Intelligence in Public Literature

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, by Clint Emerson

The Central Intelligence Agency: An Encyclopedia of Covert Ops, Intelligence Gathering, and Spies, edited by Jan Goldman

The Gatekeepers: Inside Israel’s Internal Security Agency, by Dror Moreh

Understanding the Department of Homeland Security, by Don Philpott

Why Spy?: The Art of Intelligence, by Brian Stewart & Samantha Newbery

Agent Fifi and the Wartime Honeytrap Spies, by Bernard O’Connor

Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler, by Mark Riebling

Codebreakers: The Secret Intelligence Unit that Changed the Course of the First World War, by James Wyllie and Michael McKinley

Donovan’s Devils: OSS Commandos Behind Enemy Lines—Europe, World War II, by Albert Lulushi

F. B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, by William J. Maxwell

Haig’s Intelligence: GHQ and the German Army, 1916–1918, by Jim Beach

JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA, and the Sino-Indian War, by Bruce Riedel

The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters, edited by Fergus Fleming

Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism, by Karen M. Paget

The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency, by Annie Jacobsen

Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms, by Paul WiIletts

Special Branch—A History: 1883–2006, by Ray Wilson and Ian Adams

Out of the Shadows: The Life of a CSE Canadian Intelligence Officer, by Ron Lawruk

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation, by Clint Emerson (pseudonym) (Touchstone, 2015) 258, bibliography, illustrations, index.

During his 20-year Navy career, author Clint Emerson participated in special operations around the world while assigned to the National Security Agency, Seal Team 3, and Seal Team 6. Known as Violent Nomads, he and his colleagues were skilled in surviving dangerous situations. After his retirement he realized that while much of his training would not be of use again, there were some techniques that applied to today’s risk-filled society. 100 Deadly Skills is intended to make these techniques explicit for those whose day-to-day work exposes them to uncommon hazards, or perhaps for authors of spy thrillers.

The first thing to understand when considering this book is that, despite the title, not all the “skills” discussed are deadly, unless of course there is something about how to “construct a rectal concealment” device, or “leaving zero digital trace behind,” that is not obvious. And for ease of understanding, illustrations accompany each skill while the details of use are explained in the narrative, usually limited to just a page.

On the other hand, there are entries that deal with expedient means of self-defense, making and handling weapons, shooting from a vehicle, and making an improvised Taser. Less violent topics include surveillance techniques, tracking devices, making an improvised infrared light, lock-picking, anonymous e-mail, hasty disguises, defensive driving, and construction of a safe room.

100 Deadly Skills is a handy source of tools and techniques for those with occupations just outside the norm.

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The Central Intelligence Agency: An Encyclopedia of Covert Ops, Intelligence Gathering, and Spies, edited by Jan Goldman (ABC-Clio, 2016) 911, in two volumes, photos, bibliography, index.

Volume One of this encyclopedia contains 216 entries about the CIA, with supporting evidence in the form of 98 primary sources reproduced in Volume Two. The purpose of the volumes is to “state objectively and with clarity the history of the CIA,” (xiii) based on “the use original or primary sources.” (xix) Does it meet these self-imposed conditions?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes and no. It does indeed have entries about various CIA collection (which it calls “gathering”) activities written by an assortment of academics and scholars. And each entry provides suggestions for further reading; some make reference to documents reproduced in Volume Two. But there is some ambiguity about the book’s overall purpose. For example, the Preface states that the encyclopedia “is not just a history of the CIA.” (xiii) This is followed a few pages later with the comment that the work “is not about the history of the CIA but instead is an encyclopedia of entries and documents on covert operations and spies.” (xix) No clarification is offered.

The entries themselves are of mixed quality. Sourcing is a problem on two counts. First, references to primary source documents at the end of an entry—and not all entries have them—are often not relevant to the entry topic. For example, the entry for Anatoliy Golitsyn lists three documents in Volume Two, but they have nothing to do with the case. (162) Likewise, the entry for Kim Philby refers to document #66; but it discusses greater openness at CIA. (294)

A second, more serious aspect of the entries is their accuracy. While most are presented as factual, too many have errors due to poor fact-checking. For example, KGB defector Yuri Nosenko is referred to as a “double agent” instead of a suspected provocation. Moreover, the claim that he “spied for the CIA in Moscow” is inaccurate, according to the sources cited in the entry. And the Philby entry is inaccurate in many small details: Golitsyn didn’t provide proof of Philby’s espionage; he was not rehired as a member of SIS after his initial resignation; his wife died in London, not Beirut; and he received the Order of the Red Banner in 1965, not the Order of Lenin. (293) On the topic of CIA and the Cold War, the author writes that “Truman appointed legendary OSS spymaster William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan as the first CIA director”—perhaps the greatest blooper of intelligence history. (76) A quick look at the CIA web page (search for directors) tells a different story. And Congress “was not vague in defining CIA’s mission”—it didn’t define it at all (though it did approve the mission proposed in the National Security Act of 1947). A final area worth close attention is the terminology employed; it is often inaccurate. For example, the definition of double agents is wrong; the commentary provided applies to recruited agents and genuine double agents. And the statement that a “digital espionage division” was created in March 2015, is incorrect; though a Directorate of Digital Innovation was created at that time. (xxxix)

The number of important topics overlooked altogether is surprising. For example, there is no entry for agency organization and no mention of analysis. Moreover, the coverage after 9/11 is spotty; the bibliography is weak and not up to date; and the main source for the Nosenko case is not included.

