By the very definition of his job, a spymaster knows secrets. He knows the deepest secrets of the leader of the country for whom he works, as well as knowing the secrets he and his operatives have uncovered at the request of said leader; secrets that would be embarrassing, on both levels, if ever revealed.
So why screw your spymaster? Why cast him out without explanation and final payment?
It makes no sense.
But sometimes leaders make no sense.
Such was the case with Prince Albert II of Monaco, who employed a spymaster for five-and-a-half years.
The inept prince, who followed a corrupt path instead of the ethical path he had promised his subjects and the world, would not bring his spymaster's account current, despite legal notice, which the prince chose to ignore.
This resulted in a lawsuit filed in a U.S. court.
Leaders of foreign countries deal with lawsuits filed against them in U.S. courts by hiding behind "sovereign immunity."
But lawsuits attract publicity.
A prominent British Sunday newspaper reported the spymaster's lawsuit. Soon, an avalanche of bad publicity fell upon the prince and his principality.
The prince's lawyer finally responded, with prevarication, saying that the spymaster's intelligence service had never existed.
This, of course, was a lie.
To prove the veracity of his claim, the spymaster created a blog and revealed, globally, the full story of his service to Prince Albert. It naturally included very many secrets.
Consequently, the prince was proven to be a liar, as well as corrupt and inept.
And though he continues to be a prince, his subjects-and many others around the globe-laugh at him behind his back, quite deservedly so.
Through the ages, worldwide, courtiers and relatives of a sovereign king or prince have regularly murdered one another for closer access to him or her-or to become Sovereign.The Principality of Monaco is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world-and today it thus provides the best example of Machiavellian backstabbing within a royal court. Royal relatives, courtiers, government ministers, subjects, ambassadors and residents of the principality alike play an endless game of who can attain the brownest nose, by ingratiating themselves with the prince through flattery, compliments and gifts. Everyone wants the ear of the Sovereign, whether it is for social prestige or financial gain, or both. They want to be his best friend and/or chief adviser; their seating positions at social events involving the sovereign attest to others their importance, or lack thereof. Murder and mayhem has given way, in modern times, to vendetta and character assassination. Courtiers content with the status quo conspire to quash the newcomer possessing honorable intentions, and intent on cleaning up graft and corruption. Such was the case, in Monaco, of Prince Albert II's first chief of staff following the prince's enthronement. With the assistance of the prince's spymaster, the new chief of staff attempted to implement, at the prince's direction, a new code of ethics for his principality. Corrupt courtiers and government ministers were mortified by the advent of such proposed change, and, fearing the worst for their positions, conspired to oust the chief of staff from his perch inside the palace. The metaphorical knives were plunged, and the chief of staff, exiled-with the prince's spymaster to follow. The prince then perpetuated the pretense of an ethical code while he himself accepted inappropriate gifts, applauded by corrupt courtiers that had the most to gain from their organized crimes.
History is his story.
These days, her story counts, too.
You've got yours, and I've got mine.
Rarely does anyone agree on exactly what is said and done. Everyone has their own version of events, based on their own perspectives.
Courts seek to get at the truth by dissecting contracts, hearing testimony under oath and studying documents from all parties and witnesses, trying to establish what really happened.
Memories fade with time.
But if you keep a regular journal and jot down interaction with others as it occurs, this record becomes both a memory-jogger and a document from which others may attempt to discern truth between quarrelling parties with opposing viewpoints.
Monaco's spymaster sued the prince and his principality for not keeping accounts current.
The prince and his principality were at a disadvantage when news media attempted to establish the facts of the lawsuit.
Because most of what happened while the spymaster performed his service to the prince he notated diary-style in a leather-bound journal.
Over the course of five-and-a-half years, the spymaster filled twenty leather-bound journals with details of his service to the prince, including everything the prince said.
Hence, the spymaster was in command of his facts.
The prince and his principality, conversely, could not speak authoritatively to the substance of the lawsuit, as they had kept no journals or records of any sort.
News media soon distinguished who was telling the truth, and who was lying.
Sidney Reilly (born Rosenblum) is reputed to be the greatest spy of all time, celebrated as the Ace of Spies.
It was Reilly who coined this motto: Trust no one.
