“MICE”- the 4 pillars of CIA spy recruitment

Robert Morton
5 min readJan 8, 2022
Money- the most used but least effective method to recruit spies

Gamal Abdel Nasser was a president of Egypt. He was offered a bribe of $3 million by the CIA to join the ‘Middle East Defense Organization’. Interestingly, he took the money but did not join the organization. I guess Langley does not always make good use of our tax dollars.

CIA operatives are trained to recruit foreign people to spy for the U.S. Bribing them with money is only one part of the game. The acronym “MICE” represents the pillars of spy recruitment: Money, Ideology, Coercion, and Ego.

*MONEY: The CIA bribes lots of foreign people, especially when they have privileged access to secret information that their country doesn’t want America to know about. If they need the money bad enough, they will sell their government secrets to keep themselves afloat. I don’t understand why the Money modus was solely used on a wealthy target like Gamal Nasser; it certainly failed, miserably. Money should be combined with other motivations and rarely should occur alone; there are much deeper reasons why people become spies for the CIA.

BTW, this is also the reason that the CIA and FBI refrain from issuing security clearances to those who have financial difficulties.

*IDEOLOGY: Oftentimes, a person will volunteer his/her services to the CIA. They are called “walk-ins” and are disenfranchised with their country’s leadership. In the MISSION OF VENGEANCE spy thriller, a former KGB agent tails CIA spymaster Corey Pearson into a nightclub in the Dominican Republic, and tells him he wants to defect, adding that he has much information on Russia’s plan to undermine America’s presence in the Caribbean, a plan that involves many Americans being killed.

People who volunteer out of ideology actually sympathize with their adversary. The KGB agent in my spy fiction novel despised how Putin’s new Russia was robbing the Russian people of their basic freedoms. Interestingly, in real life, Oleg Gordievsky was a KGB agent and longtime mole for Britain’s MI6 spy agency during the Cold War and was motivated solely for ideological reasons. As he served in KGB posts in Western nations, he became increasingly disillusioned with the Soviet way of life. More recently, Monica Witt was a special agent with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations when she decided to betray the U.S. to Iran after her conversion to Islam and disagreeing with America’s Middle East policy

*COMPROMISE (OR COERCION): This method is the most scandalous and spicy ways to get your enemy to cooperate. But it creates an unstable, wobbly relationship between spy and CIA handler. A spy threatened, forced, or blackmailed into turning over secret information is not going to be the most loyal or cooperative mole. Nevertheless, digging up compromising information or threatening someone’s life has been used since time immemorial to entrap enemy spies. And it makes for great Hollywood spy thriller movies, too.

*EGO: It goes hand-in-hand with money. We all remember Edward Snowden. Well, many in U.S. intelligence believe he was motivated primarily by ego. He was angry over not being offered an SES job with the NSA. The fact that he was only in his twenties and lacked a high school diploma was the reason he was denied employment in the Senior Executive Service, where he could have earned up to a $400,000 a year salary. His ego took over and he felt his talent should have trumped everything else. His superiors treated him unfairly… right? But after starring in documentaries, Hollywood films, and after being idolized by Vladimir Putin, he proved (in his own mind) to the world just how talented and special he was.

In the MISSION OF VENGEANCE spy thriller, the M.I.C.E. methods of money and compromise are illustrated. Here are a few snippets:

Snippet 1: Morrison and Wright remained standing. Morrison continued. “We have reliable evidence that U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Thomas Lawrence has been compromised by the Colombian drug cartel.”

Wright said, “The drug lord’s name is Alejandro Banderas. My DEA agents arrested his right-hand man, Martin Gomez. Under cross-examination, Gomez confessed that the cartel bribed Lawrence for ten million dollars.”

His deputy director added, “Lawrence’s involvement is deep. Markov is weaponizing the Colombians… weapons for coke. They make billions selling the refined Colombian coke to new markets in the former Soviet republics. Russia has a strong link with Hezbollah in the Caribbean but they’re also making tons of money off the cartel, so they bribed Lawrence to reduce Hezbollah’s influence.”

Snippet 2: Corey Pearson inserted a thumb drive it into the computer port and angled the screen so everyone could see. A video started of a woman in a downtown Santo Domingo parking garage meeting with a man. He took a wad of bills from her, then handed her what was clearly a zip-lock bag of white powder. She stuffed it in her purse and hurried away to her car. The video zeroed in on the license plate.

“Holy fuck!” Jason Cartwright rose from his chair. “That’s Ambassador Lawrence’s wife!”

Bocharov said, “Yes, and the man delivering the cocaine to her is a Spetsnaz agent. One that was murdered by your snipers on Markov’s yacht.”

Corey played the video further. It showed four other meetings of Lawrence’s wife buying cocaine from the same man in the same parking garage. Then, the topper, a video of Ambassador Thomas Lawrence himself meeting with the same man in the same underground parking garage. The video zeroed in as the ambassador grabbed a large wad of bills, then handed over a folder.

Chop-Chop said, “Bocharov is right. I recognize the Spetsnaz guy. It matches the photos taken on my party yacht. He’s one of Boris Markov’s hit men.”

Corey said, “America’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been compromised by Markov and Putin. More proof that they persuaded him to organize the OAS meeting on Cat Island, so one of Issam Mikati’s suicide bombers could wipe them all out.”

Cartwright commented, “Lawrence is an arrogant prick with power needs and who doesn’t give a shit about Hezbollah moving tons of cocaine through the Caribbean to the U.S. So why his sudden interest in meeting with OAS members, who couldn’t be bribed like he was, to tighten the extradition agreement with the U.S. against the Hezbollah drug smugglers?”

End of Snippets.

Lastly, I enjoyed reading the book Red Sparrow, for it features the use of M.I.C.E. to motivate spies to betray their own intelligence agencies. Here is an excellent video entitled RED SPARROW author Jason Matthews on M.I.C.E. (Money, Ideology, Conscience, Ego). Jason Matthews describes the process well.

Robert Morton is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), enjoys writing about the U.S. Intelligence Community, and relishes traveling to the Florida Keys and Key West, the Bahamas and Caribbean. He combines both passions in his Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster series. Check out his latest spy thriller: MISSION OF VENGEANCE.



Robert Morton

Spy thriller author, member of Association of Former Intelligence Officers, thrilling experiences await on my Author Site: https://osintdaily.blogspot.com/