Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance: Acquisitions, Policies and Defense Oversight, by Johanna A. Montgomery (ed.).
The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English, by Joseph C. Goulden.
Black Ops Vietnam: The Operational History of MACVSOG, by Robert M. Gillespie.
Classical Spies: American Archaeologists with the OSS in World War II Greece, by Susan Heuck Allen.
Dealing With the Devil: Anglo-Soviet Intelligence Cooperation During the Second World War, by Dónal O’Sullivan.
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, by Ben Macintyre
Enemies: A History of the FBI, by Tim Weiner.
Franco's Friends: How British Intelligence Helped Bring Franco To Power In Spain, by Peter Day.
Gentleman Spymaster: How Lt. Col. Tommy 'Tar' Robertson Double-crossed the Nazis, by Geoffrey Elliott.
The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War, by Joshua Kurlantzick.
Joe Rochefort's War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway, by Elliot Carlson, with a foreword by RAdm. Donald “Mac” Showers, USN (Ret.).
Malayan Spymaster: Memoirs of a Rubber Planter Bandit Fighter and Spy, by Boris Hembry.
Historical Dictionary of Chinese Intelligence, by I.C. Smith and Nigel West.
Israel's Silent Defender: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Israeli Intelligence, by Amos Gilboa and Ephraim Lapid (eds.).
Learning from the Secret Past: Cases in British Intelligence History, by Robert Dover and Michael S. Goodman (eds.).
Main Intelligence Outfits of Pakistan, by P.C. Joshi.
The Politics of Counterterrorism in India: Strategic Intelligence and National Security in South Asia, by Prem Mahadevan.
Stalin's Man in Canada: Fred Rose and Soviet Espionage, by David Levy.
Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia: Volume II, by Ralph Pickard, with a foreword by Ambassador Hugh Montgomery.
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance: Acquisitions, Policies and Defense Oversight, by Johanna A. Montgomery (ed.). (New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2011), 161 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.
Three government-produced articles comprise the entirety of this book. Chapter 1 is a reproduction of Congressional Research Service (CRS) report # R41284, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Acquisition: Issues for Congress. Chapter 2 reproduces GAO report # 11-465, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: Actions Are Needed to Increase Integration and Efficiencies of DOD’s ISR Enterprise. Chapter 3, the longest of the contributions at 100 pages, is a verbatim copy of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Defense Intelligence report Counterinsurgency (COIN) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations.
A footnote with each chapter title states that it is “an edited, reformatted and augmented version” of the original publication. That statement is accurate to the extent that an index has been added; the footnotes of the original articles are now endnotes; the table of contents has an entry for “Chapter Sources,” which merely lists the article titles plus the agencies that created them; some of the text has been rearranged; and the book has an impressive color cover. The content of the articles, however, is unchanged. Potential readers may wish to consider two factors before purchasing this volume. First, the articles may be downloaded from the Internet at no cost. In the case of chapter 1, Montgomery provides an incorrect website. The original document for that chapter can be found on three separate sites, including the CRS homepage. All three documents, in fact, can be found with simple Google searches. Second, the cost of the hardbound edition from Amazon is $125.00.
(Studies editor’s note: Nova Science Publishers engages in the collection and reproduction of work produced by US government agencies, including works published in Studies in Intelligence. Nova has been informed that articles published in Studies by nongovernment persons are covered by US copyright laws, and that permission to reproduce those articles must be acquired from the authors.)
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The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English, by Joseph C. Goulden. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2012), 256 pp., no index.
The first edition of this dictionary appeared in 1986, when the author was contractually obligated to use a pseudonym. He chose Henry S.A. Becket.1 Now released from this constraint, Joseph Goulden has given us a revised edition under his true name. Most of the entries concern standard tradecraft terms used in various forms of espionage by most intelligence agencies. Often-misused terms, like “double agent,” are clarified, and the distinction between “agent” and “case officer” is sharply drawn. But while many are accurate, some miss the mark. For example, the term “clandestine services” should be “clandestine service.” Others are no longer in common use—if they ever were. The word “Company,” defined as a common reference by CIA personnel to their employer, fits this category. Still others are slang, perhaps common to journalists—“CI-nicks” is defined as the CIA term for counterintelligence officers—but not part of the professional jargon. In one case, Goulden has added a brand new term, “Spookonyms.” (132) Unfortunately, there is no way to tell which he has got right: the entries are not sourced and the bibliography is out of date.
In terms of intelligence services mentioned, the scope of the book extends only to players in the Cold War era. Countries in the Middle East or South Asia are not included. Goulden has added a number of often humorous items called “SAFE House Interludes,” which are quotations and anecdotes dealing with famous cases and people.
In short, The Dictionary of Espionage is a good place to start but it is not comprehensive. Such a dictionary has yet to be written.
