Canadians are humble folk. Besides blustering over beating the U.S. at Olympic hockey, they're simple people who apologize for existing. That's probably why Canadian diplomats and spies are given a silly, simple guide to not revealing state secrets or getting seduced by foreign "honey traps" while traveling outside their pleasant Canadian borders. The Canadian Press' Jim Bronskill obtained "Far From Home: A Travel Security Guide for Government Officials," a 2012 guide to dealing with the locals, prepared for travelling spies and government officials and written by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (Canada's CIA). The guide stresses that espionage is "at a level equal to that seen during the Cold War," and that Canadian sources are "a valued target in the eyes of intelligence agencies," mostly because of our proximity to the U.S., Bronskill writes.
The guide covers simple advice, like only filling out the necessary information on border crossing forms, and the more complicated stuff, like not having sex with strange ladies you meet in bars. The "honey trap," or "honey pot" as the pros call it, is one of the oldest espionage tricks in the book. It's when a foreign spy seduces a target to obtain information. That's why all those Russian ladies wanted to sleep with James Bond! (Anna Chapman was not a honey trap, according to the FBI.) But, as the guide states, these strange paramours are just exploiting your insecurities:
Foreign agents may employ the relatively subtle technique of eliciting information through random conversation, perhaps appealing to one’s ego or emphasizing mutual interests.
But CSIS also cautions travellers about the “honey trap” – sexual seduction as a means toward blackmail.
“Honey traps often involve the clandestine recording of an intimate encounter. These recordings are either used to blackmail or publicly embarrass the victim,” advises the guide.
Maybe this is the wrong time to point out that a Canadian spy falling into a "honey trap" was a key point in 2009's Quantum of Solace. Is there a pattern we don't know about?
You also shouldn't discuss business with cab drivers and bartenders, the guide explains. "Never talk shop or volunteer information in front of taxi drivers, waiters and bartenders, who could be intelligence officers or informants," the guide says, according to Bronskill. Back home, in the cold Canadian watering holes, bartenders are trustworthy people you can talk about state secrets with. But abroad?! You can't trust anyone, not even the nice person serving you a pint.
On one hand, not sleeping with strange foreign ladies who are a little too interested in your work as a bureaucrat or a spy seems like first-day training stuff. But the U.S. president's secret service did have that terrible (awesome) party in Cartagena, Colombia with those prostitutes. There were not foreign spies, thankfully, but the chance they were was why that scandal was such a huge deal. And other governments have similar guides, too. MI5 distributed a 14-page warning to British businessmen in 2009 about avoiding Chinese honey traps.
So it's not just horny Canucks who are being targeted, at least.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.