The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA by Melvin A. Goodman
In the Common Defense: National Security Law for Perilous Times by James E. Baker
Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing by Tim Shorrock
Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century by Philip Bobbitt
Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali
Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Defense Disasters by Richard A. Clarke
The History of Information Security: A Comprehensive Handbook by Karl de Leeuw and Jan Bergstra (eds.)
Declassified: 50 Top-Secret Documents that Changed History by Thomas B. Allen
Exploring Intelligence Archives: Enquiries into the Secret State by R. Gerald Hughes, Peter Jackson, and Len Scott
The Final Dive: The Life and Death of “Buster” Crabb by Don Hale
The King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans Who Fought for Britain in the Second World War by Helen Fry
One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs
The Real Enigma Heroes by Phil Shanahan
The Spy Within: Larry Chin and China’s Penetration of the CIA by Tod Hoffman
YEZHOV: The Rise of Stalin’s “Iron Fist,” by J. Arch Getty and Oleg Naumov
SMOKESCREEN: Canadian Security Intelligence after September 11, 2001 by J. Michael Cole
James E. Baker, In the Common Defense: National Security Law for Perilous Times (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 404 pp., endnotes, attachments, index.
The central theme of this book is that threats to the national security of the United States can and must be dealt with according to the rule of law if basic freedoms and liberties are to be protected. Author James Baker, a former legal adviser to the president, law professor, and judge, writes that “this book explains why and how the good faith application of law results in better security...and how national security law and process can improve national security.” (1–2) But he offers few specifics: in explaining “why,” he goes little beyond the implied maxim “obey the law”; With respect to “how,” he is silent beyond making the point that a lawyer’s guidance should be sought and considered before all major decisions are made.
In The Common Defense does provide a perspective on the lawyer’s role in national security. The first four of its 10 chapters describe the nature of the post-9/11 threats, the meaning of national security and national security law, and the constitutional framework that guides its application. Subsequent chapters examine the national security process, the use of military force and laws that influence the executive branch decisionmaking in these areas. Of particular concern to intelligence professionals, are the chapters on electronic surveillance, intelligence, and homeland security.
Judge Baker reviews the historical background of these topics from the American revolutionary period to the present. And while his characterization of Benjamin Franklin as “perhaps America’s greatest intelligence officer” (71) is questionable at best, he is on firmer ground discussing presidential departures from the law. He pays particular attention to wiretapping and surveillance. Departures in this area, he contends, have been corrected by judicial decisions restoring the rule of law. In this regard he pays special attention to the president’s authority for warrantless electronic surveillance and presents a detailed analysis from both sides. He also reviews the statutes that address intelligence (127) as they are applied to each of the basic functions of intelligence. Congressional oversight is included for good measure. Turning to homeland security, he examines the domestic threat, the complex structures and functions involved, the distribution of authority, and especially legal issues since 9/11.
Two general points are worth noting. First he argues that “lawyers are also essential role players in sustaining the process of intelligence…and not just speed bumps on the road to decision or used to clean up after the fact.” (174–75) Second, he stresses that while lawyers and the “law can facilitate response…homeland security, like intelligence, ultimately depends on the human factor—leadership and the moral courage to face hard tasks and make hard choices.” (306)
In The Common Defense concludes with a chapter titled “The National Security Lawyer,” which provides guidelines for the roles an attorney must be able to play. To illustrate the challenges, Judge Baker uses a hypothetical case involving the need for a decision by the attorney general on a program for which he has not been cleared. The judge suggests how the problem can be resolved without sacrificing basic principles. What the book does not address is what to do when an operational situation is not covered by existing law.
Nevertheless, In The Common Defense is a valuable resource for better understanding of the rule of law and the pervasive role lawyers play in the national security process.
Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 672 pp., endnotes, annotated bibliography, photo, index.
The reign of Justinian, the only Roman emperor never to visit Rome, was distinguished by his conversion to Christianity and the outbreak of the bubonic plague. At the time, the former explained the latter as sinners’ justice. But the real cause of the plague remained unknown, and society endured periodic outbreaks of the Black Death until the 19th century. Philip Bobbitt suggests an analogous situation with contemporary society’s view of terrorism—one can see evidence of its existence, doesn’t understand why it occurs, but knows that current methods of eliminating the threat won’t work. Terror and Consent tries to clarify the issue.
