Corporate espionage is the dirty little secret of big business in America today.Corporations spy on other corporations. They spy on citizen groups. They spy on governments.To protect their reputations, corporations don\u0026#039;t admit to spying. But they do it.Corporate spies call themselves \u0022competitive intelligence professionals.\u0022There is even a professional association of corporate spies -- the Society for Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP).SCIP denies that \u0022competitive intelligence\u0022 is espionage and denies that \u0022competitive intelligence professionals\u0022 are spies.\u0022Espionage is the use of illegal means to gather information,\u0022 says the SCIP web site (www.scip.org).And SCIP says its members do not practice espionage.SCIP says that its members gather their information legally from public sources and are bound by a strict code of ethics, which requires compliance with all laws and disclosure of \u0022all relevant information, including one\u0026#039;s identity and organization, prior to all interviews.\u0022Marc Barry is out to upend SCIP\u0026#039;s apple cart.Barry is a corporate spy. He\u0026#039;s not a member of SCIP, because he says he\u0026#039;s not a hypocrite.Of course corporations spy, he says.Of course SCIP\u0026#039;s members spy, he says.In fact, they hire him when they don\u0026#039;t want to get caught doing a company\u0026#039;s dirty work.In the business, he\u0026#039;s known as a kite.\u0022A kite is somebody who is essentially expendable, somebody who is flown out there, and if it hits the fan, the controller can cut the string, deny knowledge and let the kite fly off on its own,\u0022 Barry told us last week.\u0022I provide my clients with actionable intelligence that they either don\u0026#039;t know how to get themselves, or they don\u0026#039;t want to get caught collecting themselves,\u0022 Barry said. \u0022I provide plausible deniability to my clients. In the event that an operation is blown and there is litigation or worse -- a criminal charge -- they can deny all responsibility by denying knowledge.\u0022With plausible deniability, Barry\u0026#039;s corporate clients \u0022can claim ignorance by demonstrating in court that I am in fact a consultant, that I signed documents saying that I would abide by all ethical rules, and that they had no idea what I was doing,\u0022 he says.Barry runs about 40 capers a year.\u0022I do very well for myself,\u0022 Barry said. \u0022All of my clients are Fortune 500 companies. I deal at the executive level. I\u0026#039;m either dealing at the chief executive officer, or the chief operating officer level. The very lowest would be vice president of marketing.\u0022Recently, a SCIP board member hired Barry to run an operation against Kraft Foods on behalf of Schwan\u0026#039;s Sales Enterprises.In the winter of 1997, Kraft had developed a new \u0022rising crust\u0022 pizza under the brand name DiGiorno. Schwan\u0026#039;s was moving a similar pizza under the name Tony\u0026#039;s.Kraft, a unit of Phillip Morris, was planning a massive advertising campaign to position DiGiorno\u0026#039;s as the only frozen pizza to taste like pizza-parlor pizza.The SCIP member phoned Barry.He knew Barry could quickly get information on the Kraft operation.Posing as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, as an environmentalist, and as a graduate student, Barry collected the information Schwan\u0026#039;s wanted in less than two days. Job completed. Barry wrote about the operation in a Spooked: Corporate Espionage in America (Perseus, 2000, co-authored by Adam Penenberg).Someone at Kraft read the book, ordered an internal investigation, and tripped across a second espionage operation. Last month, Kraft sued Schwan\u0026#039;s for theft of trade secrets.Isn\u0026#039;t Barry concerned about the ethics of lying?\u0022To my knowledge, in all 50 states, it is not illegal to lie,\u0022 he says. \u0022The only people I listen to are the United States Department of Justice and state and local law enforcement officials.\u0022What about dumpster diving -- going through someone\u0026#039;s garbage?\u0022Dumpster diving is perfectly legal, providing there is not a sign posted,\u0022 Barry says. \u0022The courts have held that if it is left to be accessed by commercial carters, then it is no longer private property. It is only private property if there is a \u0026#039;no trespassing\u0026#039; sign and you had to trespass to get into the dumpster.\u0022What about using an answering machine pick -- a device used to remotely grab someone else\u0026#039;s message off the target\u0026#039;s answering machine?\u0022That\u0026#039;s probably a gray area,\u0022 Barry says.\u0022Do you use picks?\u0022 we ask.\u0022Fine, and you?\u0022 Barry answers.Barry wonders whether SCIP members are adhering to the organization\u0026#039;s \u0022code of ethics.\u0022\u0022If you go to one of their functions, it looks like a sixth grade dance -- where you had all the boys on one side and all the girls on the other side and no one would talk to each other,\u0022 he says.\u0022At a SCIP function, on one side you have all the spooks who came out of Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. And they are all backslapping and hanging with each other.\u0022\u0022And on the other side you have the librarians, the Lexis-Nexis types, the software people. So, the white hats are on one side, and the black hats are on the other.\u0022Barry sees a big business in corporate espionage. His Manhattan-based company -- C3I Analytics -- is in a joint venture with Raytheon that is dumping $12 million to build a state-of-the art corporate espionage war room in New York City.The new company, to be called Intelogix, will sell services to other corporations \u0022intent on studying the enemy\u0026#039;s every move.\u0022Could it be that, as you are reading this, some Fortune 500 company is picking the telephone messages off your answering machine?Fine, and you?