The next time you're in line at the airport, take a good look at the other people waiting in line. One of them might be an undercover CIA agent.
I know it sounds silly, but it's true. How do we know? Because WikiLeaks just released a CIA field guide about how to pass screening checks at airports when an agent is under cover.
It sounds like something from a TV show about how to slip past security. Are you ready for this?
There's nothing special to it. The handbook says to completely prepare the cover story, and stick to it at all costs. But how does this get agents past security?
I'm sure there are plenty of similar scenes from a show like "Burn Notice" about bluffing your way past security, but in the real world it's not usually as simple as a good bluff. "According to this manual, "Even when the traveler does everything right, the best protection during secondary screening is to be well-prepared with a cover story, according to an experienced CIA traveler."
“In one incident during transit of a European airport in the early morning, security officials selected a CIA officer for secondary screening,” the manual recounts. “Although the officials gave no reason, overly casual dress inconsistent with being a diplomatic-passport holder may have prompted the referral. When officials swiped the officer’s bag for traces of explosives, it tested positive, despite the officer’s extensive precautions. In response to questioning, the CIA officer gave the cover story that he had been [given] in counterterrorism training in Washington, DC.”
“Although language difficulties led the local security officials to conclude that the traveler was being evasive and had trained in a terrorist camp, the CIA officer consistently maintained his cover story. Eventually, the security officials allowed him to rebook his flight and continue on his way.”
Crazy, right? But that's not all. This CIA manual extensively details the security measures that other countries take in airports around the world, and how to work around them.
One of the craziest ways that security around the world checks for authenticity of passengers in secondary screening is to check for social media accounts. If an agent has prepared well enough, they'll have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and other accounts online that create a full digital footprint.
But simply having a passport and a digital footprint won't necessarily keep an agent from being selected for "additional screening."
Egyptian security officials consider "Individuals with Advanced Scientific Degrees" to be suspicious. Israeli security personnel usually send military-aged males traveling alone with backpacks - regardless of skin color - to secondary screening.
Those are just two examples of nations that have tightened security - at the CIA's urging. The WikiLeaks documents don't actually detail how to get past these different security measures, it just gives a general idea of specific incidents that the CIA is bringing to operatives' attentions.