Bobbitt describes a solution that takes into account the major geopolitical and economic changes occurring, in part because of globalization, while stipulating that the “ways of thinking that brought us success in the past…are ill-suited to the future.” (5) Unlike the IRA or PLO, which sought to replace one nation state or government with another, the al-Qaeda Bobbitt describes wants to eliminate the entire non-Muslim population of the world, use the nonbelievers’ technology—WMD—to do it, and create a state of terror to replace consent-based states. How can this be prevented? Bobbitt defines new political and economic concepts—the market state, states of consent, wars on terror—to develop his complex theories. Critical to their success is yet-to-be developed strategic doctrine—though he proposes alternatives—the rule of law, and the knowledge necessary to preclude, not just punish, terrorist acts. This means a change in the definition of winning—preclusion, as in an anti-virus program. (213)
In a chapter devoted to intelligence, information, and knowledge, Bobbitt develops the idea that recent failures are better explained as “a miscarriage of the intelligence process.” (289) It is essential, he argues, that steps be taken to provide intelligence that precludes a state of terror—“by arresting a would-be terrorist who has yet to commit a crime [or] by preempting the state that has yet to complete its acquisition of WMD.” Success in these endeavors “depends on estimates about the future.” (291) Strategies that brought victory in the past will no longer do the job. He argues for new relationships between foreign and domestic collection to remove constraints on data sharing; new techniques such as data mining and less restrictive surveillance; an end to the “obsessive focus on warrants,” for which he cites several precedents; and greater reliance on civilian experts, despite the outsourcing implications. It follows from this that new laws will be needed. He makes several proposals intended to speed implementation. (417ff)
Bobbitt’s ideas in these areas are not entirely his own. He cites several forward looking analysts—Gregory Treverton at Rand, and Carmen Medina and Woodrow Kuhns at CIA—who stress that analysts must stop explaining only what has happened and concentrate on scenarios that examine what is likely to happen, using all available expertise in the process even though this “points the way to increased outsourcing of analysis.” (329) He does not advocate blanket outsourcing, however: “rendition…outsources our crimes and puts us at the mercy of anyone who can expose us.” (388)
In sum, with regard to intelligence, Bobbitt concludes that reform should deal with an intelligence process that gives authority with responsibility. As concerns the law, he argues it is necessary to “work out what a state is permitted to do in its search for terrorists and its efforts to suppress them.” (530) Terror and Consent deals head-on with what Bobbitt sees as the new terrorism of the 21st century and what must be done to keep it from succeeding. It is not light reading, but it is very much worth the effort.
Richard A. Clarke, Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Defense Disasters (New York: HarperCollins, 2008), 408 pp., endnotes, index.
The primary title of this book is Richard Clarke’s most memorable statement to the 9/11 Commission. The narrative is an elaboration of just what he meant. Clarke’s impressive 30-year career in government gives him a perspective that journalists and academics can never achieve and thus should be carefully considered. He takes a realistic approach as he examines US failures in war, terrorism, homeland security, cyberspace, and energy. In a key chapter titled “Can We Reduce Intelligence Failures?” he reviews, all the intelligence failures he can identify since the end of WW II. To make the point that these are not his judgments alone, he cites a number of recent books that have addressed the subject from various viewpoints, with special attention to Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes. But he does one thing that the others do not: he makes specific suggestions for correcting problems and that is why the book is worth reading.
But his recommendations are not detailed fixes; they are suggestions providing no specifics on how the changes can be implemented. For example, as one of his 12 suggestions for improving intelligence he asserts that the DNI needs “to control all the US intelligence agencies and their budgets…and to rationalize their roles and missions.” (150–51) He does not address just how this is to be done. With regard to homeland security, he suggests “maintaining an active and positive outreach program to the US Muslim community” and the creation of “an active Civil Liberties and Privacy Rights Commission” to overcome suspicion about domestic security programs. As for cyberspace, he recommends that all federal networks be encrypted, that computer networks employ two-factor authentication systems, and that IT security research be increased. On the topic of outsourcing he hints at, but does not endorse, an interesting solution: pay intelligence officers operating under nonofficial cover $250,000 per year and allow them to retire on full pension at age 40. (109, 122ff) When it comes to international relationships, he suggests acting “boldly to reestablish our moral leadership, respect for international law, and support for human rights.” (356)
Whether or not one accepts Clarke’s suggestions, he has clearly articulated his view of the problems. It only remains for those still in government to decide if he has it right and then take corrective action.
