Library

 

Intelligence in Public Literature

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

CURRENT TOPICS
Countdown to Zero Day: STUXNET and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, by  Kim Zetter

Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program, edited by Bill Harlow

The Snowden Reader, edited by David P. Fidler

GENERAL
The Ethics of Intelligence: A New Framework, by Ross W. Bellaby

The Five Disciplines of Intelligence Collection, edited by Mark M. Lowenthal and Robert M. Clark

Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence, by Robert W. Pringle

A Life of Lies and Spies—Tales of a CIA Covert Ops Polygraph Interrogator, by Arthur B. Trabue

Objective TROY: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone, by Scott Shane

HISTORICAL
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resis- tance in Nazi Occupied Paris, by Alex Kershaw

Daughters of the KGB: Moscow’s Secret Spies, Sleepers, and Assassins of the Cold War, by Douglas Boyd

Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies, by Gordon Corera

Intelligence Studies in Britain the US: Historiography Since 1945, edited by Christopher R. Moran and Christopher J. Murphy

MI5 at War, 1909–1918: How MI5 Foiled the Spies of the Kaiser in the First World War, by Chris Northcutt

Most Secret Agent of Empire: Reginald Teague-Jones, Master Spy of the Great Game, by Taline Ter Minassian

The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 in the 1920s and 1930s, by Kevin Quinlan

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, by Eric Lichtblau

NPIC: Seeing the Secrets and Growing the Leaders—A Cultural History of the National Photographic Interpretation Center, by Jack O’Connor

Queen of Spies: Daphne Park—Britain’s Cold War Spy Master, by Paddy Hayes


CURRENT TOPICS
Countdown To Zero Day: STUXNET and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, by Kim Zetter (Crown Publishers, 2014) 433, footnotes, index.

The 2 April 1965 issue of Time magazine featured an article entitled, “The Cybernated Generation” that conjectured about the kinds of things “cybernetics” would provide. While the term is now obsolete, many cyber-related forensic expressions have since come into being; examples include the words “phishing,” “phreaking,” “[an] exploit,” and “zero day.” When Microsoft developed the Windows operating system nearly 30 years ago, security was not a major consideration; thus, vulnerabilities were unintentionally left inside the millions of lines of code that made the system work—vulnerabilities that allowed the addition of programming instruction that would change the performance of the computer and the programs the computer was running. If a vulnerability was discovered and kept secret by the hacker as he wrote an “exploit” program to install viruses or other malicious software on a machine, he had found a “zero day”—that is, the victim would have “zero days” to take preventive measures.

Countdown to Zero Day tells the story of how the STUXNET worm—some call it a virus—was discovered by a small, obscure Belarus computer security firm called VirusBlokAda in June 2010, and the worldwide efforts to uncover its purpose and its originator.

Author Kim Zetter, a journalist with Wired magazine, follows a chronologically crooked path from one security firm to another, all over the world, as they gradually deconstructed the incredible, complex STUXNET code. As is customary, VirusBlokAda notified Microsoft that a “zero-day exploit” had been located in their operating system and had been found in commercial software, though they didn’t know its purpose. When no response was forthcoming, VirusBlokAda posted a warning on an Internet security forum, warning of possible infections. Soon, infected customers were identified and Microsoft, after naming the worm STUXNET, began work on a fix.

But Microsoft couldn’t do it alone: STUXNET was far too complex. The American security firm Symantec played a major role as layer upon layer of complexity was revealed in fits-and-starts. They discovered that the code didn’t behave like most viruses or worms that steal or damage data. In fact, it appeared to do nothing at all except spread and replicate itself in other computers if those computers had certain characteristics; if not, no infection would be transmitted. When the code found a new home, it would notify its home base server, often in Asia, and reveal details of the new location so its originators would know which computer targets had been infected. For in fected computers, STUXNET only came to life only when it encountered certain industrial-control devices containing proprietary software produced by the German firm Siemens. Zetter tracks the complicated path to devices running that software; initially all of these devices were found to be installed in very secure Iranian facility in Natanz.

Eventually, it became obvious to the security sleuths that STUXNET was so extraordinary that it had likely been state-sponsored. At one point espionage was suspected, (17) and it would later develop that earlier variants of STUXNET, undetected or unreported, had been used for that purpose. (259)

Even after the circuitous path to STUXNET exposed its purpose as intended to be used against Iranian centrifuges, there remained the outstanding question of who was responsible. After speculating about a White House role in its approval, Zetter asserts it was intelligence agencies in the United States and Israel, though the only direct support she provides is a 15 January 2011 article in the New York Times. She considers the blowback potential (e.g., others may do the same to the United States) and the moral implications analogous to those surrounding the use of the atom bomb. So far, she writes, “STUXNET still holds the distinction of being the only known case of cyber warfare on record.” (408)

REBUTTAL: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program, edited by Bill Harlow (Naval Institute Press, 2015) 344.

REBUTTAL contains eight short critical essays by former senior CIA officers who were directly involved in the Agency’s Detention and Interrogations Program, but none of whom were interviewed by those conducting the SSCI study. Former DCI George Tenet argues that the SSCI “failed to seek the truth or honestly portray events in the months and years following 9/11 in a manner that bears any resemblance to what my colleagues and I at CIA experienced.” (1) Porter Goss, a former DCI and former chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, noted, inter alia, that the “SSCI Democratic staff selected supporting materials and connected disjointed dots, willfully omitting and avoiding any information” that would contradict the views of its chairwoman. He also pointed out that “there was congressional oversight of the RDI program . . . and the specific enhanced interrogation techniques were briefed and discussed with the top committee leadership. I recall no objections being made.” (8–9) Former D/CIA General Michael Hayden challenges the Committee on its inaccurate characterization of previous testimony and its refusal to accept “the important role that detainee-derived information played in tracking Usama Bin Ladin to Abbottabad.” (12–13) Former DD/ DCI John McLaughlin follows up on this latter point, adding that “everyone who worked with the information knows the allegation is false.” (14) He then provides a number of examples, as does former DD/CTC Phil Mudd, who adds even more detail in describing the incremental nature of analysis and the value of detainee information, especially the impact of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mudd is perplexed that those who were not there and did not do the analysis could reach a different conclusion.

