Assignment 5 – Intelligence

Due 22 Feb 2010 at 5pm via bSpace.  Please limit your responses to 200 words.

Hann’s article reproduces 3 letters describing the activity and reports of Indian spies, recruited by Spanish officials (who wrote these letters) to spy on the British.  In The Art of War, Sun Tzu gives five categories of spies in wartime.  Do any of Sun Tzu’s categories apply to the Indian spies? Are  these kinds of categories useful in estimating the reliability of the intelligence provided by the Indian spies?  How else might we gauge the reliability of the intelligence discussed in the letters?

Responses from the class:

Based on the letters provided by Hann, it seems the Indian spies fit under Sun Tzu’s categories of “local spies” and, in the case of one of them, “surviving spies.” According to the letters, two spies were left behind to live amongst the people in the river towns they were monitoring under the guise that they “no longer wished to live among Spaniards.”  By assimilating into the town and becoming “inhabitants of the district” (Sun Tzu), they became local spies. This also occurs with the other two spies, who visit a town “for nothing other than to see their relatives and to buy something;” this cover allows them to “remain there and to learn what people it is.” However, though the “local spy” category seems to fit the methods of these spies, it is hard to estimate the reliability of the intelligence because of the possibility of Indian spies becoming “converted spies.”
One Indian spy who returns, a “surviving” spy, is “regaled” and probably rewarded, but as Sun Tzu states, the knowledge of an enemy “can only be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy,” of which Hann shows no mention. If there had been a converted spy to confirm the local spies’ intelligence, this would strengthen the reliability of the intelligence. However, with our limited context, it is hard to gauge the true reliability of the Indian spies. As Sun Tzu states, “without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports.” -Elliot

The Spanish clearly intended to use the Native Americans described in the letters in the role that Sun Tzu calls “local spies.” They are sent to various places in the region with the intent of gathering information about locals’ true attitudes towards the Spanish and the English. Though they are not truly “locals” themselves, but rather Native Americans from neighboring regions, the Spanish hope that they will blend in and have access to the same information the locals do. Results in this regard are mixed: for a few towns the spies’ arriving from Spanish territory is enough to have them classified as enemies, and in at least one instance a spy was detained in order to prevent his passing information to the Spanish. Had he escaped, as Matheos hoped in the final letter, he would have been a surviving spy, “bringing news from the enemy camp” (Sun Tzu, XIII) such as the “design of the English and the trail they have used.” (Hann, 93) Otherwise, his presence in the enemy camp could have made him a useful “doomed spy.” Matheos hints this possibility as well: he points out that comparing the word of the leader of the village in question to the information brought back by a successful “local spy” will let them assess the leader’s loyalty to the Spanish. Perhaps, seems the implication, after having captured a spy the leader will assume he can harbor the English without the Spaniards’ knowledge. However, these typologies are of limited use to both us and the Spaniards in assessing the reliability of the spies’ intelligence. These classifications can only guess at the general shape of the complex web of incentives and motivations which ultimately determine any individual spy’s loyalties, access to information, and quality of transmission. -Daniel F.

I do believe that at least three of Sun Tzu’s categories of spies apply to the Indians recruited by the Spanish officials. The first category would be that of Local spies. The Indians used by the Spanish were, while maybe not local to the specific town in which they were spying on, certainly more local to the area than the Spanish. They knew enough to be able to dress and pass as a native of the town in which they were spying upon (Hann 89).  At least one of the Indians had some position of authority because of his repeated reference to as a Cacique; this would classify him as an Inward spy according to Sun Tzu. There were also Surviving spies. These were the Indians whom at end came back to the Spanish and reported what they had seen of the English and the other tribes they were spying upon.  I think the categories are useful in determining the intelligence reported from the spies, especially if they spies are being treated in the generous and subtle way in which Sun Tzu specified. This would encourage honest reporting and a diverse gathering of information. I believe that the best way we could gauge the intelligence discussed in the letters is with later letters. This would enable us to see how consistent the spies are and whether what they say conflicts or makes sense.-Zachary K.