In sum, while there is a great deal of information about the CIA in the encyclopedia, it should be used with caution. Fact check any entry of interest. Caveat lector.

The Gatekeepers: Inside Israel’s Internal Security Agency, by Dror Moreh (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015) 419, index.

The Israeli internal security service Shin Bet—also known as Shabak—was established in 1949. Since then its primary focus has been the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that, in retrospect, “doomed [Israel] to live by the sword for the foreseeable future.” (xi) Seeking to learn how and why this was so, author and documentary filmmaker Dror Moreh decided to tape interviews with the then-current Shin Bet director and his five predecessors. The result was the Academy Award-nominated documentary film, Gatekeepers. The book version presents the original interviews with unique insights and additional material about each of the directors. Since all six served together at various times in their careers, Moreh includes as part of the narrative their comments when their paths crossed on cases.

Some of the directors express surprising views. For example, Avraham Shalom (1980–1986), commenting on the idea of an Arab state said, “The Arabs didn’t come up with the idea; it was us” (13)—and he suggests the idea contributed to the creation of Hamas. Other directors mention the moral and practical conflicts associated with interrogation to prevent suicide attacks. Director Carmi Gillon (1994–1996) discusses a practical example of the ticking bomb dilemma. (147) He also comments on the reasoning associated with “shaking”—their euphemism for enhanced interrogation. Most directors mentioned “very intense discussions” (339) concerning assassination operations like the one that preceded the assassination of a Hamas bombmaker with an exploding cell phone. (183) Several stressed that it was important to have empathy for and understanding of the enemy. (239)

Each director comments on the political circumstances accounting for his selection, his length of service, and his eventual resignation. Not all were fond of their prime ministers. Reasons varied, from personal incompatibility to policy differences, as, for example, the building of new settlements on the West Bank. Yitzhak Rabin was generally admired, though not all agreed with his policies and the Oslo Accords. His inexplicable assassination was considered a Shin Bet failure. Moreh records the director’s impressions on these and many other related issues.

The Gatekeepers was not received favorably by all in the Israeli press. Columnist Dror Eydar called it “sycophantic.”[1] But most are likely to agree with former US Ambassador Dennis Ross, who wrote in the Preface that the work has “great meaning intellectually and emotionally.” (ix) Firsthand views on the topics of security and anti-terrorism offer valuable lessons.

Understanding the Department of Homeland Security, by Don Philpott (Bernan Press, 2015) 320, no index.

The Homeland Security Act was passed by Congress in November 2002, creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The act’s provisions integrated all or part of 22 existing organizations, each of which is mentioned to varying degrees in this book. The DHS mission is to prevent terrorist attacks, reduce vulnerability to terrorism, and “minimize damage and recover from attacks that do occur.” (3, 6)

In Understanding the Department of Homeland Security, journalist Don Philpott sets out in a section titled “The Rationale Behind the Creation of DHS” to explain the justification for the department and how it makes America safer. Sadly, he succeeds only in leaving the reader wondering why it was created in the first place. Philpott takes what political scientists call a normative approach to understanding—he discusses what “ought” to happen, how an organization “ought” to function, not what actually occurred. And even then much is obscured in the narrative. For example, he discusses DHS organization without any supporting charts that clarify interagency relationships—sometimes wiring diagrams are essential. He is also prone to normative generalities, such as the statement that “DHS makes America safer [by] removing barriers to efficient border security,” without offering any specifics. (24) If understanding DHS is really the objective of this book, the reader should be informed not only about what ought to have happened but what did happen, how well it has worked, and prospects for the future.

Deprived of a summarizing last chapter and an index, readers have little chance to sort out what often appears as bureaucratic disorder. As it is, Understanding the Department of Homeland Security adds more confusion than understanding.

Why Spy?: The Art of Intelligence, by Brian Stewart and Samantha Newbery (Hurst &Company, 2015) 216, endnotes, bibliography, index.

The late Brian Stewart had 40 years of experience in British intelligence. He left Oxford University to join the Black Watch in 1942 and fought in France after the D-Day invasion. After the war, he joined the Malayan Civil Service, learned Chinese in China, and then began a career in intelligence during the Malayan emergency before joining MI6 in 1957. His Asian assignments included Burma, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, and Shanghai. He gained an unusual perspective on the Vietnam War in Hanoi, where he was Consul General during 1967–1968. Returning to London in 1968, he served as the secretary of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) until 1972. It was there that he “persuaded the intelligence knights of the day to commission” a precedent-setting, five-volume, official intelligence history of WWII. (xviii) It was at this time, too, that he began writing a book on the basics of intelligence. But the demands of work hindered progress and only after Samantha Newbery—now a lecturer on intelligence at the University of Salford—sought his counsel for her PhD dissertation did he seek her help in completing the manuscript. Why Spy? is the result.

Throughout the book Stewart refers to the CIA and its operations. When discussing special operations, he includes the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Iraq War, with emphasis on the British political consequences. He also devotes a chapter to Vietnam as seen from his perspective in Hanoi, and relates exchanges with Bill Colby and later DCI Helms during a meeting at CIA Headquarters. In the chapters on intelligence methods, he refers to CIA’s policies regarding HUMINT during the late 1970s, discusses the U-2 and other overhead collection techniques, comments on defectors in China, and discusses agent handling principles.

The book’s most surprising aspect is a discussion of “commonly discussed methods” (84) that may, in fact, not be so common to US professional or civilian readers: EXINT (exile intelligence), HUNCHINT (hunch intelligence), TRASHINT (trash intelligence), CABINT (cab intelligence), DOCINT (documentary intelligence), and RUMINT (rumor intelligence). One wonders whether they will catch on. Not to be overlooked, the authors also discuss a variety of assessment techniques that deal with how to handle the information collected by the more conventional techniques.