Melvin A. Goodman, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008), 393 pp., endnotes, index.
The 1974 publication of The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence[i] set a precedent that some former CIA officers have elected to follow. The results include sour outpourings of career disgruntlement and undocumented claims of wrongdoing,[ii] malicious exposés of ongoing operations,[iii] and critical reviews of inadequacies an author argues should be put right. Failure of Intelligence is mostly the latter. The litany of so-called failures Goodman lists is not new, and he is candid that his criticisms are based on his experience as a CIA analyst and his assignments in the intelligence community, which he left more than a decade ago. Unlike some other critical authors, Goodman notes successes (chapter three) and offers ideas for correcting matters (chapter 13).
The principal issues covered in Failure of Intelligence include CIA “crimes”—covert action, rendition, lack of oversight, torture—9/11 and the terrorist threat, the Iraq War, and the politicization of intelligence. The last topic pops up throughout but is extensively covered in chapters five and six. While each director since Helms gets some notice, Goodman allocates most of his attention to Bob Gates—with whom he admits intense disagreement—and to the elements that served under him, especially in the analysis of the Soviet Union. Beyond charging politicization of official estimates, Goodman asserts that intelligence conferences and research studies sponsored by the Center for the Study of Intelligence were configured to “demonstrate that the ‘CIA got it right.’” (154–55) Although he includes many quotes, these charges are not sourced and neither are his claims that the Agency “provided carefully selected materials to former consultants” so they could write reports supporting Agency views. Curiously, he does not cite articles that disagree with this view.[iv]
Chapter 12, “DCIs and the Decline and Fall of the CIA,” covers only DCIs from Casey to Goss, with an addendum from 2006 to the present. He compares this group with their predecessors and finds them wanting. These are judgment calls, but coming from an insider, they should be carefully considered.
The final chapter summarizes what needs to be done—presumably to stop and reverse the “fall”—with emphasis on the “what,” the “how” is ignored. Most suggestions are familiar—tell truth to power, reform clandestine operations and covert action, improve oversight, etc. But one is new: “demilitarize the intelligence community.” (331–34) Goodman sees this as a redistribution of power, but he does not suggest how it might be accomplished in the face of certain opposition from the Pentagon.
If the reader is not fooled by outrageous, undocumentable charges—NSA “broke the fourth amendment” and the director of CIA “actively lobbied on the Hill to permit CIA interrogators to torture and abuse suspects” (326)—and is willing to make the effort, Failure of Intelligence presents a good summary of the problems facing the CIA and the Intelligence Community today, though that may have been an unintended consequence.
Darius Rejali, Torture and Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 849 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, index.
