An agent sent to spy on a foreign country might, for instance, work as a busines sperson, a worker for a non-profit

organization (such as a humanitarian group), or an academic. For example, retired NOC agent Scott Mahalick operated as a mana ger with a broadcast company for 10 years before leaving the agency and working full time in the radio broadcast industry. The CIA's Ishmael Jones spent nearly two decades as a NOC.[2] Non-official cover is contrasted with official cover, w here an agent assumes a position at a seemingly benign department of their gover nment, such as the diplomatic service. This provides the agent with official dip lomatic immunity, thus protecting them from the steep punishments normally meted out to captured spies, instead usually resulting in the agent being declared pe rsona non grata and ordered to leave the country. Agents under non-official cove r do not have this "safety net", and if captured or charged they are subject to severe criminal punishments, up to and including execution. Agents under non-off icial cover are also usually trained to deny any connection with their governmen t, thus preserving plausible deniability, but also denying them any hope of dipl omatic legal assistance or official acknowledgment of their service. Many of the agents memorialized without names or dates of service on the CIA Memorial Wall are assumed to have been killed or executed in a foreign country while serving a s NOC agents. In nations with established and well-developed spy agencies, the m ajority of captured non-native NOC agents have, however, historically been repat riated through prisoner exchanges for other captured NOCs as a form of gentlemen 's agreement. Some countries have regulations regarding the use of non-official cover: the CIA, for example, has at times been prohibited from disguising agents as members of certain aid organizations, or as members of the clergy. The degree of sophistication put into non-official cover stories can vary consid erably. Sometimes, an agent will simply be appointed to a position in a well-est ablished company which can provide the appropriate opportunities. Other times, e ntire front companies can be established in order to provide false identities fo r agents. Examples include Air America, used by the CIA during the Vietnam War, and Brewster Jennings & Associates, used by the CIA in WMD investigations and ma de public as a result of the so-called "Plame affair", or "CIA leak scandal".

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful