The following excerpt regarding ‘Using spies’ from the widely read ancient book, “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu (China) written 2500 years ago, is fascinating in that one can read it and interpret it at many levels. While the book relates to ‘war’, the techniques within are used far beyond that – including in business, politics, government…

With that said, some of you might find it interesting as to the five types of spies which are most certainly in play right now – perhaps within the politics of the business or corporation where you currently work, and without a doubt used by your so called ‘ruler’ and within your own .gov (here domestically, and abroad) particularly within certain alphabet agencies…

At the end, curious to hear your own experiences or examples perhaps regarding your place of employment and/or your suspicions or opinions as they relate to current events and politics…


What enables a wise ruler and an able general to attack decisively and to succeed where ordinary men fail, is foreknowledge. It is obtained from men who have accurate knowledge of the enemy’s position.

To this end there are five types of spy you may use. The local spy, the internal spy, the converted spy, the expendable spy and the permanent spy. If you use all five types, no-one can fathom their machinations — it is a kind of divine organization, and is a ruler’s greatest treasure.

Local spies are recruited from the enemy’s peasantry, and internal spies from their court officials. Converted spies mean using the enemy’s own spies against them. Expendable spies are those who are fed false information so that it may be picked up by the enemy’s own spies. Permanent spies are the ones who concentrate on bringing back reports.

This is your whole army, none should be closer to you than your spies; none should be more richly rewarded; and no secret more closely guarded than your spy network. Spies must be used sagaciously and treated with benevolence and virtue; and you must use the utmost subtlety to be sure of obtaining true reports from your spies. Subtlety is the key. There are no circumstances where spies cannot be used.

sagaciously: having acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd
benevolence: desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness

If a spy lets slip information before a plan has come to fruition, then both the spy and anyone he has told must be put to death. Whether you wish to destroy an army, attack a city or assassinate somebody, the first essential is to identify by name the general in command, his attendants, his aids, his gatekeepers and bodyguards. You should order your spies to obtain this information.

When you find the enemy’s agents spying on you, offer them brides, lavish care on them and lodge them handsomely. Thus they may become converted spies and be of use to you. It is through these converted spies that you will be able to recruit local spies and internal spies. It is through them that your expendable spies will feed false reports to the enemy. And it is also through them that your permanent spies will be able to act as occasion demands. A ruler must know how to employ all five kinds of spy, and this understanding comes necessarily from the converted spy. Therefore treat none more generously than your converted spies.

A wise ruler or an able general must select only the most intelligent men to act as his spies and then he will be sure of achieving great things. This is a necessity of war, and an army depends on it to act.


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