A very frank Soviet spy

I was just watching a documentary about spies during the Cold War, and this important lesson came up:

Narrator: The temptation was always there for the spymasters to earn favor from the leadership, whether by covert action or just slanting a routine report.

Col. Mikhail Luibimov: When we’d draw up reports, of course we’d dramatize those bits which pointed out the threat to the Soviet Union. By emphasizing the right things, I’d ensure that my report would go straight to the top, to the Politburo. If the report was dull and boring it would just get filed away. This was the problem with all suppliers of information: we’d tailor it to get a high rating from Moscow.

Why is this important? Try to imagine a scenario where a government agent of any kind, in any country, at any time, doesn’t have an incentive to do the same kind of thing. There may at times be countervailing incentives, but this one is universal.


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