The Daily Prophet and The Return of Voldemort (Book 6)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Truth (and Fear) Will Set You Free (to Sell More Papers!)

In the next book—following Voldemort’s return—the Daily Prophet spends much of its time warning the Wizarding world about the return of Voldemort (HBP 39–41). Finally! The Daily Prophet also informs the public that Fudge has been sacked, offers a description of the events at the Department of Mysteries (but not details of the prophecy), and covers almost daily stories of disappearances, odd accidents, and deaths (HBP 60, 77–78, 105). It takes an experience spy — like Hermione — to begin connecting the dots between all of these little disappearances, accidents, and deaths.

Hermione_Granger_reading_The_Daily_Prophet

As time goes on, the Daily Prophet informs the public about Dementor attacks and the arrest of Stan Shunpike (HBP 221). The Wizarding newspaper also reports an argument between Dumbledore and the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, which we find out later was the result of Scrimgeour’s request to meet with Harry (HBP 61, 357). Dumbledore tells Harry, “The Prophet is bound to report the truth occasionally, if only by accident” (HBP 357). (This reminds us of a saying: Even a broken clock is right two times a day!)

Spy Tip: Even if the open source is highly unreliable, be sure to look at it carefully. You never know what you might find!

Importantly, when Hermione wants to do research on the Half- Blood Prince, she goes through the old Daily Prophets and discovers an announcement of one Eileen Prince marrying a Tobias Snape (HBP 637), thus confirming that Severus Snape was the Prince all along.

Spy Tip: Open source information from the past is just as important as current open source information!

Fun Fact:

Did you know that there is an evening edition of the Daily Prophet called the Evening Prophet? We learn about the Evening Prophet when Professor Snape confronts Harry and Ron about being seen flying in Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia (CS 79) and also reference to an article about Arthur Weasley’s search of Malfoy Manor (HBP 234, 635).

 

Check Your Sources: Gilderoy Lockhart and the Daily Prophet

 

Lockhart

A couple weeks ago we discussed Hermione’s expert use of open source information — namely textbooks and the Daily Prophet — to figure out exactly what was hidden beneath Fluffy’s ginormous paws. However, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we find out that Hermione may put too much trust in her sources. Her infatuation with Gilderoy Lockhart despite his obvious ineptitude demonstrates that she missed something right in front of her. A good spy knows to use the press as a source of information that may be manipulated and flawed.

Hermione and Gilderoy

As we find out in Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart is quite the celebrity— in part thanks to all of the wonderful press that he receives from the Daily Prophet, and from the magazine Witch Weekly, which voted his the Most Charming Smile five times in a row (CS 91)! Interestingly enough, no one on the Daily Prophet staff thought to investigate Lockhart’s feats, so avidly detailed in all of his many books. Note also that the professors at Hogwarts determine—quite quickly—that Professor Lockhart is a fraud. You’d think that any newspaper with even a concept of investigative reporting could have found this out just as easily! But then again, any reporter who looked into Lockhart’s alleged accomplishments would probably find himself or herself at the wrong end of a well-aimed Memory Charm—so perhaps the Daily Prophet would be unable to find out the truth after all (CS 297). Lockhart waged what spies call a disinformation campaign to avoid anyone discovering his lack of defense against the dark arts ability. In later books, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, learn to be much more skeptical of open source intelligence.

Spy Term

Disinformation Campaign (n): an intentional program of distributing false information. Example: Lockhart “leaks” a story about being captured by trolls to boost his popularity. His best-selling books are also carefully designed to distribute false information.

What are some other examples of disinformation campaigns in the Harry Potter series? What about in real life?

The Daily Prophet and Open Source Information

Gringotts Break in

In the world of espionage there are many ways to get important information. The spies in the Harry Potter series all seem to have their favorite way of information gathering. Hermione, for example, ALWAYS goes to the library when she wants to find answers:

“Harry — I think I’ve just understood something! I’ve got to go to the library!”
And she sprinted away, up the stairs.
What does she understand?” said Harry distractedly, still looking around, trying to tell where the voice had come from.
“Loads more than I do,” said Ron, shaking his head.
“But why’s she got to go to the library?”
“Because that’s what Hermione does,” said Ron, shrugging. “When in doubt, go to the library.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This means that Hermione is an expert at collecting open source information.