As was customary at the time, Lord Burghley, adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, instructed the lieutenant of the Tower of London to ask the prisoner “for the alphabet of the cipher and if he shall refuse…put him on the rack.”[v] Used properly, the rake would leave the subject with “few marks” and this qualifies “the rack” as one of the many “clean techniques” that are addressed in Torture and Democracy. (4–5) Author Darius Rejali, described on the fly leaf as “one of the world’s leading experts on torture”—presumably its history not its practice—offers “discrete, disciplined histories of each clean torture [technique] used...in the main democracies...[where] they seem to go hand in hand.” (6, 8) His definition of democracies is broad and includes Russia, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Vietnam, China, Iran, and North Korea. There are 17 chapters, nearly 400 pages, on the techniques alone—techniques, he suggests, that do not arouse sufficient public outrage because they leave few traces. Chapter 21 asks “Does Torture Work?” and gives evidence that it produces “systematically and unavoidably corrupt information” (469) but not in all cases. He acknowledges that his research “does not prove that torture never works to produce accurate information…. [It does] establish the specific conditions where torture may work better than other ways of gathering intelligence.” (478)
In a chapter with the curious title, “What the Apologists Say,” Rejali cites the Battle of Algiers (1956) as an example in which “professional torturers…produced consistently reliable information in a short time” and goes into detail to explain their methods. (480) He even quotes “journalist Ed Behr, no apologist for torture, …that it had an indispensable role in the battle.” (487) After discussing several other countries where torture had mixed results, he addresses its supposed use by the CIA. “According to CIA sources,” which he does not cite, “fourteen CIA operatives [were] trained in six authorized techniques” (500), which he mentions, though he adds that he thinks more were authorized. In fairness, he goes on to quote one former Agency officer who expressed objections to torture. (502) He then discusses the cases of several al-Qaeda members and the situations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, arguing that what some claimed as successes were in fact “persistent failures” (508) and that the CIA limits on “enhanced interrogations...are almost identical to those imposed by the Gestapo.” (503) In the end, he suggests, there is more to the American story associated with renditions that will surface in the future. In an appendix he cites sources that tell of American and Vietnamese torture in Vietnam.
Torture and Democracy doesn’t radiate scholarly objectivity but doesn’t conclude with an outright condemnation either. What it does do is provide a decent summary of this controversial issue.
Tim Shorrock, Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 439 pp., endnotes, index.
Outsourcing is a real problem for author Tim Shorrock. It is not justified when Congress cuts the intelligence budget and the executive branch simultaneously increases the requirements. Nor is it acceptable during an emergency when new employees are authorized but not yet experienced. Since 9/11, Shorrock argues, outsourcing has created an “intelligence-industrial-complex” that consumes 70 percent of the intelligence budget and places national security in the hands of profit-making corporations rather than the elected representatives of the public. Even worse, contractors are now performing tasks that should be assigned only to federal employees, an issue, as Jeff Stein points out in his review of the book, that even some intelligence officers find intolerable.[vi] Furthermore, he argues, this situation has created a revolving door for personnel who leave government intelligence agencies and join corporate contractors and those who do just the opposite. Spies For Hire attacks several contractors supplying intelligence services—including the Disney Corporation for its work with the National Counterterrorism Center—and their evil profiteering. In his final chapter, “Conclusion: Ideology, Oversight, and the Costs of Secrecy,” Shorrock does not mention ideology, never explains how oversight will help, and what the costs of secrecy contribute to the problem or the solution. And he does not even mention the one solution that would solve the dilemma: sufficient positions at competitive salaries. Outsourcing may be as damaging as Shorrock contends, but he fails to make the case or provide a satisfactory alternative. Perhaps he could use some outside help.
Karl de Leeuw & Jan Bergstra (eds.), The History of Information Security: A Comprehensive Handbook (Boston: Elsevier, 2007), 887 pp., end of chapter notes, photos, author index, subject index.
A handbook, according to Webster, is a ready reference intended to be carried at all times. At 5 pounds and 8 by 10 inches, The History of Information Security requires a backpack. It more nearly qualifies as a reference work. Editors Karl de Leeuw and Jan Bergstra, from the Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam, have assembled 29 contributions from Europe and the United States, in six parts, that provide a far-reaching view of information security from the time that counterfeiting was a hanging offense in England (199) to the contemporary concerns with identity management, where penalties are less severe but professionally costly. The nine chapters on communication security range from the rise of cryptology during the Renaissance and the early use of postal interception for espionage purposes to examples in modern cryptology. In between is a new study of NSA, with 291 references, that discusses its role in the Cold War. There is a similarly stimulating analysis of KGB Cold War eavesdropping operations that is based mainly on Russian sources. The six contributions on computer security cover the history of this relatively new field, as well as mathematical modeling and standards. Of particular interest to the nonspecialist is the article on cybercrime that discusses the threats from viruses, worms, malware and the like. There are three contributions on privacy issues that deal with the conflicts arising from the need for secure personal, government, and corporate applications. The final article concerns information warfare, how it has changed since the telegraph was invented, the significance of cyberspace, and critical infrastructure protection issues that must be confronted.
