“The Information Battlespace” – Foreign Denial and Deception with Bill Parquette
Andrew Hammond: Hi. And welcome to "SpyCast." I'm your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond, historian and curator here at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. "SpyCast's" sole purpose is to educate our listeners about the past, present and future of intelligence and espionage. Every week, through engaging conversations, we explore some aspect of a vast ecosystem that looms beneath the surface of everyday life. We talk to spies, operators, mole hunters, defectors, analysts and authors to explore the stories and secrets, tradecraft and technology of the secret world. We are "SpyCast." Now sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
Andrew Hammond: This week's topic is denial and deception. We talk D-Day, the Yom Kippur War, the Persian Gulf War and much more. Denial and deception clearly goes way back. Sun Tsu said all warfare is based on deception. And so much of the natural world is based on denial and deception operations - camouflage, feigning, mimicry, distraction, and the cheeky cuckoo that tries to pass its egg off as that of another bird. It is also a feature of our 21st century daily lives - spyware, Trojan horses, spear-phishing. With this week's guest, however, we look at the Denial and Deception Committee, which aimed to discover and mitigate foreign denial and deception operations against the U.S. by coordinating efforts across the intelligence community. Bill Parquette was a former chair of the committee, which he joined in 2002 and left in 2015. He was formerly a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and is currently professor of practice at Penn State University.
Andrew Hammond: We cover foreign denial and deception. What is it, and why does it matter? How you detect denial and deception operations, how to avoid seeing monsters everywhere and how children and car salespeople use denial and deception all the time and the books that you can read to counter their efforts. If you go to thecyberwire.com/podcast/spycast, you will see a link to a handy document Bill put together that breaks down some of the acronyms and lists the sources he mentions. On that page, you will find our extensive show notes to help you dig deeper into the subject matter of all of our episodes. We have notes and links to help deepen your understanding, a quote of the week, resources, including books, videos and primary sources, and one of my favorites, a wildcard resource that could be a Marvel comic, a classic novel or a punk album related to that week's episode. You can consume all of this to promote growth and improve performance. Think of it like a protein shake for your brain.
Andrew Hammond: I'm so glad that we're getting a chance to speak about this topic, which I find particularly fascinating. So a lot of our listeners may not have heard of this, so let's just set out our stall and tell us a little bit more about what we're talking about, Bill. What is the Denial and Deception Committee?
Bill Parquette: Denial and Deception Committee really no longer exists in its - in the form that I left it in. But nevertheless, it is a committee that is designed to discover and try to solve what an adversary or what our competitors are doing to us. It is designed to do analysis into hopefully warning of deceptions targeting the United States government, targeting the intelligence community and etc. So that's its function - to do analysis and to try to determine who's doing what. And what are they doing? When are they going to do it?
Andrew Hammond: So in that sense, it's less conducting denial and deception operations in another country. It's more trying to discover and analyze and rat out denial and deception operations in the United States. So it's more - if you think about it like a physician, it's more you're constantly checking the oxygen levels and the blood pressure and the BMI to try to discover anything that's not the way it should be, rather than trying to do that to a different organism. Is that correct?
Bill Parquette: Yes, it's attempting to stay on top of what an adversary may do next. Or say you're an analyst and you're - something just doesn't look right. There's an anomaly or an incongruity. It just doesn't make sense - a piece of evidence. So you follow that through. And the committee itself, where I worked, orchestrated a lot of this throughout all of the other agencies. Of course, there certainly were analysts on the committee itself, but it was mostly to orchestrate the discipline and to orchestrate and coordinate analysis throughout. It is designed to - for instance, the Russians - they have a template. And they used that template in Georgia. They used it in Syria. They used it in Ukraine the first time. And it's a template they used. So you can take that template and overlay it on potentially future operations, and that's what the committee does. It kind of looks at that and then reports on it through briefings and through - that's what it used to do - and through written products, through the National Intelligence Council.
Andrew Hammond: And tell us when the committee was around because it's not around, as you said, in the form that you once knew any longer. And it's not been there since the dawn of time either. So give us a chronology of the Denial and Deception Committee.
Bill Parquette: And again, I'll refer you back to the Bruce article, but - and I know we're going to talk about that later. So in its current form - or, again, when I left it three years ago - that was conceived back in the '80s. And the article refers to two periods where we peaked - under Casey in the Reagan administration in the 1980s. And that was called the Denial and Deception Analysis Center. And then it peaked again during DCI Woolsey's time, in the mid-1990s, where Woolsey was all about training and all about education and all about informing the intelligence community. So those were the two peak times, and it was called different things over the '80s. And then we had a down period because the Cold War ended, and everyone looks around and - looking for resources, and why do we need this group? And then Woolsey came in and said, this is like - not educating and training and doing deception analysis is like having a navy where you don't teach them how to swim. That's a great quote.
