassurance. the predominant intent of the ruse is intended by the deception planner and. Camouﬂage is meant to hide and. simulate novelty as well as hide the Greek soldiers. The creator and the observer determine if the ruse or illusion is dissimulative or simulative. the planner expects the target to respond to the illusion of power. Both ruses hide the real— the capacity of the ships and the forgery. not to respond at all to the possibility that the landscape is a forgery. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . and then what is the content of the messages — the last may be diﬃcult. when monitored. In each case. a masterpiece. paint without modern chemicals. RUSE-CHANNEL CONSTRUCTION Each ruse is composed of a variety of characteristics (charcs) that oﬀer a pattern meshing simulation and dissimulation — hiding or showing. be a ruse of dissimulation.
oﬀering an alternative reality that might. mimicked what was expected. not only of charcs. Simple ruses—the hat on the stick or mud as camouﬂage—follow the same course as do the most costly: and some deception planners become involved with enormously costly ruses in large part because the returns seem so appealing. were part of a general dissimulative ruse. the false was being oﬀered to deny access to the real. The photographs were simulations of reality. just as the camouﬂage paint. In each case. the narrative of planning and deployment. Lies are simple ruses. The moose may be attracted by a simple moose call. some contained in the ﬁrst ruse-projection into the decisionarena. given the Soviet satellite capacity. but often channel with great eﬀect. Even the simplest ruse is composed of charcs. assured invisibility—a drop of water in an ocean mimicking all other drops—thus the target could not perceive objective reality. Camouﬂage paint. even if not easy to weigh in currency or even results. NUMBER 2 . a cluster of ruses that formed a protected image for very diﬀerent targets. If a ruse is either largely simulative or dissimulative because of the aim of the deception planner. The doctored photographs oﬀered to target observers a new layer of cover when the airplane became more vulnerable to discovery. given the anticipated capacities of detection. in conventional theaters of war. Each ruse. was hidden from Soviet satellites by a coat of camouﬂage paint. but also. When the existence of a stealth plane had become public. THE HIDDEN PLANE The United States’s Stealth F-117 was hidden from enemy radar by recourse to a hundred billion dollar technology. and the other simply by use of paint to mimic the ground. but shaped to hide by the deception planner. but also of other ruses. even if not fully accepted. still alter the reality of the F-117. AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. and others added to maintain as much of the cover as possible.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 265 Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 A great deal of analysis focuses on how a ruse is constructed. the F-117 was transformed so as to produce no reaction on the part of the target—one by evading the existing means of radar discovery by oﬀering a change in perceived reality so profound that there was no realization that the nature of objective reality had been altered but hidden. These and other denial techniques of the total stealth ruse were all dissimulative. in the case of the F-117. and most are in fact bundles. blending the ﬁghter with the background. but the hunter is also hidden by camouﬂage gear and hiding where a lady moose might be apt to appear. Stealth technology. and may be associated with other lies—other ruses—to create the desired illusion. The entire strategic ruse to hide the existence and capacity of stealth technology made use of a variety of lesser ruses. while on the ground. altered photographs were oﬀered to blur existing reality.
To deceive seems suﬃcient. As was the case with the forged masterpiece painting. and knowledge of that response. In eﬀective deception. and eﬀort but also oﬀers the planner the sense of power. the channel is often assumed to be part of the ruse. A ruse may be costly and clever and ineﬀectual and so on to the channel. or an attack through the Balkans — all the tricks and wiles. there is a tendency among planners to be fascinated with shaping the actual ruse. All ruses must have a channel. BOWYER BELL a bundle. the analytical focus is often on the actual construction of the ruse — the false gun ports. the deception process follows a clear path from perceived need and/or possibility. foresight. as did each ruse composed of groups of characteristics. construction tends to overshadow the other aspects of the deception cycle. and for some. the painted gun ports improbable given the size of the vessel. but once the ruse is channeled. the ruse and channel become entangled in the decision-arena. or the false documents leaked. unless it too is perceived as a clever ruse. TARGET RESPONSE The Action-Arena: Denial. and the challenge within reach is the construction of the ruse— and the channel. and bad weather can hide the most cunningly painted gun ports. Without experience or a doctrine. acceptance depends on the eﬀectiveness of the construct and the analysis of the target. accumulating the charcs. the ruse and the channel may be shaped to the physiological capacities and psychological preferences and predisposition of the target. time. In all cases. and the decision to construct and dispatch a ruse. or Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . or may be a spontaneous response to need. others recognize the key is the response of the target. In retrospect. a notional Allied invasion of Norway. and spending less time on the channel. the romantic ‘‘charc’’ of rubber tanks and dazzling radio traﬃc. What matters is what is made to matter. A ruse need not be static or restricted to a single eﬀect. Acceptance of a ruse as an illusion ends control. exhibiting cunning. Thus. and at other times fails. Over time and as need was perceived. additional ruses were deployed. but how to persuade the target to make this possible is more challenging. German aerial reconnaissance was ﬂown over the notional Patton Army Group in East Anglia but the analysis of the result was never done. Acceptance The ruse or the channel may be unconvincing — the magician’s ﬁngers fumble. In real life. the channel is as important as the ruse. Ignorance. What is wanted seems obvious. Some of the ruses of the Allied Plan Bodyguard were ineﬀectual simply because the Germans never noticed them. With or without a doctrine. the rubber paratroopers dropped over Normandy. Since a ruse requires not only commitment. A ruse must always be channeled to have any eﬀect at all.266 J. then the deception planner loses control.
