Badass intelligence and counter-terrorism terms

After seeing “Zero Dark Thirty” I found myself looking up some terms and found some pretty cool stuff on Wikipedia.


Tradecraft is skill acquired through experience in a (typically clandestine) trade. Within the intelligence community this means the techniques used in modern espionage and generally, the activity of intelligence.

Dead drop:

A dead drop or dead letter box is a method of espionage tradecraft used to pass items between two individuals using a secret location and thus does not require them to meet directly.

This modern example of a dead drop is particularly badass:

On January 23, 2006, the Russian FSB accused Britain of using wireless dead drops concealed inside hollowed-out rocks to collect espionage information from agents in Russia. According to the Russian authorities, the agent delivering information would approach the rock and transmit data wirelessly into it from a hand-held device, and later his British handlers would pick up the stored data by similar means.

Black bag operation:

Some of the tactics, techniques and procedures associated with black bag operations are: lock picking, safe cracking, key impressions, fingerprinting, photography, electronic surveillance (including audio and video surveillance), mail manipulation (flaps and seals), forgery, and a host of other related skills. The term “black bag” refers to the little black bag in which burglars carry their tools.


Wetwork or wet work is a euphemism for murder or assassination, alluding to spilling blood. [...] Assassins are referred to as “wet boys”.

I’d already known that “Wet work” involved assignations and other bad stuff, but had no idea its name was derived from the spilling of blood. That’s pretty gross. And awesome.

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