Bill Parquette: So - and that's the current form. When I joined it in 2002, we had 37 folks working for us. When I say us - and I was just one of them - and that was - included independent contracts. That included a bigger package. And when I left, I was the chairman. And when I left in 2019, I was the chairman at that time, and there was one other person there, and he left about two months after I did. But in its form and in its lineage, it needs to be resurfaced. And we could talk about internal and external advocates for this discipline because it really is a discipline that we're concerned with.
Andrew Hammond: Help me understand the composition of the committee. How big was it? Who staffed it? Who was on it? What was their skill set?
Bill Parquette: And there's only so much I can delve into, but the - it really - look at it at the national level. It orchestrated a community of many analysts and many people that - in DIA and other agencies that woke up every day concerning themselves with denial and concerning themselves with deception. And so that - the committee orchestrated this wealth of very educated and trained and professional analysts throughout all the agencies that were functionally focused and regionally focused - Russian analysts, China analysts, and etc. But on the committee itself, we had somebody in charge of training and education. That was me. We had a staff director. He orchestrated the staff. We had folks doing science and technology things. We had folks doing tactical camouflage and netting, which is important work. And we had folks looking at space. It was folks looking at all sorts of things within the committee.
Bill Parquette: But, really, the key function of the chairman and the key function of the committee was to orchestrate the community and resource the community and put the community in the direction that the chairman felt and then the DCI and director of ODNI felt that we ought to go in. And usually it was just - what's next on the target? What's next on the horizon? What's the incongruity we see here, and what, potentially - kind of like a warning - what potentially is around the next corner? And it has a lot to do with what we call - and this is an overused phrase, but we called the deception family - Mom and Pop and Eve and Moses.
Bill Parquette: Any time we see an incongruity or, hey, something might be happening here. We don't know what. And maybe it's not deception. The last thing you ever want to do is call everything deception because sometimes, OK, maybe it is, but there's no impact to it, and so you move on. There's many things to do before the day ends, so you move on. But you always want to know what the motive is. Deception is an action. And so if a adversary is taking the time to deceive, then you'll want to know what the motive is. You'll want to know why. So you investigate the motive and see if you - and then look at the opportunity. Do they have the opportunity to actually do this? And do they have the means? Are they capable? And that's where you get into past practices, which is POP. That was MOM. This is POP - Past Opposition Practices.
Bill Parquette: So just as an example, Iranian proliferation and their desire - potential desire - for nuclear capability. OK. So if we see an anomaly or incongruity, and something that it doesn't make sense, what's the motive? OK, maybe we have a motive. Do they have the opportunity? Yeah. And do they have the means? Are they capable of doing what we're seeing or what we think is happening? So you go through that checklist, and then you get into, have they ever done it in the past? What does it - and what does it look like? That's the example with the Russians in the lead-up in the four or five countries we talked about. So have they ever done it in the past? So that's MOM and POP. EVE and MOSES - there are two kids - evaluation of evidence, which you do with analysis, and manipulation of sources or sources manipulated.
Andrew Hammond: And who would the chairman of the committee report to? Would that be to the DCI and then the DNI?
Bill Parquette: The committee, again, when I left it - and still does - it sits at the - on the National Intelligence Council, the NIC. And so the reporting element would be to the chairman of the NIC and then to ODNI and its directors, its deputy directors and directors of ODNI. And prior to that would be DCI.
Andrew Hammond: Well, I think a good way to maybe try to get into it now would be to give us an example, if you can. It doesn't have to be current. It could be from history. Give us an example of what we're talking about here. Give us an example of something that the discipline had uncovered.
Bill Parquette: There's many illustrations to define the discipline. The one that's used often is the Yom Kippur, the October '73 war. So Anwar Sadat decided in '72, November '72 that, I'm going to go to war in a year. And he did so using denial and using deception very well. And he had all the principles of deception, which is operational security - he communicated only through courier. Hiding in plain sight - he publicly stated, We are not good combat forces. The Israelis have been really kicking our butt - if you'll excuse the expression - for several years for the Six-Day War and through several years since '67. We're going to go out and train, if you don't mind, and he publicly stated this.
Bill Parquette: So he did training exercises throughout the summer of '73, many different training exercises. Each time he did training exercises, he was showing a force that couldn't coordinate with the Syrians, couldn't coordinate with anybody else. It wasn't efficient. Every time he'd go to the water's edge, he'd leave caches of munitions and things. So he did that all summer long. He did that in April when he started off on an exercise. And the Israelis mobilized, and they said, OK, we're going to war. This is it. He publicly stated, I told you, we're just - we're not efficient. He played into the Israelis' biases and predispositions of, this is not a good combat force. He kept on training throughout the summer. It's like crying wolf.
