Sunday, January 11, 2015

RULE # 7

Never trust anyone with a secret that has entertainment value.

A funny line, but actually spot on.

Monaco’s spymaster got it from Miles Copeland, a founding officer of the CIA and author of several books on intelligence and statecraft.

Copeland got it from Nicholas Elliot, a senior officer with Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, renowned in the business for two things:  

1) Unmasking Kim Philby as a traitor and causing him to defect to the Soviet Union. 

2) Writing a book about his career—Never Judge a Man by His Umbrella—without once mentioning that he was an intelligence officer (and an elegant book it is).

Copeland and Elliot served in Beirut at the same time and became life-long friends.  As Copeland tells it, he was supposed to dine with Philby in Beirut the night he disappeared, and Elliot flew in next day looking for the turncoat.

Elliot was apparently great at one-liners, once telling Copeland that Israel’s Golda Meir was really Lyndon Baines Johnson in drag.

Boring secrets are easy to keep to yourself.

The real challenge is holding onto one so entertaining, so funny, it would make you the star of any social occasion, and thereafter Mr. Popularity on the dinner party circuit.

The best spies blend in, not stand out.

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