Intelligence in Public Media

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

Need To Know: Eastern and Western Perspectives, edited by Wladysław Bułhak and Thomas Wegener Friis

Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis, by Richards J. Heuer, Jr., and Randolph H. Pherson

Dictionary of Espionage and Intelligence: Over 800 Phrases Used in International and Covert Espionage, by Bob Burton

Intelligence: From Secrecy to Policy, by Mark Lowenthal

The Secret Agent’s Bedside Reader: A Compendium of Spy Writing, edited by Michael Smith

Stories From Langley: A Glimpse Inside the CIA, edited by Edward Mickolus

Donald and Melinda Maclean: Idealism and Espionage, by Michael Holzman

Double Cross in Cairo: The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East, by Nigel West

The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the CIA, by Richard H. Immerman

Hugh Trevor-Roper—The Secret World: Behind the Curtain of British Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War, edited by Edward Harrison

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, by William Blum

Kim Philby: Our Man In Moscow—The Life of a Cold War Master Spy, by Christian Shakespeare

Operation Crossbow: The Untold Story of Photographic Intelligence and the Search for Hitler’s V Weapons, by Allan Williams

Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA’s First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain, by Albert Lulushi

Poland’s War on Radio Free Europe: 1950–1989, by Paweł Machcewicz

Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas, by Donald P. Gregg

A Spy’s Son: The True Story of the Highest Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia, by Bryan Denson

Stalin’s Agent: The Life & Death of Alexander Orlov, by Boris Volodarsky

Need To Know: Eastern and Western Perspectives, edited by Wladysław Bułhak and Thomas Wegener Friis (University Press of Southern Denmark, 2014), 283 pp., footnotes, index.

“Are Intelligence Studies a dirty business?”[1] (7) In their studies of Cold War intelligence, the editors of Need To Know were asked this question by scholars from Central European nations. The mere asking, they concluded, suggested there was inadequate knowledge of the topic in general, and in particular, the Anglo-American tradition of intelligence studies where the value of intelligence has long been recognized. Thus they sought greater interaction among the researchers in East and West. Toward this end, a series of “Need To Know” conferences have been sponsored by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) and the University of Southern Denmark (USD). The 14 well documented papers from the first conference presented intelligence research “coming out of Central Europe” (11) and are contained in Need To Know.

For many Western readers and scholars, the authors—all academics—and their topics will be at once unfamiliar and enlightening. For example, Helmut Müller-Enbergs asks, “How Successful was the Stasi in the West After All?” Kimmo Elo looks at “East German HUMINT Networks on Nordic Affairs” and Douglas Selvage discusses “Soviet-Bloc Active Measures and the Helsinki Process, 1976–1983.” Jacek Tebinka analyzes “Intelligence in Anglo-Polish Relations,” and Sławomir Łukasiewicz reports on “Polish Communists’ Intelligence against European Institutions during the Cold War.” Czech scholar Matej Medvecký reviews “Czechoslovak Foreign Intelligence Service and Great Britain at the Beginning of the Cold War,” and Kurt Jensen and Don Muton analyze the “Early Years of the Canada-United States Foreign Intelligence Relationship.” Terrorism was also of interest to the Soviet bloc nations, and Przemysław Gasztold-Seń’s article looks at “Polish Intelligence and International Terrorism during the Cold War.” Austria has long been a center of espionage activity, and Dieter Bacher examines the early Cold War days in his piece, “The Recruitment of Austrian Citizens by Foreign Intelligence Services in Austria from 1946–1953.” Belgium, recently labeled the “Kintergarten” and “the place to be for intelligence officers,” (175) is studied by Idesbalk Goddeeris in his piece, “Polish Intelligence in Brussels.” The subject of counterintelligence gets attention from Patryk Plestok in his chapter, “Polish Counterintelligence and Western Diplomats (1956-1989),” and Thomas Wegener Friis considers it, too, in his contribution, “Intelligence and Counterintelligence in Denmark.”

On a more general academic topic, Wladysław Bułhak’s contribution, “In search of a Methodology in the Cold War Communist Intelligence Studies,” asks whether Western research methodology can be applied when studying the former Eastern services.

Although the ubiquity of intelligence is taken for granted, Need To Know adds new viewpoints and demonstrates how it is viewed and applied by other nations. We are not alone.

Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis, by Richards J. Heuer, Jr., and Randolph H. Pherson (CQ Press, 2015), 362 pp., footnotes, no index. Foreword by John McLaughlin.

Former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin also served as deputy director for intelligence and in a number of key positions elsewhere in the Intelligence Community. (He is also a member of this journal’s Editorial Board.) When he takes the time to comment on a book, readers should pay attention. One of the important points he makes in his foreword to this new edition of Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis is that “all analysts should do something to test the conclusions they advance.” He doesn’t minimize the role of “expert judgment and intuition”—he just wants analysts to “rigorously test their own conclusions” and he views this book as a means for “doing precisely that.” (xvi)

Heuer and Pherson developed structured techniques to reduce the inherent risks of analytical error. Besides explaining the techniques themselves, they discuss how to choose the right one for both individual use and for collaborative team analysis. In all cases they consider methods for validating results.

This new edition of the book adds five new techniques, plus a discussion of “intuitive versus analytic approaches to thinking.” (xviii) There are also stimulating inputs on dealing with cognitive bias, idea generation, and challenge analysis to name just a few. While the emphasis is on intelligence analysis, they point out that the structured techniques described are generic in applicability and can be used in any situation—police, security, corporate conflict management—where one is tasked with sorting out often conflicting and incomplete data.

In order to get an idea of how these techniques work in practice, the authors recommend consulting the revised edition of a companion volume, Cases in Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action.[2]

Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis is a positive contribution to the literature on analytic techniques. It recognizes the value of the expert while giving sound guidance on how to become one.