Bill Parquette: The bottom line is he kept on going. And then when he went 6, 7 October 1973 - when he went, the Israelis did mobilize. They did a few hours later, but it was too late. And they call this either a very successful deception or the Israelis failing to anticipate because Sadat knew that he couldn't win, couldn't do it, but he didn't want to win. He just wanted to bring the superpowers to the table. And he did it with very successful denial and very successful deception. And the failure to anticipate of, we just - we know we're going to lose. But he held ground for about 3 1/2 weeks and brought the super powers to the table, which is then the Soviet Union and, of course, the United States. And he ended the no war, no peace. They ended that hostility, at least for the foreseeable future. So that's one example, decent example of denial and deception.
Bill Parquette: How we evolve - if we're evolving in the discipline - and maybe we're not, but I'll give you the story anyways. I consider any time I walk into a car dealership, I'm dealing with denial, and I'm dealing with deception. And I'm dealing with predispositions, and I'm dealing with biases. And that dealer and that salesperson will play to my biases and predispositions. And they'll scope me out almost immediately. And their job is to keep me on that lot, and then I'm cautious. It's a fascinating example of manipulation, a fascinating example of denial. And it's just back and forth, as I've just, you know, insulted car dealerships around the world. But that's another example. And the other example I use - you know, usually if I have an audience of one or 100, I ask, does anyone have children? And, you know, the hands get raised. And then I said, OK, did you teach your child deception or denial? And, of course, they'll say, of course not. Do they conduct denial or deception? And they all say yeah. It's throughout nature. It's throughout society. We talk our way out of it as children get older, but it's a natural thing to deny. I didn't - Mom, I didn't take that cookie - or deception. You know, so it's just naturally - you fall into it.
Andrew Hammond: Well, that's a great example. I find the Yom Kippur War really, really interesting. So let's stick with that. What's the - what was the denial part of the operation, and what was the deception part?
Bill Parquette: Of course, with the communication, he only used - he used couriers. He used his normal communication channels, which he knew was then belayed (ph) and was being listened to and sometimes being listened to by us but mostly by the Israelis. And we were sharing intelligence with the Israelis anyways, and we had other intelligence apparatus that we could share with them nevertheless. So when he didn't want something to be picked up, he would use couriers. He would communicate with - 'cause he did coordinate and collaborate with the Syrians. And he did, of course - now, his his army, said general officers did not know they were going to war until they actually went. So he kept - everything was operational security. So denial - that's part of what he denied. He denied communications. When he had something to say to folks, he would only say it, again, person to person, and then escort occurred to wherever he wanted the information to go. But when he wanted to manipulate - when he wanted to deceive - and deception is an action. When he wanted to deceive, then he would say something through what he knew could be an open communication channel that was going to get picked up. And so he would say things that he wanted people to hear.
Bill Parquette: He would - part of the denial, if you go back, was caches of ammunition. Every time he did a training exercise, he moved equipment forward. And when he moved it forward to his launch point for the attack, he'd just either bury it or he'd camouflage it, which is denial - a form of camouflage. Putting a net over a vehicle is denying information to an adversary. When you put a camouflaged net up over, and then at night, you moved the equipment under - that's underneath that camouflage net - keep the camouflage net up, but move the equipment elsewhere, well, now you've just crossed the line into deception. Because you kept the camouflage net up, there's nothing under it. They're seeing that same camouflage net, and now - but the equipment's somewhere else, and he did all the above.
Andrew Hammond: So I'm just thinking of another example - D-Day.
Bill Parquette: Yeah.
Andrew Hammond: So the denial part would be the operational security - making sure that not everybody knew that it was going to happen - that certain protocols and procedures were followed. Basically, just trying to protect the information, but then the deception part would be the bodyguard of lies that would be the fictional first U.S. Army group that Patton was going to be leading. It would be suggesting that it was going to be the Pas-de-Calais instead of Normandy. That would be the deception part. Is that right?
Bill Parquette: You know - another fascinating story. Matter of fact, there were 35 different deception plans surrounding the D-Day invasion, which started in January of '44 and lasted all the way through to December - the entire year - all surrounding and protecting that invasion force. To include one was - one deception operation was led by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. And David Niven worked this business, so it's fascinating. But I don't want to segue. I'll answer - let me get to your question. And the other thing that they had to consider - and you have to consider with any deception - is what can be hidden and what cannot be hidden. You can't hide the fact that you have an invasion force that's going to Normandy. That can't be hidden. But you can, potentially, deceive the adversary into thinking that's a reinforcing. The real force - and one of the things that you always have to consider with deception - so deception is a heavy, heavy consumer of intelligence. You have to know your adversary and who you're attempting to deceive. And so you've got to, at best you can, crawl into the mindset of that adversary. So what did the Germans think - and the German intelligence apparatus, Abwehr, and the others and Canaris - what did they think? They - so we need to - we needed to know that.