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Black Ops Vietnam: The Operational History of MACVSOG, by Robert M. Gillespie. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011), 304 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Special Operations Group (MACVSOG) was formed on 24 January 1964. For cover reasons the name was later changed to the Studies and Observations Group. For eight years, it carried out its mission to conduct covert operations in and against North Vietnam “in direct retaliation to its aggressive moves” in the South. Black Ops Vietnam tells the story of MACVSOG operations and why, in the end, the group failed to stop North Vietnamese aggression.
After reviewing the history of MACVSOG’s formation, military historian Robert Gillespie presents a chronological account of the organization, its various types of operations, its key personnel, its command relationships, and the persistent bureaucratic difficulties the group encountered. In retrospect, each of these factors worked more against mission accomplishment than for it. MACVSOG’s relationship with the CIA is a good example. The Agency had conducted similar missions on a smaller scale before MACVSOG took over, according to Gillespie, and was reluctant to subordinate itself to military control. (12, 35) The South Vietnamese were similarly reluctant partners, though for different reasons. And then there were the difficulties of working with MACV under Gen. William Westmoreland, who was not an advocate of Special Forces. (They did not have the reputation or the wealth of experience they enjoy today.) Gillespie describes the problems the group’s commanders encountered as a result of these challenging relationships.
Despite the difficulties, MACVSOG conducted many and varied operations in South Vietnam and Laos. Some were psychological and propaganda, but most involved intelligence collection by special maritime, airborne, and ground teams. Gillespie gives a good account of each type. In addition to describing the tactical aspects of the operations, the logistical and communications problems with which the group had to deal, and the number of intelligence reports they produced, he describes individual contributions, some involving genuine bravery. The case of SSgt. Roy Benevidez is a fine example. While serving as a “desk jockey” in a staff billet, the sergeant joined a helicopter rescue of a reconnaissance team inside Laos. While under continuous fire, he helped extract the stranded team while suffering seven bullet and 28 shrapnel wounds, as well as a bayonet injury.
Gillespie makes clear that when MACVSOG was disbanded in 1972, the magnitude and the frustrations of its comprehensive failure in Vietnam were recognized at all levels. He doesn’t alibi the failures, but he does explain that they were inherently the result of the political and military strategy imposed on forces in the country. Those who have studied counterinsurgency and served in Vietnam will see in Black Ops Vietnam the seeds of contemporary doctrine. It is a well-documented, well-told account of a sad time in the nation’s history, when well-conducted Special Forces operations were laying the foundations for what would become a vital part of US operations in the current conflict in South Asia.
Classical Spies: American Archaeologists with the OSS in World War II Greece, by Susan Heuck Allen. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2011), 430 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
Harvard graduate Kermit Roosevelt interrupted his PhD studies—he never completed them—to join the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) in 1941 and went on to serve in the OSS. After the war, he was assigned to edit the then top secret OSS War Report. In his introduction to the declassified edition published in 1976, he lamented that “one cannot fail to be disappointed by the very small number of names mentioned.”2 This was especially true in the entry for operations in Greece, where not a single name was included.3 Classical Spies fills that void and adds a surprise: the OSS officers in Greece were archaeologists.
Brown University professor Susan Allen, herself a former field archaeologist, heard her first OSS war story during an “ouzo hour,” an informal get together of archaeologists on the island of Kea, in the Aegean Sea. Dig director Jack Caskey told a tale about his days in the OSS and his role in the Cicero spy case, made famous in the 1952 movie Five Fingers. Reminded of the story 20 years later when asked to give a lecture in Caskey’s memory, Allen decided to determine whether it was documented in OSS records. Her research not only confirmed Caskey’s account, it revealed the extent to which archaeologists had contributed to the OSS mission in Greece, a story not told until now.
The key figure in Classical Spies is archaeologist Roger Young, a Princeton PhD and heir to the Ballantine Ale fortune, whom Allen describes as a “coddled child of the gilded age.” (30) He was working on a dig in Greece at the start of the war in Europe. When Italy invaded Greece and most of his colleagues left for home, Young decided to stay and help the Greeks fight Mussolini. But the government didn’t want foreigners. Allen tells how Young progressed from this situation to join the OSS, where he recruited many archaeologist colleagues—they knew the language, geography, and culture—to staff its Greek Desk in Washington and, later, Cairo.
The operational details of the OSS Greek Desk are fascinating in themselves, but they also reveal the archaeologists’ amazing ability to adapt to the requirements of intelligence operations and perform well as intelligence officers. The work was not all agent recruitment and collection. Allen describes the many turf battles that emerged with the archaeologists’ more experienced British compatriots. Equally challenging, the various Greek and Turkish political factions—monarchists, communists, fascists—often made support a real challenge. After the war, the archaeologists returned to their peacetime professions. None wrote a memoir of the experiences.