Information security is part of modern daily existence—personal, corporate, and government. This work provides well-documented historical background and an astute assessment of the role information security will play in today’s society.
Thomas B. Allen, Declassified: 50 Top-Secret Documents That Changed History (Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2008), 320 pp., source photos, bibliography, index.
In a variation of the theme used in Exploring Intelligence Archives (see below), Thomas Allen has selected 50 intelligence documents that had an impact on history. They are introduced by former CIA officer Peter Earnest, now executive director of the International Spy Museum. Each of the seven thematic chapters—“Secrets of War,” “Double Agents,” “Counterintelligence,” “Bodyguard of Lies,” “Espionage Accidents,” “Defense of the Realm,” and “The Secret State”—is preceded by a short essay. The first case is of a letter from one of Sir Francis Walsingham’s agents apprising him of Spanish plans to invade England—the Spanish Armada. Its timely receipt allowed the Royal Navy time to plan for the attack. Another example is a copy of the encrypted letter sent by Benjamin Church to his British handler that was intercepted and decrypted by Washington’s cryptographers. Other instances discuss documents in the Walker, Ames, and Pollard cases. Not every case involves a document. The exception is the hollow nickel that contributed to the demise of KGB Colonel Rudolf Abel. One of the seldom seen documents, famous in its day, is the memorandum— “Le Bordereau”—that helped send Alfred Dreyfus to Devil’s Island. Of current interest is a letter from President Roosevelt to the attorney general acknowledging the Supreme Court’s ruling that wiretap evidence cannot be used in court without a warrant, and then authorizing wiretapping in cases of national security. Some details should be corrected in the second edition: Whittaker Chambers was never mentioned in VENONA, and the original form of the VENONA decrypts was paper obtained from Western Union, not radio intercepts. Allen has assembled an interesting collection of documentary material that shows the importance of espionage in history. It is an original, valuable, and informative book.
Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 426 pp., endnotes, photos, index.
The general circumstances of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 are familiar to those who lived through it as well as to students of history, intelligence, and international relations. And many, if not most, have subscribed to the view that there was a genuine possibility, though a low probability, of nuclear war, even after the Soviets admitted 30 years later that they had in fact placed nuclear weapons in Cuba.[vii] As Max Frankel concluded in High Noon in the Cold War, neither Khrushchev nor Kennedy would have let it happen—close but not too close.[viii]One Minute to Midnight argues that the gap was much narrower than perceived at the time by the public and by historians since. Author Michael Dobbs writes that the two leaders, challenged by their military commanders, came close to not having the final word. This is just one of the new facts Dobbs reveals.
Dobbs tells the tale chronologically from the viewpoints of both the antagonists. The first six chapters cover events from 22 to 26 October. The balance of the book is devoted to 27 October—Black Saturday—and 28 October when the crisis ended. He is able to do this because of new materials—tape recordings, photos, maps, memoirs—he discovered in US and Russian archives, and because he was able to interview more than 100 participants from both sides and of many ranks who had not told their stories previously.
One startling fact he uncovered was that the photo-interpreters at the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) had actually looked at images of the nuclear weapons storage area in Cuba without knowing it. The photointerpreters were looking for familiar signatures and didn’t find them because of a chance diversion of the ships carrying the weapons led to their temporary storage at an old Cuban artillery post. Their location was not discovered, and they were later moved and readied to attack the naval base at Guantánamo.
Dobb’s re-creation of the events of Black Saturday are particularly interesting for style and content. He tells of an unintentional U-2 overflight of the Soviet Union on that day and the president’s reaction when he was told. He debunks several myths of the crisis, the best known being the circumstances surrounding Dean Rusk’s “eyeball to eyeball” comment. A less known but interesting variation concerns the efforts of journalist John Scali and his meetings with Soviet official Alexander Feklisov to try and establish a basis for resolving the crisis. The State Department and Scali thought that is what was happening, but Dobbs, using his Russian sources, concludes that it did nothing of the sort. (166–68)
Perhaps the best part of the book is the chronological depiction of tension and frustration—leadership meetings on both sides were spirited and not always orderly. There were no simple answers, always competing alternatives reflecting personal and organizational agendas, and no way to tell which was best. Murphy’s law kicked in as well—things kept going wrong, and the military clamored for an invasion. And yet the two leaders managed to control things. Dobbs makes clear the Cuban Missile Crisis was not the singular victory for JFK that the media suggested at the time and that sympathetic historians have maintained since. Kennedy made secret bargains that gave Khrushchev much of what he asked for. At times it is hard to understand why one side or the other did not succumb to its military’s recommendations. For those who did not live through the crisis, One Minute to Midnight gives a balanced, detailed, sensitive account that is great reading.