The chapter “Moral Dilemmas” has a lengthy treatment of the history and current policies on interrogation and torture. Stewart acknowledges that “pressure should be banned,” but he allows for a category of “hard individuals [who] seldom succumb to kind words, cups of tea, or intellectual dominance”—he cites Philby as an example. (102)

Why Spy? provides a useful historical and practical firsthand perspective of intelligence, as seen from both sides of the pond.

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Agent Fifi and the Wartime Honeytrap Spies, by Bernard O’Connor (Amberley Publishing, 2015) 224, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

Espionage novels by Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, and Jason Matthews, among others, have contributed to the conventional wisdom that intelligence officers routinely seduce their agents for the nation’s greater good. But is this “tradecraft” technique a formal part of the real world intelligence profession? Beyond the use of Romeo agents by Markus Wolf’s East German intelligence service, firm evidence of its use is rare among Western services. Several historians have reported use of a variation on the theme during WWII. In each case, however, British SOE officers were being tested to see if they could keep their mouths shut under seductive pressure. M.R.D. Foot mentioned that a “devastating blonde, codenamed ‘Fifi’ made it her business to find out” whether officers about to go overseas were likely to talk in their sleep and, if so, in which language.”[2] David Stafford noted that one Noreen Riols also tested agents to see if they would reveal secrets, adding that one did only after she “let him hold [her] hand.” Stafford also mentioned Fifi, adding that “she was the ultimate Agent . . . who went all the way,” but doubting that SOE would ever reveal the truth.[3] Neither Foot nor Stafford cited sources.

Well, Bernard O’Connor has now put any doubts to rest. Recently released British National archives included the file on “Our Special Agent: ‘Fifi’ . . .” (Foreword) Fifi’s real name was Marie Christine Chilver, a native of Paris who was brought up in Riga. When the war started she returned to Paris and then made her way to London, where she was hired by SOE as an agent provocateur. (7) Three chapters of Agent Fifi deal with Fifi’s background, recruitment, and exploits with SOE officers about to depart for France. O’Connor includes several of her lengthy reports that, with careful reading, leave no doubt as to modus operandi. There are also photos of her and some of her victims, all in nonoperational circumstances.

The final four chapters of Agent Fifi are filler. They deal with other women employed by MI5, three of whom were part of the Double Cross operation whose stories have been told elsewhere. O’Connor has solved a mystery, but the question of clandestine calisthenics tradecraft in conventional intelligence operations is still left to the imagination of the novelists.

Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler, by Mark Riebling (Basic Books, 2015) 375, endnotes, bibliography, index.

Sometime in 1939, Pope Pius XII installed an audio recording system in his private library to capture conversations important to his new papacy. (17) According to the recent revelations of his personal assistant, Father Leiber, opposing Hitler while preserving the independence of the church in Germany were key priorities, and he wanted his views preserved. These and other sources revealed the secure communications links established with Catholic representatives in Germany. At the same time, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr (the German security service), was exploring options for a coup d’etat with colleagues opposed to Hitler. Church of Spies tells how these two forces made contact and worked together toward their goals.

Intelligence historian Mark Riebling writes that the first move was made by Canaris, who “set out to recruit Pius” into the initial coup plan. (35) The idea was to have the pope broker a contact with the British government that would lead to discussions regarding recognition of Germany after Hitler had been removed from power. The man chosen to meet with the pope was Josef Müller, a Munich lawyer already known to the Abwehr to be a clandestine Vatican courier.

After lengthy discussions, the pope, recalling Hitler’s “vow to crush the Church like a toad,” (62) agreed to contact the British through their ambassador to the Vatican. The British initially refused cooperation but later gave some conditions in the event of a successful coup. The Americans were also contacted and received similar “overtures more warmly,” but “President Roosevelt refused to negotiate.” Nevertheless, three plots were undertaken and, as is well known, all failed. Riebling describes them in complicated and often exciting detail, and they account for much of the narrative. He includes attempts by the Gestapo to penetrate the Vatican ring using a defrocked priest and other agents. In the event, Müller is arrested and, though tortured by the Gestapo, reveals nothing. Amazingly, he survives the war and becomes active in German post-war government.

A sub-theme of the book is the pope’s intentionally low profile as he works through cut-outs to protect the church’s reputation and avoid provoking Hitler to even greater atrocities. As consequence, he mentions the treatment of the Jews only once publicly, early in the war, and post-war historians have criticized him for this approach. Riebling deals fairly with the pope’s theological and political rationale on these matters.

With one exception, Church of Spies is thoroughly documented with primary sources, interviews, and memoirs. While the latter were often written long after the fact, they will have to do until full access to Vatican archives is allowed. The exception, for which no sources are provided, is the reference to Müller’s post war services “as a US intelligence agent, codenamed ROBOT . . . still on the CIA’s agent list.”

In the end, Church of Spies is the best account of the subject to date. Amen!

Codebreakers: The Secret Intelligence Unit that Changed the Course of the First World War, by James Wyllie and Michael McKinley (Ebury Press Penguin, 2015) 346, endnotes bibliography, photos, index.

To those wondering whether this book is a comprehensive treatment of codebreaking during WWI analogous to David Kahn’s original scholarly work by the same title, the short answer is: not even close. To those readers of WWI “Room 40” cryptologic history asking whether there is new material in this latest treatment of the topic, the answer is the same.