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Dictionary of Espionage and Intelligence: Over 800 Phrases Used in International and Covert Espionage, by Bob Burton (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014), 189 pp., appendices, no index.

The entries in this so-called dictionary of phrases by former Marine and current bounty hunter Bob Burton are brimming with semantic blemishes. The most prevalent is the misuse of the word “phrase.” Since phrase is defined as two or more words, many of the entries—including the entire first page—don’t qualify. More important is the mischaracterization of generic terms as part of the intelligence jargon—as, for example, anagram, inventory, graphic arts, buck slip, collection agency, danger signals, desk, plain language, interpretation, and release.

There are also a number of entries for alleged, out-of-date, or no longer extant organizations. A few are worth noting: House 7, Pacific Corporation, PICKLE newsletter, PFIAB, Tea and Biscuit Company, Technical Services Division (TSD), W. H. Division within CIA, and the grossly outdated CIA organization chart. (188)

The most serious deficiencies in the dictionary are the entries with incorrect definitions or explanations. For example, “Agent-in-place . . . often used to describe a defector . . .” is not only self-contradictory, it is not in the fiction or non-fiction espionage lexicon; (6) “CampX” was a WWII (not a Cold War) designation; “ears only,” “faith-based-intelligence,” (71) “fix the hole,” and “lexspionage” (99) are not in the intelligence or espionage lexicon; “Jedburg” (correct spelling JEDBURGH) was not “an OSS unit that operated in France in WWII,” and JMWAVE was not a “clandestine radio station in Miami.” (95)

The potentially useful Appendix 2, “Equivalent Security Classifications of Foreign Countries and International Pact Organizations,” is unsourced, like all other entries in the Dictionary, leaving the reader wondering about its accuracy. On the other hand, Appendix 4, “The Intelligence Community,” is out of date, omitting the Department of Homeland Security, among others.

Mr. Burton might well have benefited from the contemporary maxim: what does Wikipedia or GOOGLE say? The Dictionary of Espionage and Intelligence does not live up to the promise of its title. Caveat lector!

Intelligence: From Secrecy to Policy, by Mark Lowenthal (CQ Press, 2015), 534 pp., bibliography, appendices, index. 6th edition.

There are about 10,000 books in English devoted to various aspects of the intelligence profession. Most are about espionage and counterintelligence. Many are histories of civilian and military intelligence services. Still others are devoted to the analysis and the role of intelligence in foreign policy, and a number are concerned with the technical aspects of the profession. A few have appeared in second editions with new material. But only one has been issued in six editions: Intelligence: From Secrecy to Policy.

Several reasons explain this phenomenon. First, the author is a respected expert in the field. Mark Lowenthal has long experience in government and intelligence services and has taught intelligence courses at Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities. Second, the book is a contemporaneous account of intelligence events that are in constant flux. Third, it reads well and provokes thought. Finally, the book sells.

While the current edition has the same number of chapters with the same titles as its immediate predecessor, it also has 117 pages of new material. The expanded topics include congressional oversight, collection, and the use of “big data” in analysis. To these are added problems associated with “multi-INT” and “all-source” analysis that may confuse policymakers. (189) He also covers the ever expanding difficulties associated with leaks, especially the contributions of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Finally, many more foreign intelligence services are discussed, and the commentary on drones—unmanned aerial vehicles—has been revised and updated with some thoughts, inter alia, on the ethics of the program.

The flexibility of digital publishing and the constant changes in the Intelligence Community suggest the 6th edition will not be the last. In any case, Intelligence: From Secrecy to Policy is likely to remain the premier primer in the field.

The Secret Agent’s Bedside Reader: A Compendium of Spy Writing, edited by Michael Smith (Biteback Publishing, 2014), 366 pp., photos, no index.

In 1957, the Greene brothers—Graham and Hugh—edited The Spy’s Bedside Book in which, among other things, they suggested that espionage services of the time recommend that their officers acquaint themselves with public literature on the subject to improve their skills. Intelligence writer Michael Smith follows in the footsteps of the Greenes and, despite the implied limitations in the title, aims to include in the book’s readership those who are not spies.

The 44 selections in this Bedside Reader include both fiction and non-fiction. All authors had a connection with the British intelligence services, though in some cases (as with William Le Queux, for example), the connection was the influence their fiction had on the profession in the early 20th century since they were never in a service themselves.

A few samples of the entries will convey their scope. Some come from a familiar pen. Ian Fleming probably heads that list—Childers and Maugham are also there—and Smith has chosen samples of his wartime writings to show that the foundations for James Bond were solid. On the less-known side, one finds the comments by the world class misogynist, Sir Basil Thomson of Scotland Yard, and his views on the value of female agents. A contribution from former MI5 officer Harry Hunter’s Watcher’s Handbook explains the surveillance techniques he developed and implemented; Anthony Blunt was also impressed and gave a copy to Soviet intelligence. A selection written by Kim Philby came from the KGB archives. The entry by Graham Greene is from The Human Factor, one of the finest counterintelligence novels ever written. Le Carré’s brief “History of George Smiley” is taken from an earlier book, Call for the Dead, and is a reminder that Smiley existed before Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The final contribution, “Uncommon Enemy,” was written by Alan Judd before he left MI6 and will encourage the reader to seek out his later novels.

The selections are a few pages at most, and each is preceded by introductory comments about the author and the source of the material. The Secret Agent’s Bedside Reader is good reading, whether in bed, on a plane, or just sitting by the fire at home.

Stories From Langley: A Glimpse Inside the CIA, edited by Edward Mickolus (Potomac Books, 2014), 383 pp., bibliography, no index.

It would be close to impossible in the Internet age not to have read or heard about the CIA, most often in connection with espionage or covert action rather than the technical and administrative support functions essential to such operations. Similarly, when media attention does mention the analytic functions of the agency, the focus is on intelligence estimates, which represent the end of the analytic process rather than the analysts and what they do to produce these estimates. In Stories from Langley, former CIA intelligence officer Ed Mickolus has collected a series of analyst and support officer reminiscences that seek to remedy these deficiencies.