and the Chinese or Russians none — in fact both assume that the Americans are duplicitous. NUMBER 2 . The Action Spectrum An illusion.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 267 the trick play used too often to confuse the defense. the target may not notice that the rocks are really battle cruisers because the camouﬂage is so successful in hiding them. and not notice the honey or the pot. In general. A variety of factors may facilitate the acceptance of a ruse as an illusion— one that will generate the desired response. someone may assume that his friend would not lie to him. taken as perceived reality. The lies and evasions that make possible an eﬀective channeled-ruse are discovered only when the illusion collapses because of discovered evidence — counter-deception— or when the deceiver so chooses. Thus. the amoral. or from the contingent and the unforeseen. the reputation of the planner. thus frustrating the trap: what matters is what the planner Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. but rather action beyond the target’s assumption of permitted action. my lover is true. But it is not the nonexistent ‘‘rules’’ that are broken. Americans have doubts about the legitimacy of deception. and when he discovers that this has happened. but the predilections of the target. will always generate a response along an action-spectrum — even no action may be considered a successful response. and the Japanese those of international practice. and so be immune to the proposed illusion. and the apparent direction of reality can be exploited or disguised.’’ Deception is not seen to be ‘‘fair’’—the resort of the weak. He had misinterpreted the limits of perceived reality. and at times the feeling of having been ‘‘cheated. Each case varies. Thus. The IRA killing from a ditch. and sail on by. the target may simply overlook the oﬀered change of pattern. but the response to the discovery is resignation or response. One is betrayed by a unfaithful lover. in violation of the rules—or the rules as imagined. feels betrayed. and the sinner — since the rules are broken. the evasions of an unfaithful wife are betrayals. A ruse stands a better chance of being transformed into an acceptable illusion if the target is not aware of the actual arena of potential penetration. from the ineptitude of the planner. the Japanese ‘‘sneak’’ attack on Pearl Harbor. nor my enemy organize a sneak attack. a moral value is often attached to perceived reality — only this should be the battleﬁeld. but the admiral may decide that they represent a danger and sail away from them. unfair. the powerless. Thus. The target may beneﬁt from a conscious and cunning counter-deception policy. from an advantageous change in objective reality within the decision-arena. Even if the ruse is channeled into the decision-arena. The IRA acted outside the rules of conventional warfare. The same may occur in a war when an enemy assumes that there is only one route of attack. my friends would not lie.
