Efforts to stop insider spying have focused mainly on trying ever harder to develop profiles or other indicators for detecting potential or current insider spies, these days favoring high-technology methods.

While profiling has achieved its successes, the Law of Diminishing Returns enters the picture. Investing more and more into profiling and detection starts to approach limitations due to minimal added effectiveness, at the expense of rapidly escalating costs, which include negative impacts on workforce morale due to intrusiveness and false positives.

Time and again, human ingenuity seems able to defeat the most stringent protection regimes. For us to prevail over insider spying, we have room for improvement. There is room for something new.

If anything, recent events have increased the urgency. While the focus here will be on “classic” state-sponsored spying, the recent notorious “whistleblowers,” Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, have shown how easy it is to abscond with vast quantities of classified documents, given our reliance on electronic files. They went for one-time showy splurges of secrets, which is bad enough. Worse still are the usual practices of classic spies, who are still very busy out there.

This highlights the real challenge: how to protect our secrets when we don’t know what secrets have been given away to our enemies by unidentified insider spies, working in the shadows for years on end with no outward drama.

All insider spies come to understand that as soon as their identity gets leaked to us from within the foreign intelligence service they conspired to join—which can happen at any moment despite their best efforts at tradecraft—suddenly, their lives will turn to ruin.

This forces all spies into a convergence of psychology. Even though there may be many psychological strands that lead to spying, inevitably they will get reduced to a single, shared psychology. Awareness of the phenomenon of convergence will make it easier to devise strategies and tactics to influence and persuade trapped spies to exit and come clean.

When someone decides to step over the line to become an insider spy, he or she now find themselves stuck and trapped. It dawns on them that they have no way out. They come to realize it’s unthinkable to beg to be released from their handler because too many bad things can happen. Think of the Mafia.

By the same token, to turn themselves in to their home agency’s security office offers no better prospects. The insider spy cannot expect to be welcomed back. More likely, they spy will face severe punishments leading to career termination and everyone in the intelligence community knows this.

Being stuck in this no-win situation causes the insider spy to resign to stay put, take their chances, and hope for the best. Lacking any viable alternatives, they are forced deeper into the arms of the hostile intelligence service that owns them. And the damages they inflict on our national security accumulate year by year.

What if there were a way out? What if there were an alternative pathway (reconciliation) so an insider spy could voluntarily turn himself or herself in? What if there were a recognized, safe, government-sanctioned exit mechanism? Imagine such a thing.

If reconciliation were made available, what could possibly motivate an insider spy to consider it? The single most important motivator would be that he will not be sentenced to prison. From the perspective of an insider spy, prison would be a deal-breaker.

Reconciliation stipulates that all other punishments be left on the table. Reconciliation would have to be a highly conditional way out.

The reconciliation option would not be on offer to all spies. Certainly not to ones caught the conventional way. Reconciliation would only add an alternative, parallel pathway that would supplement, definitely not replace, current practices that include detection, surveillance, arrest, trial and long prison sentences.

Reconciliation would be reserved only for insider spies not yet identified, who decide to voluntarily turn themselves in.

Reconciliation would be adding another tool to the arsenal.

7 Factors Driving for Reconciliation

10 Rationales for the NOIR Concept

16 Benefits of the NOIR Concept




The NOIR concepts were developed over many years by Dr. David L. Charney, MD, a practicing clinical psychiatrist in Alexandria, VA whose work permitted him to advance further towards the true psychology of the insider spy.

Over a decade of consulting as a clinical psychiatrist to intelligence agencies and treating employees from all corners of the intelligence community, provided his initial immersion in the world of intelligence.

He was then engaged as a consultant to the defense of three captured insider spies, Robert Hanssen, Earl Pitts and Brian Regan. While at first he had mixed feelings about joining their defense teams, Dr. Charney regarded involvement in these cases as unique opportunities that would enable him to understand the inner workings of the minds of insider spies.

He received cooperation from all three spies because he was working for them on the defense side, and also because of his frequent access: he could visit each for up to two hours weekly over an entire year. The primary basis of Dr. Charney’s findings derives from his unprecedented close-contact experiences with these three insider spies.

In addition, Dr. Charney intensively studied most of the other cases of insider spying in the United States that occurred during the twentieth century and up through the present that were reported upon in open sources. He studied these additional cases from the vantage point of an experienced psychiatrist.

Dr. Charney also had the advantage of his familiarity with these kinds of cases based on his intensive exposure to the insider spies he met with personally. Psychological patterns became apparent to him that might have escaped notice by others not similarly trained or experienced.

All of this combined for Dr. Charney to develop three key idea clusters: the core psychology of the insider spy; the ten life stages of the insider spy; and the existential dilemmas of the insider spy. From these ideas, he has developed and advanced a novel proposal for changing government policy to better manage the problem of insider spies.

The term “NOIR” derives from the name of the proposed new government entity that would actually implement these ideas and concepts: the National Office for Intelligence Reconciliation.

NOIR for USA is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to educate and promote the NOIR concepts and ideas which are intended to improve our national security by fixing the problem of insider spies in an innovative way.

What do you think?