The 32 stories included range in length from one to nearly 100 pages. The latter deals with a three-man technical surveillance support team sent to Cuba during the Kennedy administration on temporary duty. Operating under flimsy cover, their mission was to place listening devices in an embassy. They were captured, spent 949 days Castro’s jails, and never broke cover. Three days after returning, their CIA status leaked to the press. Walter Szuminski, the surviving member of the trio, recalls his experiences in the chapter entitled, “Our Man in Havana’s Jails—A Temporary Duty Assignment in Hell.”

In another story from the same era, Hazel Harrison recollects her life on a Virginia farm with “no telephone, no bathroom, and no television.” (225) Starting in the agency as a secretary, without a college degree, she went on to supervisory positions in logistics, serving at Headquarters and overseas. She is candid about the problems women encountered in those days and explains how she dealt with them.

With degrees in geology from the University of Virginia and Yale and unsatisfied with his experiences in the commercial world, Nick Starr applied to the CIA because of the variety of opportunities offered. His 32-year career included service in the operations center, work as an arms control analyst, duty in the Counterintelligence Center and on the Intelligence Community Staff. Perhaps his most haunting experience was being shot by Aimal Kasi as he waited to enter the Headquarters compound in 1993; two other officers were killed in the assault. With that one exception, he enjoyed “every minute” of his career.

Among the other fascinating accounts, readers will find stories from a former national intelligence officer on the Soviet Union, an analyst who became the agency’s executive director, a former head of the infamous Publications Review Board (PRB), an inspector general, a Vietnam veteran who served as an analyst in DIA and CIA, and an analyst who worked with Paul Nitze and stood her ground when her judgment differed from that of her immediate supervisor—she was right.

Stories from Langley is just a small sampling of the varied careers CIA analysts and support officers experience—a valuable, unusual, and positive addition to the intelligence literature.

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Donald and Melinda Maclean: Idealism and Espionage, by Michael Holzman (Chelmsford Press, 2014), 397 pp., end of chapter notes, bibliography, index.

The subjects of this dual biography are well known to students of intelligence history. The story has been told before, first in 1955 by Geoffrey Hoare[3] and some 30 years later by Robert Cecil,[4] a former Foreign Office subordinate of Maclean. Hoare’s account contained no sources and relied on conversations with members of the Maclean family he had known for years. Cecil relied on his firsthand knowledge and cited other sources that had emerged in the interim. Now historian Michael Holzman has revisited the subject based on extensive research of new material that has become available since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Holzman’s approach seeks “to avoid the rhetoric of both journalistic and seemingly scholarly writing about espionage” that labels Maclean and his fellow Cambridge spies as drunk, seedy, often homosexual, traitors. “Such characterizations,” he writes, “are not meant to lead to understanding; they are meant to prevent it.” (14) He goes on to suggest “that it is best to avoid talk about treason and traitors when writing about espionage matters.” His sympathetic biography concentrates on “who they were, what they did, and the effects of their actions on their chosen world: the political.” (15)

Thus there is very little new in Donald and Melinda Maclean. As Holzman chronicles their lives, he confirms that Donald’s reversal of allegiance occurred before he reached Cambridge. And Melinda was a communist, in spirit at least, when they met in Paris, though this conclusion was not reported in the accounts cited above. Similarly, though those same accounts did not conclude Melinda was aware of Donald’s espionage, Holzman is convinced that she was a willing supporter.

Holzman discusses Donald’s well known wartime assignments in France, London, America, and Cairo; the material to which he had access; and the events that led to his identification as a Soviet agent in May of 1951. Unlike other accounts, Holzman is convinced Melinda was also witting of Donald’s defection plans and contributed to their success.

The final part of the book discusses Melinda’s decision to join Donald in Moscow, the gradual disintegration of their marriage, her affair with Kim Philby, and her eventual return to America and self-imposed obscurity; their children would eventually follow. Donald remained in Moscow until his death, and Holzman describes his efforts to become a genuine communist. Holzman also quotes some of his writings on the Soviet economy that, he suggests, presaged those of Gorbachev. (354) Donald Maclean died alone in 1983.

While Holzman prefers viewing the Macleans’ saga as an idealist product of the 1930s, the facts he presents suggest a more accurate description would be idealistic traitors. In any case, this book is the best treatment of the Maclean case to date.

Double Cross in Cairo: The True Story of the Spy Who Turned the Tide of War in the Middle East, by Nigel West (Biteback Publishing Ltd, 2015), 321 pp., bibliography, index.

TRICYCLE, GARBO, and MUTT & JEFF, are among the best known double agent codenames run by the British Double-Cross operation in WWII. CHEESE is perhaps the least known. Sir Michael Howard, the official historian of strategic deception in WWII, wrote that “the importance of CHEESE in Cairo should not be underrated” but gave few details.[5] Military historian Nigel West argues that, as an MI6 agent, CHEESE “is unrivalled, and accomplished more, over a longer period, than any other.” (xxv) Double Cross in Cairo tells his story.

Renato Levi was a multilingual Italian Jew approached by the Abwehr in 1939. He reported the contact to MI6, was encouraged to accept, and he did. The French and Italians also requested his services and he accepted them, too. He didn’t hate Germans, but he was upset over their Jewish policies and remained loyal to the Brits. The Germans sent him to Cairo with poor paperwork, and he made it only with British help. Working with the British deception unit known as ‘A’ Force, Levi became CHEESE and—with his handlers, who were mostly gifted amateurs—established a fictitious agent network that deceived German intelligence for the rest of the war. MI6 would confirm from German records that 21 of the 26 notional divisions identified by CHEESE were accepted in their official order of battle.