Bill Parquette: And they thought the most successful general at that time - and that's just my bias, but it's Patton - he'd done very successfully in Sicily, done very successfully in North Africa and etc. So we're going to surround a complete false army, and we're going to use decoys. We're going to use deception. We're going to use denial. We're going to use the entire discipline surrounding this general officer. Meanwhile, we're going to lead a force, which is the actual force, into Normandy. The intent - the whole purpose and the intent of that was to freeze - I think it was 14 Panzer divisions north, protecting Calais and waiting for Patton - at least delay them enough so we can get a landing force and we can get enough forces so we're not going to be kicked off that beach. And that was quite - that was successful because they never committed. They committed way too late. They committed 3 1/2 weeks later, I believe. And so it was a very successful deception.
Bill Parquette: And it - but if you look at the entire story, the 35 different deception plans, they had deception plans in southern Europe. They had deception plans in Norway. They had deception plans covering and masking all sorts of items. And the other thing you've got to consider with this discipline is if you're telling a story and it's a good story - you're crafting a good story - your adversary can't afford to ignore it. They can't - they have to do something with what you're telling them. It's the same thing with - it's the same thing if an adversary is deceiving us. They're targeting us. They know if they craft the message - and sometimes it's just noise, but we have to do something with that information. We're going to have to consume scarce resources to figure out what's happening - what is potentially going on here? So you're going to divert assets - meaning analysts and collectors and etc. - to try to figure out what's happening here. Meanwhile, the shiny key's in the corner over here, which we may or may not see or we may see too late.
Bill Parquette: The other thing - criteria is deceptions only have to be good enough - really. With Schwarzkopf and the Persian Gulf War - and that was the one I was in - he only had to be good enough. He only had to be good enough in order to get that corps on the end-around. And so he denied. He denied. He took his eyes, he took his ears and he put the shiny key in the - and my son's a Marine, so I love the Marine Corps, but he showed and displayed a Marine Expeditionary Force - I mean, it's the United States Marine Corps. They even did a rehearsal, which Dan Rather picked up on the news prior to the war kicking off - Marine Expeditionary Force doing an invasion off the coast. So his eyes are looking at the Marines - OK, where are they going to land? What is going on here? - while they were a part of the story. And he's got his end around coming around.
Bill Parquette: So again, it - what can be hidden? What can't be hidden? Obviously, Saddam knew we were going north. The Germans knew there's an invasion, but it's not the real invasion. We'll put some forces there clearly. We'll attempt to stop that, but we're going to save our real assets for the real invasion.
Andrew Hammond: What are the things that people that are trying to detect deception look for? So if you're a doctor, and you're looking for, they've got high blood pressure or proteins in their blood or something like that, how do you pick up on it? What are the telltale signs?
Bill Parquette: So this certificate program was to train and educate analysts into deception detection, into - to be a deception analyst, and there's 750 of them in the community right now doing all good work. We would, throughout the entire year - it was five-course program - throughout the entire year, we would always talk about deceptions. We did Yom Kippur. We did Normandy. We did them all. And we had a student ask once, why are we talking about deception successful to say, you know, I'm an analyst. I said because if we show you - and we did it all the time - if we show you deceptions, successful or not successful, and we do it often, and we - and it's redundant, then maybe you can reverse engineer. Maybe you know what to look for.
Bill Parquette: So what the Israeli - and this is - "The Watchman Fell Asleep" is a great book that describes the '73 war. But - and again, a lot of it has to do with, they never considered it. One of the things we use is to coerce the analysis a computing hypothesis. And so we would always emphasize, be a healthy skeptic. And there's many times in our lineage in the intelligent community where we cherry-picked evidence to support the foregone conclusion. You may have a chosen one, and you may be biased into selecting evidence, but if you consider other hypotheses and other courses of action - what if it's not this? So with the '73 war, what if these aren't training exercises, or what if - so be a healthy skeptic. Be willing to wonder and ask questions. I drive my wife crazy because I'm always, what about this, and what about this? And she wants to throw something at me, and I don't blame her.
Bill Parquette: So I would say, for both exercises - for the Germans, OK what if this - just - let's think about this for a minute. What do we actually know about the army and the decoys? Now, the counterintelligence folks had rolled up a lot of the German assets that were spying on patent and looking at the decoys and discovering certain things, and then, you know, so you knew all about double-cross. And then, they were feeding false information to their handlers, but we didn't get them all.
Andrew Hammond: We'll be right back after this.
Andrew Hammond: I'm just thinking just now, so you can apply this discipline to larger-scale events like the Normandy invasion or the Yom Kippur War. Can you also apply this to micro-level cases? So I'm just thinking, before the interview began, we were talking about Hanssen. Hanssen was carrying out his own denial and deception operation, and...
Bill Parquette: Absolutely.
Andrew Hammond: ...Kim Philby was too - right? - because...
Bill Parquette: Absolutely.
Andrew Hammond: ...He was posing as one thing, but actually, he was something else.
