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Story highlights

Carter Page has acknowledged to CNN that he is the individual the documents refer to as a target of recruitment

A foreign spy will use the information gathered about a target's background, appealing to individual passions, offering favors or money or resorting to blackmail to get cooperation

(CNN) —  

It is a scene ripped from Hollywood spy thrillers: Russian agents living and working among everyday, American citizens as cover for their true mission of stealing state secrets.

In the real world, it is highly unlikely that your neighbor, coworker or mailman is actually a clandestine Russian operative working under a false identity. But that certainly does not mean the art of espionage has gone out of style in the world of international intelligence gathering, particularly between the United States and its former Cold War foe.

Amid all of the accusations and speculation pouring out of the investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, the notion that foreign spies are using old-school tactics and personally recruiting agents to divulge sensitive information is actually widely accepted among intelligence officials.

There is no doubt that the rise of information warfare and cyberespionage has changed the spy game in the years since the Cold War. But the playbook on how to target, recruit and manipulate sources has generally stayed the same.

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