Former DD/CIA Michael Morell contributes a piece that, among other topics, attacks the media—noting first that they ignored the two reports (one by the CIA, and the other by the SSCI Republican members) that were issued with the SSCI document, and that “not a single media analyst or commentator rigorously examined the report’s assertions or took an in-depth look at all three documents.” (22)

John Rizzo, the CI’s chief legal advisor for seven of the eight years after 9/11, had more direct continuous knowledge of the RDI program than most other officers. Although he is cited over 200 times in the SSCI report, his request to be interviewed during its preparation, so he could refute their charges of providing inaccurate data, was denied. In his article, he summarizes the legal precautions he would have discussed with them. On the issue of detainee information value, Rizzo quotes former CIA director Leon Panetta that the program “yielded important . . . even critical intelligence.” (33)

The final article is by Jose Rodriguez, who was chief of the CounterTerrorism Center during most of the RDI program. He explains why the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah was of value and what corrective action was taken when abuses were discovered. He ends by clarifying the practical impact that being labeled “torturers” has on operational effectiveness, especially when it contradicts previous authorities.

The last two documents in REBUTTAL are the official CIA response to the SSCI report and the report of the SSCI Republican minority, which did not participate in the effort. Both are nearly 100 pages, with many redactions. Nevertheless, they add additional data; in the cover memorandum, current D/CIA John Brennan explains his concurrence and differences with the findings.

Bill Harlow, former chief of the Office of Public Affairs at CIA, has assembled an informative, easy-to-read, succinct collection of position papers. For many readers, these papers will demonstrate an unacceptable degree of confirmation bias on the part of the SSCI staff who wrote the RDI study. But the SSCI is unlikely to be persuaded that their facts and judgments are wrong or that they were the victims of confirmation bias.

The Snowden Reader, edited by David P. Fidler (Indiana University Press, 2015) 349, end of chapter notes, index.

In 2013, the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University sponsored an examination of the historical, legal, policy and ethical aspects of Edward Snowden’s decision to disclose classified information to journalists. The panel presentations were subsequently revised, expanded, and updated with government and other documents that deal with the issue. The result is The Snowden Affair.

Several contributors criticize, on legal grounds, the US government programs allegedly revealed; one challenges them as inappropriate, while ignoring their security objectives. This “ivory tower” approach is echoed in a piece on policy issues. Another discusses the effect of poor oversight of the operational programs. The damage to foreign and domestic policy, as well as any cyberwarfare programs, is also analyzed. A final essay looks at whether Snowden’s civil disobedience actions are consistent with precedent, and not surprisingly, concludes they are.

The second part of the Reader contains congressional reports, court decisions, and official statements by government officials. The latter include President Obama, the director of national intelligence, the attorney general, and the NSA public affairs officer. To these are added comments from industry leaders, and from Snowden himself. While not enjoyable reading, the Reader presents a basic foundation about a case with profound cybersecurity implications that have yet to be resolved.

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GENERAL
The Ethics of Intelligence: A New Framework, by Ross W. Bellaby (Routledge, 2014) 189, end of chapter notes, index.

The world of intelligence is “in dire need of an ethical framework . . . it has never before been subjected to any extended effort to ethically evaluate it.” So argues Aberystwyth University scholar Ross Bellaby in his book, The Ethics of Intelligence. Ignoring the Church and Pike Committee hearings, Bellaby claims that former DCI Allen Dulles asserted that “any restrictions on the Intelligence Community would be counterproductive in regards to its overall mission,” though he provides no source that Dulles ever made such a statement. (1) Based on these questionable presumptions, Bellaby acknowledges the “unsavory” nature of espionage, concluding it must nevertheless “be made to respect ethical norms.” (2) After drawing on Just War Theory and several other concepts, he offers a modest proposal for accomplishing that objective—the “Ladder of Escalation”. (3)

The qualitative unit of measure Bellaby applies is “harm.” He accepts the vital necessity of intelligence but assumes that the “notably disreputable” profession can cause damage, or harm, in various degrees. Thus “there should be limits on its use” and he develops a “set of Just Intelligence Principles to deter- mine if and when these harms are justified.” (16)

Bellaby establishes a basis for his ethical concerns by examining intelligence collection in the form of IMINT, SIGINT, and HUMINT. In the first two, privacy and individual autonomy are the principal concerns. With HUMINT, the means of acquisition are the issue. He provides lengthy discussions of potential problems each area of intelligence collection presents. For example, with HUMINT, he deals with questions of ethics involved in deception and manipulation, false flag operations, defectors, agent recruitment, blackmail, and torture. All this is necessary, he concludes, because “professional state intelligence has yet to develop an ethical framework that offers a means of determining if and when intelligence collection is ethically justified.” (171) His “Ladder of Escalation” provides a step-by-step procedure with questions for filling this gap that should be asked at each rung.

But is Bellaby’s picture complete? His conclusion does not consider the possibility that an ethical framework already exists and that the ethical issues he raises are, in fact, part of the operational training and field procedures employed by intelligence officers. Under these conditions, violations of ethical norms might better be treated as a legal matter.

The Ethics of Intelligence raises important conceptual issues involving the intelligence profession, but it should not be accepted without further scholarly inquiry.

The Five Disciplines of Intelligence Collection, edited by Mark M. Lowenthal and Robert M. Clark (CQ Press, 2016) 232, footnotes, end of chapter bibliographies, index.

The five INTs recognized by the US Intelligence Community are Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), and Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT). They are frequently mentioned in the literature with brief, if any, explanations. The Five Disciplines of Intelligence Collection is the first book to address the topics separately, in depth, in a single work. Former CIA officers Mark Lowenthal and Robert Clark have edited and contributed to the book, along with five other authors, each a specialist in one of INTs.

