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The following is from, "Sun-Tzu: The Art of Warfare - The First English Translation Incorporating the Recently Discovered Yin-Ch'üeh-shan Texts", translated, with an introduction and commentary by Roger Ames:
Master Sun said:
In general, the cost to the people and to the public coffers to mobilize an army of 100,000 and dispatch it on a punitory expedition of a thousand li is a thousand pieces of gold per day. There will be upheaval at home and abroad, with people trekking exhausted on the roadways and some 700,000 households kept from their work in the fields. Two sides will quarrel with each other for several years in order to fight a decisive battle on a single day. If, begrudging the outlay of ranks, emoluments, and a hundred pieces of gold, a commander does not know the enemy's situation, his is the height of inhumanity. Such a person is no man's commander, no ruler's counsellor, and no master of victory.
Thus the reason the farsighted ruler and his superior commander conquer the enemy at every move, and achieve successes far beyond the reach of the common crowd, is foreknowledge. Such foreknowledge cannot be had from ghosts and spirits, educed by comparison with past events, or verified by astrological calculations. It must come from people - people who know the enemy's situation.
There are five kinds of spies that can be employed: local (yin) spies, inside agents, double agents, expendable spies, and unexpendable spies. When the five kinds of spies are all active, and no one knows their methods of operation (tao), this is called the imperceptible web, and is the ruler's treasure.
Local spies are the enemy's own countrymen in our employ.
Inside agents are enemy officials we employ.
Double agents are enemy spies who report to our side.
Expendable spies are our own agents who obtain false information we have deliberately leaked to them, and who then pass it on to the enemy spies.
Unexpendable spies are those who return from the enmy camp to report.
Thus, of those close to the army command, no one should have more direct access than spies, no one should be more liberally rewarded than spies, and no matters should be held in greater secrecy than those concerning spies.
Only the most sagacious ruler is able to employ spies; only the most humane and just commander is able to put them into service; only the most sensitive and aert person can get the truth out of spies.
So delicate! So secretive! There is nowhere that you cannot put spies to good use. Where a matter of espionage has been divulged prematurely, both the spy and all those he told should be put to death.
In general terms, whether it is armies we want to attack, walled cities we want to besiege, or persons we want to assassinate, it is necessary to first know the identities of the defending commander, his retainers, counsellors, gate officers, and sentries. We must direct our agents to find a way to secure this information for us.
It is necessary to find out who the enemy has sent as agents to spy on us. If we take care of them (yin) with generous bribes, win them over and send them back, they can thus be brought into our employ as double agents. On the basis of what we learn from (yin) these double agents, we can recruit and employ local and inside spies. Also, from (yin) this information we will know what false information to feed our expendable spies to pass on to the enemy. Moreover, on what we know from (yin) this same source, our unexpendable spies can complete their assignments according to schedule. The ruler must have full knowledge of the covert operations of these five kinds of spies. And since the key to all intelligence is the double agent, this operative must be treated with the utmost generosity.
Of old the rise of the Yin (Shang) dynasty was because of Yi Yin who served the house of Hsia; the rise of the Chou dynasty was because of Lü Ya who served in the house of Shang. Thus only those farsighted rulers and their superior commanders who can get the most intelligent people as their spies are destined to accomplish great things. Intelligence is of the essence in warfare - it is what the armies depend upon in their every move.