(Reilly eventually got himself killed-by the Bolsheviks in Russia-for trusting someone running something called-of all things-The Trust.)
As a spymaster, embrace everyone, especially your enemies. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu writes: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
The Monaco spymaster's mentor was Clair George, who rose through the ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency to become America's spymaster as deputy director for operations.
Clair George embraced everyone. If they represented the enemy, he plucked secrets from their back pocket while exchanging hugs.
Clair George would convince the enemy to like him, and to trust him. And the next step would be to convince the enemy to pass him vital secrets.
Clair George was not as trusting as those he cultivated and recruited.
Adversarial intelligence services would, of course, try to cultivate and recruit him. And Clair would embrace them. But he did not trust them with the knowledge of anything that could be used against himself or his country.
Trust no one.
The only real secret is one that you know and you don't tell anyone else.
Clair George also never trusted gadgets, such as listening devises. They could go wrong; they would go wrong.
Clair relied on a good memory and good note taking--perhaps two of the most important attributes of an intelligence officer.
None of this was lost on Monaco's spymaster.
And by the way: the greatest spy of all time was Clair George, not Reilly.
People like to talk. Listen to them.
You rarely learn anything from talking (unless you're talking to a therapist). But there is much to learn from listening to others. What they say-and sometimes what they don't say.
Often, there is no reason to talk at all. Let the person you are with talk and talk and talk. Not only will you learn much about them, they will adore you. People love to talk about themselves; they love people who listen to them.
There is almost no reason to ever say anything, aside from, "That's fascinating, tell me more."
This is how you learn secrets. People eventually get round to telling you what you want to know all by themselves. Don't push; let them get there on their own.
And if you feel tempted to tell them about yourself, don't. Tell yourself: "Self, keep your mouth shut."
Hence, everyone else's spiel is an opportunity for you to keep your mouth shut.
But suddenly there is silence?
Keep your mouth shut. The person talking to you will fill it, if only out of nervousness. People are generally frightened of silence. It makes them talk.
You are asked a question?
Turn it around with a question of your own.
This is known in the intelligence business as Third Party Rule.
These days, good intelligence is about international cooperation i.e. liaison relationships between special services.
The Monaco Intelligence Service (MIS) was created on a shoestring of a budget, but with much wit and resourcefulness. As a small service, it needed valuable intelligence from those willing to provide it.
Monaco's spymaster was able to create liaison relationships with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and many other foreign special services strategic to the MIS mission.
The ironclad Third Party Rule is this: You do not, under any circumstances, share what a foreign intelligence service tells you with a third party i.e. another intelligence service (or anyone else).
Liaison relationships were extremely important to MIS.
Monaco's population comprises of 125 nationalities.
Through foreign intelligence services, MIS was able to run traces on a number of suspect foreign residents and prospective residents and investors.
Foreign intelligence services provided such intelligence to MIS at no cost. It was a brilliant deal for Monaco.
Unfortunately, Monaco's prince could not grasp this concept; he did not seem to comprehend that everything he always wanted to know about anything was available to him. Upon request, twenty intelligence services stood ready to send a representative to Monaco at a few days notice to brief the prince on any subject of his choosing.
Unfortunately, the subjects of the prince's choosing had more to do with sexual escapades than affairs of state.
A funny line, but actually spon on.
Monaco's spymaster got it from Miles Copeland, a founding officer of the CIA and author of several books on intelligence and statecraft.
Copeland got it from Nicholas Elliot, a senior officer with Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, renowned in the business for two things:
1) Unmasking Kim Philby as a traitor and causing him to defect to the Soviet Union.
2) Writing a book about his career --Never Judge a Man by His Umbrella-- without once mentioning that he was an intelligence officer (and an elegant book it is).
Copeland and Elliot served in Beirut at the same time and became life-long friends. As Copeland tells it, he was supposed to dine with Philby in Beirut the night he disappeared, and Elliot flew in the next day looking for the turncoat.
Elliot was apparently great at oneliners, once telling Copeland that Israel's Golda Meir was really Lyndon Baines Johnson in drag.
Boring secrets are easy to keep to yourself.
The real challenge is holding onto one so entertaining, so funny, it would make you the star of any social occasion, and thereafter Mr. Popularity on the dinner party circuit.
Genuine spies blend in, not stand out.
The saying goes, "His bark is worse than his bite."