The chapter on OSINT was written by Eliot Jardines, a former assistant deputy director of national intelligence for open source in the office of the DNI. He was responsible for strategic direction, policy, and oversight of the OSINT programs in the 16 organizations of the IC. His contribution makes clear that, while OSINT has long been a source of information, it is particularly important in the era of the World Wide Web, social media, the smart phone, and as a source of “gray literature” (not classified but of limited distribution). He reviews who uses and collects OSINT, the types of data of interest, the burden of validation it imposes before it can be accepted, the future of the field in terms of technology, and the legal considerations.

Retired CIA officer Michael Althoff has long experience in managing collection and dissemination of HUMINT on targets in Russia and the former Soviet bloc countries. His article presents a historical review and explains just what HUMINT is and is not, stressing that it involves collecting secrets that can’t be acquired any other way. He also discusses who does the work, the relationships with friendly services, how HUMINT is managed, and the special problems that arise as a consequence of operating in the digital world. For perspective, he includes how HUMINT is approached in Russia, France, China, and Great Britain.

William Nolte, a former NSA officer, discusses SIGINT with a twist. In addition to the two well-known components of SIGINT—COMINT (communications intelligence) and ELINT (electronic emissions from missiles, for example)—he includes FISINT. Defined as foreign instrumentation signals intelligence, FISINT is derived from an instrument intentionally placed on a platform (like a launch vehicle). Nolte explains in detail how SIGINT became an NSA core responsibility in addition to, and largely separate from, NSA’s better known cryptologic mission. He also summarizes the requirements, the collection platforms (in general terms), and how the data are processed and disseminated. He concludes with some not pessimistic comments on the continuing value of SIGINT in the digital world.

GEOINT is a relatively new term, defined officially in 2003; thus, one might conclude that few have prolonged experience in the field. (111) But that would be wrong; GEOINT is concerned with high accuracy mapping and maps, plus the supporting geospatial data, as, for example, orbital and geography parameters. Both are long-time intelligence functions. Darryl Murdock and Robert Clark have impressive credentials in these areas. After discussing the official definition of GEOINT, they present a history of its mapping origins, followed by commentary on the sensors employed, the end products, and how collection dissemination systems are used and managed. Many countries produce GEOINT for similar purposes and the authors review the areas of overlap for 11 of them. They conclude with thoughts about the use of drones for collection and new applications due to the Internet of Things.

MASINT as a discipline dates from the late 1970s and encompasses a collection of techniques several of which are much older. (159) Examples include acoustic techniques for locating submarines and field artillery pieces, radar, and seismic sensing. Authors John Morris—known as “Mr. MASINT”—and Robert Clark provide a history of MASINT development and many examples of the different types, their applications, contributions, and management in the contemporary environment.

In the final chapter the editors discuss how the five INTs are managed individually and collectively to comprise an anti-stovepipe system. The Five Disciplines of Intelligence Collection will prove a valuable source for students and specialists who need to learn what these disciplines are and how they work as a system.

Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence, second edition, by Robert W. Pringle (Rowman & Little- field, 2015) 462, bibliography, appendices.

Robert Pringle served in the State Department and later as a CIA analyst. This new edition of his book has 66 additional pages. While most of the additional pages are devoted to new entries, the extensive bibliography (with its own table of contents) and the appendices have been updated.

Pringle’s thoughtful introduction is worth the attention of those wondering about the background of the Russian intelligence services and why they remain of interest today. At first glance, readers may not find entries for relatively recent cases, as, for example, Adolf Tolkachev.

But he is mentioned in the entry for Edward Howard, the former CIA officer who exposed him to the KGB before defecting to Moscow in 1985. Had the publisher provided an index, this kind of problem would have been prevented.

Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence is a valuable contribution to the intelligence literature, especially for those seeking reliable summaries for important cases, evidence of how the Russian services function today, and some history on their origins.

A Life of Lies and Spies—Tales of a CIA Covert Ops Polygraph Interrogator, by Alan B. Trabue (Thomas Dunn Books, 2015) 304.

For CIA officers, the polygraph is initially a rite of passage and later becomes a routine part of their careers. Some find it an unpleasant experience, others a necessary inconvenience. But how many have wondered about the examiner on the other side of the “box”? He or she may know all about you—but what kind of a career does he or she have in the intelligence business? A Life of Lies and Spies is one answer to that question.

An agency brat, Alan Trabue attributes his life-long love of travel to growing up in faraway places due to his father’s many overseas assignments. At the suggestion of his brother (who had also served in the agency), Alan decided he would give the CIA a try after college. He was accepted and after his orientation training became a polygraph examiner. He describes his own introduction to the polygraph and, though some of his classmates fell victim to what they called they termed the “mental colonoscopy,” (23) he survived. Then travel the world he did for the next 38 years while he rose through the ranks to direct the worldwide covert operations polygraph program.

A Life of Lies and Spies begins with a description of the polygraph process that includes typical behavior and also examples of the less-frequent, even bizarre effects—physical distress, fear, anger, threats of violence—it produced in those examined. (10-11) Then he turns his attention to the covert operations section that conducted polygraph examinations and interrogations overseas. With the exception of some years teaching and managing training, he spent the remainder of his career in this area.

Now the fun begins! Trabue devotes most of the book to “war stories”—or, more properly, case summaries—that illustrate a covert operations polygrapher’s life in the field. He avoids geographic specifics and most names, but conveys general procedures, the functions of key players, and the essence of certain tradecraft issues. He pays particular attention to his time-tested techniques for handling examinees, especially foreign agents.

His case summaries include the Castro agent that beat polygraph examinations administered by Trabue and two others; the peculiar circumstances presented by some female agents; poorly chosen test sites; problems that arise between the examiner and the station case officers; dealing with nervous examinees; and the use of interpreters. He even includes some examples of interoffice practical joking among examiners.

A Life of Lies and Spies provides an interesting look at how and why the CIA employs the polygraph. A valuable contribution.

