Another political technique is to supplement overt channels of influence in a foreign government by secretly befriending and assisting private individuals or leaders so they will influence the Government now, or later when they rise to important positions. (Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards, p139)
According to Roy Godson, agents of influence need not not be formally controlled and paid agents. They may simply be idealogical allies, and in some cases may not even be aware that they are co-operating with an intelligence service.
Attempts to achieve long-term ‘seeding’ of agents of influence therefore pose a particular dilemma. The individual may not want to be a puppet, but it is in the interest of the case officer for the agent to be as pliant as possible.
The agent may be capable of advancing of their own, but the case officer will want to ensure that they are beholden to the foreign power concerned. This usually involves money, but sometimes involves information instead.
Does the US seek to recruit such covert agents of influence in Britain today? Well, it its interesting to note that there are a number of overt but discreet organisations which have been seen in this light.
The best known is the British-American Project. Another example is the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding, which was actually founded by Joseph Godson. This little-known organisation is mentioned in two very useful articles, An Unholy Alliance by Phil Kelly from 1981 and Who Were They Travelling With? by Tom Easton from 1996.
Even if these organisations do play a role in US covert operations, individual members would not necessarily know about it. Nevertheless, their subsequent actions and affiliations may provide clues about the nature and objectives of covert attempts to influence British politics.