Talk:Agent of influence

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TDC, what is you citation for this? This is not my understanding of the term. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:16, August 2, 2005 (UTC)

Thats a good question. My definition is a compilation of what I have read over the years, and this from Global Security on Soviet disinformation campaigns. What is your understanding of the term? TDC 17:11, August 4, 2005 (UTC)
I have added balance to the definition.--Cberlet 17:40, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
how can you add balance to the definition with sources that do not address it?TDC 17:49, August 4, 2005 (UTC)
Primary source claim: What is the source that states Chambers & Bentley refered to White as an "agent of influence", or was this claim assigned by later authors (which I believe can be proven). "Agent of influence" is, as I understand, is a CIA & American invention, and not used or referred to in either KGB (and its predecessor organizations) or GRU. Thank you. nobs 18:23, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
Soviet intelligence agencies have historically used "access agents", which is somewhat analagous in meaning, but in practice is very different. nobs 18:31, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

Cberlet, you recent edits are leading me to beleive that you do not even beleive in the idea of an "agent of influence". The KGB’s section A had literally hundreds of contacts in the media and governments who they funneled falsified documents through. Service A concocted the story that the AIDS virus had been developed as a biological weapon by the Pentagon at Fort Detrick. and was used in experiments on prisoners., This gem first appeared in the Times of India, through a KGB “agent of influence”. Philip Agee's book, "Inside the Company," was ghost written by Section A and the Cuban DGI. The International Association of Democratic Lawyers let lose a story about Americans kidnapping or adopting children from Latin America and using their body parts in organ transplants, this too was done under the direction of Serve A. TDC 20:25, August 4, 2005 (UTC)

I cited a scholar writing for the CIA. The cite is accurate. I do not have to explain how the scholar wrote the text. I merely have to cite it accurately and show it is related to the topic, which it clearly is. It is a constructive edit.--Cberlet 21:34, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
It is a good source; the meaning of the term may be somewhat out of context, but the portions relating to the term are a valid inclusion. The references to White, espionage, etc. are somewhat extraneous to the article though. nobs 22:28, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
Here's the problem: "Agent of influence" has had an evolving meaning. Hook, I do not believe is quoting Chambers & Bentley, he is quoting newspapers he read at the time. The term "agent of influence" came into existence after the National Security Act of 1947 and was popularized in government and among the public as they sought to understand all the espionage revelations of the era. Neither Soviet intelligence, nor the CPUSA secret apparatus, ever used the term (likewise the term "sub-agent" appeared in the mid-fifties, out of popular media & counterintelligence files, and created problems in prosecutions, because the term was not used the CPUSA secret apparatus). Hook is quoting a paraphrase he read in the newspapers of Bentley speaking this,
"I would say our two best ones were Harry Dexter White and Lauchlin Currie. They had an immense amount of influence and knew people, and their word would be accepted when they recommended someone.",
hence the term "agent of influence" was born. The CIA has since adopted what is essentially an American Counterintelligence term, and made it part of their doctrine in recruitment. An "agent of influence" in modern CIA parlance, is an operative who stands between the Case Officer and the intelligence target, hoping to gain or use influence. CIA relies on them because CIA has historically met with dismal failure penetrating target organizations. So it has had to rely on "agents of influence" to influence its targets. This is a very different meaning than what was used in educating the Amercian public about counterintelligence in the late 1940s and 1950s. Here is were it is problematic to you, my friend Mr. Cberlet, this is not a game of partisan tit-for-tat. Your use of that reference here in the long run will not stand up, because the real definition of the term needs to be written. In seeking evidence which appears to defend personages you feel sentimental about, if you were to insist on this meaning and definition, it won't help the ghost of your client in this case,
"adviser to Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, who was, now we know, was an agent of influence." [1]
What he means to say is, Hopkins stood between the Case Officer and the intended target, i.e. Roosevelt, and by the CIA definition, Hopkins was cooperating. It is my belief that FDR was not the intended target, but if the idea is confuse the facts, we may be off on the right foot. I would caution, step back and look at the larger picture. nobs 01:04, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
Original research has no place in this discussion or on the topic page.--Cberlet 01:30, 5 August 2005 (UTC)
As I said, your definition in the long run will not stand up, because the real definition will be written with the appropriate sourcing. Hasty google searches for tidbits you hope make some point, complete with extraneous references, are a waste of time. Again, I would ask for your help and cooperation, if you would look at the larger picture Senator Moynihan has discussed in his book, it may save everybody time. nobs 02:01, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Disputed Section[edit]

Cberlet, I fail to see how the inclusion of the removed text is any kind of dommentary on the term agent of influence, its a mildly critical book review of "Treasonable Doubt" and not a critique on the term "agent of influence". As such, I have removed it. Torturous Devastating Cudgel 15:12, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

The first two lines.[edit]

How can you include two definitions in the first paragraph that are entirely contradictory in nature?