Helen Fry, The King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans Who Fought for Britain in the Second World War (Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2007) 240 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
During the 1930s nearly 10,000 anti-Nazi Germans and Austrians—mostly Jewish— fled to Great Britain. When the war began, 4,000 volunteered for service, swore allegiance to the King, and were initially placed in a Pioneer Corps—with men mostly digging ditches and women doing domestic duties. Beginning in 1942, some were accepted into combat units, and about 100 joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the Army Intelligence Corps, and MI6. The King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens tells the story of these volunteers who served as POW interrogators and also in operations behind enemy lines. After the war, several thousand were inducted into the Intelligence Corps and sent to Germany to interrogate war crime suspects. Helen Fry has documented for history a heretofore little known contribution to intelligence in WW II.[ix]
J. Arch Getty and Oleg Naumov, YEZHOV: The Rise of Stalin’s “Iron Fist” (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 283 pp., endnotes. photos, index.
Nikolai Yezhov, head of the NKVD from 1936 to 1938, was the avatar of administrative annihilation—the Great Terror. He arranged for the execution of some 3,000 NKVD officers and more than 200,000 party members, staged the Moscow show trials, purged the Army high command, and sent millions to labor camps. Yet, Getty and Naumov barely mention these achievements; they focus on how Yezhov attained and then lost power under Stalin. A Bolshevik from the start and described by colleagues as friendly and pleasant, Yezhov gained recognition as a party secretary who mastered administrative personnel procedures and sent articulate reports to Moscow on time. He eventually maneuvered to win acceptance to the Communist Academy in Moscow and never left that center of power. In 1934, he supervised the investigation of the Kirov assassination and “demonstrated his willingness to relentlessly pursue any hint of disloyalty.” In 1935, Stalin made him a member of the Central Committee. The following year Stalin announced that Yezhov was replacing the unpopular Genrikh Yagoda as head of the NKVD—”surely things would go smoothly with Yezhov at the helm.” (205) And they did—for Yezhov—until his arrest, without any public announcement, in late 1938 after one of his assistants defected in Japan. At his closed trial Yezhov renounced a confession, was shot, and never again mentioned officially in Stalin’s lifetime.
In this well-documented account, from Soviet archival sources, Getty and Naumov fill in gaps about this fanatical executioner’s early life, but they leave half the story untold. Perhaps another volume is forthcoming.
Don Hale, The Final Dive: The Life and Death of “Buster” Crabb (Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2007), 260 pp., note on sources, photos, index.
In 1956, expert diver Lionel “Buster” Crabb, made two dives under the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze but only surfaced once. One year later, a headless body was found in a diving suit like Crabb’s. It was buried with Crabb’s name on the tombstone. Four years later journalist Bernard Hutton claimed in his book Frogman Extraordinary[x] that Crabb was alive and serving in the Soviet Navy. The book included a photo of a man identified as Crabb. Some family members believed Hutton’s story, few others did. A 1990 book, Frogman Spy,[xi] reported new but inconclusive evidence that Crabb had survived, served the Soviets, and died in a Czech nursing home. The Final Dive goes over it all again and adds much new detail about Crabb’s family, his links to MI5, the Cambridge Five, Ian Fleming, and Lord Mountbatten. The author interviewed Crabb’s family members and some of his former colleagues, had access to letters and diaries, and claims to have found references to Crabb in the National Archives in Britain and the United States. But he does not provide any source notes, and he neglects the firsthand assessment of Nicholas Elliott, the MI6 officer in charge of the operation.[xii] In the process, Hale adds clumsy errors that detract from his analysis. For example, Anthony Blunt did not head the Cambridge Five (229) and Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, was not Philby’s Abwehr contact (85). Donald Maclean did not work for MI5 (85), and Burgess joined Philby in America in 1950, not 1944.
