TRADECRAFT: Seductive spies aren’t simply James Bond fantasies – femmes fatales have been a key feature of espionage for centuries
For The Telegraph, Olivia Goldhill writes: The best security and military training in the world is no match for the charms of a femme fatale. Using feminine wiles to access state secrets sounds like hackneyed fiction – surely anyone with a secret worth keeping would run at the sight of a beautiful lady in red lipstick? But the oldest trick in the book never stops working, and spy agencies continue to use seduction as an effective method of espionage.
“In America, in the West, occasionally you ask your men to stand up for their country. In Russia, we just ask our young women to lay down.”
— Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general
Stefan Wolff, professor of international security at Birmingham University, says that few governments would consider seduction an off-limit technique. “If you’re in the spying business, any opportunity that you have to get information, you will use,” he says. “Especially given what we’ve learnt from Wikileaks and Snowden, not much is considered to be beyond the pale when it comes to key issues of national security. I would argue, maybe that’s the right approach. If you want to save lives then a honey trap is a much more palatable approach than waterboarding.”
“I’d see a German officer on the train or somewhere, sometimes dressed in civvies, but you could pick ’em. So, instead of raising suspicions I’d flirt with them, ask for a light and say my lighter was out of fuel…. ‘Do you want to search me?’ God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was.”
— Nancy Wake, a British agent during the Second World War
National Archives have revealed that special agent “Fifi”, a stunning blonde woman, was used to test the trustworthiness of young British spies during the Second World War. And there’s no signs that the technique has gone out of fashion. But how do you set a honey trap? Here are some of the secrets of seduction gleaned from the great femme fatales of history.