Typical subjects covered included the role of “Blinker” Hall, head of Room 40, and others who served there. The authors also go over how the organization was created, the dependence of codebreakers on captured code books, and operations against German sabotage agents in America. Other familiar topics include the Zimmermann Telegram, the treatment of Herbert Yardley when he visited “Room 40” during WWI, the Irish connection, the U-boat menace, the Zeppelin threat, and efforts to penetrate German codes. Though the authors state that the contribution of the military codebreaking unit, MI1(b), is also treated, it receives much less attention.

The sources mentioned are mainly secondary and most do not indicate the page numbers associated with the titles referenced.

James Wyllie, a screenwriter and broadcaster, and journalist Michael McKinley, have provided a good summary of an oft-told story, useful as an introductory volume and nothing more.

Donovan’s Devils: OSS Commandos Behind Enemy Lines—Europe, World War II, by Albert Lulushi (Arcade Publishing, 2016) 367, endnotes bibliography, photos, index.

The exploits of the OSS have been the subject of numerous histories, memoirs, and movies. The best-known tell stories of espionage behind enemy lines, Jedburgh teams in France, and counterintelligence operations in Europe. Less frequently mentioned are the OSS special operations groups commonly called OGs. Donovan’s Devils gives them long overdue attention.

The concept of a special operations capability was part of Donovan’s vision for US intelligence even before the creation of OSS in 1942. But it was not as readily accepted by his military masters as were the analysis and espionage functions of the OSS mission. Initial opposition to OGs came from military traditionalists who had no experience with elite units staffed with uniformed personnel and part of a civilian organization operating behind enemy lines, even when subject to the approval of theater commanders.

After reviewing the historical precedents for special operation-type units, intelligence historian Albert Lulushi recounts how Donovan overcame significant bureaucratic obstacles from senior war department generals, during wartime, to create the OGs. Donovan’s main argument was that the ad hoc OG he had created—on his own authority—to support Operation TORCH—the invasion of Northern Africa—proved valuable, and General Marshall said so in writing. (34)

In December 1942, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued directive 155/4/D that, among other things, authorized the OGs. A typical OG unit contained four officers and 30 enlisted men. In addition to basic military skills, OG members needed language abilities for the target area, commando training (parachute, hand-to-hand combat), and signal communications proficiency. They were trained at the Congressional Country Club outside Washington, DC, and at various military facilities. The first group was ready for deployment in mid-1943 to support Operation HUSKY, the invasion of Sicily. Results were modest but encouraging.

Lulushi describes OG operations, problems, and successes, in Italy, Corsica, France, and the Balkan states. In each country this included rescuing POWs from behind enemy lines. He devotes particularly detailed attention to Operation GINNY, an ill-fated mission involving an OG unit assigned to blow up a railway tunnel on the Genoa-La Spezia line. After several failed attempts, they tried again in March 1944, which was another failure, but on this attempt 15 members were captured. When the German commander in the area invoked Hitler’s directive to execute all captured saboteurs without trial, they were shot and buried in common graves. After the war, the Germans involved were tried and convicted—the commander was hanged—in the first war crimes trial, setting an important precedent for the subsequent Nuremberg Trials.

Donovan’s Devils is a well-documented, superbly written account of how OSS established the model for today’s Special Forces. As Jack Devine notes in his back-cover comments, it is a “must-read book for any student of OSS and the general public.”

F. B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, by William J. Maxwell (Princeton University Press, 2015) 367, endnotes, bibliography, photos, appendix, index.

During the Hoover era at the FBI, books that mentioned Bureau security operations and subversive subjects, especially those by authors that had received Bureau cooperation, were formally reviewed for the director after publication by special agents. One purpose was to determine whether the book contained derogatory comments about the FBI and whether authors complied with any Bureau guidance they might have been provided. In F. B. Eyes, Washington University (St. Louis) literary historian William Maxwell discusses another purpose—paying special attention to African-American writers because they were likely to be political radicals, communists, or just because of their race. “The FBI,” he writes, “is perhaps the most dedicated and influential forgotten critic of African-American literature.” (127)

Maxwell bases this and other judgments in the book on FBI case files beginning in 1919 and ending in 1972. For readers unfamiliar with the Bureau review program, he provides extensive detail about its evolution, functions, the treatment of the authors—that included monitoring their writings, speeches, and travel—and their reactions as they became aware of the review program’s existence. And in the telling he introduces new vocabulary such as counterliterature, lit-cop, Ghostreaders (those who do the reviewing), and communist thought-control relay stations to describe its functions. (76)

Many of the authors monitored will come as no surprise to today’s readers. These include James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry (Raisin in the Sun) and Langston Hughes. What is surprising is the extensive commentary on the British SIS (including, curiously, Ian Fleming), OSS, and the CIA relationship with Bureau counterintelligence. Regarding the latter, for example, Maxwell delves deeply into the thinking of James Angleton, “the master spy whose inscrutability never hid his standing as the master theorist of CIA reading.” (150) But the overall significance of this digression and its relationship to the Bureau’s review program is never made clear.

F. B. Eyes provides numerous examples of the how the Bureau subjected African-American authors to highly questionable, if not illegal, scrutiny and harassment—although some were indeed communists—based on recently released FBI files. The book is not easy reading (the reader is challenged to find even a few simple declarative sentences). If Maxwell intended to convey some deeper message, it is lost in a semantic muddle.