Monaco's spymaster believed in the bite, not the bark. Most people perceive barking as a bluff. It sends them a warning signal, which defeats the essential element of surprise.
If an enemy can be frightened into submission, go for it. But be creative. Be scary. Be mental. People are frightened of mental.
And keep your teeth sharp; carry a weapon in case you need it.
G. Gordon Liddy recommended ladies always carry a hatpin or a sharpened lead pencil.
I recommend a cattle prod, preferably one with over a million volts.
Monaco's spymaster used to think the equation was 90-10.
Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service corrected him.
"It is amazing what the Russians will give away just to get you to believe something they want you to believe," he was told.
Hence, no matter how much truth emanates from a source, especially a defector, you cannot take for granted that all is true because of a source's track record for veracity.
Everything must be validated.
When people think of espionage, they naturally think of James Bond, the super-suave creation of Ian Fleming.
So naturally, the intelligence business attracts would-be James Bonds.
However, the intelligence business does not welcome would-be James Bonds.
Intelligence work is patiently determined by committee; carefully executed by teamwork.
Intelligence services try to recruit team players, not mavericks.
Every once in a while, someone with a James Bond-complex slips through.
This is the individual who disappears for three days, believes he has license to do as he pleases, and returns gleefully trumpeting whatever success he single-handedly imagined.
Any success is over-shadowed by his complex, and it is the latter on which his superiors will dwell. If they believe he cannot be changed, he will be shown the exit ramp.
A good example of a combination James Bond complex and sociopath is Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard was a U.S. Navy analyst who aspired to be a secret agent.
Pollard would arrive late at meetings, sweating and disheveled, and claim terrorists had kidnapped his wife and that he'd spent the day chasing them around Washington.
Unfortunately, Pollard had access to secrets.
He sold U.S. secrets to Israel.
He was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Like all sociopaths, Pollard has never shown any remorse for his crime.
You hear something. It's fascinating. You yearn for it to be true, perhaps because it fits your hypothesis.
And then, from another second source, a source that doesn't know your first source, you hear the same thing.
So you think it must be true.
Then it arrives from a third source, making it even truer?
From where are your sources getting their information?
Is it possible, though your sources do not know one another, they are getting their information from the same source?
Example: a liaison officer from CIA shares something of importance. As spymaster, you then learn the Italians believe the same.
Question: Are the Americans and the Italians receiving information from the same source?
Before you believe anything, you must identify your source's sources and endeavor to discover if they are one in the same.
If you determine this to be so, it is called duplicate sourcing, which hampers the validation process.
You've got an authoritative source in front of you.
You believe everything he says because it fits with what you already know to be true.
Don't show it.
Instead, pooh-pooh it. Be doubtful. Push for the source to fully explain how he got the information and why he believes it to be true.
Shake your head and say, "It makes no sense to me." Make him convince you.
People like to be believed. If the source is holding something back, he will, under such pressure, come out with it.
There are only two motivations for betraying secrets: money and revenge.
As Johnny Staccato, a fictional creation of jazz critic Mike Zwerin, used to say, "Reality is money."
Everyone needs it. If the price is high enough, and the risk diminished, people will sell.
Revenge is another story. If a person is mistreated, it is natural for him to want to strike back.
Monaco's spymaster recruited a former Palace insider who refused to be paid; he wanted only to settle a score with another person inside the Palace who caused his expulsion.
People think they have conviction. But they allow it to be stretched when they need money or revenge.
If you stay in one place, you become a sitting target.
Learn from Cuba's Fidel Castro: Never more than three nights in the same place-his key to survival in the country he ruined.
Very few persons knew that Prince Albert of Monaco employed a spymaster. But those who were aware might have told others, who might have had reason to squirm based on their misbehavior.
Monaco's spymaster strove to be invisible. But he did have a safe house in Monaco, to work and sleep in, called M-Base.
This base was used to meet sources. One or more sources might have talked to others. So it had to be assumed that one or more of the spymaster's targets would know the location of M-Base.
A representative of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service cautioned: "Sooner or later you will be firebombed."
The spymaster's answer was to stay in motion. He constantly traveled, in and out of Monaco, to London, to Paris, to Brussels, to Luxembourg, to San Marino, to Washington DC, and elsewhere.
