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TURN Spycraft Handbook – The Honey Trap

“I’ve just completed my mission. The recruitment of a young, talented agent who is willing to apply said talents in service of the Crown, for the aim of ending this reckless war. Tell me — have you ever been to New Jersey?” — Major John Andre to Philomena in Episode 2, “Who By Fire”

To evaluate the loyalty of one of his spies (an as-yet-unseen mole in a New Jersey unit of the Continental Army), John Andre recruits an enchanting actress named Philomena to serve as a “honey trap.” With a keen eye for human weakness, Andre knows a honey trap is the best tool to use to test his operative.

Spies often use gadgets and other tricks of the espionage trade to collect information, but one of the simplest and most effective ways to garner intelligence is decidedly low-tech: Human intelligence, especially when coerced under compromising circumstances. The term for a spy who uses sexuality to extract information is “honey trap” (aka “honey pot”), and refers to a woman who dabbles in the trade. However, the art of enticement is not exclusively female — men, known in spy circles as “ravens,” sometimes also get in on the action.

Honey is tempting, mouth-wateringly sweet, and oh-so-sticky. A target who is sucked into a honey trap is often so entranced by the pleasurable package, he is often unaware he’s been trapped until it’s too late.

Honey traps date as far back as Biblical times, which featured two infamous honey pots, Judith and Delilah. The epitome of beautiful and deadly, not only did Judith seduce the commander Holofernes, she later assassinated him. Perhaps more notorious for her exploits is Delilah, who used her carnal powers to entice and beguile Samson. Judges 16:5 details her infamous deeds: “And the lords of the Philistines came up unto [Delilah], and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him…” Delilah went on to reveal the secret of Samson’s tremendous strength (his hair) to the Philistines in exchange for 1,100 pieces of silver.

Though honey traps often help accumulate vital information, their trade can be fatal. Case in point: Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan, was executed by firing squad after being arrested and charged with spying for Germany during World War I.

A honey trap uses charm, charisma and sensuality to entrap her bait. Many consider spying to be the second oldest profession in the world, and when a target is vulnerable, no amount of cunning or military prowess can overcome the enticing allure of a honey trap once it’s been set.

Read TURN: Washington’s Spies Spycraft Handbook – The Cardan Grille >>

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