‘A’ Force created personnel files on all the fictitious CHEESE network agents and fed the intelligence they putatively collected to the Germans. Levi even had a notional girlfriend—codenamed MISANTHROPE—who became so important that when the Germans demanded to meet her, a stand-in had to be found to play her role.

The CHEESE case was exceptional for a number of reasons. At one point a German handler learned he had agreed to work for the French, but he survived only when another handler vouched for him. But the most unusual aspect of the case began when Levi was meeting with the Germans in Rome and was arrested, accused of collaborating with the British, and sentenced to five years in jail. In the meantime, though his British handlers realized something was wrong when communications stopped, they assumed Levi would not admit he was CHEESE, and the Brits continued to send misinformation from CHEESE for several months while Levi was imprisoned. Throughout the war, 432 cables were sent in CHEESE’s name.

Double Cross in Cairo chronicles Levi’s wartime experiences and those actions taken in his name, but it does not document them. West does quote National Archive sources but does not identify them by file number. For further work on the CHEESE case, his National Archive files would have to be consulted.

At war’s end, Levi was paid a lump sum by MI6 and left with his family for Australia on a chartered banana boat with a cargo of Turkish carpets. At some point he returned to Italy, where he died in 1954.

The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the CIA, by Richard H. Immerman (Wiley-Blackwell & Sons Inc., 2014) 248 pp., end of chapter notes, index.

In September 2007, Richard Immerman took a leave of absence from Temple University, where he was a distinguished professor of history, and began 18 months service as assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytical integrity and standards and analytic ombudsman in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Working in the ODNI gave him “new insights on the entire intelligence enterprise.” (x) It also led to the writing of The Hidden Hand.

This was not Immerman’s first contribution to the intelligence literature. His dissertation was published as a book—The CIA in Guatemala[6]—and he contributed the first chapter, entitled “A Brief History of the CIA” to a 2006 book on the agency.[7] The Hidden Hand expands on that essay and reflects the views he acquired in the ODNI about “America’s most enigmatic” and well-known institution. (1)

The CIA enigma, Immerman goes on, has attributes beyond the inherent secrecy of its operations. “Opinion poll after opinion poll reveal that it is among America’s most unpopular, disrespected, and mistrusted institutions.” Nevertheless, after discussing several of the popular films and TV dramas that present fictionalized accounts of agency operations, he concludes that “it is unequivocally a cultural icon” (1–2) and “as central to America’s popular culture as it is to its national security.” (8) The Hidden Hand seeks to explain this paradox.

Immerman approaches this task by analyzing the people, policies, and outcomes of the major events in CIA’s history—from the impact of Pearl Harbor to the consequences of 9/11. Topics like covert action and the satellite program occur throughout, and he discusses their contributions. The impact of one-time events like the Church Committee investigation and the end of the Soviet Union in December 1991 are treated in depth. Concerning the latter issue, he notes that the fact that CIA “did not predict the end of the Cold War . . . should not be added to its list of intelligence failures.” (138) While no specific reason is provided, Immerman considers a number of factors, including the April 1991 estimate that concluded “the current political system in the Soviet Union is doomed.” (148)

In his summary of post-9/11 events, Immerman notes CIA’s reservations about the inaccuracy of reports suggesting Saddam Hussein had attempted to acquire yellow cake uranium, and that the president mentioned that “fact” in his state of the union speech, citing British intelligence as his source. Subsequent events however, writes Immerman, revealed that the British investigation of the matter “relied on forged documents.” (180) This assertion is incorrect as pointed out in the Butler report,[8] which stated: “The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made.”

A concluding chapter discusses the reformed Intelligence Community and notes that national intelligence estimates under the auspices of the ODNI are “uniformly superior to their antecedents.” (207) It also mentions CIA’s battle with the DNI over operational responsibilities, the clashes with Congress over enhanced interrogations, the utility and morality of the drone program, and what Immerman sees as the danger of the “militarization of the intelligence.” (220) He concludes that the CIA should shed its “paramilitary responsibilities” and concentrate on its more traditional mission: collection and analysis.

The Hidden Hand is a metaphor for Immerman’s critical study of the CIA’s contribution to US foreign policy. Despite chronicling CIA’s track record of controversy, Immerman leaves the impression that it is a necessary element of US national security.

Hugh Trevor-Roper—The Secret World: Behind the Curtain of British Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War, edited by Edward Harrison (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 301 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index. Foreword by Sir Michael Howard.

Sir Michael Howard notes with irony in his foreword that the professional intelligence officers in MI6 “resented the wartime intrusion of interlopers” like Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper and “were glad to see the last of them, with the exception, of course, of the deferential and reliable Kim Philby, the only one they trusted.” Then in 1968, with the publication of Philby’s memoir, it was the anything-but-deferential Trevor-Roper who, with the official approval of MI6, published The Philby Affair. This now classic account of “the secret world Trevor-Roper shared with Philby . . . provided his own explanation of Philby’s treachery.” (x) The Philby Affair was highly regarded at CIA, and Walter Pforzheimer later wrote that Richard Helms “made the essay ‘must reading’ for all his senior officers.” (xvii) Now historian Edward Harrison has included it in this collection of Trevor-Roper’s writings on intelligence.

In his lengthy introductory essay, Professor Harrison reviews Trevor-Roper’s sometimes controversial wartime service in MI6 and the important friends he made there and in MI5. Trevor-Roper’s skill in winning bureaucratic turf battles, insistence on speaking truth to power, and his ability to express articulately his views on German intelligence won him admiration. It was this array of attributes that led Dick White, who would later head MI5 and MI6, to select him to investigate the death of Adolf Hitler. Harrison explains the scholarly way he went about the task that led to The Last Days of Hitler, the book that made him world famous.