Haig’s Intelligence: GHQ and the German Army, 1916–1918, by Jim Beach (Cambridge University Press, 2013) 369, footnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, index.

In 1943, Stewart Menzies, chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), appointed “his old friend General Sir James Marshall-Cornwall assistant Chief of SIS”.[4] Sir Marshall-Cornwall had served in the Intelligence Corps during WWI and was a respected officer. He was also, however, the source of the controversial assessment that “Field-Marshall Sir Douglas Haig was kept in ignorance of the [true military] situation through a deliberate policy of concealment carried out by his chief of intelligence, Brigadier-General John Charteris.” (1) Marshall-Cornwall claimed that Charteris had told him that he “believed it to be his duty to keep up the morale of the commander-in-chief and that if he gave him too much depressing intelligence, Haig might lose his determination to win the war.” (1) In Haig’s Intelligence, British historian Jim Beach revisits this astounding allegation and more broadly the role of military intelligence in wartime.

The first part of the book concentrates on the development of British military intelligence in the War Office, at GHQ, the field headquarters. In 1914 the Intelligence Corps officers were inexperienced and, as demands in the field grew, their ranks were augmented by hastily-recruited nonconformists, who were “the untidy, the unmilitary, the unusual, the eccentric, and the lateral thinkers.” (85) Nonetheless they became essential to the conduct of the war. Beach focuses on three senior officers, Gen. George Macdonough at the War Office, the controversial Gen. John Charteris who served Haig for much of the war, and his successor, General Cox. These officers developed the battlefield intelligence system, on the job, that influenced the wartime combat. Part One also describes the use of POWs, deserters, espionage, signals intelligence, and photography as important intelligence sources.

Part Two of Haig’s Intelligence is devoted to the influence of intelligence on the major battles fought under Haig’s command. The contributions of Charteris and Cox are of critical importance to these operations. Beach deals with Charteris’s personal relationship with Haig. He argues that Charteris’s “personal pessimism” and his “official optimism” (322) regarding assessments during the third battle of Ypres, with its high casualties, led to his relief. His replacement Cox, “restored both the standing and morale of the intelligence staff after Charteris’s controversial tenure.” (302) But “when his assessments began to diverge openly from Haig’s,” (322) he was sidelined before his untimely death. Haig was his own intelligence officer.

In the end, Beach concludes that, while “the intelligence system was far from perfect and many of Charteris’s assessments were clearly wrong, these shortcomings cannot be used to absolve Haig of responsibility.” (321) The buck always stops with the commander. Haig’s Intelligence is splendid history, wonderfully documented. A major contribution to military intelligence history.

JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA, and the Sino-Indian War, by Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution, 2015) 256, endnotes, bibliography, maps, index.

In October 1962, President Kennedy dealt with two crises affecting the national security of the United States. One involved Soviet missiles in Cuba and has been long remembered. The other concerned the Chinese invasion of India and prompts a Wikipedia moment, if mentioned at all. In JFK’s Forgotten Crisis, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel explains how the Sino-Indian War originated, why the United States was involved, how the crisis was resolved, and its lasting impact.

The origins of the war, writes Riedel, were in longstanding Chinese-India border disputes and claims that Tibet was a Chinese province, not an independent state. Each time China proposed a compromise settlement, it was rejected by the Nehru government, which gave sanctuary to the Dalai Lama.

US involvement was initially peripheral. Its primary interest in the area was its agreement with Pakistan that allowed use of two of its airbases to support CIA clandestine U-2 missions over the Soviet Union, China, and Tibet. Soviet operations from the Peshawar base ended after the U-2 flown by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union on 1 May 1960. U-2 coverage over China continued, however, as did CIA flights in support of the “rebellion in Communist China’s Tibet province.” (xii) But in 1961, when President Kennedy indicated he would honor India’s request for a billion dollar economic aid package, Pakistani president, Gen. Ayub Khan, suspended the program as a signal that a “tilt toward India at Pakistan’s expense would have its costs.” (xiii)

In July 1961, General Khan visited Washington, and President Kennedy hosted a state dinner in his honor at Mount Vernon (the only state dinner ever held at George Washington’s home). (ix) At the suggestion of Allen Dulles, President Kennedy used the occasion to request that Khan allow the “missions over Tibet to resume.” Khan agreed, but only after Kennedy promised that “if China attacked India, he would not sell arms to India without first consulting Pakistan.” But when China invaded India in October 1962, Kennedy ignored his promise, and sent India “critical aid including arms without consulting Khan” (xiii) since the Chinese invasion risked crippling India and raised the possibility that the United States would have “to start bombing Chinese forces.” (1) Thus Kennedy was faced with the dilemma of helping India, maintaining Pakistan’s support of the CIA’s covert program, and preventing Pakistan from tilting toward China.

Kennedy employed multiple approaches in dealing successfully with these problems. Riedel tells how he employed the undisciplined John Kenneth Galbraith, his effective ambassador to India, who frequently bypassed the greatly irritated State Department while communicating directly with the president as he made decisions on his own. Jacqueline Kennedy also played a soothing role by establishing a positive relationship with Nehru and Khan and visiting both when tensions were high. A key point in the war occurred when Nehru requested in writing that the United States “join the war against China by partnering in an air war to defeat the PLA.” (136) Curiously, Indian historians later denied such a letter existed, but Riedel found a copy, and he explains how Kennedy and Galbraith attempted to deal with the matter. In the end, the Chinese decided the issue by abruptly declaring a unilateral cease fire on 21 November 1962.