even if they accepted the illusions. What could be seen — the position of troops. this was a constant process.268 J. canceled. and the planners of Bodyguard continued to devise new ruses and channels. as was the case with Plan Bodyguard. and The Protocols of Zion still circulate among anti-Semites because some always choose to see what they want. Most illusions are thus selfliquidating. the illusion fails or is revealed too late for the target to act eﬀectively. If the ruse succeeds. but the intent of the planner and of the illusion is the perception of the receiver. by assumptions — gave encouragement but not assurance that the great illusion was eﬀective: the Germans had not accepted Normandy as the site of the invasion. the result is instant: the feedback arrives in a gain or a loss. the thousands of bits and pieces of evidence acquired by the resistance. adjusted. It was more diﬃcult to decide how eﬀective World War II’s Plan Bodyguard was at any given moment: there were so many ruses. In the case of the enemy ships. the hidden admiral could see the response — the enemy sailing where wanted or unexpectedly in the wrong direction. Eye of the Beholder Essentially what determines the nature of the ruse is not the arrangement of components. thus revealing the limits of the target scientists—the planner gained private pleasure once the illusion was accepted and the scientists were involved. and the feedback could never be precise: some Germans believed some illusions at some times. and knew as well that at any time in the future. The deception planner then must consider the new reality. becomes part of objective reality. The quarterback may adjust his play calling. and so further pleasure at the ﬂaws within the scientiﬁc community. so many illusions to monitor. and some action was often taken. for various reasons. In a few cases the illusion persists. the planner moves on and the illusion disappears. In the case of a football play. The creating of the Piltdown Man ruse sought acceptance of a revolutionary. the planner may initiate a further deception-cycle. some are exposed. there would be further evidence. so many channels. BOWYER BELL made happen. Both ruses and illusions are composed of elements that shape a pattern within perceived reality that exists along a spectrum of Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . shaped to work until a day or two before 6 June 1944. by observation. were not deceived. that in part lasted for eight weeks after D-Day. This may take longer than imagined. In the case of Plan Bodyguard. Acceptance would assure pleasure as well as ultimate revelation — The Donation of Constantine lasted for a millennium — because the pattern was congenial. the content of the coded traﬃc read by Enigma. For a deception planner. At some stage. Others. evolutionary discovery. success or failure is apt to come swiftly. Once there is feedback on the response to the deception. when the ruse was revealed.
In contemporary usage. setting up clouds of dust. (2) Then. And this spectrum oﬀers illusions that range from the diﬃcult to deny — one grain of sand hidden among many — to those diﬃcult to interpret—a quarterback running the option.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 269 Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 simulation-dissimulation. All channeled ruses are constructions of an alternative reality —whether the ruse channeled or the illusion accepted — and always depend on dissimulation — the hiding of reality. denial is often considered a separate form — as in Deception and Denial (D&D) — but. In the case of the Greeks at Troy. would be taken into the city because the warning was assumed duplicitous. (1) The Greeks might have chosen to hide their soldiers’ exact numbers and location from Trojan observers by mixing them with civilians. There can be no deception without hiding. in actuality. produce the desired response. or a few splashes of paint may make it more diﬃcult to see a tank and so deny its position to the enemy. so as to make Trojan choices less certain: introduce ambiguity into objective reality. wooden horse that. and yet leave behind a giant horse — a horse that the Trojans had been warned should not be taken into the city. denial is the device that hides objective reality from an observer—an entire underground pursuing an armed struggle may be shaped so as to deny transparency. Then the Greek navy would return the army just as the soldiers in the great horse opened the gates. The Greeks would apparently withdraw for good. and so permit their arrival at the gate to be hidden because they mimicked the existing patterns observed by the Trojans. the hiding of the nature of the illusion. A ruse. by deﬁnition. Thus. sail over the horizon. AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. or at times its very existence. NUMBER 2 . assumed benign and desirable. The purpose of the ruse was to create an accepted illusion that would hide the real by oﬀering a Greek withdrawal of an appealing illusion and a novel creation —the horse —as an additional and acceptable aspect of perceived reality. creating ambiguities of number and place over time. The Greeks would be adding more to reality and thus hide their army until the illusion collapsed (a moment of surprise) and swords were drawn. the hiding of intent. penetration. as illusion. (3) A far more complex and compelling ruse was actually employed to create a new reality that would. although every illusion contains factors that display the false. Warnings would parallel the revelation of the horse to validate Trojan prejudices. denial is simply hiding — every ruse denies the target-observer insight into objective reality. The Greek soldiers would be hidden in a giant. the deception goal was to hide the Greek soldiers from the Trojans so as to allow the ten-year siege to be broken by unexpected access within the walls to the locked gates. denies the target access to objective reality. a more complex option would be to disguise the soldiers as civilians.