Bill Parquette: Yeah. No, absolutely. Hanssen - again, a fascinating case, but he was - a lot of his was ego and arrogance. But he was - he crafted a deception that lasted 20 years. And he literally was hiding in plain sight. I had a student - you've got to write a thesis to get this degree in NIU - so I had a student who wrote a fascinating piece on failure to confront. He interviewed people that worked with Hanssen and worked with Ames. And he interviewed in terms of, did you see anything, and then, you know, why didn't you take it to the next level, and the failure to confront.
Bill Parquette: Hanssen used to walk out of the building - and was caught multiple times - with classified documents in his briefcase. And he was a very senior guy. And he would always say, eh, don't worry about it. Go to a meeting. I'll wrap it up when I get there, and I'm coming right back to the office. He was right. He did come back to the office, but the paperwork didn't. And he would have these trash bags filled with classified information, which he would put under the bridge at Nottoway Park, which was a park literally across the street from his house. So that was all - that was a little bit of arrogance and a little bit of hiding in plain sight and - but clearly denial and clearly deception, especially when he was in the office and he got caught. What a fascinating story. I would love to know the story of when he was literally caught hacking into his boss's computer. Now, did he preconceive this story, or did he just, off the fly, say, well, I'm checking operational security. I want to make sure that we are secure, even though he's taking stuff from his boss and clearly giving it to the Soviets. His story immediately, when he was caught, is, I'm just checking to make sure we're all secure here. And I do wonder if - was that something - OK, I'm going to have this story ready to go in the can if I'm caught doing this, or did it just come to him? Who knows? You've got to be able to tell a good story. That's what a deceiver is, anyways.
Andrew Hammond: I'm thinking this obviously has a lot of applicability for the intelligence community and for the world of intelligence, but you could apply it much more broadly, right? You could say - like the TV cop Columbo - part of what he does is being a one-man denial and deception committee because he's trying to find out whether some of his leading suspects are on the up-and-up or whether they're denying him information or whether they're trying to deceive him to implicate someone else. And you could say, like, "Sherlock Holmes" or other examples like...
Bill Parquette: Jack Frost.
Andrew Hammond: Jack Frost - just part of the human story - denial and deception - but, of course, it has very pointed and specific application for the intelligence community. Would you agree with that?
Bill Parquette: Yeah. And thanks for bring it up because it's a pretty good analogy. And you can spin that analogy in many different ways. Now, talking about "Columbo" and - my wife and I just - what do you call that? - streamed all of Jack Frost and all of the 14 seasons in, like, a week.
Andrew Hammond: Wow.
Bill Parquette: It wasn't quite a week, but nevertheless. "Columbo" was always just one more thing - just one more. So he was always willing to wonder - always wanted just another question. He was always saying, this just doesn't make sense. And that - we would say often, when we traveled around the world representing the committee and our boss - and traveled - if I don't mention Kent Tiernan's (ph) name, he's going to kill me. Nevertheless, we would always want to know - just be willing to wonder. And sometimes, people don't want to hear bad news. You walk in - like, if you're an analyst working at Defense Intelligence, and you're a deception analyst, and what you're doing is telling the boss news that they don't want to hear.
Bill Parquette: I used the term which was used in Bruce's article of the fire at Rabta in Libya 'cause he uses that in the textbooks. Now, here's an analyst - young, tenacious analyst. Now, the entire intelligence community said there's a fire in this facility, and it's destroyed, and it's no longer functional, and here's how we know this. We have human sources. We have imagery. We have all of these hints. We have all of these things telling us that there's a fire. So this one tenacious little analyst over at Boeing who said - he was a volunteer fireman, I believe, in Vienna, Va. - and he said, you know, I've seen fires, and this is not making a lot of sense. And so he started talking about this, and he had a lot of help. But this is the community now, and there's publications, and the White House did decide if we're not going to do anything with a facility that doesn't work anymore. And that's what a deception analyst does. Tenacious - he sticks to it. He's willing to take rejection or be thrown out of people's offices. I'm being a little bit melodramatic. But, nevertheless, he stuck to it. And in about a month and a half, or whatever it took, he was able to turn the community around to say, hey, we got this one wrong, and here's why, and here's how.
Bill Parquette: But the Libyans knew how to feed us information. They knew how - what we looked for and, you know, we gravitated towards human intelligence or we gravitated towards imagery. We gravitated towards other things. They fed us all the right information. And it makes all the sense in the world when you look at the evidence that why we said, OK, here's a fire. But this one analyst who discovered that no emergency vehicles ever showed up to the site - and, oh, by the way, vehicles coming in with tires and coming in with all sorts of other stuff. And so it was a deliberate fire to show that the facility - so that's - you'd kind of want the analyst to be able to - as you said - your analogy - "Columbo" or Jack Frost or whomever. Ask a couple more questions and be able to develop another course of action. And sometimes you may only have hours. You may have - you know, the boss wants something on his desk by 5 'cause he's got to go downtown at 6 and talk about this, and it's 1 o'clock in the afternoon. You may not have a lot of time, but even then you should consider at least as best you can.