The aftermath of the crisis “saw a dramatic improvement in American relations with India, both politically and militarily,” (160) but the situation changed rapidly after Kennedy’s death. President Johnson was not inclined to view India as a key South Asian partner. Riedel summarizes the geopolitical consequences of that position that persist to this day. He also includes a useful section on the “lessons learned about presidents and their relationship to the Intelligence Community,” that emphasizes the links between covert action and policy goals. (176ff)

JFK’s Forgotten Crisis does more than comment on some little known aspects of the Kennedy administration, although Riedel does include some of the Camelot charm. Viewed broadly, it establishes the foundation for courses of action and political relationships that exist in India, China, and Pakistan to this day in a vital region of the world.

The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters, edited by Fergus Fleming (Bloomsbury, 2015) 391, photos, index.

When Ian Fleming finished his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, he ordered “a gold-plated typewriter—a Royal Quiet deluxe, $174.00—from New York.” Ian Fleming, then a few hundred thousand dollars shy of being a millionaire, asked a diplomat friend to send it on as part of his luggage to avoid customs duty. (13) But as author-editor Fergus Fleming reveals, his famous uncle almost didn’t submit his book to a publisher. (3) These and other insights about Ian make reading The Man with the Golden Typewriter an enjoyable and informative experience.

Readers should not be misled, however, by the subtitle: there are no letters from Bond. The book concerns Ian Fleming’s correspondence with friends and notables in the James Bond era. As a bonus, Fergus Fleming adds a “potted biography” (3) that outlines his uncle’s early life at Eton and Sandhurst—the latter did not go well—and subsequent events that led to his writing career. He adds further personal details throughout the book, for example, Ian’s serious book collecting—an admirable hobby that led to acquisitions of first editions such as The Communist Manifesto— and his purchase of a bibliophile’s magazine, The Book Collector. (11)

The book is roughly arranged with a chapter for each Bond novel, which quotes the associated letters. Fergus intersperses ancillary material that deals with Ian’s sometimes awkward relationship with his wife, his battles with his publisher and movie producers, his extensive correspondence with friends and other writers, and his often precarious health. In the chapter entitled “Notes From America,” Fergus provides a fascinating account of Ian’s friendship with Ernest Cuneo, a wartime friend and intellectual colossus who was the wartime liaison between OSS, BSC (MI6 in New York), and the White House. In a curious comment in the chapter on You Only Live Twice, Ian writes: “Just off to lunch with Allen Dulles! Perhaps he will inspire me. Ever seen him? I doubt his powers to enthuse.” (351)

Ian Fleming’s extensive research efforts, after writing Casino Royale from memory, are described in the chapter, “Conversations with the Armourer.” While discussing Diamonds Are Forever, Fergus includes an account of how his uncle came to write his nonfiction book, The Diamond Smugglers. After completing The Spy Who Loved Me, Ian suffered a major heart attack and spent his convalescence writing the children’s novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Ian’s Fleming’s Bond books have sold more than 100 million copies in English. (378) He truly was The Man with the Golden Typewriter.

Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism, by Karen M. Paget (Yale University Press, 2015) 527, endnotes, photos, index.

In his 1980 memoir Facing Reality, Cord Meyer, the former Chief of CIA’s International Affairs Division, referred to the 1967 “rash of publicity concerning Agency involvement with American voluntary organizations . . . that revealed that the National Student Association (NSA), the organization representing American college students, had for several years secretly been receiving funds from the CIA to help finance its international activities.”[5] The public had first heard of the program in an article that appeared in Ramparts[6] magazine, which cited the “sinister spectre of CIA involvement” in organization’s affairs. Patriotic Betrayal revisits this story, adding new detail based on recently declassified documents and interviews.

Author Karen Paget and her then-husband were members of NSA in 1967. Though she is largely silent about their experiences, in Patriotic Betrayal she asserts that the CIA-NSA relationship went far beyond financing international activities: “[w]hat began as a straightforward operation to thwart Soviet influence at home and abroad grew, multiplied, and divided like a vast spider plant. . . . Intelligence gathering and espionage—despite CIA denials—were integral to its nature.” (6)

Paget gives some examples that caused her distress, which unintentionally reveal her own lack of understanding. One mentions Raymond Garthoff, later a CIA officer, who reported that many African and South Asians “seemed tremendously impressed with Moscow.” (194) She adds that his conclusions “would have played on the CIA’s worst fears.” Paget doesn’t acknowledge, or realize, that his reporting of the truth was just what the CIA wanted or that Garthoff’s work hardly amounted to espionage. Other aspects of the CIA-NSA program that Paget finds objectionable were the attempts to disrupt Soviet propaganda functions. Gloria Steinem was involved in one such operation and Paget devotes a chapter to her role. (214ff)

But beyond criticizing many examples of covert operations, Paget has another agenda. As Sol Stern—the author of the Ramparts article mentioned above—notes in his review of the book,[7] Paget “insists that it was the political ideology of ‘liberal anti-communism’ that constituted the original sin leading to the betrayal of democracy.” Or as Paget wrote, liberal anti-communism, beginning in the 1930s, “created a generation of leaders dedicated to purging communist influence in liberal organizations. It swelled the ranks of Cold Warriors willing to combat the Soviet Union by any means necessary.” (13) These leaders included Eleanor Roosevelt, Cord Meyer, Allen Dulles, Frank Wisner, and those responsible for the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Paget insists that, had the United States followed Henry Wallace, the leader of communist front groups, (12) and accepted Khrushchev’s peaceful coexistence proposals (170) while ignoring the liberal anti-communists, the CIA-NSA program would not have been necessary and the world would have been a better place. Paget ends with a warning against a repetition of Cold War polices in the fight against radical Islam.