He did not tell assets and informants when he would arrive in Monaco. Upon his arrival, such persons would receive a call and be summoned.
By the time word got around that the spymaster was in residence-figure three days-he would be gone, without leaving word where.
You cannot, in this high-tech age, erase your footprints. So create many false sets leading in all directions.
Your whereabouts are easy to discover in computerized records. Sophisticated dataveillants can penetrate much further.
You have no control over what appears about you on Google and other search engines.
But you can confuse whoever is trying to track you down by using subterfuge.
Create a number of addresses for yourself in multiple cities. Do so by phoning multiple mail-order companies and requesting their catalog, and asking it be sent to a dozen locations around the country. For addresses, use UPS shops. Of course, once the catalog arrives, it will be discarded. But your address shall live on in the mail order company's mailing list, which will be sold over and over again to other merchants.
The investigator's job is made more difficult when faced with multiple addresses, and it increases the cost of his service to the client, who may be unwilling to spend beyond a certain budget.
Are you a victim a bad Google?
When people first meet you, whether socially or professionally, say, for a job interview, they are quite likely to Google your name.
What do they see?
If the data is negative, you may never hear from that person again.
But Google can be balanced out, diluted, with positive data; utilizing search engine optimization techniques will negate such negativity.
When you arrive for a meeting with a source, anything can go wrong.
A two-timing source could set you up. Or you could be set up by a rival intelligence service.
In other words, it is dangerous.
The solution is situation awareness.
Do not accede to a source's choice of location, but if you must, scout it beforehand.
Ideally, choose the location yourself, somewhere in public and which you have already visited, chosen for its appropriateness based on security and contingency options.
Arrive thirty minutes before rendezvous time. Observe the meeting place from an obscured position, watch for anything unnatural or suspicious. When your source has arrived, approach with caution.
Know in advance, if you must flee, how best to do so. Any back exits? Do buses pass by? Where is the nearest subway station? Any department stores or hotels you can slip into and lose yourself?
The biggest and best secrets do not need detailed explanation or embellishment.
You've seen them before: Slick, glossy reports, padded with fluff and statistics. And all that really mattered was its last few paragraphs.
Anything that is truly important and sensitive does not belong in a report, whose circulation you probably cannot control.
The best way to impart a secret is by telling it, directly to the client/principal who needs to know.
And if you need help remembering: a single sheet of notes in your back pocket.
And such notes are in your own bad handwriting, which, of course, nobody else can read.
Nonetheless, once your briefing is done, the crumpled notepaper goes back in your pocket, to be torn into fifty pieces and dumped into a public garbage bin (not your own) after ensuring you haven't been followed.
This gem came from the director of an intelligence service of a small European country.
Chances are, rival spymasters are almost as smart as you. They certainly didn't get their jobs by being stupid.
When your adversary does something, and you are expected to react, think long and hard about why they did what they did and what they anticipate you are going to do about it.
They are probably chess-players, looking three moves ahead.
Do not fall into their trap by making the move they expect of you.
This is a good rule about life in general that extends to the intelligence profession.
Ever go to sleep worried about a problem and find that the solution hits you upon awakening after a good sleep?
Your brain needs downtime both to recharge and mull over difficult situations.
And so give yourself time, and rest, and sleep before attempting to solve a problem.
But once the solution hits you, waste no time. Be decisive. You may not always make the right decision, but decisiveness is important. So go for it, and don't look back.
Indecision and procrastination, on the other hand, will lead to trouble-and ultimately kick you in the butt.
It is easy to display character when all is going well.
True character is revealed when the sky is falling.
Do you flip out, lose your head, and blame others? If so, you have poor character, like Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The prince's first chief of staff is a perfect example of grace under fire; of showing exemplary character in the face of tremendous and unjustifiable pressure from his boss, who removed him because he was jealous of his chief of staff's abilities.
While the forces of evil tittered in enjoyment of his predicament and Monegasques were left guessing as to what had happened, the chief of staff made no public comment, held his head high and worked through a long final week.
The chief of staff personified what Rudyard Kipling meant by being a man in his famous poem If.
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.
So welcome pressure, and see it as an opportunity to demonstrate your strength, conviction and dignity in the face of whatever is thrown at you by those with lesser character.