Andrew Hammond: It sounds like the kind of career where it's very difficult to get promoted because you're constantly telling your boss that he may be wrong.
Bill Parquette: Well, that's an excellent point. You're not constantly telling the boss, oh, by the way, have we considered this? And if they've made a decision that fine, but have we considered - you're always bringing up certain points. Have we thought about this? Because that's extremely important, in this particular discipline, to be able to at least be a healthy skeptic of what you're seeing. Is what we're seeing - is that's something they're showing us? Is that something deliberate? Is that's something they want us to see, or is it - did we just get lucky?
Andrew Hammond: Wow. It sounds like quite an interesting skill set that is required.
Bill Parquette: Yeah.
Andrew Hammond: People love - people hate a gadfly, right? Since Socrates, looking up to a general - what is courage? How dare you ask me that? I'm a general. Of course I know what courage is. But he's trying to dig into the deeper nature of it. But I was just thinking as well, just to go back to the analogy that we used, so Columbo - it seems to me that he would detect - he would listen carefully to the story that his suspects would say, and he had just this - something's not right about this story. And he would look at the material evidence and so forth, but, quite often, it came back to their - something about their story's just not quite right. So you mentioned the importance of story. But with Sherlock Holmes, he pays comparatively less attention to the - what the suspects are saying and much more attention to the material evidence. But - for Sherlock Holmes, the stories and the evidence, but for Columbo, the stories and the oral recounting of the events.
Bill Parquette: Yeah.
Andrew Hammond: So I guess there's different ways to look for something in a story that's not right.
Bill Parquette: One of the things I cover in my intelligence environment course is what I call the analyst environment. What is an analyst today? What are they facing? What happens in their little office or cubicle? It's information overload. Look at all of the volumes upon volumes upon volumes of information. And the other thing we're competing against, of course, is the boss sees something - where does he get the information first? He gets it from cable news. He gets it from real-life news. Boss is already, probably, preconceived to think certain things. And now you're walking in there, and maybe you're just reinforcing what he already believes, and that's fine because - maybe talk the boss through - maybe talk him off a ledge and say, we have to at least consider a couple more things. And, you know, what the intelligence community does - it collects secrets by secret means. So that's the layer and the lens that the community puts on, you know, information. And it's not a competition. They complement each other, but that's kind of the environment you've got to deal with. You're walking in, the boss has already seen 14 different news stories about something he's about to ask you about, and you've got to walk in there and also complement that information with the additional information you've got. So that's, you know, the analyst environment that they've got to deal with as well.
Andrew Hammond: And for the people that were looking at - looking for the deceptions - would this be the deception analysts from across the intelligence community, and all of their information would flow to the committee, and the committee would decide what was and what wasn't a deception or what should be reported up to the chair of the National Intelligence Council? Or how did it work? You had your own team of analysts that just focused on what usable - did you just task it and tell it to look for things, or - yeah, how did it integrate across the rest of the intelligence community?
Bill Parquette: In its day, every single agency - and DIA at it's - at the largest - but every single agency had analysts that woke up every morning and dealt with deception, either through functional or through regional, but that was your account. And DIA, in it's day, I think, had 35 or 40 analysts that, again, did functional and regional things. But all the agencies had deception analysts, and so they were doing the day-to-day stuff that, when they saw something, they would feed it up through their normal reporting elements. But they were in constant contact with us, and every month - monthly we'd sit down with all of these as a committee, and as a committee chair - with the chair at the head of the table and talk about - and there was always an agenda, but they would always talk about things that are happening throughout the community. So every single month, you were able to lay eyes on folks - a representative from defense, a representative from all the agencies, to include the service intel centers - ONI and others - would all sit around a table with the chairman or with us and - but the reporting would always go through there. But if there was something that - we would always see the reporting, and we'd ask and call on it.
Bill Parquette: I'll give you one example. We had a graduate of our program - the graduate program called DDASP, Denial and Deception Advanced Studies Program at NIU - that no longer exists. But we had an analyst who was a Navy analyst. He was afloat in the Persian Gulf. He was seeing something that just didn't make sense to him - some type of an error - I'm not sure what. So they only had my email - they had my contact information. So he reached out to me, and I immediately put him in touch with folks on the committee and put him in touch with - I stepped away. My background is - I'm an operator; I'm not an analyst. But they formed their own deception working group - a DWG - to try to figure out, OK, what are you saying and what could it be? And let's talk about - and they did the old MOM and POP, and it worked. It worked great. And so he - 'cause initially, when he would go to his boss afloat and say, here's what I think is happening - you know, he was a young kid. They didn't throw him out, but, well, prove it. I need more. If you're going to come to me with this - not a problem. You're doing the good work, but just give me more. And so he reached out to me only because he knew I could put him in touch with the people he needed, and we did, and they did great work.
