A Glossary of Spy Terms- The “A”s Have It!

Harry Potter A

We’ve deciphered codes, unearthed hidden messages in our chapter titles, and even explored the ethical dilemmas facing someone like Dumbledore. Yet, we have never given you, our readers, an glossary of the spy terms we keep throwing around. Learn about the world of spying and spy craft from A-Z! Er, well, for now it’ll just be the As!

access—authorization to receive information that is limited to a select group of people who have the correct security clearance. Example: Members of the Order of the Phoenix attended the meetings at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, but Harry and his friends were not allowed to attend the meetings because of their age and not yet being members of the Order of the Phoenix.

accommodation address—a mailbox used as a drop point for mail. In the modern world, it applies not only to an actual mailbox, but also a person or business willing to accept the mail, or even a special email address that does not indicate the actual name of the address owner. Example: When Harry was staying at the Weasleys’ home, before his second year at Hogwarts began, the Burrow served as his accommodation address.

Hedwig with Mail

administrative orders—orders or directives issued by an agency authorized to do so and directed at individuals or an entire group. Example: The educational decrees issued by the Ministry of Magic at the request of Professor Umbridge are administrative orders.

agent—an individual who is hired or employed by a country, or is acting on his or her own, to spy or obtain inside information; that information may be given or sold to a country or another entity. Example: Professor Quirrell and Peter Pettigrew both served as agents for Voldemort, assisting him in regaining his corporeal body.

agent in charge—The particular agent who is in charge of the details or operation of the mission. Example: On two occasions when Harry was moved from Privet Drive to another location, the agent in charge was Mad-Eye Moody.

Mad Eye Moody

agent-in-place (mole)—an individual who is “in place” and has access to information or knowledge, and who stays in that location in order to continue providing information or knowledge. Example: The Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt served as an agent-in-place at the Ministry, ostensibly looking for Sirius Black but in reality providing information to the Order of the Phoenix about not only the search for Sirius Black, but also about the Ministry’s knowledge as to the actions of Lord Voldemort or his Death Eaters.

agent of influence—an agent with the ability to influence leaders of a country or the press by providing special information or insight that could result in a change of policy or public opinion. Example: Lucius Malfoy provided suggestions and opinions to Cornelius Fudge about what to do with Harry and his claims that Voldemort was back.

Lucius Malfoy

agent provocateur—an individual who is normally on site in a different country and attempts to serve as a catalyst to get others to take actions that are desired by the country or entity that employs that person. Example: Lee Jordan was trying to provoke (and generally bother) Professor Umbridge by secretly placing nifflers in her office.

alibi—an assertion by a person that he or she was somewhere else when something occurred, showing that the person could not have participated in that event. Example: When the Niffler was put into Professor Umbridge’s office, Hagrid had what should have been a perfect alibi because he was seen teaching on the grounds at the time.

all-source intelligence—intelligence derived from every type of intelligence available, including covert or secret intelligence. Example: In book 7, when trying to figure out the locations of the Horcruxes, Harry uses every source of information available to him: the information Dumbledore shared with him, articles from the Daily Prophet, and even Rita Skeeter’s tell-all book.

alternative explanation—a different explanation or reason for some occurrence or conclusion. Example: Harry went through many alternative explanations while trying to determine why he could see through the eyes of the snake, including being possessed by Voldemort.

analysis—the use of logic and observation to reach conclusions that are proper and based on fact. Example: Throughout book 7, Harry, Hermione, and Ron use analysis to determine where the Horcruxes are located.

Hermione in Chamber of Secrets

appointment power—the authority of a high-ranking individual to select and appoint others to posts or positions in the organization. Example: Minister of Magic Fudge used his appointment power to install Professor Umbridge as the first Hogwarts High Inquisitor, and later as Headmistress of Hogwarts.

argument ad hominem—a fallacy in logic in which the position or viewpoint of a particular person is rejected based solely on a negative view of that person. Example: The Daily Prophet repeatedly rejected Harry’s statements that Voldemort had returned by attacking him personally, making his credibility an issue, rather than by presenting hard evidence that Voldemort had not returned.

Daily Prophet

assessment—a formal review of the reliability or validity of information or intelligence, or the written version of such a review. Example: According to Fudge (who had just been sacked) there is going to be an inquiry about Sirius Black being murdered on Ministry of Magic premises; someone will be doing a formal assessment—and no doubt a written report will be provided to the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour.

asset—something of value; in the spy world, an asset is an individual, technology, or other means to obtain intelligence. Example: Each time Harry was moved from number four, Privet Drive, members of the Order of the Phoenix formed a security team to protect Harry due to his being a high-value asset.

assumption of leadership—the act of taking over a particular position or leadership role. Example: Dolores Umbridge assumed leadership of Hogwarts after Dumbledore evaded capture and disappeared.

Umbridge

attaché—an expert assigned as a consultant to an embassy in a foreign country knowledgeable about a particular subject; if the person is an active duty military person, he or she is referred to as a military attaché. Example: Kingsley Shacklebolt, an expert on the Wizarding world and magical defense, is the Ministry of Magic’s attaché to the Other Prime Minister.

Aunt Minnies—photographs taken to capture an item of interest in the background of what appears to be an innocent candid photo: for example, your “Aunt Minnie” poses in the foreground, with a building targeted for covert penetration in the background. It is a common pretext for photographing a target without appearing to be gathering information covertly. Example: In the picture of Ron and his family on holiday in Egypt you can see a Pyramid in the background, and of course Scabbers on Ron’s shoulder. If the person taking the photo were really interested in something else (like the Pyramid, or even Scabbers!) and the use of the family was just an excuse to take the picture of something other than the family, then the photo would be an Aunt Minnie.

Weasleys at the Pyramids

 

 

One comment on “A Glossary of Spy Terms- The “A”s Have It!

  1. […] as far back as the 4th century B.C.!  We’ve already discussed one of the biggest undercover agents in the Harry Potter series, Severus Snape, the double agent. But what about the other spies in […]

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