need not be the intent of the ruse as deployed. ﬂaws in creation and transmission. BOWYER BELL In the theoretical cases. The deception planner’s goal of manipulating the target through the creation of the illusion—an alternative reality —by means of channeling a compelling ruse is achieved only if the illusion generates. and so acceptance is beyond reach of the deception planner who must rely on feedback. and even more eﬀective than the ruse. to determine the impact. Instead. supported by the withdrawal of the Greek army and the ‘‘false’’ warning. The illusion as accepted. as in all cases. And the Trojans accepted the Trojan Horse ruse as an illusion. nor initiate the response intended. simple mimicry seemingly would have risked discovery of camouﬂaged Greek soldiers and disaster. A ruse-image cannot be transformed into an illusion without eﬀective INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . or largely so. to have any eﬀect. visible or not.270 J. the Greeks oﬀered a more complex bundle of ruses. and so the illusion may be quite conventional: a line of sight. in rare cases. transformed perceived reality. In the case of the Trojan Horse. CHANNELS The dispatched ruse-image. Eﬀective deception is. and some may be more deceptive. more complex. or integrated by the planner. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 Thus. the Trojans’ perception of reality was blurred by the confusion and dazzle of the Greek soldiers’ movements. The involved determine the category of the ruse and the illusion. or a vast complex of allied strands — each a special ruse — oﬀered through a spectrum of real and notional devices. The planner chooses a ruse that is largely simulative or dissimulative. the crucial categories are those arising from the degree of change in objective reality imposed by an accepted illusion. The diﬀerence between ineﬀectual deception is that the latter initiates an unwanted or useless—unexpected—response to the illusion as accepted. then. These channels are integrated into the transmission. adapted. while introducing ambiguities would not have assured breaching the walls. a category of intentional deception that may be shaped by target self-deception. must arrive through channels created. The accepted illusion. then. The key concern in channels is that they neither exist separably from the ruse nor play a lesser role: all are integrated into the ruse. the desired response by the target—and. The target response in all cases is to the illusion. not to the ruse. or they would have been deceived as to the existence of an army moving on the walls. seeing only what they expected. and channels it into the decision arena where the target accepts it. generates an unexpected but advantageous response. and the contingent and unforeseen. convinced by the simulation or the dissimulation.
the target ignores less likely options. experience. If accepted in whole. or if in part. one that manipulates. Most eﬀective are integrative patterns. the key moment is. The deception planner must AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. orders were sent from headquarters to two ‘‘diﬀerent’’ Patton Third Armies. attack from unexpected directions. thus dazzling the Germans monitoring American radio signals. The ruse may oﬀer unconvincing or confusing patterns. in many cases. troops can be moved in impossible weather. A variant is in the intentional construction of ruses of misdirection or dazzle. NUMBER 2 . TARGET REACTIONS Experience. when in transit within the transmission channel. containing anomalies and paradoxes. In this case. there is still a shift in perceived reality. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 Ruse-Illusion Transformation For the planner. the congenial and comfortable. Thus. appear anomalous to experience and expectation. The deception planner has or has not factored this into the ruse. not merely one that is accepted. the planner exploits the assumed predilections of the target. the illusion is perceived by the target within a decision-arena (part physical and part psychological). It is possible to change the arena without the target’s knowledge—focused on the probable course of action. since it has become integrated into objective reality and into the target’s perception. A planner wants an imperative illusion. the power of inertia. prejudice and habit. During the battle of Bastogne. The ruse-image oﬀers an alternative reality. and the deception-assumptions of the target will shape responses to projected reality. more complex stratagems must be devised and constructed. standard operating procedures. but. even for novel constructs. reality. violates common sense. where the incongruities of the pattern are intended to blur reality—a group of purple cows driven across a battleﬁeld may attract the eye and so hide the movement of the cavalry. The reality received as an illusion is never exactly the ruse fully accepted as dispatched. purple would not be the most eﬀective choice of color to achieve mimicry. If the cavalry are to be disguised as cows. the illusion is automatically and seamlessly integrated into perceived reality. or habit. go to war while oﬀering peace. rather than incongruities. A target is apt to be suspicious of perceived reality. to the acceptance of the ruse as illusion and the subsequent response. The trout bites if so inclined and if not. The ﬂy must be cast so as to appear before the trout naturally. not. The integration — acceptance — may be possible even when the ruse is warped in transmission.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 271 channels.