While Hale ignores the claims of Crabb’s death in Czechoslovakia, The Final Dive is otherwise a comprehensive picture of what is known and alleged. But it is not easy to tell the difference. In the end he admits to only one certainty—the fate of Lionel Crabb remains a mystery.
Tod Hoffman, The Spy Within: Larry Chin and China’s Penetration of the CIA (Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press, 2008), 302 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.
The People’s Republic of China often conducts espionage by relying on large numbers of people, each producing relatively small amounts of intelligence. The case of Larry Chin followed a more traditional path. Canadian journalist Tod Hoffman explains how Chin was recruited before being hired by the CIA and spied for 30 years before retiring with a medal and a pension. He was caught in 1981, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 133 years in prison. Although most of these facts were made public in 1985, Hoffman adds much new detail concerning Chin’s background, how he was detected, how he came to confess, and why he committed suicide. That Hoffman was able to accomplish this is due to the availability of court records and the cooperation of the FBI special agents, whom he identifies, who worked the case.
The most interesting aspects of the case concern the details of his recruitment by the Chinese, how he was detected, and how he came to confess. As to his discovery, a CIA agent in the Chinese Ministry of Security indicated to his case officer that a Chinese penetration had taken place somewhere in the US Intelligence Community. As required by law, the FBI was alerted. Hoffman describes the lengthy investigation that ensued and how Larry Chin, by then retired, came under suspicion. The FBI learned that Chin had a complex personal life that he managed to conceal from the CIA. He passed his polygraph examination, and no one suspected his years of espionage or his affection for women and gambling. Motivated more by self-interest than a belief in communism, he hid his illegal earnings and lived modestly. By checking his finances and interviewing former colleagues, the FBI gradually uncovered the truth. When convinced Chin was the right man, bureau agents devised a clever scenario to elicit his confession.
The Spy Within is a well-told story about a spy who beat the security system and couldn’t resist telling the FBI how he did it.
R. Gerald Hughes, Peter Jackson, and Len Scott (eds.), Exploring Intelligence Archives: Enquiries into the Secret State (New York: Routledge, 2008), 332 pp., end of chapter notes, photos, index.
The choice of adjective—splendid, super, neat, cool—to describe Exploring Intelligence Archives might identify a reviewer’s generation, but it will not change the evaluation of the quality of this singular work of historiography. Exploring Intelligence Archives challenges the assumption “that the real story behind policy-making is usually either hidden or excised from the historical record.” (8) Seldom does the documentary record speak for itself, and the authors have applied a clever method to assess what documents really tells us, whether the message is deceptive, and the extent to which it has been interpreted accurately by historians and journalists.
Various scholars examine 11 cases in this work. In each case, one provides background and an overview of essential details, which is followed by reproductions of a document or documents in question. Then comes one or more analyses of their content. Oleg Penkovskiy’s contribution is a case in point. Former CIA officer Charles Cogan asks whether Penkovskiy was “the spy who saved the world” as claimed by Jerrold Schecter and Peter Deriabin in a book of the same name.[xiii] Cogan concludes that the claim was an exaggeration since Penkovskiy made no real-time contribution to the Cuban Missile Crisis, although the manuals he provided were a confirming factor—along with aerial photography—in the conclusion that offensive missiles were present in Cuba. Len Scott analyzes two other documents, one to assess Penkovskiy’s bona fides, concluding that he probably was genuine. The second document, based on Penkovskiy’s first debriefing in London, challenged the conventional wisdom that the Soviets had in fact not deployed nuclear weapons outside Soviet territory. In this case he was correct, but Scott points out that the official US view was not changed until further evidence was acquired.
The other cases include French military intelligence and its response to German remilitarization of the Rhineland, the creation of the British XX committee that ran the Double Cross Operation against Germany during WW II, developments in Europe in 1946, the interrogation of Klaus Fuchs, the KGB view of CIA and other Western espionage against the Soviet bloc, and the Butler Report, the study of British intelligence prior to the Iraq War.
