Low Tech Spying in THS

“We got really lucky, and found this!”
The small pad was only a few centimetres to each side. It appeared to be made from something thin and semi-transparent, like tissue paper. On each sheet were printed small letters, arranged regularly in groups of five.
The back of Kent’s mind insisted he knew what this was, that in the distant past he had been shown something like this before. The answer refused to come.
Danny watched him. His moustache hid any sign of a smirk, but Kent knew it was there. With the slightest movement of his head he admitted defeat.
“It’s a one-time pad.” explained Danny. Again, the nagging feeling, but the answer refused to come. He would have to search it later.
“Forensics are really excited about the paper.” Danny continued. “It dissolves completely in any mild acid. Vinegar, lemon juice, soy. Probably in many drinking sodas. Also highly flammable! One touch of a flame and fsst! It’s gone.
We were really lucky she didn’t manage to destroy it.”
In a previous post, “Blackcollars in THS” I floated the idea of a deliberately low-tech approach to secret missions in THS. I was therefore interested by the following passage (p.214) from Keith Melton’s book “Ultimate Spy” He also notes that such spying is often for economic or commercial purposes rather than military:
One country bucking the trend towards ever more technical intelligence-gathering seems to be China. As China’s economy burgeons, so its government increasingly seeks to learn about foreign industrial and military technology, but in a low-tech way. China’s primary intelligence agency is the Ministry of State Security (MSS), which conducts counterintelligence operations within China and HUMINT (human intelligence) operations abroad. The MSS conducts traditional agent operations, recruiting “volunteers” from among the many Chinese citizens working abroad in universities, in businesses, and in the military. Instead of employing clandestine gadgetry, dead drops, or the internet, volunteers report verbally—often during return visits to China. Volunteers from overseas frequently work for the MSS for only a few weeks of their entire careers. This very simple but highly effective set-up makes MSS operations very difficult indeed for foreign counterintelligence agencies to intercept or monitor with much degree of success.
As the movie “Body of Lies” notes:
…because our enemy…realized that they are fighting guys from the future. Now, ahem, it is brilliant as it is infuriating.
If you live like it’s the past, and you behave like it’s the past…then guys from the future find it very hard to see you. If you throw away your cell phone, shut down your e-mail…pass all your instructions face-to-face, hand-to-hand…turn your back on technology and just disappear into the crowd…
No flags. No uniforms. You got your basic grunts on the ground there. They’re looking going, “Who is it we're fighting?”