will engender the proper action — or in many cases maintain the desired response. when he persuaded the Italians that he would attack in the South. lack of attention. or failure of the illusion to initiate a desirable action occurs. and so the greater the opportunity for premature revelation. many planners deploy new parallel and validating ruses. In any ruse. Thus. Thus. Denial of the ruse as an objective pattern may occur because of ﬂawed channels. But the target may discover the ruse as the core of a deception plan and act accordingly. especially with tactual or technical deception ruses. not with a single alteration in perceived reality. or ﬁne-tuning during a constant ruse-dispatch in hopes that the illusion.272 J. reinforced with the additions and corrects. Wavell would have been better oﬀ to have done nothing instead of oﬀering a ruse without considering the nature of the target’s response beyond accepting an illusion. too. If not. And so. then an enemy cycle of deception can be undertaken. This secondary projection may be complex or simple. and consequently the other nine mimicking a target are a ruse that will no longer sustain an acceptable illusion. Complicated ruses. BOWYER BELL assume greater and greater risks of discovery by oﬀering substantial changes in the pattern of objective reality. Once the illusion has been accepted. revelation ends the cycle. but they responded so as to hamper his real attack in the North. may also fail to be convincing if a single bundle proves ﬂawed: a scout might notice that one of the ten men waving a hat on a stick is doing so. For the planner. the strategists may contrive second generation evidence of illusionary reality to extend the life and impact of the original ruse. other channels. but a continuous arrival of compelling and convincing authentication-ruses. And the more complex the ruse. the worst possible outcome of an investment in a ruse is a counterproductive response. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . however. the target must cope. There occurs a dialogue of deception: ruse-illusion-perceived response-analysis and action. reinforcement is possible through parallel and subsidiary ruses intended to buttress the emerging illusion. the planner as the target response evolves over time. If the target’s discovery is hidden from the planner. The deception planner may use other channels as well. without the discovery that a ruse is involved at all. if the failure of the illusion is to be accepted as natural. or personal predilections. may relate to the ﬁrst response or merely undertaken because it is possible and potentially eﬀective. usually bundles of ruses composed of varying characteristics. Generally. usually the more complex the channels. The most common response is either=or—either the ruse is transformed into an illusion or is not. the deception planner may either withdraw or seek to adjust the existing illusion or project others. That was the case with General Wavell in Abyssinia.
the continuation and=or elaboration of the ruse. as obvious in the real world. the ruse is a momentary matter. At times. When there is feedback. adjustments are constant. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 DECEPTION CYCLE PATTERNS REVIEWED A deception cycle is an analytical conceit. as described. and how the Allies arrived oﬀ the beaches of Normandy at dawn on 6 June 1944. or discover the weakness of a weapons system. Quite often. in fact. the channels may prove inappropriate. A few of these steady-state illusions continue on and on. perceptions shift. And an illusion may simply persist. never to discover the faker. because they are AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 273 Most important. may blur and blend with other events. and so no information on the eﬀect of the illusion. Divisions are not clear. In a few cases. not even the distinctions of ruse and illusion. the cycle. and hardly a factor in the course of events: an obvious lie. The construction and choice of channels may oﬀer unexpected obstacles to acceptance of the ruse — the dispatch may be delayed or canceled. There may. The cycle is how deception works. without need of adjustment. the construction of congruent and parallel ruses or the need for a entirely diﬀerent ruse. is an artiﬁcial analytical conceit. or ﬁnd the location of key facilities. and so the illusion. be discovery at any point. or ruse and channel. The response may be counterproductive or irrelevant to the purpose. Once an illusion is accepted. and at times incoherent. it may suggest an end to the deception-ruse. but the complexities introduced within the real world do not change the validity model. Most deception-cycles are short. At times. in violation of norms and existing agendas. may be interrupted at any time. how a ﬁb works. to the ‘‘surprise’’ of the Germans. the lie accepted as the truth. The ruse may prove too costly to construct and=or maintain.’’ the planner may hope that the target may be deceived or denied access to objective reality far into the future — for years. There may be no revealing feedback. There may be early discovery by the target. and so the implosion of the illusion. NUMBER 2 . or that end the entire eﬀort. revealed through success or error. even before the ruse is channeled. The target may ignore or discount the ruse and the channels. there may be unexpected or inappropriate responses that require further ruses to impose variant illusions. or not as appealing as a more direct approach. the ruses and illusion are in constant motion. A cycle may overlap others. for example. although some illusions continue for some time. like new ‘‘Picassos. discovered immediately. The illusion has become an aspect of reality for the observers — the forgery becomes crucial evidence. a cycle may persist without further reinforcement or further target action.