Open Source (n): a collection of information that is generally open to all, such as newspapers, articles, maps, or other publications or documents

Her talents, of course, were cultivated after her first year at Hogwarts when an article in the Daily Prophet, a Chocolate Frog, and a  history textbook gave Harry, Ron, and Hermione the clues to what was hidden beneath Fluffy. Thanks to the Daily Prophet, Harry discovers—and relays to Hermione and Ron—that there had been a robbery attempt on vault number 713 after Hagrid had withdrawn whatever he obtained on Dumbledore’s behalf (SS 141). Hagrid had already told Harry that he was on a mission for Professor Dumbledore and that it was top secret. Hagrid is definitely being a secret agent for Professor Dumbledore, though we wonder how secret an agent he is when he discloses so much of what he is doing to Harry (SS 63)!

By combining the information from the Daily Prophet with Hagrid’s loose lips, Dumbledore’s bio on the back of a Chocolate Frog card, and a chapter from the history textbook that Hermione checked out for “a bit of light reading,” the Trio makes use of all-source intelligence:

all-source intelligence (n): intelligence derived from every type of intelligence available, including covert or secret intelligence

Click here for an analysis of the role the Daily Prophet played in the Chamber of Secrets!

 

Rita Skeeter Interviews President Obama

President Obama Calls Hillary a Loser and John Boehner He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named

by Special Correspondent Rita Skeeter*

Rita Skeeter Pic Obama stern

June 23, 2014

Rita Skeeter:  Thank you for having me here in the White House, President Obama.

The President:  Glad to have you.  But I didn’t quite understand which organization you are with.  The Daily ProphetThe Quibbler?

Rita Skeeter:  Oh, they didn’t tell you.  Fox News, of course.  Special correspondent.  All that jazz.

The President:  [shifting uncomfortably in his chair] Well, actually, I guess that figures  . . .

Rita Skeeter:  Read any good books lately?

The President:  Well, I am just now in the middle of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying by Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest.  Peter is the head of the International Spy Museum and Michelle and my kids love going there, as Michelle has mentioned once on national TV.

Rita Skeeter:  I understand that you are a fan of Harry Potter.

The President:  Yes I am.  I loved reading those books to my daughters when they were young.  Great memories.

Rita Skeeter:  Any thoughts on how the series relates to the real world?

The President:  Well sure, it is hard not to think of Congress, and most particularly the House of Representatives, when you read about the Ministry of Magic.

Rita Skeeter:  Does that make you Cornelius Fudge?

The President:  No, I’d like to think of myself more as Dumbledore, if he were Minister of Magic.

Rita Skeeter:  But you’re married.

The President:  Well, yes, . . . but that’s allowed now, in part thanks to . . .

Rita Skeeter:  Fine, fine.  So what do you really think about John Boehner?

The President:  I consider him He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.

Rita Skeeter:  Well, I guess we hit a soft spot there.  How about the Supreme Court?

The President:  There are four of them I like a lot, a fifth who it depends on the day, and the others . . .

Rita Skeeter:  Death Eaters?

The President:  Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want them to be part of the Wizengamot.

Rita Skeeter:  And what about Hillary Clinton.  She used to work for you, a really really big supporter . . . after losing to you, I recall . . . So, if you are the Minister of Magic, is she your  Professor Umbridge?

The President:  [bristling, a touch of anger showing] Hillary is no Umbridge!  She is, if anyone, Hermione Granger—a present day Hermione Granger . . . she is bright, hard-working, and frankly, given some of the things she was able to do as Secretary of State, I think she can do magic too!

Rita Skeeter:  So, have you read her new book?

The President:  I have.  It’s wonderful!

Rita Skeeter:  In the first chapter at page 19 she mentions that she didn’t always agree with you, but she refused to provide any juicy details because you are still President.  Would you like to share those times when the two of you were at each other’s throats?

The President:  I am happy to say we were never “at each other’s throats.”  We sometimes disagreed.  I don’t hire “yes men” – or “yes women.”

Rita Skeeter:  So when you disagreed, who won?

The President:  Well, as President, I guess I get the final say, so that would be me.

Rita Skeeter:  Lovely.  Thanks for the lead.  Now, are you finally ready to admit that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq?

The President:  [again, bristling] I believe, if you check your facts, that it was the previous president who did that.

Rita Skeeter:  [disdainfully] Facts, facts . . . they have a habit of getting in the way of a good story, like, say, Benghazi.  Shall we talk about that?  Hillary blew that one too, right?

The President:  Hillary did exactly what anyone else would have done in that situation.   She explains everything in her book.

Rita Skeeter:  Yes, and we all noticed that she took the blame . . .

The President:  Yes, she did.

Rita Skeeter:  So the buck stops here – stops at the woman’s desk?

