Black operation

type of covert operation by a government agency, military or paramilitary organization, involving enhanced secrecy due to its sensitive nature. This may be caused by a partly illegal or unethical nature of the operation.

A black operation (black op for short) is a covert operation which is done by a government or military. Black operations are secret and whoever does them does not admit that they ever happened.[1] There are differences between black operations and ones which are just secret. The main difference is that a black operation often uses deception. This deception might be not telling anybody who did the operation. It might also be blaming the operation on someone else ("false flag" operations).[2][3]

One example of a black operation is a "black bag operation".[1] A black bag operation is when agents or soldiers secretly go into buildings and collect intelligence.[4] It is known that the Federal Bureau of Investigation,[5] the Central Intelligence Agency,[6] Mossad, MI6 and other intelligence services have done operations like these.[4]

Where the word comes from


The word "black" can be used for any secret action done by a government. For example, some militaries and intelligence services have classified "black budgets" to carry out black operations. Almost all details about this budget is hidden from the public.[7][8]

Examples of black operations

  • In 2007, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified some secret records. In these records, it was found that CIA had illegally spied on people in the United States. It had also planned assassinations, kidnapping and other black operations.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Smith, Jr., W. Thomas (2003). Encyclopedia of the Central Intelligence Agency. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc. p. 31. ISBN 0-8160-4666-2.
  2. Popular Electronics, Volume 6, Issue 2–6. Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., Inc. 1974, p. 267. "There are three classifications into which the intelligence community officially divides clandestine broadcast stations. A black operation is one in which there is a major element of deception."
  3. Djang, Chu, From Loss to Renewal: A Tale of Life Experience at Ninety, Authors Choice Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, p. 54. "(A black operation was) an operation in which the sources of propaganda were disguised or mispresented in one way or another so as not to be attributed to the people who really engineered it."
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Tallinn government surveillance cameras reveal black bag operation". Intelnews. December 16, 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  5. Rood, Justin (June 15, 2007). "FBI to Boost 'Black Bag' Search Ops". ABC News. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  6. "The CIA Code Thief Who Came in from the Cold". Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  7. "Dirty Secrets Of The "Black Budget"". Business Week. February 27, 2006. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  8. Shachtman, Noah (February 1, 2010). "Pentagon's Black Budget Tops $56 Billion". Wired. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  9. Tisdall, Simon (June 22, 2007). "CIA to release cold war 'black files'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  10. Ross, Brian; Esposito, Richard (May 22, 2007). "Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran". ABC News. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  11. Shipman, Tim (May 27, 2007). "Bush sanctions 'black ops' against Iran". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 7, 2012.