Objective TROY: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone, by Scott Shane (Tom Duggan Books, 2015) 416, endnotes, index.

The objective was Anwar al-Awlaki; his codename was TROY; the weapon of choice was the drone; the mission was successful. Why was it necessary and was it legal? Investigative journalist Scott Shane addresses these and many related questions in Operation TROY.

Born in the United States, al-Awlaki enjoyed the student life at Colorado State until suddenly giving up engineering for religion in late 1990 during Desert Storm. A gifted orator, he rose rapidly and was soon preaching at a mosque in San Diego before becoming a popular imam of his own mosque in Northern Virginia. After 9/11, the FBI discovered that two of the hijackers had worshipped in al-Awlaki’s San Diego mosque and he became a person of interest. Among other things, the Bureau discovered al-Awlaki’s penchant for prostitutes that they documented in full. When he learned they knew, he bolted to Lon- don and then to Yemen. It was there that he rose to lead al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula and instigated the Christmas 2009 underwear bomber’s attempt to bring down an airliner. By 2010, he was “openly calling for killing Americans, including civilians” and his slick magazine Inspire and YouTube sermons were winning converts. He was soon added to the “kill list.” (284)

Objective TROY covers the legal, moral, and political elements of that decision from the intelligence, public, and White House perspectives. While the White House remains officially silent about many aspects of the operation, the potential for civilian casualties and the use of drones in general are discussed at length. (285) Shane uses the president’s own speeches and extensive staff interviews to convey the decisionmaking quandaries that presented themselves. Not all the legal issues are resolved, but he quotes the president’s judgment that, “I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took him out.” (310) But that did not quiet the critics: they insisted that drones were somehow immoral; that al-Awlaki’s effectiveness had not been diminished; and that his legacy persists, inspiring even more jihadis. (302)

In his efforts to discover “the toxic mix that had turned al-Awlaki into an outlaw” (290) and led to his death, Shane interviewed his associates and family members. Their views on the legality of his death are sobering. Anwar’s younger brother, Ammar, Shane writes, claimed the CIA made a “brazen pitch” to enlist his help finding his brother; he declined. (267) Attempts by a former jihadi who penetrated al-Awlaki’s entourage by helping him find another wife also failed. Efforts by other intelligence agencies were extensive but also unsuccessful. In the end it was an unspecified agent who revealed the target’s location. (289)

Objective TROY is a fine account of the al-Awlaki case in all it dimensions.

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HISTORICAL
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi Occupied Paris, by Alex Kershaw (Crown Publishers, 2015) 286, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

Members of the French resistance often learned the practicalities of clandestine life on the job. The Jackson family is a prime example. Dr. Sumner Jackson, an American, had served in WW I, married a Swiss nurse (Toquette), and settled in Paris, where their son Phillip was born. Sumner was chief surgeon at the American hospital when WW II began and he and his wife decided not to follow many of their colleagues who returned to America. Their introduction to the resistance began with Sumner’s efforts to help escaped pilots who found their way to the hospital. Soon, their home at 11 Avenue Foch was enlisted as a dead letter drop and safehouse, and they became part of an escapee network. They functioned successfully under the noses of the Gestapo, then headed by Helmut Knochen, until their arrest just before D-Day. Ironically, Gestapo headquarters was located at 84 Avenue Foch, and its offices at 31 Avenue Foch—headquarters for the elements dealing with the deportation of Jews—were both close to the Sumner home.

In Avenue of Spies, historian Alex Kershaw tells of story of the Gestapo battle against the resistance and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) networks that arose to support it. Using French informers and brutal interrogation techniques—often genuine torture—they gradually penetrated both. In May 1944, the Libération escape line, supported by Dr. Sumner, was compromised. The entire Sumner family was arrested and imprisoned in Gestapo jails. Toquette survived the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Phillip and his father were sent to Neuengamme labor camp near Hamburg. In May 1945 as the Allies neared Germany, they were placed on the SS Thielbek, headed for an unknown destination. Dr. Jackson, as an American, was judged eligible to transfer to Sweden, but declined in order to remain with his son and patients. The Thielbek was sunk by RAF fighters; Phillip survived, but his father did not.

Avenue of Spies ends with a summary of what happened to those who survived the war. Knochen was imprisoned but soon pardoned, as were many other Gestapo officers. Toquette and Phillip were decorated, but it was a long struggle to any kind of normal life. She died in 1968, her son in 2014. Kershaw’s account insures they will not be forgotten.

Daughters of the KGB: Moscow’s Secret Spies, Sleepers, and Assassins of the Cold War, by Douglas Boyd (The History Press, 2015) 224, end of chapter notes, photos, maps, index.

Readers anticipating a book brimming with Jason Matthews-esque tales of espionage adventure will be disappointed in Daughters of the KGB. Historian and linguist David Boyd a tells quite a different story from what the book’s title implies—the word “daughters” doesn’t even appear in the index. These “daughters” are the surrogate intelligence organizations formed by the Soviet Union after WW II in what became the communist Bloc countries.

Boyd begins by establishing his unusual credentials: in 1959, while serving in the Signals Section at RAF Gatow, West Berlin, he was arrested in East Berlin by the Stasi—he never explains why he was there—and spent several weeks as their guest in a Potsdam prison until his exchange. His service career at an end, he entered the international film business and in the succeeding years developed contacts with filmmakers in Soviet Bloc countries. After the Wall came down, he went back to Berlin and read his Stasi file that revealed, among other details, that the working level Stasi officers disliked their Soviet masters and the repressive measures that they institutionalized against East German citizens. He then decided to examine the security services in the other Soviet Bloc countries; Daughters of the KGB is the result.

After a discussion of Stalin’s postwar plans to control the eastern European countries occupied by the Soviets, Boyd deals first with the Stasi. He provides historical background and then discusses how it originated and operated, domestically and against the West—mainly the CIA, MI5, and BND—citing a number of cases, some of which are well known, other less so.

