Consular Operations in Robert Ludlum’s books

When reading “Bourne Identity”, closer to the end of the book an agency called Consular Operations is introduced. Since I had never heard of such thing, I’ve searched, and discovered that it is likely fictional: “consular operations” as a phrase is relatively common terminology amidst diplomatic/foreign relations types, but no such agency appear to exist within or without U.S. Department of State. During my search I have also found that the agency appears more prominently throughout Ludlum’s works, such as in “Janson Directive” (soon to be a major motion picture).

Even if it is fictional, what could be Ludlum’s inspiration for such an agency? Are there historical examples of U.S. or other countries’ foreign ministries running their own undercover intelligence or special operations, and not merely providing diplomatic cover for their respective intelligence and CI agencies, such as CIA, GRU, MI-6 etc.?

As a side question, while looking it up I’ve discovered that Shadowrun role-playing universe also has Consular Operations agency. Given that Shadowrun was introduced in 1989, at the height of Ludlum’s fame, is it fair to say that it is a direct reference, or merely a coincidence?

Maybe this is a reflection of the by now well-known fact that the UK secret intelligence service used “Passport Control Officer” as a cover for its agents, in the pre-World War II era. According to Wikipedia

In August 1919, Cumming created the new passport control department, providing diplomatic cover for agents abroad. The post of Passport Control Officer provided operatives with diplomatic immunity.

(Cumming was “C”, the real-world equivalent of “M”.)

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