For a dose of pretend spy sexiness, you can watch Covert Affairs online any time – but that’s make-believe, not reality. Yet the usage of sex as an espionage tool is alive and well for spies and secret agents today.
With rare exception, sexy spies are women. They lure their targets with sex and seduction, drawing secrets out with sweet deftness rather than harsh interrogation techniques and torture. A few notables:
1980s seductress: “Violetta Seina”
One of the most famous cases occurred when US Marine Clayton J. Lonetree was seduced by a KGB operative. Lonetree served as a guard at the US Embassy in Moscow in the early 1980s, where he met a woman who went by the name of “Violetta Seina,” an embassy translator. Lonetree allowed Sienna to walk the corridors unsupervised late at night. When he was transferred to Vienna, she blackmailed him, demanding he hand over plans of the U.S. Moscow embassy, and the CIA’s Soviet working protocols and operatives’ details. Lonetree was ultimately tried for espionage and sentenced to 15 years.
2008: Honeypot in China?
More recently, a “Honeypot” (a seductive spy who uses sex to entice secrets out of an unwitting target) purportedly set her sights on one of England’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s aides in 2008 as he accompanied Brown to China. The aide discovered that his Blackberry was missing after the encounter. (China has denied that the incident was an espionage attempt.)
2010: Anna Chapman, Russian spy
Prior to June 2010, Anna Chapman was seemingly living a socialite’s life in Manhattan and building her business, an online real estate company worth $2 million. What the Russian immigrant was really trying to do, however, was to gather sensitive information related to U.S. policymaking, which was then to be sent back to Russia. She was arrested in June 2010 after she met with an FBI agent posing as a Russian official. Her sexy good looks made her a media sensation. She was sent back to Russia in July 2010 as part of a spy exchange deal between Russia and the U.S., and has since been honored for her work by the Russian government – a real life plot that would rival anything you might see if you watch Covert Affairs online.
2012: Real life “Maya” helped find bin Laden
In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the character of Maya is modeled after a real spy who helped Seal Team Six ferret out bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan. While most in the CIA were unsure of bin Laden’s whereabouts, “Maya” was not; she was unwavering in her convictions even in the face of male colleagues’ opposition.
Women’s continuing role in espionage
Global security expert Peter Bergen calls women’s involvement in the hunt for bin Laden “reflective of the largest cultural shift at the CIA in the past two decades.” Tamir Pardo, director of Israel’s Mossad agency, endorses women wholeheartedly, saying that they can actually be better at intelligence work than men because they have better spatial awareness and can “read” situations better than men can. They’re also better at (necessary) multitasking and at “suppressing their ego in order to attain the goal.” What might that mean? When you watch Covert Affairs online, you can be sure sexy real-life spies are giving them new plot lines all the time.