What do you do when the floor appears to fall out from under you? When promises made by a ruling prince to twenty foreign intelligence services and to his own subjects are reneged upon?
This happened to Monaco's spymaster after Prince Albert's accountant and lawyer conspired behind his back to oust the spymaster.
As usual, the Prince could not be found to rectify the situation.
And so the spymaster's status remained unclear for several days, until the Prince finally manifested himself-and rescinded his accountant and lawyer's fabricated instructions.
During this period of uncertainty, the spymaster took careful note about who deserted him and who remained loyal-and more especially, those who pretended to remain loyal.
And then the spymaster did what he always did when the sky seemed to be falling: He went to the bar of the Columbus Hotel, ordered a dry martini, Grey Goose, up, three olives, lit a Monte Cristo No. 5 Cuban cigar, and scribbled everything (indecipherably) into a leather bound journal.
This is another rule for life in general.
You cannot control others, so don't even try. Motivate and hope for the best.
The secret to happiness is low expectations.
When something goes wrong, view it as part of your ongoing education.
Prince Albert of Monaco pledged to fight rampant corruption and money laundering in his Principality. He hired a spymaster, and later, a chief of staff, to assist him in this endeavor.
But when faced with a little resistance from corrupt influences around him, the Prince caved and reneged on promises he made to his spymaster, chief of staff, subjects, foreign intelligence services, and the world-and became complicit in their corruption.
This was a learning experience-one that we transformed into a teaching experience.
Sometimes, when vipers surround you, it is hard not to take their venom to heart.
But as Clair George, former CIA spymaster, told Monaco's spymaster, "it is just business, don't take it personally." But for Monaco's vipers-public officials who should be serving, not stealing, from their people-it is bizniz, in the Russian sense.
Monaco's spymaster knew that cabinet ministers did not view investigations into their corrupt actions as personal. Their response, trying to get the Prince back on track-their track-was not personal, but bizniz.
Even today, nothing personal-just business.
Your targets may be better informed than you think; they may even have a spy in your camp.
The point is, you don't know what they know. And it may be that their jobs, their reputations and even their freedom is at stake based on your investigations.
People get desperate when they feel threatened.
Such was the case with Prince Albert of Monaco's personal lawyer, Thierry Lacoste.
Lacoste felt very threatened by Monaco's spymaster.
Lacoste knew that he was engaged in serious conflicts of interest, acting for his Monaco-based clients on one hand, and trying to influence the Prince's decision-making on the other.
Lacoste is not terribly bright, and actually rather incompetent.
But he had been friends with the Prince since childhood. And even though the Prince's father wanted Lacoste as far from Monaco as possible (for good reason), Lacoste had managed to stick around.
The Prince, ultimately, was more willing to believe his corrupt and incompetent childhood friend over the objective findings of his spymaster.
The first part comes from Friedrich Nietzsche, who said: "We need formidable enemies to keep us sharp."
Nietzsche said you should choose your enemies with care; that an enemy is quite a positive and valuable enemy in life, and that you very rarely get on without a few good enemies to spur you on and keep you stirred up.
The second part also comes from Nietzsche: "The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy."
The reason the CIA armed Iraq's Saddam Hussein was because it knew Saddam would barge into Iran. For eight years thereafter, both countries whacked the stuffing out of each other.
Do not feel victimized nor grow into a victim mentality. We are all victims of something eventually. The key is to rise above whatever curveballs life throws at you.
An old saying, Life hands you a lemon? Make lemonade.
Monaco's spymaster stopped doing his job after his client, the Prince, was swayed off track by Monaco's criminally minded establishment and no longer responded to the spymaster. The Prince also did not respond to the spymaster's invoice.
So Monaco's spymaster requested final payment through a lawyer.
The Prince ignored this request.
So Monaco's spymaster filed a Complaint in Court that, in addition to making his case for payment, did what the Prince chose not to do: expose corrupt government ministers and a number of money launderers resident in the principality.
In doing the right thing, Monaco's ex-spymaster inevitably created an interactive hub of dissent.
Intelligence services are generally fearful of media enquiries, government oversight and/or being hauled into court by judges who can over-ride confidentiality.
Many intelligence officers are risk-averse for fear of being exposed in the media for involvement in controversial operations; for them, it would be a career killer. They are also risk-averse for fear of ending up personally prosecuted for violating some obscure statute of which their superiors were unaware.