Succeeding chapters follow this pattern as he examines the intelligence services in the other Bloc countries, including Albania. There is a chapter titled “The Horizontal Spy,” but it has no salacious detail and the cases—mainly Polish—of seduction for espionage are well known. One exception concerns Hendryk Bogulak, who Boyd claims defected to the United States and disappeared. (145)

Daughters of the KGB provides interesting detail about the East European security services in the Cold War era.

Intercept: The Secret History of Computers and Spies, by Gordon Corera (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) 320, end- notes, index.

At the start of WW I, Britain controlled much of the world’s telegraph infrastructure and it promptly cut all but a selected few of the cables Germany used to communicate with the world. At the same time, it placed human “censors” at the 120 cable offices still operating around the empire and began intercepting and reading the 50,000 messages that passed through them each day. A special unit—Room 40—was established to break the messages that were encrypted. These acts, writes BBC journalist Gordon Corera, led to “the birth of modern communications intelligence . . . [and] the first global communications surveillance system.” (2) Intercept is the story of how “computers and communications merged with the creation of the Internet and the emergence of hacking to exploit vulnerabilities, which in turn has changed the age-old practice of spying.” (9)

The central theme of Intercept is cybersecurity. Drawing on the legacy of Bletchley Park and the special intelligence USA-UK relationship that followed WW II out of mutual necessity, it tracks the introduction of the first computer, which Corera discloses was a British invention kept secret for security reasons (34, 384), and then examines several sub-themes in depth. These include the evolution of computer capabilities; why commercial software made hacking a breeze; how private, secure encryption techniques complicated matters for NSA and GCHQ and what they have done to deal with the issue; the impact of the Internet and “big data”; how the United States and Britain labor to provide cybersecurity; how other countries—mainly Russia and China—use the Internet to penetrate other nations’ databases; how to deal with cyberespionage, and the vulnerability of national infrastructures to cyberattack.

Of particular interest are Corera’s accounts of the sophisticated virus or worm, STUXNET, and its use against Iran’s nuclear program. He also includes the first case of state espionage conducted over computer networks that was conducted by the KGB and discovered by an observant American academic. (146)

In addition to the rapid technological advances, Corera describes the concurrent political, bureaucratic, and professional rivalries, as well as WikiLeaks and Snowden disclosures, that complicate the security missions of  NSA and GCHQ. These problems have no technological fix and no Harvard Business School, off-the-shelf solution. Corera describes the players in government, academia, business—and even the hacktivists—that have worked in this ad hoc cyber world to make it function.

Corera concludes with some perceptive thoughts on “the fundamental questions of the crypto wars—privacy versus security, anonymity versus identifiability and the place of encryption—that remain unanswered.” While working to find solutions, he cautions us to remember that the “Word Wide Web is for everyone.” (389–91) Intercept is an often unnerving yet thoughtful, valuable account of the evolution of the cyber world in which we live now and its implications for the future.

Intelligence Studies in Britain and the US: Historiography since 1945, edited by Christopher R. Moran and Christopher J. Murphy (Edinburgh University Press, Ltd., 2013).

This interesting study gets off to a contentious start. In his preface to this recent acquisition, Professor Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones sets out some of the perils encountered by those studying intelligence as the field has evolved since the late 20th century. He makes “special mention of the American curse of the revolving door”—those who join the Intelligence Community from academia and then return to teaching. They can “go native, remerging in academia as propagandists. They may not have been the best scholars in the first place.” And those who are “top scholars do not relish the contempt in which they are often held, once having dabbled in ‘dirty espionage.’” Jeffreys-Jones’s scorn is not reserved for those with experience in both professions. “Teaching and scholarship in the intelligence field,” he goes on to say, “is, to too great an extent, blighted by the presence of pensioners who are not only biased in favour of officialdom, but also second rate intellectually. Such problems do not exist in Britain.” (xvi–xvii)

No specifics are provided and fortunately his sniffy affronts do not reflect the tenor of the 16 contributions that examine how questions of truth, evidence, and method have been dealt with in intelligence history. The first eight articles deal with American intelligence, four by American authors and the balance by UK academics. The second eight focus on British intelligence, with articles by British scholars.

The topics covered in the first eight articles begin with four by British academics. The first, by Richard Aldrich, surveys what has been written about US intelligence since the end of the Cold War. Then come two separate studies of CIA covert action, one by Kaeten Mistry and the other by Matthew Jones and Paul McGarr. Whether espionage fiction mirrors the real word is discussed by Simon Willmetts.

The four American contributions include a study of the historical writings about the FBI by US academic Melissa Graves, a comparison intelligence fiction and nonfiction by former CIA inspector general Fred Hitz, and an analysis of the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom, by academic Eric Pullin. Although Pullin complains about “CIA’s history of pathological secrecy [and] routine obstructionism,” (47) he manages an interesting account. The piece by CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic assesses the value of using the putative CIA history, Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner, in teaching intelligence. Even though his earlier review of the book established its severe weaknesses, he argues it should be used in conjunction with other texts so the issue can be seen in context.

The articles on British intelligence historiography cover an interesting range of topics. They include a discussion by Robert Johnson on the origins and contemporary significance of the term “the Great Game,” Jim Beach’s piece on the relatively few historical accounts of military intelligence, and a study of interrogation by Samantha Newbery that focuses on the intelligence to be gained.

Christopher Murphy looks at the precedent-setting publication issues encountered before M.R.D. Foot’s SOE in France went to press, and Daniel Lomas examines a number of WW II operations and the often inconsistently applied government policies to control their telling with particular attention to the story of the interrogation unit known as the “London Cage.” Adam Svendsen contributes a study of the British intelligence literature—books and articles—that appeared in 1968, arguing that these established a trend in intelligence history that continues to this day. The late Chapman Pincher provides a “retrospective” on British intelligence from an investigative journalist’s point of view that modestly highlights his contribution.

