Looking to make big bucks? It won't come from selling national secrets, a new report says.
Since 1990, more than four out of every five Americans who committed espionage against the country received no money for their efforts, according to the Department of Defense study, leading its author to conclude that spies these days are "poorly paid."
That's a big change from an earlier era of Cold War spies, they noted. From 1947 to 1980, 67 percent of Americans who spied against their country got some form of compensation, the Pentagon found.
Another interesting shift: Many spies since 1990 have been using the Internet to make first contact with their recipient, while earlier spies often walked into foreign embassies, according to the study, a review of 173 publicly-reported espionage cases since 1947.
The percentage of spies motivated by "foreign allegiance" was the biggest change noted in the study. Since 1990, 46 percent of spies were reportedly motivated by an allegiance to a foreign country, up from the 20 percent of spies so motivated from 1947 to 1990.
Increasingly, the report found, spies -- like the general public -- were more likely in recent years to have international business contacts, cultural ties or other connections to foreign countries than ever before. And while native-born U.S. citizens still account for most spying, the report said, 35 percent of spies are naturalized citizens born in other parts of the world, an all-time high.
The trend "reinforce[es] the sense that globalization has had a noticeable impact," the report notes.
The study has one significant drawback. It's based only on spies who have been caught.
"It is a safe assumption that not all espionage by Americans has yet been detected, and of those who have been detected, it is clear that not all have been prosecuted," the report noted. "Those would not be included in the database."
Spy novel aficionados may be disappointed by another trend away from the Cold War's ways. Since 1980, not a single American spy was recruited through blackmail or coercion, the report found. No "other woman" setups in hotel rooms, doctored photographs showing illicit behavior or threats of harm to relatives overseas have been reported, said the study, which was first noted by the newsletter Secrecy News.