Patriotic Betrayal illuminates the CIA-NSA program in the kind of great detail that a participant can provide, but it is poor history, slanted by the far-left views of someone who seems to be seeking victim-hood status and who has an uncommon understanding of the Cold War.

The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency, by Annie Jacobsen (Little, Brown and Company, 2015) 552, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

The Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) was created in January 1958 in response to the launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957. It reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and was independent of the military services. In March 1972 it was redesignated the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).[8] Its mission is to sponsor research and development projects at and beyond the frontiers of technology so as to prevent technological surprise in the future and to surprise potential enemies if required.[9] The Pentagon’s Brain invents a more melodramatic, hyperbolic view of the DARPA mission: “to create revolutions in military science and to maintain technological dominance over the rest of the world.” (1) Or in another formulation, “DARPA’s stated mission is to create weapons systems.” (Prologue)

The latter is, of course, not DARPA’s “stated mission” and the inaccuracy is emblematic of Jacobsen’s approach to her subject. While she acknowledges that “DARPA created the Internet, the Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and stealth technology . . . and drones.” (Prologue) And while it is true that “DARPA makes the future happen . . . DARPA creates,” she does not make the case that “DARPA dominates, DARPA destroys.” (6–7)

In fact, DARPA creates only paperwork, as Jacobsen herself acknowledges: “DARPA does not conduct scientific research;” its relatively small staff oversees projects contracted to experts; all decisions on what will become operational are be made by the Secretary of Defense. (1) DARPA is a facilitator not an implementer. So from the outset, readers should take care as Jacobsen “shines light on DARPA’s secret history.” (6)

What, then, does The Pentagon’s Brain have to offer? With two exceptions, its 26 chapters tell interesting stories about the organization’s work, and Jacobsen includes detailed vignettes of the principal players involved. The central theme, however, is the DARPA-sponsored research. Some projects, like computer research applications, occur in ever more complex forms throughout the book. Others, as for example “Human-Robotic Interaction (HRI)” clearly worry her, as they could escape control. A sampling of other projects includes: Vietnam War studies—counter-insurgency and Agent Orange, the Motivation and Morale Project, and the electronic fence. On the technical side, she discusses the DARPA role with the CIA in the CORONA satellite program, stealth aircraft, electronic command and control issues, Internet applications, and biological warfare issues. During the Iraq War, DARPA worked with NGA to develop three-dimensional maps as part of its Heterogeneous Urban Reconnaissance Surveillance and Target Acquisition (HURT) program.

Two exceptions curiously speak to stories of events that predate the agency. The first chapter describes the first H-bomb test in 1954. It makes no explicit reference to ARPA, which should not be surprising since ARPA was created four years later. The second case is even more puzzling since it deals at length with the story of Allen Macy Dulles—Allen W. Dulles’s son—who in Korean in 1952 received a “catastrophic traumatic brain injury,” (101) which resulted in permanent short-term memory loss. Jacobsen reports the results of lengthy interviews with Dulles and his sister but does not provide a direct link to DARPA beyond observing that DARPA has long sponsored research “around trying to restore mind and memories of brain-wounded warriors.” (421)

The Pentagon’s Brain concludes noting that some have said DARPA must forever sponsor—she says conduct—“pre-requirement research.” But, she adds, “One might also look at DARPA’s history and its future, and say that it is possible at some point that the technology may itself outstrip DARPA as it is unleashed into the world. This is a grave concern of many esteemed scientists and engineers.” (451) None is identified. Jacobsen’s own portrayal of DARPA’s track record doesn’t support her admonition.

Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms: The Spyhunter, the Fashion Designer, and the Man from Moscow, by Paul WiIletts (Constable, 2015) 480, endnote, photos.

American embassy code clerk, Tyler Gatewood Kent, was imprisoned by the British during WWII for violating the Official Secrets Act. If that statement rings the deja vu bell it is because the story has indeed been told before at least twice. In 1991, Ray Bearse and Anthony Read focused on Kent’s espionage in Britain and dismissed indications he had also been a Soviet agent. In 2013, Peter Rand covered the same ground but concluded there were strong clues that Kent had spied for the NKVD.[10] Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms agrees with Rand and adds extensive new detail to support his conclusion.

China born, Virginia native, Princeton-educated Tyler Kent was a Russian linguist of independent means. He failed to qualify for the foreign service but accepted a lowly position as a clerk in the American embassy in Moscow in the late 1930s. Despite persistent difficulties with embassy staff, he managed to advance to a position as code clerk and then began a practice of copying diplomatic traffic for his own purposes. He also had a Russian mistress, owned a gun, had a car and was involved in the black market—all in the Stalinist Soviet Union. For these and other reasons, rather than create an incident, the embassy transferred him to London in 1939, where he continued work as a code clerk and his practice of retaining copies of classified diplomatic traffic. Kent’s political views and his desires for feminine companionship brought him into contact with Anna Wolkoff, an active anti-fascist. Wolkoff’s White Russian expatriate parents ran the Russian Tea Room in London. Kent met many of Wolkoff’s colleagues there and was recruited to help their cause. MI5 was aware of their activities, and Kent was arrested, with the cooperation of the US ambassador, Joseph Kennedy.

British journalist Paul Willetts covers this ground in much greater detail than his literary predecessors. He adds additional participants, British and Russian, together with accounts of their clandestine meetings, and the material Kent passed along. He also makes a convincing case that Kent was a Soviet agent—identifying his case officer—while in London and Moscow, and names his clandestine contacts in both countries.

