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In Salt (2010), why does Orlov claim that Salt is a Russian spy during his interrogation by the CIA?

  1. It damages the cover of if not dooms entirely a valuable asset (which Orlov calls "my greatest creation").

  2. The assigned assassination of the Russian president becomes 10x harder. Salt comes literally inches away from being stopped multiple times (even being grazed by a bullet).

  3. The explanation of the KA program increases the risk of other agents being exposed.

  4. The testimony provides evidence that the assassination was in fact not US-sponsored, as the Russian spies would have the world believe.

  5. If Orlov needed to give her information (assignment, hostage husband, etc.), it could have been done somewhere else than CIA facilities.

This seemingly goes against every one of Orlov's operating motives.

So why did Orlov want the CIA to suspect Salt was a Russian spy?

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I'll start out by saying that you are correct on certain points. Orlov unnecessarily complicated things, but the movie needed tension and action and they chose to create it by means of plot holes and bad character decisions.

So why did Orlov want the CIA to suspect Salt was a Russian spy?
When Salt was rescued by Mike and they became a couple, that was not in Orlovs plan.
For the KA program to work, she was never meant to care for someone unless it was deemed necessary to make the plan succeed. Mike however was a liability.

So Orlov questioned her loyalty, but he didn't question her skill.
By outing her so openly to the CIA, he 'burned her bridges' to make sure that:

  • she had to prove her devotion to the KA program
  • she would not have a way to back out
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