The concluding article by historians Christopher Baxter and Keith Jeffery analyzes the contribution of “official histories,” acknowledging that they are seldom “definitive” since deletions and omissions are always required

Intelligence Studies in Britain and the US is a valuable contribution to intelligence history.

MI5 at War 1909–1918: How MI5 Foiled the Spies of the Kaiser in the First World War, by Chris Northcott (Tattered Flag Press, 2015) 274, endnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, index.

Readers of British intelligence history may understandably have concluded that Christopher Andrew’s 2009, 1032-page volume, Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, is the definitive treatment of the subject. Independent scholar Chris Northcott agrees with this assessment, noting that Andrew’s work “will most likely stand as the definitive history of MI5 for at least a generation.” (xiii) Yet he asserts, paradoxically, after a detailed review of the current literature, that it “does not pay enough attention to some of the key factors that help to explain why MI5’s organizational structure developed into the shape that it did.” This weakness can now be addressed, he suggests, due to the recent release of MI5 files that “make it possible to examine MI5 at the micro level and understand the intimate workings of its six branches.” (xviii) MI5 at War 1909–1918 attempts to correct these deficiencies for the first 10 years of MI5’s existence while recognizing that the new records amount to a version of official history and such “history is predisposed to present a distorted, official viewpoint . . . compilers of official histories may choose not to re- veal everything or be prohibited from doing so.” (xix)

Does Northcott accomplish his objective? The short answer is no. His book is not organized by discussions of the six branches. Instead, he presents a chronological history of MI5’s development with emphasis on the many cases with which it was involved and only short digressions on the organization, from time to time. And most, if not all, of which he writes has been covered by previous authors—some of whom he cites. Had he flagged the new points and compared them to omissions in previous works, his case might have been strengthened.

MI5 at War 1909–1918 does discuss the organizational evolution of MI5 branches, but this evolution is well covered elsewhere. Interesting history, little new.

Most Secret Agent of Empire: Reginald Teague-Jones Master Spy of the Great Game, by Taline Ter Minassian (C. Hurst & Co., 2014) 283, endnotes, photos, index.

Captain Reginald Teague-Jones was assigned to military intelligence at GHQ, New Delhi, in 1917. Educated in St. Petersburg, he was fluent in Russian, German, and Persian, among other languages. After the Bolshevik Revolution, he was sent to Baku to assess the situation and determine whether the local anti-Bolsheviks were likely to remain in the war. On 20 September 1918, 26 Bolshevik commissars of Baku were executed. Initially forgotten—fog of war—when the Bolsheviks recaptured Transcaspia in 1919, they discovered the fate of their colleagues, some of whom had been personally known to Lenin. A lawyer was sent to investigate. His report blamed Teague-Jones for the decision to execute the commissars—by now treated as martyrs—and he was publicly accused by Stalin and Trotsky. When in 1922 a Russian book repeated the charges, Teague-Jones, fearing for his life, officially changed his name to Ronald Sinclair and disappeared. Although he kept in touch with a few friends under his birth name, it was only when Sinclair died in 1988 that his obituary revealed his long kept secret.

In Most Secret Agent of Empire, Taline Ter Minassian, an historian at the Paris Institut National des Langues et Civilsations Orientales, expands on previous accounts of the Teague-Jones story that mainly concerned the commissar incident and his disappearance. Based on Teague-Jones’s voluminous papers (now in the British Library), Minassian covers his early life—including a brief marriage—and his work for the Indian Political Intelligence (IPI) service prior to WW I, when he worked often disguised as a local in Persia. There is also a fascinating chapter with new material on his later, unsuccessful efforts to capture the German imperial agent, Wilhelm Wassmuss, unofficially known as the “German T. E. Lawrence,” who was attempting to enlist Persian support for Germany.

Of special interest, Minassian explains that Teague-Jones’s name change had been supported by the British intelligence services with whom he was cooperating at the time. He would continue collecting intelligence, sometimes under the cover of working for unnamed “British manufacturers,” (193) on Soviet activities in Transcaspia, Persia, and Tibet until in 1941 when he was assigned as British consul in New York City, a cover assignment. In reality he worked in the MI6 station called British Security Coordination (BSC), which was headed by William Stephenson, all the while remaining attached to the IPI (219). He served, inter alia, as coordination officer for Bermuda and the Caribbean, the resident expert on India. One of the reports furnished to IPI assessed the potential of creating Pakistan. It was prepared by the Research and Analysis Division of OSS and was received “with no more than amused condensation.” IPI was dismayed by “the very fact that [the] research was necessary” and judged OSS “a very peculiar body.” (221)

Teague-Jones remained with MI6 in New York until he retired with his second wife—who had worked for MI5—first to Florida in 1952, and eventually to London, via Spain. Most Secret Agent of Empire is a valuable intelligence biography of historical and professional interest.

The Secret War Between the Wars: MI5 in the 1920s and 1930s by Kevin Quinlan (The Boydell Press, 2014), 266 pp., illustrations, bibliography, and appendices.

For more than 30 years, former students of Cambridge University professor Christopher Andrew have written books on intelligence history. No other program has done more to stimulate its study in academia and interest in the public at large. The latest contribution comes from an American at Cambridge, Kevin Quinlan, who argues that successful intelligence collection depends on the tradecraft employed.

At the outset, Quinlan poses a paradox that confronts authors writing on intelligence and international relations. First he notes that sources and methods, and thus “the tradecraft employed in intelligence operations that inform international relations, remain the most closely guarded secrets of intelligence services.” Then he adds that “tradecraft is commonly regarded as either scholarly antiquarianism or the stuff of movies. Almost no academic book on international relations considers it.” (xviii) Whether this omission is the unsurprising consequence of the secrecy involved or that the tradecraft details of collection are not as important to academics as the results produced, or both, is not discussed directly. Nor does he acknowledge that strict application of the “most closely guarded secrets” paradox would have prevented his research into the relationship between tradecraft and collection. Thus a relaxed or pragmatic understanding of tradecraft secrecy is necessary and that is implicit in The Secret War Between The Wars.