In addition to The Philby Affair, Professor Harrison includes nine additional essays, one by Trevor-Roper himself that tells the story of the beginnings of his intelligence career. Several of the others are lengthy book critiques—analyses, really—of well-known, popular books on WWII intelligence. For example, he deplored (for good reason) Anthony Cave Brown’s Bodyguard of Lies. And he found The Man Called Intrepid, a hagiography of Sir William Stephenson, a quest for greater publicity where fantasy was its dominating quality. He concludes his assessment of Spycatcher by Peter Wright, with the comment that “we have not yet found a means of controlling egregious traitors from within like Peter Wright.” (189) Trevor-Roper judged the memoir of the American Cambridge spy, Michael Straight,[9] more favorably and Climate of Treason,[10] the book that exposed Anthony Blunt, “difficult reading; but its content is fascinating.” (151) Harrison also includes a piece Trevor-Roper wrote on “Why Otto John Defected Thrice.” In it he wrote that “successful espionage . . . requires continual regeneration: fresh though constant vigilance, continuous adaptation to changing circumstances.” (204) A concluding appendix contains an exchange of correspondence with Patrick Reilly, personal assistant to the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, on the subject of Kim Philby.

Hugh Trevor-Roper—The Secret World informs the reader with critical views of the intelligence profession in elegant style. History at its best, an indisputably valuable contribution.

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, by William Blum (Zed Books, 2014), 469 pp., endnotes, appendices, index. Revised edition.

The first edition of this book, The CIA: A Forgotten History, was published in 1986. It contained 49 instances of CIA contributions to imperialism through interventions in other nations’ affairs. At least that is how freelance journalist, William Blum, saw it. The updated edition adds new examples that reflect Blum’s unchanged worldview. The West, he suggests, has never gotten over the Bolshevik “audacity of overthrowing the capitalist-feudal regime and proclaiming the first socialist state in history of the world . . . this was uppityness writ large. This was a crime the Allies had to punish.” (7–8)

The 56 operations Blum discusses in this revision are all well-known covert actions, viewed from the left, with the implication that the world would have been better off had they not occurred. A typical tone can be found in the chapter on provocative operations involving spy planes—the U-2 included—and book publishing; both, as he sees it, only made matters worse and accomplished nothing. While Blum’s judgment in each is open to debate, in the case of Operation Splinter Factor and the defection of Polish intelligence officer Jozef Swiatło, he is just wrong: there never was an Operation Splinter Factor.

Killing Hope is documented with sources that support Blum’s position, including several books by former CIA officers John Stockwell and Philip Agee. For those with an open mind it provides a viewpoint from one dedicated to avoiding that option.

Kim Philby: Our Man in Moscow—The Life of A Cold War Master Spy, by Christian Shakespeare (CreateSpace, 2015), 312 pp., photos, no index.

Three recent books about onetime MI6 officer and KGB agent Kim Philby have each contributed in different ways to the continuing interest in the case. Two of these added new perspectives about his relationships with others and his traitorous motivations: one was based on scholarly research and interviews with those who knew Philby; the other was a memoir by a schoolboy friend and fellow MI6 officer.[11] The third book, Kim Philby: Our Man in Moscow, is an undocumented compendium of material whose most prominent qualities are the number of factual errors, the amount of pure speculation, dodgy judgments, sloppy editing, and lack of a single source. Readers familiar with the Philby saga will find nothing new in this book. Those new to the subject are cautioned not to begin their inquiry with this piece of literary malfeasance. Philby was not, as the author asserts, a “double agent” (1), and the atomic material to which he and his Cambridge spies had access did not tip “the atomic balance away from the West.” (6) His second wife bore each of his five children, not just three. (6) Philby was not the first to let the Venona secret “slip to the USSR.” (134) And MI6 does not have a director general, nor was Philby “groomed for that position.” (157) The unsupported claim that Philby “was the most damaging of all the traitors (5) is unwarranted speculation equaled only by the author’s imagined description of Philby’s escape from Beirut. (1)

Bluntly summarized, Kim Philby: Our Man in Moscow should be allowed to slip into history unread.

Operation Crossbow: The Untold Story of Photographic Intelligence and the Search for Hitler’s V Weapons, by Allan Williams (Preface Publishing, 2013), 450 pp., sources and bibliography, photos, index. 

British historian Allan Williams is Curator of the National Collection Aerial Photography at Medmenham. The collection, he writes, documents the “triumphs of photographic intelligence during the conflict.” (10) Operation Crossbow, which he describes as “the hunt for the flying bomb,” involved “over 3,000 sorties . . . and 1.2 million prints” for interpretation. (9) Still, his characterization of the operation as a triumph seems an exaggeration. The more than 7,000 V1s successfully launched killed some 6,000 Londoners, injured 18,000 more, and destroyed 750,000 homes in about 80 days. Then came 1,900 V2s, the supersonic missiles that struck without warning, of which 500 hit London, killing 2,724 and injuring 6,467. (7) And these figures, provided by Williams, don’t include the missiles that struck Paris and Antwerp. (302)

It is true that, beginning in November 1943, the interpreters had targeted launch sites and manufacturing locations which were bombed by the RAF. And this accounts for Operation Crossbow’s success, he explains, since, in bombing launch sites and support facilities, the Allies reduced the V2 launch rate below the quantity needed to change the course of the war. It is also true that the launches stopped as the Allies advanced toward Germany. Which event had the greater effect is not discussed.

Leaving aside the adjectival reservations, Operation Crossbow does provide a detailed and well documented—with primary sources—account of the role aerial reconnaissance and photo interpretation played in WWII. Williams begins before the war and tracks the players—British and American, many with famous names—along the sometimes bumpy road of progress through to the end.

The photo interpreter best known to Americans, Flt. Off. Constance Babington-Smith, headed the section that interpreted the image that showed the flying bomb “sitting on a ramp, ready to fire,” (178) at Peenemünde, Germany. After the war in Germany ended, she was seconded to the Americans and worked in the Pentagon. She was the first British woman to be awarded the American Legion of Merit for her work. (361) In 1957, she wrote Air Spy, a book about her wartime experience.[12] It was the first to bring attention to the role of photo interpretation in the war.