Bill Parquette: So I guess that's another example of how the committee would function. We had people that dug in deep - that did analysis on certain things. But, mostly, it was an executive committee that orchestrated and coordinated and published things. Matter of fact, how the committee in its current form, when I left it three years ago, conceived out of the National Intelligence Estimate on Russia in '98, I believe - '96 or '98. You know, we published - we informed at the executive level. But, more importantly, we orchestrated all the heroes and all of the folks throughout all of the community and the world, what they're seeing, and then we just put our lens on it and then worked them through the publication process and got them visibility.
Andrew Hammond: And tell us about the sources of information that you would be combing through. Would it be - you know, would it be at the level of the detection of deception techniques or using a polygraph and so forth - you know, at the most micro level? But are you looking at statistics? Are you looking at imagery intelligence, signals intelligence, human intelligence, all of the above?
Bill Parquette: All of the above. And again, this is probably a good time to talk about my - again, I'm an operator. And I was hired for the committee to run that graduate program I referred to and to do training and to do outreach. And I entered the intelligence community through the back door. I entered the intelligence community as an operator, and then I evolved into the committee itself and then grew through the ranks. But - throw another acronym at you - STD. It's not what you think, but, you know, when I use that in a lecture, it always gets a laugh or two - see, think, do. That's another deception analyst's tool - is if you are a deceiver, which I was - and I had the unique experience of working on both sides of the fence - red and blue - but if you are a deceiver, what do you want to show your adversary? What do you want them to think and perceive? And then what action - what do you want them to do?
Bill Parquette: And if you're a deception analyst, there's a few - four or five or six pieces of information I'm seeing here over time, and I'm just not sure what's going on. OK. So if you consider, OK, maybe it's manipulation, and maybe they're trying to get us to do something. I don't know, but maybe. What'll they want us to do? So you reversed the STD. What do they want us to do? And what are they attempting to think and perceive? And what are they showing us to get us to take an action? Because deception is all about getting your opponent, No. 1, to consume resources to try to figure out your story and - but, more importantly, to either take an action or an inaction - do nothing - which is sometimes even more important - the inaction.
Andrew Hammond: And tell us a little bit more about your career, Bill. When you were talking there, it reminded me of earlier in our conversation where I was saying that, you know, it would make sense to have operators involved in all of this. So tell me a little bit more about how you got into the world of intelligence.
Bill Parquette: I spent 22 years in the Army. I got in at '79 and left in the summer of '01 - 2001 - in the field artillery.
Andrew Hammond: Artillery.
Bill Parquette: So the last five years of active duty entered this world. And it's a funny story. I was at Fort Hood, Texas, working for the corps commander. And I'm on orders now to go to Carlisle Barracks, the Army War College - not as a student, but to work in the operations shop. Now, so I get a call from a friend of mine, who - we'd been in communication, but this was somebody I served with at the 82nd Airborne, and we jumped out of airplanes together when we were lieutenants. And now I'm a lieutenant colonel, so this was 22 years before. So he said, hey, I've got a job that you might be interested in. I said, where is it? He said, it's in the capital region. OK. Where? Can't tell you (laughter). It's one of these - well, what's the job? Well, I'm not even sure, but you'd be a planner.
Bill Parquette: So that's kind of how I crossed that bridge. And it's luck and opportunity. And two years later, I'm on this - the beast of a committee, and he literally hired me to run the graduate certificate program that he conceived, and that's what I did for the length of the program. And I was doing other things - outreach. And so Bill Parquette was not an analyst. Bill Parquette was not a trained and educated intelligence officer. Bill Parquette entered this as an operator, fascinated with it, did many different things, had traveled the world, training and educating and consulting. And then when I was full-fledged on the committee, I would work with many different organizations throughout the world - not just talking about this discipline, but coordinating. Hey, something is happening in here. Can you take a look at it? Yes, I will. Who can I talk to? And I'd put them in touch with the experts. But...
Bill Parquette: ...I don't want to walk away from the interview on a downside because we put through 750 students that are still in the community - still doing excellent work.
Andrew Hammond: I was thinking about Able Archer there for a second. With Able Archer, the Soviets thought that it was a denial and deception operation.
Bill Parquette: The '83 scare?
Andrew Hammond: The '83 scare - and it was going to be - NATO was going to attack the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, but it was actually just an exercise with nuclear weapons and for other reasons that could quickly have escalated out of control. So I guess that's a way of framing the next question as - how do you avoid just seeing monsters everywhere? How do you avoid - here's a deception, Able Archer. If you're a Soviet analyst, well, that's a deception. They're going to, like, attack us. How do you avoid becoming an alarmist? The sky is falling everywhere that you see. I guess...
Bill Parquette: Oh, that's a real problem.