In any case. but the target is the original planner. at the end. despite any emerging ﬂaws. while the target simply ignored the new pattern created by the illusion. when the illusion collapses. Agents are turned and kept reporting. The process of British realization was slow. The evidence of German control was taken as ambiguous — and too dreadful to imagine—and discounted.274 J. except in rare cases. A magician oﬀers ruses to an audience eager to accept illusions. not swift. not a surprise. Revelation of the German deception was constantly enforced by further ruses. there will be no need for the planner to maintain or reinforce the ruse. captured and were soon reporting back. In fact. The deception-goal is not ‘‘surprise. surprise is almost always a collateral result: reality is suddenly not as previously perceived. Mostly. and the target so manipulated — surprise may come when the illusion is discovered for whatever reason.’’ but rather that the target responds to the illusion as intended. is not ‘‘surprise. and exploit the continuing convictions of the planner that the illusion is still taken as real.3 So more agents were sent. Deception planners are goal-oriented: the illusion must work only within the scope of their needs. advantage. A military deception planner wants the illusion accepted as a matter of course. BOWYER BELL perceived as too appealing to discard or to examine closely. The desire of the deception planners for a network overrode the disaster that the warnings implied. Thus. The Greeks did not care whether the Trojans were surprised when the soldiers came out of the horse. not the illusion. or interest.‘‘ but an advantageous disposition of enemy forces because the illusion has been accepted as real. ‘‘Surprise’’ is merely the reaction of the target to revelation. once the illusion is acted upon by the target. In a few cases. and to be awed and ‘‘surprised’’ at the seeming violation of objective reality by the skill of the performer. The audience knows that the elephant did not really disappear onstage. objective reality has moved on as well — the battle won and the war lost. The target is surprised. lost to sight. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . without penalty. however. and in a few cases. only that the gates were opened to victory. the ‘‘Picasso’’ sold and resold. there is surprise and consternation of the collapse of an illusion. and so. the poker hand played out and discarded without record. a by-product. as the Germans did in World War II with nearly all of the British agents dropped into Holland. the planner and his intention may have moved on to other matters and no longer bother to or be capable of reinforcing the illusion. however. Their coded messages back to headquarters were accepted as real by British control. the target may hide the discovery of the illusion. even when hidden warnings were included. A new cycle begins. In a deception-cycle. The purpose of a deception ruse. and the goal of the magician to delight is so achieved. a feeling of betrayal or outrage. but yet there is no longer an elephant: the surprise is at the skill.
to focus suspicion on likely deceit — a AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. in whole or in part. a deception-cycle occurs when the planner’s agenda suggests the use of deceit as a means.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 275 Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 One of the great examples of modern surprise was the preemptive Israeli air attack on Arab air bases at the beginning of the June War in 1967 — preemptive. a poorly designed ruse or channel. seeks to discover the path hidden in the dark. or secretive: power will crush opposition. In so doing. ignorance. absolute power is perceived by the planner not to be available. In sum. and their assumption about Egyptian attitudes and practices to do so. or the implication of the social lie. Of these. The general with a huge preponderance of force need not be evasive. excess optimism. COUNTER-DECEPTION The dynamics of counter-deception are not the same as those of the deceiver. and may indeed initiate a target’s deception cycle. will impose a new pattern on the target’s sense of perceived reality. and to prosper. and repeated feedback. if at all. NUMBER 2 . but are usually integrated into any deception planner’s considerations. the use of counter-deception parallels a deception cycle. but also may persist. and the defenses of the target. The identiﬁcation of surprise with deception is to misunderstand the nature and intent of the illusion that creates an alternative reality — ‘‘surprise’’ comes when the illusion is no longer needed to achieve deception goals or implodes for any other reason. their own experience. and ends. duplicitous. ﬁne-tuning. constant reinforcement and validation. they inevitably also ‘‘surprised’’ the Egyptians. counter-deception is a conventional aspect of everyday perception. and so surprises the target. but as an independent process. At times. almost totally eﬀective. when the deception process aborts. ends. a variety of ruses employing various channels are used to engender a variety of illusions that. Like deception. This illusion then requires an extensive and=or extended response. The Israeli air force wanted to destroy the Egyptian air force on the ground and so their deception planners used ruses. one weighs the card player’s bid. An individual must constantly scan objective reality to discover potential harm hidden by intent or nature. There are a variety of obstacles to any deception-planner’s success: ﬂawed analysis. and quite unforeseen. Where deception is necessary. lack of resources. The key is the response to the illusion that relies on secrecy until revealed. or continues without adjustment. additional channels. not as a mirror image of deception. persistent illusions about objective reality. but the end result would have been just as satisfactory if the Egyptians had not been surprised but simply vulnerable.
