HUMINT Bias: SIGINT in the Novels of John le Carré

By: James Burridge


This article originally appeared in 1992 in a National Security Agency publication.

The nine espionage novels John le Carre has written since 1964 have been widely read and analyzed on many levels-authenticity, political slant, and even literary symbolism. This article will look at the ways in which SIGINT has been portrayed in those novels-how often, how accurately, and to what effect. It will also demonstrate that, while le Carre has often found it handy to use SIGINT as a plot device, he does not hold SIGINT or the other technical intelligence disciplines in particularly high regard.