Exploring Intelligence Archives is a fine contribution to the study of intelligence and its role in foreign policy.
Phil Shanahan, The Real Enigma Heroes (Gloucestershire, UK: Tempus Publishing, 2008), 223 pp., bibliography, photos, index.
The movie U-571 depicted the capture by US sailors of a German U-boat and the Enigma codes it was carrying. These enabled code breakers to read German messages and intercept their U-boats at sea. The movie did well at the box office, but in Britain it caused a furor because the feat had been performed by the Royal Navy, not Americans. The movie makers knew this too, and The Real Enigma Heroes tells of unsuccessful attempts made while the movie was in production to get mention of the truth in the credits. The producers refused because they said they had changed so many of the details, including the location, the U-boat designation—the real sub was U-559—and the fact that their fictional sub hadn’t sunk, as U-559 did in reality, taking with it two Royal Navy sailors as they transferred Enigma documents up and out of its communications room. Shanahan documents the story with first hand accounts, official records, biographical data, and photos of the crew. Considerable space is also devoted to the memorial association formed to remember the event. The Real Enigma Heroes corrects the historical record.
J. Michael Cole, SMOKESCREEN: Canadian Security Intelligence after September 11, 2001 (Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2008), 164 pp., endnotes, no index.
Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) analyst Michael Cole felt an “urgency in writing this book” that was “exacerbated by the increasing signals in 2007 that the United States was readying itself to wage war against Iran.” (xiv) This confession of analytic prowess, gained after 29 months of service “amid the dullness and the ugliness that an intelligence officer deals with on a daily basis,” (xv)—service he found boring—sets the tone of SMOKESCREEN. It is a critical chronicle that runs from his deficient training—”death by PowerPoint”—to his strategic world view—that America, not al-Qaeda, has made the world a more dangerous place after 9/11. In between he complains about CSIS tolerance of incompetence, ingrained institutional racism, the high value placed on “spineless intelligence officers” (70), and the lack of a foreign intelligence collection mission. He also finds that the “need-to-know-principle” is self-defeating and that there is a need for more oversight (undefined). He concludes that the “US intelligence Community remains a mess.” The corrective, he suggests, citing some wisdom found in “The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf” (92), is with people not organizations, though he is not optimistic of success. Nevertheless, in chapter six, “Fixing the System,” Cole presents pages of recommendations for improvement. There is nothing profound or unexpected there, just common sense. But nowhere in his book does Cole address a key issue: why he wasn’t willing or able to stay and help correct the deficiencies. Instead he moved to Taiwan.
[i]Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (Alfred A. Knopf, 1974).
[ii]John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story (Preprinted by Replica Books, 1997)
[iii]Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary (Stonehill, 1975)
[iv]Bruce D. Berkowitz and Jeffrey T. Richelson, “CIA
Vindicated: The Soviet Collapse Was Predicted,” The National Interest,
Fall 1995: 35–46. See also Douglas MacEachin, CIA Assessments of the Soviet
Union: The Record Versus the Charges on line at
[v]Alan Haynes, Invisible Power: The Elizabethan Secret Services 1570-1603 (Alan Sutton Publishing, 1992), 52.
[vi]Jeff Stein, “Rent-A-Spy,” The Congressional Quarterly, 1 June 2008.
[vii]For details see: General Anatoli I. Gribkov and General William Y. Smith, Operation ANADYR: U.S. and Soviet Generals Recount the Cuban Missile Crisis (Chicago: Edition q, inc., 1994).
[viii]Max Frankel, High Noon in the Cold War: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Cuban Missile Crisis (Presidio Press, 2004)
[ix]See in this issue Stephen Mercado’s review of Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II.
[x]Bernard Hutton, Frogman Extraordinary: The Incredible Case of Commander Crabb (McDowell, Obolensky, 1960)
[xi]Michael G. and Jacqui Welham, Frogman Spy: The Mysterious Disappearance of Commander Buster Crabb (London: W. H. Allen, 1990).
[xii]Nicholas Elliott, With My Little Eye (London: Michael Russell, 1993), 23–7.
[xiii]Jerrold Schecter and Peter Deriabin, The Spy Who Saved the World (Brassey’s Inc, 1995).
All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.