passive and active. or the emergence of a new patter. Active counter-deception measures seek out those who might plan deception. seeking an enemy in a blip. or merely some. or analyze the unforeseen and unusual. and deception planning a constant.276 J. and diplomatic codes are updated. indeed. their maneuvers misleading. planned and natural. seeking false patterns. After the siege of Troy. on a more complex level. devise codes that cannot easily be broken. or bargain high-tech stock. the break in pattern. Obviously. and evidence of deception planning. focusing on patterns that may be ruse-generated. although deception is universal and common. based on their record or their aspirations. the guerrilla country is swept with infrared sensors to ﬁnd what might be hidden. Counter-deception focuses not simply on oﬀered illusions. hidden threats. The counter-deception process is both positive and negative. the inexpensive rare stamp. or only the suspect: each and all are potential agents. and on unexpected aberrations — a Trojan horse or a conﬁdential clerk who purchases a luxury car. Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . The lie detector is used as one among many means to determine if a suspect is. Can Moscow read Washington’s mail? What kind of access might exist? What kind of agents would be involved? What do Russian moves indicate? Can a Russian be suborned or their own communications invaded? What are the odds? How great should the investment in discovery be? The most eﬀective counter-deception prospect is to have penetrated the enemy planning. Everyone in the department is given a lie detector test. The most active measures seek to counter the particular rather than the general. loyal. the ﬂood of radio traﬃc dazzling — and so the sweep through objective reality focuses on previous experience. The target is in many cases aware that such illusions are available — the enemy camouﬂage. the most eﬀective defense would be a successful penetration of deception planning — a spy who could oﬀer feedback. Passive counter-deception is composed of a repeated scan of perceived reality. or at least to be able to monitor the creation of a ruse. A lie detector may be used to scan everyone. but on the possibility of deceit. BOWYER BELL quarterback’s intentions. anomalies. on an analysis of the agenda and capacity of the suspected deceiver. rather like a radar sweeping an arena. many were wary of Greeks bearing gifts. but. the existence of deception ruses and channels. And. Governments install security systems to prevent being deceived by hidden penetration. counter-deception seeks to discover major threats. and so are illusions in place. Agents wait outside embassies to observe personnel who might be more than they seem. and the prospect of an illusion. just as during the Cold War most Western security services were wary of any Soviet bloc initiative that could hide duplicity. just as individuals watch to be sure the road is as clear as it seems. only a limited number of illusions is oﬀered. Passive counter-deception is precautionary.
and the actual. no interviews or insight into decisionmaking. Their scenarios of potential deception prospects were data-weak. discoveries may be kept secret. discover the illusion that denies transparency. but much of counter-deception must focus on potential. Discovery by passive or active measures. Counter-deception becomes tangled with deception—for ﬁlters and probes must be hidden. and. by radar reports. or the deployment of an advanced technological means — the hard imagery of satellite photography allows the involved counter-deception operators various options. using leaks to the spy–diplomat’s sources. For the authorities. Counter-deception is not so much about hiding reality as ﬁnding illusions. or ignored. reality — camouﬂage or cover—but also sophisticated ruse-analysis. Denial is always evoked to counter. history books. The illusion can be destroyed publicly. illusions too cunning or too appealing to have been discovered? No evidence becomes evidence. and tonight a hit man or terrorist. to deny external probes by oﬀering a pattern of normality: today a construction worker. visible policies — the occupation of Tibet as seen by those who became refugees. no statistics. not only discover. If the enemy is malign. most important. and to a considerable degree what the target response has been. the challenge is to ﬁnd the anomaly. a few refugees. The shrewd deception planner will consider this factor. NUMBER 2 . by the purchase of information. The nature of Communist society could be examined only through very limited means — overﬂights. and a new deception cycle initiated. The West had to extrapolate from very limited and often suspect data. The deceiver knows what has been dispatched. A criminal organization or a revolutionary underground seeks to create an illusion of normality. no telephone directories or road maps. Chinese diplomats abroad during the more radical Maoist times often refused to talk to anyone about anything.TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 277 A traditional counter-deception strategy is to deny potential enemies any knowledge—the Marxist world during the Cold War was largely closed: no tourists. and the wise will be aware that a counter-deception planner may be involved in Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. or the construction of a new forced-labor camp visible to satellites. or at times manipulated — the spy–diplomat can be expelled and advantage gained or seemingly accepted. and the counterdeception force enters a wilderness of mirrors. Counter-deception is an inherent obstacle to the acceptance of an illusion. no visitors. then should not illusions have been created. a revealed illusion may allow the initiation of a deception-cycle against the original planner. The problems for counter-deception are enormous. none more so than the problem of projected motives and behavior by those seeking illusions. How would a spy act? Would not a lack of evidence in fact be evidence for a reality so far successfully hidden? Not ﬁnding evidence of a mole–spy would thus indicate a clever mole–spy. content analysis of internal communications.