To make his point concerning the importance of tradecraft, Quinlan analyses a number of historical cases where some tradecraft data is now available from published case studies and various national archives. At the same time, he examines how tradecraft influenced and was influenced by the growing pains of Britain’s nascent Security Service (MI5) between the first and second world wars. By implication, Quinlan shows that these topics can’t logically be separated since successful tradecraft is a function of both organizational and individual competence.

The end of WW I left Britain with reduced manpower, a budget to match, and a growing threat from communist subversion. While it retained a relatively strong cryptographic capability and an effective mail surveillance system, Britain’s counterespionage program suffered because it was split between Scotland Yard-Special Branch and MI5. Quinlan shows how MI5 struggled to deal with agents of the so-called Red Menace while convincing its political masters more resources were required and organizational changes were necessary.

The seven chapters in the book cover six topics: official and non-official cover, countersubversion operations, agent recruitment and handling, penetration agents, and defectors. In each chapter, Quinlan discusses cases that illustrate organizational difficulties that MI5 overcame and the role played by tradecraft in the success or failure of selected operations. But readers expecting examples of clever implementation of tradecraft in their resolution will be disappointed. In the familiar 1920s cases of communist agents Wilfred Macartney and William Ewer, for example, Quinlan discusses their recruitment and handling. Macartney, a Lloyds broker, attempted to give classified military data to the Soviets. Turned in by a colleague, he was arrested and sent to prison. Ewer, a journalist, ran an agent network that provided political information to the Communist Party and thus the Soviets. Since no classified data were involved, he was allowed to emigrate to Poland. The tradecraft employed was rudimentary since neither had been well trained. Their Soviet masters did better. They penetrated Scotland Yard, learned their agents were under suspicion, and thus avoided involvement.

In his subsequent case studies, Quinlan shows how MI5 solidified its organizational structure and gradually improved the quality of its officers and their tradecraft. He devotes two chapters to the penetration operations of Maxwell Knight and another two to the debriefing of Walter Krivitsky, an NKVD defector. And while they show marked improvement in operational skills, they contain nothing new and have been covered in greater depth elsewhere.

Overall, The Secret War Between The Wars provides an unexceptional account of well known cases and demonstrates how MI5 expanded between the wars to meet the Soviet and later the German threat while applying routine tradecraft techniques effectively. It fails, however, to establish that tradecraft, although important, was the dominant factor in solving cases, especially where international relations are at stake.

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, by Eric Lichtblau (Houghton Mifflin, 2014) 266, endnotes, photos, maps, index.

At least nine books have been written on the “intellectual reparations” policies implemented by the Allies after WW II. The first, Operation Paperclip, appeared in 1971 and dealt mainly with former Nazi rocket scientists and engineers brought to the United States. A recent account under the same name added new material based on declassified documents and named more individuals involved.

A broader version of that topic, Wanted!, also covered former military and SS members. And now journalist Eric Lichtblau has revisited the matter, adding details gathered from material released by the CIA and FBI.

In The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau uses the story of the self-admitted onetime Nazi SS officer, Tscherim (Tom) Soobzokov—originally discussed in Wanted!—to illustrate how the United States overlooked evidence of criminal pasts, not just in the scientists, but also in those categorized as “moderate Nazis”—former intelligence officers—in order to recruit anti-communist agents.

Soobzokov had sued the New York Times (that published Wanted!) for its coverage of his case and won a large settlement out of court. Lichtblau describes how the rumors about Soobzokov had originated and the harassment that followed. Since he had been an agent for the CIA and FBI, he sought their help—which was not forthcoming. In the end, he was assassinated in a car bombing.

Soobzokov is not the only former CIA agent Lichtblau discusses. In the case of former SS officer Theodor Saevecke, he writes that the CIA provided him with “whitewashed documents” and he was “exonerated,” dying in America of old age. (35) An even more notorious case involved Wilhem Höttl, whom Allen Dulles had “first pursued . . . as an American spy.” (36) Höttl later testified as a witness at the Nuremburg trials, but his promised knowledge about the Soviets was useless.

Lichtblau devotes a chapter to Dulles and his contacts with “The Good Nazis.” The most well-known was SS General Karl Wolff, with whom he worked to secure an early surrender of German troops in Italy toward the end of the war as part of Operation Sunrise. Lichtblau belittles Dulles’s “sharing a fireside scotch with Himmler’s former chief of staff” during their first meeting.

(15) But he neglects to mention that he was not alone and that they were attempting to get the cooperation of the man in charge of the German army in Italy. Intelligence professionals may interpret Lichtblau’s analysis as evidence of ignorance of intelligence tradecraft.

The Nazis Next Door conveys the impression that the recruiting of German sources was largely fruitless and morally unfounded, no matter what. Thus the attempts to honor the agreements made to those brought to the United States were unjustified. In essence, there were no good or reformed Nazis. This jaded view aside, Lichtblau has added some case-closing detail to a controversial period.

NPIC: Seeing the Secrets and Growing the Leaders—A Cultural History of The National Photographic Interpretation Center, by Jack O’Connor (Acumensa Solutions, 2015) 273, endnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, chronology, index.

On 20 June 2014, as Washington Nationals fans emerged from the parking lot at 1st  & M Street SE and headed for the stadium to see the Stephen Strasburg pitch, they passed a partially demolished building across the street in the Washington Navy Yard. Few knew that they were witness to the end of Building 213, former home of the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) where, from 1963 until 1996, the nation’s satellite imagery had been exploited by teams of CIA, DIA, and military imagery analysts. In NPIC: Seeing the Secrets and Growing the Leaders, former CIA officer Jack O’Connor, a veteran of 15 years at NPIC, tells the story of its creation as part of the U-2 Program and its operations as the key producer of intelligence from satellite imagery.