Operation Crossbow is a good account of WWII aerial reconnaissance and will be of interest to PIs everywhere.

Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA’s First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain, by Albert Lulushi (Arcade Publishing, 2014), 326 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

Albert Lulushi is an Albanian-American who learned in the 1970s of the multiple operations conducted by the CIA and its allies aimed at overthrowing the communist Albanian regime—headed by Enver Hoxha—beginning in 1949. He remembers the museum in Tirana, run by the Albanian secret police (the Sigurimi) that housed an extensive display of artifacts taken from the “diversionists”—teams captured when their attempts to bring down the regime failed.

After the protests of 1989 led to reforms by the communist government, Lulushi left Albania and arrived in the United States in 1990. It was here that he learned about other versions of the unsuccessful attempts to topple the Hoxha regime. The prevailing explanation for the failed operations at that time was laid out in a book by Nicholas Bethell[13] that placed the blame squarely on Kim Philby, a view he accepted. Then in 2012, Lulushi had occasion to examine the case again and discovered that the timeline of events ruled out Philby as the source that compromised many of the operations. Seeking to find the complete story, he learned the CIA files on the operations had been declassified and were available at the National Archive. Access to former participants in American and Albania followed. Operation Valuable Fiend is the result.

There was no Operation Valuable Fiend. Project FIEND or BGFIEND (xii) was the first, or one of the first, covert action projects undertaken by the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). The more experienced British, who initially played an equally active role in the project, gave their plan the codename VALUABLE. (53) Lulushi describes some operational collaboration between the two, for example, his very interesting account of the 15 November 1949 joint planning session in the Pentagon chaired by Frank Wisner, with Philby representing SIS. But his emphasis is on FIEND, the Albanian reactions and the multiple sources that could account for failure after failure of the infiltration attempts. And while he makes a plausible case that Philby was not the one who compromised the first British attempt, he does not disprove Bethell’s assertion, and the MI6 didn’t provide any documents that helped. By 1950, with CIA’s absorption of the bulk of the effort, it was agreed that, while collaboration would continue at the policy level, operations would be continued unilaterally. (95)

Operation Valuable Fiend chronicles in detail the numerous attempts to achieve the FIEND goals even as the possibility of success spiraled out of view. Lulushi also describes ancillary programs of propaganda, economic warfare, and psychological persuasion designed to enhance the probability of success. Nothing worked, and by 1953 the programs were shut down. Thus ended any hope that the former ruler of Albania, King Zog—who had cooperated in FIEND projects, albeit reluctantly at times—could regain his throne.

Lulushi concludes, somewhat surprisingly, that despite the failure of the project, “the world is a better place because of the efforts spent.” (259) His is the most complete account to date and well worth close attention.

Poland’s War on Radio Free Europe: 1950–1989, by Paweł Machcewicz (Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2014), 421 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.

In his 2010 book, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond[14] author Ross Johnson discussed the CIA-sponsored radio broadcasts to listeners behind the Iron Curtain and the reactions of various communist regimes. At one point he mentions that the Polish Interior Ministry files were being examined by Paweł Machcewicz, a history professor at the Institute for National Remembrance, the custodian of the vast records of Poland’s communist past. Poland’s War on Radio Free Europe is the result of that research.

Professor Machcewicz tells his story chronologically, beginning with the start of the Radio Free Europe (RFE) Polish service in May 1952. There are four predominant themes. The first concerns RFE operations—financial, transmitter power, program content, etc.—and the links maintained with Polish dissidents and other listeners. The second focuses on attempts by the Polish security services to disrupt programing by jamming and other means, the extensive efforts to deal with those caught listening, to monitor the broadcasts for their superiors, and to estimate the total number of listeners. The latter numbers were obtained by anonymous audience surveys—data acquisition details are skimpy—and show listenership ranged from 12–60 percent, depending on extant political tensions. (4–5)

The operations planned and mounted against RFE outside Poland is the third theme. Besides propaganda portraying RFE as a tool of the CIA, there were penetrations of RFE broadcasting staff (124), the spreading of false accusations about RFE leaders—the Jan Nowak case is a good example (205)—and the creation of problems among RFE, Germany (the location of its headquarters), and the United States (the source of its support). (195ff) The fourth theme, though somewhat understated, is the influence of the Soviet Union on Polish affairs, RFE included. The notion of “Poland’s War” on RFE in the title is somewhat misleading, since the efforts of the secret police to counter “foreign political and ideological sabotage” (115) were closely linked to the KGB.

The impact of RFE on Polish listeners during the Cold War can’t be quantified, but much anecdotal evidence is provided, including the persistent efforts to silence it. Markus Wolf later observed that, “of all the various means used to influence people against the East during the Cold War, I would count [RFE] as the most effective.”[15]

Extensively documented, Poland’s War on Radio Free Europe conveys the importance of the broadcasts to Polish listeners, the risks they took to defy their government, and the punishment they endured when caught. It is a strong argument against absolute government control of information.

Pot Shards: Fragments of a Life Lived in CIA, the White House, and the Two Koreas, by Donald P. Gregg
(New Academia Publishing, 2014), 331 pp., photos, index.

Many CIA officers would be happy with a career summed up by the subtitle. But Donald Gregg also served in the Army Security Agency (ASA), was ambassador to South Korea, and after retirement taught at Williams College—his alma mater—and also worked with The Korea Society. Pot Shards gives a glimpse of these and other fragments of time well spent.

During his senior year in college (1951), Gregg was interviewed by an astute government recruiter who quickly decided he was best suited for the CIA: “they jump out of airplanes and are going to save the world.” (17) He did that and more during his training at The Farm with his classmate Jack Downey; later, he would meet Downey in Japan, the night before he left for Korea, just prior to his ill-fated mission to China with Richard Fecteau.[16] They would be reunited many years later at CIA headquarters.