The President:  [anger clearly being suppressed]  I think we are about done here . . .  [starting to rise from chair]

Rita Skeeter:  Just a few more questions, if that is OK.  What are you most proud of during your term?

The President:  Well, the health care reform . . .

Rita Skeeter:  Which we noticed you named after yourself . . .

The President:  I believe its actual name is the Affordable Health Care Act, and I think the intent by others in naming it ObamaCare was kind of like putting Nifflers in Professor Umbridge’s office – but I have come to accept the nomenclature . . .

Rita Skeeter:  Get anything else done?

The President:  Well, yes.  Named several people to the Supreme Court, saved the economy that I inherited, got out of one war I inherited –

Rita Skeeter:  How’s that going so far?

The President:  That’s it.  [standing]  Nice to meet you.  [pointing to her acid green quill]  Nice pen, too.

[The President leaves.]

*Interview discovered by Lynn Boughey, co-author of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying and provided as a public service as a blog on www.artofspying.net

The Pensieve as an Intelligence Analyst Tool

Pensieve

PensievePensieve 2The role of an intelligence analyst is to organize, review, and analyze important information and reach definitive conclusions as to what that information means.

Intelligence analysts receive information from many sources, some obtained covertly by operatives, and some through through a myriad of spy craft means, including communication intercepts, satellites, and open sources such as newspapers.

In the Potter world, Dumbledore acts as an intelligence analyst as he tries to figure out Voldemort’s family background, his history, items he acquired over the years, and his knowledge of the Dark Arts.

And one of the tools Dumbledore uses to discover Voldemort’s past is the Pensieve.  In a sense, the memories shown through the use of the Pensieve are equivalent to reports from the field.

Dumbledore explains the Pensieve to Harry when it is introduced in the Goblet of Fire:

“At these times,” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.” (GF 597)

Just like a good intelligence agent, Dumbledore is trying “to spot patterns and links” that he believes are the key to everything.

“Sir . . . is it important to know all this about Voldemort’s past?”

“Very important, I think,” said Dumbledore.

“And it . . . it’s got something to do with the prophecy?”

“It has everything to do with the prophecy.”

“Right,” said Harry, a little confused, but reassured all the same. (H-B P 215)

But Dumbledore goes a step further by acting as an intelligence operative and actually going out and acquiring the memories from various sources.

So let us take our own trip down memory lane and reflect on the discovery and use of the Pensieve in the Harry Potter series.

In the Goblet of Fire Harry sneaks a peak into the Pensieve and discovers the dark pasts of people like Igor Karkaroff and Barty Crouch Jr. (GF 585-96).

In the Order of the Phoenix Harry uses the Pensieve twice; once to see Snape’s worst memories, and then— finally with Dumbledore’s permission—to hear the “lost” prophecy that relates to Harry.  (OP 639-49, 841.)

It is in the Half-Blood Prince that the Pensive is used as an intelligence tool by Dumbledore, the analyst.  Harry is allowed to “see” eight separate memories, all relating in some way to Voldemort’s past:

  1. Bob Ogden’s memory of the House of Gaunt, where we are introduced to Marvolo, Morfin, and Merope (Tom Riddle’s grandfather, uncle, and mother)(199-211);
  2. Mr. Burke describing the acquisition of a certain necklace that later injures Katy Bell instead of its intended target, Dumbledore (261);
  3. Dumbledore’s memory of retrieving Tom Riddle from the orphanage (263-75);
  4. Morfin’s memory of Tom Riddle “returning” to the Gaunt house to acquire the Gaunt ring (363-65);
  5. Slughorn’s altered memory of a discussion he had with Tom Riddle (369-71);
  6. Hoky the house-elf’s memory of Tom Riddle getting Hepzibah Smith to show him a certain cup and locket that she owned (433-38);
  7. Dumbledore’s memory of Tom Riddle, now known as Lord Voldemort, coming to Hogwarts ostensibly to apply for the position of Professor of the Dark Arts (440-46)
  8. Slughorn’s real memory, where we discover that Tom Riddle had learned about Horcruxes (494-99).

All of these memories provide Dumbledore and Harry essential background on Voldemort which Dumbledore uses to:

  • discover and understand Voldemort’s entire background and history
  • perform an accurate psychological assessment of Voldemort
  • predict Voldemort’s future conduct
  • perform a risk-analysis as to Harry Potter and others
  • identify and locate Horcruxes

CIA operatives and analysts perform the very same role that Dumbledore demonstrates in the Harry Potter series.  They just happen to perform this function in the Muggle world instead of in the Wizarding community!