Is the person knowing and conciously serving a foreign government OR an unwitting dupe?

If it is both than the initial sentence must be reworked so that both definitions can be used else you fold in the dupe with the active agent and the whole thing becomes another smear technique. --Ken 22:24, 9 February 2007 (UTC)


This seems to be a problematic subject. While the term is bandied around a lot (apparently originating in the CIA branding people it didn't like as "Soviet agents of influence"), there doesn't seem to be any verified instance of such an agent. Which is curious since there are plenty of verified instances of moles, double agents etc.

While there are plenty of instances of people serving as propagandists for various governments or causes, there doesn't seem any particular reason why they should be described as "agents" or necessarily associated with the secret intelligence services. It seems particularly inappropriate when used about people who are openly expressing an opinion (however wrong) and who are (by and large) doing so out of conviction. It would be more appropriate for people who were disguising their true opinion (i.e. pretending to be liberal when they are in fact Communist) or only expressing this opinion because they were offered some inducement. But specific cases need to be cited.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:49, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

To reiterate my point, Nobs, who is a sworn enemy of all such agents real and imagined, said above: '"Agent of influence" is, as I understand, is a CIA & American invention, and not used or referred to in either KGB (and its predecessor organizations) or GRU'. So essentially the article is advancing a McCarthyist point of view.
Also, as mentioned above, the introduction says: "Agents of influence are often the most difficult agents to detect, as there is seldom material evidence that connects them with a foreign power... Most commonly they serve the interests of a foreign power in one of three ways: either as a controlled agent directly recruited and controlled by a foreign power; as a “trusted contact” that consciously collaborates to advance foreign interests but are not directly recruited or controlled by a foreign power; or as a “useful idiot” that is completely unaware of how their actions further the interests of a foreign power." So someone has an opinion that is factually or politically incorrect. Does that mean they are a criminal? An agent of someone else?
This article gives the example of Arne Treholt as an agent of influence. But his article says, "Treholt was convicted and sentenced for passing classified material to KGB in the period 1974–1983 and to the Iraqi Intelligence Service 1981–1983. The sentence also encompassed handing over secrets obtained at the Norwegian Joint Staff College where he was enrolled with authorization from the non-socialist coalition government." So he wasn't convicted of being an agent of influence at all.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:54, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the entire article has a definite McCarthyist slant. If one wanted to attempt to bring it around to a neutral POV, one would have to add content pertaining to the many pro-American organisations, with funding from the USA, that flourished during the Cold War, for instance in such organisations as the International Council of Women, where pro-American and pro-Soviet affiliates struggled for influence, with the Americans having (mostly) the upper hand. For an excellent source on this, see Cold War Women: The International Activities of American Women's Organisations by Helen Laville. Peterravn (talk) 12:46, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
I don't think that would help, as it would be a case of claim and counterclaim. It wouldn't deal with the issues that I made: (1) lack of evidence, (2) lack of differentiation between an "agent" and someone who has an honestly held opinion.--Jack Upland (talk) 05:09, 8 September 2016 (UTC)
To be perfectly honest, Jack, I can't disagree with you on this. It is a deeply problematic article. My suggestion above was probably a bit naïve in its attempt at a "balance". Peterravn (talk) 22:51, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
I think we can say this is how X defines "agent of influence" and Y has called Z an "agent of influence", if X and Y are reliable sources. But the accusations against Z need to be substantial ones. Regarding the list of "individuals functioning", Alger Hiss, Harry Hopkins, Arne Treholt, Rose O'Neal Greenhow, and Peter Matthiessen are not described in their articles as (alleged or actual) agents of influence as far as I can see. Their activities, alleged or actual, were intelligence gathering. I'm prepared to believe that someone somewhere once called them agents of influence, but that accusation is not notable enough to be featured in their articles.--Jack Upland (talk) 02:54, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

Problematic, agreed[edit]

This article provides a list of agents of influence, from one organization, but the list then appears to be an objectively determined list. This is a potential BLP problem for any still existing org on this list, with people associated with that org. WP:WE ARE NOT A COMMUNIST WITCH HUNT might apply.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 19:00, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Including the Methodist Federation for Social Service!!!--Jack Upland (talk) 09:06, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

Suspicious entry to See Also:[edit]

In the See Also section, an entry saying 'Influence Operation of the Muslim Brotherhood' turned out to be simply a link to the Huma Abedin article. I see a section there on false allegations made a few Republican politicians, widely condemned, as a smear of some kind, and I think the entry above was clearly a partisan echo of the allegation, there is nothing else in Abedin's article about espionage or the Muslim Brotherhood, so I removed the entry. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BakedEel (talkcontribs) 18:44, 20 May 2016 (UTC)