An early career challenge arose when his preference for an Asian assignment yielded a language course in Bulgarian. Before overcoming that obstacle by threatening to resign—an unusual step for a young officer—he introduced himself to a young lady in the CIA library, beginning a relationship that continues to this day and is an inspiring theme throughout the book.

After service on Saipan training Asian paramilitary troops, Gregg spent several years in Japan where he learned the language, played tennis, and made important friendships. Then came duty at Headquarters on the Vietnam desk, two years in Burma, and a tour in Vietnam. The year 1970 he began a memorable period, first as chief of station in Seoul, South Korea, then back to Washington—this time on the agency staff that dealt with the dysfunctional Pike Committee investigation and later serving under DCI Stansfield Turner. Gregg adds firsthand insights about this difficult period for the clandestine service. By the end of the decade he was on the National Security Staff under Brzezinski, and he remained there during the Reagan administration.

Gregg’s White House years are some of the most interesting of his career. He traveled widely with Vice President Bush and records a memorable account of the “missing brassiere” during dinner at 10 Downing Street. He endured the Iran-Contra affair without career damage, and when Bush became president he appointed Gregg ambassador to Seoul.

With the advent of the Clinton presidency, Gregg’s government career came to an end. But his service continued with The Korea Society, a non-profit group dedicated to improving relations between America and Korea. His work there also led to six ‘unofficial’ trips to North Korea and his account of those experiences casts new light on that enigmatic country.

Pot Shards closes with some thoughts on the “Dangers of Demonization” (311ff) in international relations and some personal reflections that are well worth considering. All agency careers are unique and Don Gregg’s was one of the most noteworthy.

A Spy’s Son: The True Story of the Highest Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia, by Bryan Denson (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015), 350 pp., endnotes, index.

On 17 June 1994, just two months after onetime CIA officer Aldrich Ames was sentenced to life in prison, CIA operations officer James Nicholson volunteered his services to the Russian intelligence service (SVR) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Nicholson knew the Ames story and rationalized that “the SVR might be in the market for another highly placed mole inside the CIA.” (54) They were. Brian Denson, an investigative reporter with The Oregonian, first saw Nicholson in a Portland, Oregon, courtroom on 29 October 2009, where he was charged with espionage for a second time. Nicholson’s 20-year-old son, Nathan, was also in the courthouse that day and later would be charged with the same crime. Denson spent the next five years investigating the circumstances that led to this extraordinary situation. A Spy’s Son tells what he discovered.

Denson would learn that on 5 June 1997, Harold James Nicholson had first been sentenced to 23 years, 7 months for spying for the Russians. Most of his story was in the public record and he reports it in A Spy’s Son to lay the groundwork for the unknown part of the story: how did Nathan come to be charged with espionage and what role had his father played? Answers to these questions came gradually as Denson established contact with Nathan, his sister, brother, and mother—long divorced from James.

Nathan, the youngest of the three children, was also the closest to his father and visited him frequently in prison not far from his Oregon home. It was during these visits that James “recruited” his son. During their meetings in the prison’s visiting  room, he instructed Nathan how to contact the SVR and how to convince them his father wished to cooperate again from prison. James told Nathan he would be paid and that he could use the money for family expenses, including education. Nathan was soon his father’s enthusiastic agent. Denson describes how James took advantage of the prison’s incredibly lax security to pass written instructions and other details to Nathan, undetected. Nathan contacted the SVR successfully and met with his father’s former case officer multiple times at various locations, including in Mexico and Cyprus—always returning with cash.

Things went well for a couple of years and then Nathan was arrested by the FBI. How was he discovered? Why did he confess, and what happened to Nathan and his father after they were convicted? Denson answers these questions convincingly, though on some key points he only identifies his sources as “counterintelligence experts.” (296) The only other weakness in the book is the lack of sourcing on biographical detail.

A Spy’s Son illuminates a dark corner of espionage history: narrative journalism at its best.

Stalin’s Agent: The Life & Death of Alexander Orlov, by Boris Volodarsky (Oxford University Press, 2015), 789 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.

The cover of the 6 April 1953 issue of Life magazine pictured “TV’s First Family: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz” and their children, Lucy Desiree and baby Desi IV. But that is probably not what caught the FBI’s eye: the upper right-hand corner featured the title of the lead article: “Stalin’s Ghastly Secrets—How He Won and Held Absolute Power, by An Ex-General of Dreaded NKVD.” “Who is this NKVD general?” asked J. Edgar Hoover. No one in the FBI had ever heard of him.[17] The Life article—the first of five—identified him as Alexander Orlov, and the Bureau soon learned that he had been living in the United States since he defected in 1938 and had never been debriefed. Orlov would go on to publish the articles in book form and later testify about the Soviet security services before a Senate committee.[18] He would eventually be debriefed by the FBI and the CIA.

After his death in 1973, articles and books were published about the case. Now former GRU officer Boris Volodarsky has taken a revisionist look at Orlov in Stalin’s Agent. His central thesis asserts that much of what has been written about Orlov is incorrect. In addition to many inaccuracies concerning his NKVD career, Volodarsky aims “to prove” that “‘Orlov’ was not in fact Orlov, that he was not a defector, and that he had never been a general. He did not recruit Burgess, Philby, Maclean, and Blunt or any member of the Oxford spy ring, as widely believed.” The sources for his “proofs” are “original documents from the KGB archives . . . declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), MI5 (British Security Service), and the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST).” (2)

Before commenting on Volodarsky’s claims of career inaccuracies, the other charges can be considered quickly. It is true that Orlov was not Orlov: his real name—Leon Lazarevich Feldbin, later changed in the Soviet Union to Lev Nikolsky—was public knowledge after he surfaced in 1953. He kept the Orlov name when he was given permanent resident status.[19] And while Volodarsky calls him a “deserter”, to the FBI and CIA, he was a genuine defector—albeit an unusual one. The question as to his rank remains ambiguous; Volodarsky says there was no such rank when Orlov was in the NKVD. And while it is true that some publishers called him a general, when he testified before the Senate committee, he was referred to as “Mr.” and as a former Soviet diplomat. Similarly, there was no mention of his rank in his book on Stalin’s crimes. Finally, the authors who claim Orlov was involved in the recruitment of Burgess, Philby, and Maclean, document their positions and Volodarsky does not refute them with facts. Moreover, Orlov had left London long before Blunt was recruited and no one has claimed he had anything to do with the so-called Oxford Ring.