Although O’Connor mentions each of the eight NPIC directors, his account is intentionally not comprehensive. Such a history would require a much longer treatment. Instead, he looks in-depth at the two directors who did the most to shape NPIC’s future—Art Lundahl and Rae Huffstutler. It was Lundahl who was given secret marching orders by Allen Dulles to create what, in time, became NPIC, established to handle the imagery exploitation from the U-2 in 1956. And that is what he did while working in less than optimal facilities before moving to Building 213—an absorbing story in itself.

It was Huffstutler that managed NPIC’s transition from film to digital imagery. This required new facilities, equipment, and additional training for the analysts. At the same time Huffstutler, building on the Lundahl foundation, created a management culture that, O’Connor argues, produced many senior executives who later served throughout the Intelligence Community.

To give the reader a sense of NPIC’s operations, O’Connor discusses each of the satellite systems and its impact in terms of launch frequency (and occasional failures), quantity of imagery collected, and NPIC’s methods of organizing the work. He also describes the sequence of events from the requirement to request coverage, to the reporting on the imagery acquired. As a real-world example, he presents an account of how the disaster at Chernobyl was documented by digital satellite imagery before the Soviet Union admitted the catastrophe. Chernobyl was not a routine collection experience and he describes the organizational and bureaucratic battles that had to be overcome, just one of many such conflicts that were routinely confronted as various agencies competed for the scarce overhead coverage and often disagreed with the imagery-analysts’ reporting. An example of the latter is discussed in the account of the “Third Typhoon,” a Soviet submarine whose NPIC-reported launch disagreed with the Community consensus. (148ff) As O’Connor relates these examples and others—particularly the Cuban Missile Crisis—readers get a good sense of the life of an imagery analyst and what happened when differences arose with all-source colleagues who often thought they could read the imagery just as well.

For those who encountered NPIC over the years, O’Connor’s contribution will bring back mostly agreeable—if not amusing—memories. It was an unusual organization with its own personality. For all other readers concerned with the history of the nation’s imagery interpretation program, he has provided a solid, well written foundation. O’Connor has implicitly made a good argument for a sequel. NPIC is a great contribution to the intelligence literature.

Queen Of Spies: Daphne Park Britain’s Cold War Spy Master, by Paddy Hayes (Duckworth Overlook, 2015) 328, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

In April 2008, at a conference on intelligence sponsored by the German Historical Institute, London, former CIA officer James Pavitt and the late NSA director William Odom joined Daphne Park, Baroness of Monmouth and the former MI6 Controller/Western Hemisphere, to discuss the world of contemporary intelligence. At 87, Baroness Park, radiating a “Miss Marple” charm, was both engaging and circumspect—leaving listeners coveting more detail about her career. Queen of Spies answers that call.

Daphne Margaret Sybil Désirée Park was born in Surrey, England, in 1921, home-schooled in Tanganyika under austere circumstances until 11, and then sent back to England to live with relatives and get a proper education. She did a bit more than that: by the time of her retirement, she had graduated from Oxford University with honors, served in WW II as a volunteer with Britain’s First Aid Nursing Yeomancy (FANY), and later worked as an officer with the SOE. After the war she joined the Foreign Office, became an SIS officer, and after retiring in 1979, served as president of Somerville College at Oxford. In 1990 she was made a life peer and served as SIS’s semi-official spokesperson in the House of Lords. None of these achievements was accomplished without precedent-setting breaks with tradition, so author Paddy Hayes focuses on how she met and overcame her constant career challenges.

Baroness Park’s path to her MI6 appointment illustrates her outspoken determination to speak truth to power. As a FANY, she wrote a letter denouncing the performance of her superior and was promptly punished for her efforts while her superior was promoted. But her abilities had been noticed and Hayes tells how her SOE JEDBURGH colleagues came to her rescue and secured her return to duty as an officer. Likewise, after the war, Hayes describes her groundbreaking path into the Foreign Office and eventually SIS. She would learn Russian, subsequently serving in Moscow, Leopoldville, Lusaka, Hanoi, and Ulan Bator.

It was in Moscow in the mid-1950s that Park learned her tradecraft and honed her political skills while enduring the disruptions caused by the exposure of KGB agents in the British ranks, and the fallout from botched British operations against the Soviets. As head of station in Leopoldville, she became embroiled—with her CIA counterpart, Larry Devlin—in the Patrice Lumumba affair. It was there, too, that her ability to deal effectively in male-dominated circumstances was recognized and the likelihood of further advancement enhanced. Hayes’s description of her time in Hanoi, a genuine hardship tour, is illuminating.

Daphne Park remained single and Hayes does not dodge the obvious questions. He writes about two serious affairs, one that came to nothing—in part, at least, because of the SIS policy that women in the service who married would have to resign. He also mentions instances when her gender threatened to become an issue when working with agents and how she subtly but forcefully and successfully asserted her command of the situation. (155)

Queen of Spies is documented by the relatively scant official record available, comments from former colleagues, and the few interviews of Park herself—all approved by SIS. And this accounts for the principal shortcoming of the book, since Hayes devotes considerable effort articulating Parks’s feelings and views on the situations that confronted her. At one point he admits “being forced into the realm of speculation.” (127) Thus the narrative is sprinkled with examples—comments that “she enjoyed the hot sun on her back”; (11) that “she’d have got the low-down on her rival” from her friend Maurice Oldfield; (198) that Oldfield “would have been instrumental in getting her a Controller’s position”; (245) and on the issues he “probably influencing her decision” while in Kenya. (199)

There are a few factual items where Hayes’s background in international commercial intelligence fails him. Examples include: Oleg Gordievsky was not a “defector-in-place”—he was an MI6 penetration. CIA officer Ted Shackley did not occupy the third most senior position in the agency. The statement that “the Agency was far more WASP than the Bureau and was naturally more sympathetic to Britain’s interests” defies explanation. (257)

In spite of these, Queen of Spies is the only biography on Baroness Park and it fills a big gap. Hayes has produced an interesting and informative work.

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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: Mar 29, 2016 07:17 PM
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2016 06:51 PM