Monday, June 25, 2007

What the CIA Could Learn from Hollywood

What I learned today is that at least one of the three writers that got WGA credit for The Recruit understood the basics of how cell phones work and what data is collected by service providers, but apparently failed to portray CIA training in an accurate light. Go figure.

If you are not familiar with this 2003 yawner, it follows several young CIA recruits though their training and first covert assignments. Towards the end of their training, the recruits go out on a surveillance and evasion exercise. Prior to the start of this exercise, one of their instructors specifically tells them to "turn your cell phones off because they act like tracking devices."

Obviously this doesn't happen during real CIA training. My evidence? Two dozen CIA agents were indited in Italy for kidnapping a suspected al Qaeda agent in Milan and transporting him to Egypt. How did Italian prosecutors track down those accused of the kidnapping? Cell phone data.

Seems that the alleged kidnappers not only left their cell phones on, they actually used them throughout the operation, which allowed investigators to track them from the location of the kidnapping to the Air Force base that was allegedly used to fly the abductee out of the country.

Read they story in Congressional Quarterly:

You can't make this crap up.