But what Willetts fails to provide are sources for his facts. The extensive footnotes are descriptive and only extend remarks made in the narrative. Moreover, the additional source material he says may be found on his website does the same. Thus the reader is left with a robust tale, rich with new revelations, that has the ring of truth. But the task of documentation is left to the reader. Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms is really a rendezvous with frustration.

Special Branch—A History: 1883–2006, by Ray Wilson and Ian Adams (Biteback Publishing, 2015) 411, footnotes, bibliography, index.

In January 1950, when Jim Skardon of MI5 obtained a signed confession from Klaus Fuchs acknowledging he spied for the Soviet Union, Skardon could not arrest him: the Special Branch of the Metropolitan (MPSB) had that responsibility. “The Branch” as it is known, originally called the Special Irish Branch, was formed in 1883 to deal the Fenian Dynamiters then creating havoc in London. It soon became just Special Branch, a name it retained until 1986 when it was redesignated Special Operations 12 (SO12), and finally in 2006, when combined with SO13 it became SO15. Special Branch—A History tracks the Branch from its early days with emphasis on its mission, personnel, organizational changes and selected operations.

Authors Ray Wilson and Ian Adams, both Special Branch veterans, review a wide range of cases. For example, anarchists were a persistent problem at the turn of the twentieth century and they add details to a number of cases such as the “Greenwich Park Bomb” incident made famous by Joseph Conrad in his book, Secret Agent. The Branch also had a counterespionage mission until MI5 assumed that responsibility after WWI. The authors cite many examples of German espionage, including the treason of Roger Casement and the interrogation of Mata Hari, both handled personally by Basil Thompson—then in charge of Special Branch. The authors’ claim that Mata Hari was executed in Spain is, however, incorrect: it was France. (94) In the post WWI era, the focus turned first to the communist and fascist threats, followed by multiple challenges from the IRA that persist in various forms until the present.

From the interwar period to the end of the Cold War, the authors discuss the Branch’s involvement with well-known cases, such as the Cambridge spies, and some lesser known problems with Zionist extremism (230), and a new mission, VIP protection. Espionage cases during this period, such as the Fuchs case, were worked with MI5. Two interesting examples of this cooperation are the Erwin Van Haarlem and Michael Smith cases, both worth attention. (351)

Special Branch—A History concludes with a discussion of the transfer of its longtime mission against IRA terrorism to MI5, then headed by Stella Rimington. This did not end the Branch’s traditional functions of “prosecuting espionage offenders and monitoring anarchists” write the authors, that are professionally performed to this day. (390) They have produced a fine history of Special Branch-SO15.

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Out of the Shadows: The Life of a CSE Canadian Intelligence Officer, by Ron Lawruk (Friesen Press, 2015) 156, photos, no index.

Author Ron Lawruk joined the Communications Branch of the National Research Council (CBNRC) in 1958. In 1975 it became the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), but its mission—to monitor foreign signals intelligence—remained the same. As with its American counterpart, NSA, the details of CSE operations are classified and thus, with few exceptions Lawruk adds little beyond the titles of the organizational elements where he worked. In one exception, Lawruk heads a SIGINT team on a Canadian warship during a NATO training exercise. The team’s mission is to “penetrate the protective shield of the U.S. ‘Blue Team’ vessels escorting the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, undetected” to within firing range of a nuclear missile. (79) They succeeded to the graceful chagrin of the exercise commander. On another occasion, he describes his assignment to head the team that assessed the impact on Canada of the Walker spy case.

Lawruk’s personal story sets an impressive example of what can be achieved with hard work, without a college degree. He started at a rather humble level and advanced steadily to very senior positions that included a tour as liaison to NSA and assignments as the CSE representative at several multinational SIGINT conferences. He traveled widely, often with his family, and he comments on the places visited and the people involved.

Out of the Shadows is a memoir of 56 years of service spanning CSE’s ever increasing responsibilities, which ended with Lawruk’s retirement to life as a novelist.

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[1]Dror Eydar, “The banality of Dror Moreh,” Israel Hayson Newsletter, 21 February 2016.

[2]M.R.D. Foot, SOE: The Special Operations Executive 1940–1946 (BBC, 1984), 68.

[3]David Stafford, Secret Agent: The True Story of the Special Operations Executive (BBC, 2000), 44.

[4]Keith Jeffrey, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service (Bloomsbury, 2010), 476.

[5]Cord Meyer, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA (Harper & Row, 1980), 86.

[6]Sol Stern, “A Short Account of International Student Politics and the Cold War with Particular Reference to the NSA, CIA, Etc.”, Ramparts, March 1967.

[7]Sol Stern, “Ramparts, the CIA, and Cold War Revisionism,” National, 2 April 2015.

[8]NB: In 1993 DARPA once again became ARPA, only to revert to DARPA, its current name, in 1996.

[9]DARPA Report, “Bridging The Gap Powered By Ideas,” February 2005, 1.

[10]Ray Bearse and Anthony Read, The Conspirator: The Untold Story of Tyler Kent (Doubleday, 1991) and Peter Rand, Conspiracy of One: Tyler Kent’s Plot Against FDR, Churchill, and the Allied War Effort (Lyons Press, 2013. The Rand book was reviewed in Studies in Intelligence Vol. 57, no. 4 (Winter 2013–2014), 74–75.

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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: Jul 25, 2016 01:31 PM
Last Updated: Jul 25, 2016 01:31 PM