Andrew Hammond: Yeah.
Bill Parquette: You're right. No, that is a sincere and real problem. And that's sometimes some of the risk. You've got to be tenacious. You've got to go back to the analysts - back to the Libyan analysts who - tenacious and polite and respectful. You know, have we considered this? And you can't go out of channels. You've got to work with the boss you're working with. You can't go around. That's just insanity. You've got to be able to work with the environment you're in. But you're right. We've had people that go off the rails thinking that - here's what I'm saying, and this is the issue, and I don't care if you don't believe me or not. I'm going to tell whoever will listen to me. That's the extreme. And that's the other function of the committee. They come to us first. We vet it. We take a look at it. And if they need it - 9 times out of 10, they didn't any counseling from us. If they need a little help selling the message, then we would do that if we could.
Andrew Hammond: And forgive the inner Columbo or skeptic in me...
Andrew Hammond: ...But is this a denial and deception operation? Are you leading me down the garden path? Am I - does this denial and deception committee even exist? Or are you just stringing me along?
Bill Parquette: Tell you what...
Andrew Hammond: (Laughter).
Bill Parquette: I'll tell you what.
Andrew Hammond: I'm just teasing, of course (laughter).
Bill Parquette: No, I know. I know. I'm pulling out an article from - where did this come from? - I think CNN - although, maybe U.S. News & World Report - talking about the committee. And the article is from August 2016. I believe it's August - "White House Asked Deception Committee to Study Russian Hacks." These leaks and these little sorts of little articles have always been out and about, and it's mostly just garbage. But it existed for quite some time, well publicized. And I know you're just kidding, but - and Jim Bruce and his article laid out its lineage and also the caution. And he also laid out ways that we can resurface, and I do believe that's being worked.
Andrew Hammond: You mentioned the Jim Bruce article, which I will post in the show notes for the podcast on our website. But are there any other sources that you would recommend our listeners look at if they want to learn a little bit more about this? Is there a book that compares and contrasts the Yom Kippur War, the Revolutionary War, the D-Day landings and so forth? Or can we expect that book at some point in the future from Bill Parquette?
Bill Parquette: I - 'cause...
Andrew Hammond: It'd be a good book.
Bill Parquette: Well, like I said, I listened...
Andrew Hammond: I'd buy it.
Bill Parquette: ...To - and you brought up an excellent point. I listened to previous podcasts that half of them had books on being - and of course, the dean is going to call me out on this because part of my duties - I'm - three years ago when I got there, a colleague walked up me and wanted to know my background, and we were talking for a while. And I said, look, I'm not an academic. I'm here to teach because I love teaching. And she said, well, you are now. You're here at Penn State. You are an academic. And so part of my duties is to research and to publish. So to answer your question, of course, we've got the Bruce article, "Deception 101: Primer on Deception" by Joseph Caddell, C-A-D-D-E-L-L. And you could post this. So for resources for your listeners, "Military Deception and Strategic Surprise," editors by Gooch and Perlmutter. It's an excellent, excellent book, and these go back some time. The Caddell was 2004. The one I just mentioned is '82.
Bill Parquette: But Joe Gordon has got rearmament - or Brian Gordon, I stand corrected, German rearmament. I know we didn't talk about that 'cause there's so many - but the German rearmament - if you look at the German rearmament from 19 - the Versailles Treaty. But you pick it up around 1932, and it goes all the way to the - really, the start of the war. Fascinating, fascinating denial and deception study on how they literally in plain sight built an entire army and air force - incredible. Barton Whaley has two - well, he worked for a committee for some time as an author, and he's got several books out; Gordon and Wirtz is the one I was - Roy Gordon - Godson and James Wirtz, another one; Thaddeus Holt "The Deceivers" and Walter Jajko "Deception: Appeal for Acceptance" and Jon Latimer "Deception in War: The Art of the Bluff."
Andrew Hammond: Wow. If you want to get a good price on your next car when you get into the dealer, listen to this podcast and check those sources. It's been a pleasure to speak to you, Bill.
Bill Parquette: Oh, well, look, Andrew, thank you very much. I really enjoyed this.
Andrew Hammond: Thanks ever so much for your time, Bill. It's been a pleasure to speak to you.
Bill Parquette: Thank you for the invitation. I appreciate it.
Andrew Hammond: Thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode of "SpyCast." Go to our webpage, where you can find links to further resources, detailed show notes and full transcripts. We have over 500 episodes in our back catalog for you to explore. Please follow the show on Twitter - @INTLSpyCast - and share your favorite quotes and insights or start a conversation. If you have any additional feedback, please email us at email@example.com. I'm your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond, and you can connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter - @spyhistorian. This show is brought to you from the home of the world's preeminent collection of intelligence and espionage-related artifacts, the International Spy Museum. The "SpyCast" team includes Mike Mincey and Memphis Vaughn III. See you for next week's show.