Denial and deception

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Denial and Deception (Russian: Maskirovka, Маскировка) is a term which describes a particular type of information operation employed by a government agency, often an intelligence service. This sort of operation both blocks an adversary's access to accurate information regarding one's actions or intentions and, simultaneously, convinces said adversary of the accuracy of false information regarding those actions and intentions. These two distinct tactics, therefore, directly complement one another. Denial most often involves security and concealment to prevent foreign agents, photographic surveillance, electronic monitoring, or even the media from revealing secretive diplomatic or military matters. Deception is the construction of a false reality for the adversary through intentionally "leaked" false information, false stories implanted in the media, dummy or decoy structures or military formations, or numerous other measure. A denial and deception campaign is most effective when numerous denial and deceptive efforts are coherently coordinated to advance a specific plan; however, the most effective such operations are very complex, involving numerous persons or organizations, and this can prove exceedingly difficult. A single failed denial measure or deception can easily jeopardize an entire operation.[1]

Historically, democracies, like the United States, had difficulty employing denial and deception campaigns. This is largely due to the open media of most such societies which frequently expose any major operations undertaken militarily or diplomatically. Also, legal restrictions tend to hamper governments and particularly intelligence services in democratic societies. The exception to these restrictions occurs in wartime, when some measure of martial law is imposed and legal impediments are relaxed. Authoritarian systems of government, however, frequently employ denial and deception campaigns both domestically and abroad to manipulate domestic opposition and foreign governments. These operations are unhampered by legal restrictions or an open media. Non-state actors, such as terrorist organizations, frequently use denial and deception to influence governments and the public opinion of target societies.[2]

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  1. ^ Abram Shulsky, "Elements of Strategic Denial and Deception," in Strategic Denial and Deception: The Twenty-First Century Challenge, ed. Roy Godson and James J. Wirtz (Piscataway: Transaction Publishers, 2002), 15-17; Roy Godson and James J. Wirtz, "Strategic Denial and Deception," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 13 (2000): 425-426.
  2. ^ Ibid., 427-428.