In Hann’s article about the Indian spies, the Spanish uses Sun Tzu’s notion of the local spy by hiring certain Indian spies who live in the regions that the Spanish felt were threatened by the English inhabitants. It also seems like the Spanish employed surviving spies such as Fray Juan Mercado who is a Spaniard himself and brought back news to his superiors from the enemy regions that he traveled in. Sun Tzu states that only when all five categories of his spies are functioning can the system of espionage be impenetrable. However, it seems like the Spanish are using only a couple, which makes their information speculative and unreliable.
In Antonio Matheos’ first letter, he says that a “cacique of Apalachicole” had not responded to a message that Matheos sent because “the Indian who carried it has not returned” (84) hinting at the unreliability of the local spies and their loyalties especially when there are two major powers trying to take over a single region and that they were not a part of either before European presence.
The letters do not necessarily show us any reliability of the spies and the writers seem to be reporting mere procedures about how the spies are acquiring the intelligence rather than whether or not those spies are reliable in the first place. One way to gauge the reliability of the intelligence is to “test out” the spies first by using Sun Tzu’s doomed spies method of allowing the spies to deceive the Spanish with harmless open information. That way, they will be able to filter out the reliable ones. -Summer

While the Indian spies had similar functions to the local and surviving spies described by Sun Tzu, they were inherently different because they were third parties, paid as freelance spies. Antonio Matheos describes how he paid his spies (p. 88) and how the spies were “content” after being paid (p. 92). Sun Tzu’s categories only cover spies who are from either one’s own party or from the enemy party. While the Indian spies did infiltrate unfriendly tribes (p. 82) posing as relatives or natives (p. 89) similar to how a local spy would operate, and while they did go into enemy areas and then return (p. 84, 87) like surviving spies, and while they did feed false information (p. 85) like doomed spies, they had no vested interest beyond getting paid handsomely.
Thus Sun Tzu’s categories are not useful in estimating the reliability of the intelligence provided by the Indian spies because their main motivation was material goods. They had no personal interest for or against the British or Spanish and in fact they often had to deceive other friendly tribes.
We can also gauge the reliability of the intelligence discussed in the letters by analyzing how much detail and how many people are involved in the information. A fabricated story would have less detail and people involved lest someone discover any of the details or people to not follow the story. -Rachel

A few aspects of Sun Tzu’s categories apply to the Indian spies in Hann’s article. First, it appears that the letters talk about Tzu’s “local spies.” In Mercado’s letter, it says, “An Indian native to Sauocola, who came from around there the day before yesterday, says he saw four Englishmen who were helping the Indians…” (Hann 80-81).  The use of local people who know the territory and know the languages of the natives (like the Yamasee in the third letter (Hann 89)) is beneficial for the Spanish to gain inside knowledge about the English. The letters also allude to qualities of Tzu’x “surviving spies,” which are those “who bring back information from the enemy’s camp” (Tzu #13). Matheos talks about two spies coming back from Appalachicole and bringing news about the whereabouts of Englishmen (Hann 84). Even though the spies didn’t’ go to the English camp (the enemy of the Spanish), they brought back news of the enemy. “The said spy stated also that he saw an Indian enter with a sucucht of food and an Englishman behind him…” (Hann 91). The English presence there could be viewed as a place where the enemy had infiltrated, and thus the fact that the spy survived the experience and brought back information about it, constitutes this spy as a surviving spy.
These categories are not very useful in estimating the reliability of the intelligence provided by the Indian spies. These categories mostly explain the kinds of spies that one must employ to get information about the enemy. The reliability comes from using multiple sources and establishing trust and loyalty in some way. To ensure that the spies are loyal, the leaders must reward the spies and the spies must show that they know they are on the right side, so they wont be converted by the enemy. In addition, using multiple sources of information helps to show that the information brought from the spies is accurate (Hann 84). -Clara

Sun-Tzu’s ideas can be applied to the Indian spies referred to by Hann, although there is more complexity to the Spanish-English situation than the two-army scenario described by Sun-Tzu. The extra-degree of complexity comes from the Spanish using the Indians to spy on other Indians, to gain information about British positions. The spies were also used to determine which Indian settlements did business with British traders, so the Spanish could burn the towns “whose leaders had refused… to end their contract with the British traders” (Hann, 79). Still, the Indian spies fall under Sun-Tzu’s category of local spies: “employing the services of inhabitants of a district” (Sun-Tzu, #9). This category of spy is perhaps the most reliable, since the local Indians are less likely to have any strong allegiance to the English or the Spanish. As long as the spies are properly paid, they are likely to remain loyal to their employer. The Spanish exemplified this when Anttonio Matteos wrote: “I have regaled the spy who brought this news and he went away very content” (Hann, 92). A very important factor in gauging the reliability of the spy’s information is to bring into strong consideration whether the spy has family or relatives in any of the Indian towns. It would be unlikely that a spy would report English presence in a town that his relatives lived, since it was known that these towns would be burned, as I previously mentioned. -Zachary T.