Intelligence bigwigs strive to avoid being grilled by Congressmen looking to make names for themselves.
Monaco's spymaster did not subscribe to such fears. He believed it more strategic to solicit the assistance, witting or unwitting, of the fourth estate, to meet objectives.
After Monaco's spymaster established a relationship between Prince Albert and the CIA, he secured U.S. government oversight by creating a relationship with a U.S. Senator serving on the Select Intelligence Committee. He did this so that if CIA officers misinterpreted the relationship (as they did), and wrote it up their own way for maximum advantage to the CIA (as they did), at least someone in government oversight would know the truth.
As for the courts: when you are confident of the facts, and everything you report and write can be proven, under oath, through documents and witness testimony, the courts are your friend, not foe
This rule is self-explanatory and requires little explanation.
Every spymaster needs a safe-a large one.
Monaco's spymaster kept a large, heavy-duty safe, bolted to a closet floor in M-Base, his operational headquarters in Monaco.
M-Base also housed an industrial-strength shredder, gifted to Monaco's spymaster by a friendly intelligence service, which transformed documents to confetti.
Both safe and shredder are fundamental for operational security.
Most countries now possess the technological capability to pop your cell phone number into a computer and transform it into their own open microphone.
They can listen not only to your cell phone conversations, but also to your conversations with people around you, wherever you are, whatever you're doing.
Switching your phone off does not end their ability to listen in. You must remove the battery.
(These days, organized criminals buy cheap pay-as-you-go cell phones in batches of a hundred. They use one for a couple days, throw it in a river, and move on to the next one.)
The only way to ensure you are not overheard is a walk in the park, speaking not much louder than a whisper, and occasionally shielding your mouth with your hand (in the event that lip-readers have been assigned to you).
Monaco's spymaster was kindly provided a STE (cryptographic telephone) by a "friendly" intelligence service, to be used for secure communication between the two services.
Monaco's spymaster soon discovered that the STE itself was a full-time open microphone.
So the STE was relegated from the large M-Base desk to a more appropriate venue: a small table adjacent to the toilet.
Overheard conversations thereafter were, dare we say, rather flatulent.
Do you know why insurance companies exist?
To make money. And they make lots of it.
An insurance company will play on your fears and take your risk every time.
Because they employ actuaries-whose job it is to figure the odds.
Odds are, your house won't burn down and your plane won't crash.
Odds are, you'll live into your eighties.
So if you appreciate that the odds are generally in your favor, go for it!
But not recklessly.
Always assess risk. If risk outweighs potential gain, drop it and move on.
The reason CIA spymaster Clair George became legendary among his colleagues was partly because he went to Athens when no one else at the agency wanted the job and ran for cover.
Richard Welch had just been assassinated by a Greek terrorist organization and they needed a new station chief to fill the position.
Only Clair was willing.
The agency tried to sweeten the deal. For a start, they'd buy a new residence for the new station chief.
Nothing doing, said Clair, I'll live where Welch lived.
Okay, then we'll put up ten-foot high gates.
Clair said, Nope. He refused to hide himself. Instead, he enjoyed nightly cocktails on the residence's front porch, in public view.
Clair understood odds as well as any actuary and, like an actuary, he knew the odds were on his side.
You need a good sense of humor for most things in life-and most especially the spy business.
When Monaco's spymaster first started working with CIA spymaster Claire George, they had an ironclad rule about accepting assignments from billionaires and royalty: If it ain't funny, we don't do it.
This was CIA spymaster Clair George's creed for survival and success in the worlds of espionage and large government bureaucracies.
Clair had a great sense of humor. But when he was not amused, he knew how to be scary.
And he was a master at keeping everyone guessing.
A few days before his 75th birthday, I took CIA spymaster Clair George to lunch at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown.
Over bacon-cheeseburgers, I excitedly told him about a new intelligence principle I'd learned with reference to liaison partnerships called the Third Party Rule. Essentially, it means you don't share any secret you've learned from one intelligence service with another intelligence service.
Clair took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and looked at me with amusement. "In this business," he said, "There are no rules."
This was an ancient Armenian joke and curse.
It means, may the scribe take you away.
Which sort of means: suck my pen.