Turning to Orlov’s early life and his NKVD career, Volodarsky’s voluminous book challenges many details found in other public sources. These include putative discrepancies in his assignments, job titles, travel details, his operational accomplishments and his professional relationships with colleagues and superiors. He is particularly harsh about Orlov’s poor performance in Spain where Orlov was head of the NKVD element, though he does note that he received the Order of Lenin while serving there, (236) hardly a measure of Stalin’s dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, it is fair to conclude that Orlov may have embellished his credentials and that previous biographers may not have had solid sources. As to whether Volodarsky has got it right, only a thorough source comparison will tell.

Stalin’s Agent provides an unexpected windfall beyond the Orlov story. Volodarsky’s voluminous research allowed him to include much new detail about Orlov’s NKVD and GRU colleagues and political acquaintances. In fact, most of the book is about these figures, their operations, and their mostly unsuccessful efforts to survive the purges. The aggregate is a stunning portrait of Soviet intelligence officers and operations from WWI to the Cold War.

A final word about Volodarsky’s source material is essential because he states in his acknowledgments that the “declassified KGB, CIA, FBI and French DST files” were provided by Hayden Peake! (viii) When I was queried about this claim by British historian Nigel West, I replied it was untrue and I was as surprised as he was to read it. West then e-mailed Volodarsky for an explanation. Volodarsky replied with an astonishing correction. He wrote, “thanks to Pete Bagley [a former CIA officer] I received all the CIA-FBI-DST-KGB staff [stuff?] from the CIA.” As to his “original documents from the KGB archives,” mentioned above, he added that “honestly, I did not have direct access to the KGB files.”[20]

In sum, Stalin’s Agent gets high marks for its robust coverage of Soviet intelligence while its treatment of British and American operations is a bit knotty and open to other interpretations. Thus Orlov ends up with a blurry legacy, which may have been Volodarsky’s intention, and the reader is left with areas of uncertainty.

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[1] The question in context is posed, “A couple of years ago, one of our reviewers noted that intelligence is a ‘dirty business’ and that Intelligence Studies are somehow guilty by association. Is this true? Are Intelligence Studies a ‘dirty business’? And do you, interested reader, in effect sully yourself by opening this book? It is not possible to deny what is self-evident: Intelligence services deal with deception and betrayal. Spies lie for a living, feelings get hurt, and, sometimes, people even die. So wouldn’t it be better for the rest of us to turn the blind eye to the world of spy craft and just carry on as if it did not exist?”

[2] Sarah Miller Beebe and Randolph H. Pherson, Cases In Intelligence Analysis: Structured Analytic Techniques in Action (CQ Press, 2011). Cases In Intelligence Analysis was reviewed by Jason Manosevitz in Studies in Intelligence 56, no. 4 (December 2012).

[3] Geoffrey Hoare, The Missing Macleans (The Viking Press, 1955).

[4] Robert Cecil, A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean (The Bodley Head, 1988).

[5] Michael Howard, British Intelligence in the Second World War, Volume 5, Strategic Deception (HMSO, 1990), xi.

[6] Richard H. Immerman, The CIA In Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (University of Texas Press, 1982).

[7] The Central Intelligence Agency: Security Under Scrutiny, Athan G. Theoharis, et al. (eds.), (Greenwood Press, 2006).

[8] The British government published its Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction—widely known as the Butler report after its chairman, Lord Butler of Brockwell—in July 2004.

[9] Michael Straight, After Long Silence (W. W. Norton, 1983).

[10] Anthony Boyle, Climate of Treason: Five Who Spied for Russia (Hutchinson, 1979).

[11] See Ben Macintyre’s A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (Crown Publishers, 2014) and Tim Milne’s Kim Philby: The Unknown Story of the KGB’s Master Spy (Biteback Publishing, 2014), both reviewed by Thomas G. Coffey in Studies in Intelligence 59(1):79–81 (March 2015).

[12] Constance Babington-Smith, Air Spy: The Story of Photo Intelligence in World War II (Harper & Brothers, 1957).

[13] Nicholas Bethell, The Great Betrayal: The untold story of Kim Philby’s biggest coup. (Hodder & Stoughton, 1984).

[14] A. Ross Johnson, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond (Stanford University Press, 2010).

[15] Markus Wolf, Man Without A Face: The Memoirs of a Spymaster (Jonathan Cape, 1997), 234.

[16] The story of the decades-long imprisonment of officers Downey and Fecteau in Chinese prisoner-of-war camps is told in the 2010 film, Extraordinary Fidelity, and in the unclassified 2006 Studies in Intelligence article, “Two CIA Prisoners in China, 1952–73,” on which the film is based.

[17] Information provided to the author by retired FBI Special Agent, Robert Lamphere, on 17 November 1994.

[18] Alexander Orlov, The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes (Random House, 1953).

[19] Gordon Brook-Shepherd, The Storm Petrels: The Flight of The First Soviet Defectors (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977), p. 202.

[20] E-mail from Boris Volodarsky to Nigel West, 16 February 2015. Copy in the author’s possession.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this journal are those of the authors. Nothing in any of the articles should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of their factual statements and interpretations. Articles by non-US government employees are copyrighted.

Posted: Sep 28, 2015 06:16 PM
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2015 06:16 PM