if successful. changed. some ruses are dispatched to be discovered and thus create a deeper illusion—the ruse will not work unless channeled to be make discovery likely — a piggyback ruse. parallel and congruent ruses and channels may be employed. reinforced. Almost surely. by the creation of a compelling ruse and an eﬀective channel that will oﬀer an illusion acceptable to the target and. by luck. But the key component is to assure a desirable target response to the illusion: merely to deceive.278 J. To assure such a response. in time the illusion will be revealed. when successful. by chance. tends to be involved in the construction of defenses against the prospect of duplicity. At times. seeks to adjust that arena by establishing illusions that make objective reality into falsely perceived reality for the target. adjustments. is focused mainly on maintaining the normal arena of perception—perceived reality— cleared of illusions. expanded. if eﬀective. In fact. but a counter-deception capacity and deployment is a matter of ﬁlters and analysis consciously directed at an assumed or realized potential. the original channeled-ruse may be elaborated. The contingent and unforeseen will assure. Counter-deception. and contradictory and ambiguous actions. A FORCE MULTIPLIER Deception is a means to adjust perceived reality to the advantage of the planner. Thus. after the desired response has been achieved. the prudent or the innocent can counter deception by error. dissimulation plays a basic role in deception to counter those who might seek to discover the illusion. as can the delusions and ﬂawed interpretation of the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE . Ag ain. and measures shaped to seek out potential illusions that. unlike deception. There is thus an element of counter-deception in both dispatching the ruse and in responding to the illusion. at times. and so turning the ruse on the deceiver. and continued. BOWYER BELL Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 deception through the shaping of a ruse-of-response: manipulating the image seemingly received. This cycle may oﬀer at any one time a continuum of action. the imposition of changing objective reality. Counterdeception. then. to the surprise of the deceived. unlike many counter-deception actions. Such a strategy may beneﬁt from the attitudes of the target — self-deception—and the lack of counter-measures—counter-deception. but. or have an illusion accepted is insuﬃcient for a competent deception-planner. or multiplied to maintain an illusion or reinforce the original. an impact on the cycle. may lead to deception planning. while deception-planning. adjustments made to shifting conditions and the deceptioncycle adjusted. The eﬀective deception planner factors such a target-defense into the construction of the ruse and the choice of the channel. a desirable response.
5. but always within the universal cycle from the idea to the advantage. Even success or failure may be a matter of degree imposed by the participants in the cycle. if often minor. NUMBER 2 . or reassure a lady. 1991).TOWARD A THEORY OF DECEPTION 279 Downloaded By: [American Public University System] At: 05:55 12 October 2008 target. at times. by the author and Dr. pp. 1998). No. North Carolina State. in part. NJ: Transaction Press. lure a trout. Force and fraud in war —and in much else — are the cardinal virtues. and then may initiate another deception-cycle. there is. as well as by rational analysis. And. REFERENCES 1 This text toward a theory is based in part on the work done in Dublin and Washington between 1979 and 1981. AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VOLUME 16. and now in print as Cheating and Deception (New Brunswick. Vol. St. if for no other reason than objective reality assures constant. indeed. funded by Mathmatica. This text has beneﬁted from the comments of Professor Robert Jervis. Bowyer Barton (Bell and Whaley) Cheating. 1969). United States Department of Defense. that focuses on an eﬀective illusion that largely simulates reality or dissimulates it for the planner’s purpose. Martin’s Press. Barton Whaley who published the preliminary results as ‘‘Toward a Theory of Deception. may have the power to respond to an illusion taken as reality. 3. Others. The cycle takes place within a large perceptual context that often imposes adjustments. 178– 192. the target may deny or accept an illusion in whole. Despite the theoretical diﬃculties in any model of the deception process. A Codemaker’s War. Deception is deployed and countered by the shrewd. delude an opponent. and rarely fully understood by the involved. 3 A most compelling narrative of the entanglement of bureaucracy and deception planning in this matter can be found in Leo Marks. a process or cycle. 1982. who are consultants on an analysis of deception as a means to defend electronic communications funded by the Oﬃce of Net Assessment. MIT. from concept through creation to reaction. The planner estimates eﬀects and special costs. See also Whaley’s earlier seminal work in Deception and Surprise in War (Cambridge. Columbia University. and Barton Whaley. 1941–1945. 2 The original title of the Whaley=Bell book Cheating was How to Cheat until the major bookstore chains indicated that they would not order a book with such a title. San Diego and Palm Springs. Deception can multiply forces. the target may counter such deception by passive or active responses. adjustments to the perception process of all concerned. however.’’ The Journal of Strategic Studies. in all or in part. confound power. also see J. New York. or through error. Some among the target decisionmakers may deny the illusion. Jim Yuill. (London: HarperCollins. MA: Center of International Studies. often at moderate cost. The deception planner may be of divided counsel — the cycle is seldom static. Between Silk and Cyanide.