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Take a Spy Quiz

Take a Spy Quiz
What Do You Know About Counterintelligence?


John Walker's dead drop mapWe’ve been tracking down spies and addressing other counterintelligence threats for nearly a century now. See what you know about the “spy game” and our longstanding counterespionage efforts by taking this quiz. You can click on the links to get the answers, or you can hunt for them yourselves—and find a wealth of other information—on our newly redesigned Counterintelligence webpage.

1: Where does counterintelligence fall on our list of investigative priorities?
A) It’s our No. 1 priority
B) No. 2, after counterterrorism
C) No. 3, after counterterrorism and cyber crime
D) No. 8, the last of our investigative priorities

2: True or false: “Dumpster Diving” can be a significant national security problem. ANSWER

3: What’s the top focus of our counterintelligence program?
A) Protecting the secrets of the U.S. intelligence community
B) Keeping weapons of mass destruction and other technology out of the wrong hands
C) Protecting government secrets
D) Protecting critical national assets
E) Focusing on countries that seek our secrets

4: The Counterintelligence Division has had many names since the Bureau got its start in 1908. Over the years, which division DID NOT handle counterintelligence?
A) The National Defense Division
B) The National Security Division
C) The Domestic Security Division
D) The Domestic Intelligence Division
E) The General Intelligence Division

5: Because of a number of high-profile spy arrests, the press dubbed 1985 “The Year of the Spy.” Who was NOT arrested that year?
A) Aldrich Ames
B) Walker Spy Ring members
C) Jonathan Pollard
D) Larry Wu-Tai Chin
E) Ronald William Pelton

6: During the Cold War, we partnered with several other U.S. and British intelligence agencies in a 37-year effort to decrypt, decode, and exploit messages sent by Soviet Intelligence. What was the project called?
A) The Manhattan Project
B) The Philadelphia Project
C) The Venona Project
D) Project Gutenberg
E) Project Genesis

7: True or false: Economic espionage—the theft of trade secrets and other competitive information—costs U.S. companies billions of dollars a year. ANSWER

8: Velvalee Dickinson, who pled guilty to crimes related to passing crucial U.S. naval information to Japan during World War II, ran what kind of business?
A) A dress shop
B) A butcher shop
C) A flower shop
D) A doll shop
E) A tea parlor

9: EXTRA CREDIT: In counterintelligence parlance, what’s a dead drop?
A) A fumbled assassination attempt
B) An inconspicuous hiding place
C) An exposed secret agent
D) Spy talk for “go away”


1. B) No. 2, after counterterrorism. Foreign espionage is an incredibly serious threat, impacting our political, military, and economic strengths and striking at the heart of our national security.

2. True. “Dumpster Diving,” the practice of rooting through a company or individual’s trash, can provide foreign and economic spies with valuable information that should have been discarded more carefully. Our Awareness of National Security Issues and Response program has other valuable information for companies, law enforcement, and government agencies.

3. B) Keeping weapons of mass destruction and other technology out of the wrong hands. We don’t want terrorists or unstable countries around the globe to possess weapons that could kill or injure large numbers of people. Read more about our National Strategy for Counterintelligence.

4. D) The Domestic Intelligence Division. The very first division to handle counterintelligence was named the General Intelligence Division. The division has changed names—and some of its responsibilities—no less than six times since 1939. Read more about the History and Evolution of Counterintelligence in the FBI.

5. A) Aldrich Ames. The 31-year veteran of the CIA had been spying for the Russians for nearly 10 years when he was arrested in 1994. Get more details on Aldrich Ames and other cases we helped investigate. Our graphic above, by the way, is an actual map used by the John Walker Spy ring.

6. C) The Venona Project. The collaboration between U.S. and British intelligence agencies through the Venona project proved invaluable during the Cold War and marked the Bureau’s maturation in intelligence matters. Dr. John F. Fox, Jr., FBI historian, recently wrote a research paper on the project.

7. True. We estimate that American companies lose tens of billions of dollars a year to foreign competitors that have deliberately targeted their economic intelligence. Visit our Focus on Economic Espionage webpage to learn how to protect your business.

8. D) A doll shop. Velvalee Dickinson owned a doll shop on Madison Avenue in New York during World War II. She passed information about the condition of U.S. war ships to Japan in phony letters that ostensibly talked about collectible dolls. Read more about Velvalee Dickinson, the Doll Woman.

9. B) An inconspicuous hiding place.