Super Spook Course - Elicitation
.
One of our first classes in the Super Spook course was on
the art of “elicitation.”  Training on this subject lasted
several hours.  Elicitation is a method of getting someone
to share information with you without directly asking for
it.  One way to elicit information is to make a direct
statement that you know is incorrect in hopes that the
source will correct you before he realizes that he’s said
something that he shouldn’t have.  Another form of
elicitation is sharing intimate secrets about your job or
your personal life, which will be a lie of course, in hopes
that the source will also share a secret with you.  There
are too many techniques to cover them all, but this should
give you a basic understanding of elicitation.

Naturally the final exam for the elicitation training was
also based on the 'real world method of teaching'.  There is
the school way and the real world way to teach.  In the
school way, First you learn then you do.  In the real world
way, first you do, then you learn - assuming you survive the
learning experience that is. Each student was given the last
name and class number of another student at Fort Holabird
and an otherwise blank Personal History Statement [PHS] that
consisted of six pages.  We were to fill in the blanks with
information that we “elicited” from our assigned subject.
My target was an army Specialist Fourth Class who was in the
classroom across the hall from our classroom.  Within a
week, I completed as much of my form as I felt was
reasonable and turned it in.  I was just glad they had not
assigned me one of the students in the SF Intelligence
Course.

Because they had targeted me against someone in another
class, I figured everyone in our class had been given
someone outside our class as a subject, but I was wrong.
Just before graduation, the marine corporal in our class
confessed to me that I had been his target and that he had
just turned in his PHS a week earlier.  He said, “My form
was still damn near blank.  I tried to spend as much time
with you as possible and tried to get you to talk about
yourself, but I didn’t get enough information to fill in a
third of one page.  All I know is your name, rank, that you’
re from somewhere in East Tennessee, and that you served
with special forces.  I learned absolutely nothing about
your personal life or military history.  Even when you were
drunk you didn’t talk about yourself or your job.  When you
were off duty, all you did was eat, drink, and kid around.
You spent almost all of your free time at the club or
bar-hopping with your buddies from the SF Intelligence
course.  You’re just not normal sarge!”

I guess he flunked the elicitation part of our course, I
don't know.  I do know he graduated it.  Regardless, I never
understood how this elicitation exercise could not affect
the careers of the people who were chosen as the target.
After all, if the elicitator succeeded in getting the
information that he or she was after, their target is
obviously a security risk.  In my opinion that person should
lose their security clearance, but I don’t know of any
action that was ever taken against any of the personnel that
were targeted for elicitation training.  Most of them never
knew that they had been our targets during the elicitation
exercise.

Don "Val"  Valentine

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