Sun Tzu’s spy categories are easily applied to spies in Hann’s article. The Spanish had local spies in the Yamase that stayed in Southern towns and could report English presence. Fray Juan Mercado also acted as a local spy in some sense, evidenced by his transmission of information in a letter to Lieutenant Antonio Matheos. The spy mentioned in Antonio Matheos’ first letter to Governor Cabrera fall in the camp of surviving spies in that he was sent and later returned with information from his observations. In Matheos’ second letter to Cabrera, we find that one of the two spies acted as a local inhabitant in order to conceal his mission/identity.
Sun Tzu’s categories can help determine the reliability of intelligence because each implies a different social or political relationship between the spy and the party receiving information. For example, the reliability of the intelligence provided by the spy is doubted by Antonio Matheos in his first letter to Cabrera, commenting that one report appears “to have little foundation.” (pg. 84) That the spies are locals and thus not of the same national allegiance as the Spanish Matheos contributes to his lack of complete trust in them. The reliability of the intelligence discussed in the letters can also be gauged by the political relationships of the various parties involved, the timeliness of the information, and the degrees of separation between observant and the final receiver. -Yi

Sun Tzu categorizes spies into five different types: local, inward, converted, doomed, and surviving spies (Tzu). The Indian spies roughly fall into three of the categories. The spies were Yamasee Indians, and when they spied on the other Yamasees, this made them ‘local spies’ in a sense; although they may not have lived in that specific village, they were members of the same tribe (p 89). The spies also falsely reported that 45 Yamasees were coming towards one village with Englishmen, making them doomed spies (p 90). Finally, the spies who made it back to report to Mathos could be classified as surviving spies (p 88).
These categories, although not definitive, are definitely useful in evaluating how reliable the intelligence of a spy is. The information of local, inward, and converted spies may be less reliable since they may still have ties to the enemy or their cause. Doomed spies are a bit more reliable if they are unwittingly giving false information, however the delivery of the information cannot really be confirmed in this case. Ultimately, as Mathos says, we must gauge the reliability of the information based on the character and dependability of the spy, and by cross-referencing it against other accounts. -Amy A.
Sun Tzu’s categories are local, inward (inside), converted, doomed and surviving spies (XIII tenant 7). Local spies are the inhabitants of the district. In Hann’s writings the Indian spies used by the Spanish are natives to southern United States, but they are not originally from the area investigated (p74). To the Spanish, the spies are more local than an imported Spaniard, but whether they are Sun Tzu’s definition of a local spy is questionable based on whether the targets perceive the spies as ‘one of them’ or not.  But because the spies are not converted members of the enemy community, they are not converted spies. The cacique of Apalachiole is what would be considered an inward spy; he is an official of the community that has provided information to the spanish through the hired spies. However, his information is not trusted because he does not necessarily have anything to gain by warning the Spanish of impending attacks.
There are also surviving spies because they come back from the enemies’ provinces. The verity of the reports from surviving spies could be questioned if the spy was converted by the other side.
It is clear that the spies are still outsiders; unwelcome outsiders in Cauete and Casista, and welcomed outsiders elsewhere (p82).  With no internal ties to the people they are reporting on, the indian spies used seem more trustworthy to the Spanish, because they don’t have anything to directly gain from Spanish failure. According to Sun Tzu’s tenant XIII 17. “without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of [spies’] reports,”(pg 30). Antonio Matheos reasons out the possible truth to the information based on where the spies obtained it, not based on the trust with the spies because he trusts his spies, but not the locals that they talk to. Verity of a spy is gauged by both their previous ties and ties that they would be willing to make in order to benefit. -Anne

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