Classical Spies relies heavily on primary sources from the National Archives. Professor Allen unearthed the long lost official report of Jack Caskey that discussed Operation Honeymoon (detailed in chapter 10), his role in the Cicero case. The appendices provide an assessment of the contributions of the archaeologists, a listing of those involved, and the operations undertaken. Classical Spies fills a genuine gap in OSS history and is a truly invaluable contribution.
Dealing With the Devil: Anglo-Soviet Intelligence Cooperation During the Second World War, by Dónal O’Sullivan. (New York: Peter Lang, 2010), 337 pp., footnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
More than 500 books have been published about the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) since the end of WW II. Very few have mentioned the joint Anglo-Soviet operations that sent NKVD agents behind German lines. Nigel West gives a brief account in Secret War but does not indicate the magnitude of the relationship, since few documents had been released before the book’s publication.4 Using British and Russian documents released in 2008, Dónal O’Sullivan, an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge, has remedied that situation.
By the time Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, many of the NKVD and GRU networks operating in the West had been rounded up by the Germans. Others had been annihilated during the Soviet purges. Stalin wanted to reestablish contact with those agents remaining in Europe and set up viable new sources, but early in the war he didn't have the capability to dispatch agents. Professor O’Sullivan explains how an arrangement was reached with the SOE for Soviet agents to be dropped into German-occupied territories. He also alludes to the less productive efforts at cooperation between the NKVD and the OSS.
After providing considerable background on the NKVD and SOE negotiations and planning, O’Sullivan describes selected operations and the agents that participated. More than two dozen agents were involved; all were communists and all were either from the areas into which they would be inserted or had worked there before. Some acted alone, others in teams; each team had a codename. Examples include the first Soviet agent, a woman, designated Pickaxe 1. She was landed by boat in France—the French resistance was not informed —and linked up with colleagues in Paris, where she worked until arrested. She and other members of the network were executed. A Dutch father-and-son team was recruited and dropped into Holland. Neither was well qualified; they had just wanted to go home, and the Soviets needed agents. Both were caught. The father, Willy Kruyt, was one of the few agents to survive the war.
The most complicated agent arrangement involved Bhagat Ram, an Indian communist recruited by the NKVD and then declared to the SOE—the only known example of this arrangement—with a warning that he had very likely worked for German intelligence. Peter Fleming—Ian Fleming’s older brother—called him SILVER and ran him against the Germans in India. Ram’s fate remains unknown.
In the end, the Soviets gained little from cooperation with Britain. Chronic mutual distrust hampered all operations. And to make matters worse, the Germans caught most of the agents. In several cases, the agents were turned against their masters as part of what the Germans called a Funkspiel, or radio game
Dealing With the Devil fills a historical gap in the intelligence history of WW II. Overall, the book is well documented, though O’Sullivan’s judgment that the Red Orchestra was a German myth is debatable. Running agents behind enemy lines in several countries at the same time and from a distance is a difficult job, as this book makes crystal clear.
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, by Ben Macintyre. (London: Bloomsbury, Ltd., 2012), 417 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, maps, index.
Two previous books by British journalist Ben Macintyre, Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, were on subjects covered in other books and movies. Yet he produced very readable, informative volumes with considerable new content. He has done the same with Double Cross. The classic work on the topic, Masterman’s The Double-Cross System, provides a broad view of the program.5Macintyre looks in depth at the five double agents and their handlers—British and German—who contributed the most to the D-Day deception, although a number of others are mentioned.
Four of the agents in Macintyre’s book have written memoirs and thus will be familiar to some: Dusko Popov (TRICYCLE), a Yugoslav patriot and would-be man of the world who volunteered with his brother to work against the Nazis; Roman Czerniawski (BRUTUS), a Polish patriot and something of a loose cannon, although a useful one; Natalia “Lily” Sergeyev (TREASURE—other sources render her surname as Sergueiew), a Russian with a pet dog that nearly exposed the entire operation, but her honey trap tactics with the Germans were effective; and Juan Pujol (GARBO), portrayed elsewhere as the key to success and depicted in that role here also.6 The book adds some new personal details about Pujol, however. Elvira Chaudoir (BRONX), although mentioned occasionally in the literature, is not well known. MI5 used her bisexuality in order to convey erroneous information to her German handler. Macintyre relates her recruitment by MI6’s Claude Dansey —and his subsequent meddling in her care—before she was turned over to MI5. On the British side, overall supervision of the double agents was provided by Tar Robertson of MI5, and Macintyre explains his role fully. The German (whether Abwehr or Gestapo) handlers varied with each agent and their strengths and vulnerabilities are analyzed. Sometimes it was dumb luck that saved the deception network from exposure.
While Double Cross describes the daily stresses and strains imposed on the agents, it also focuses on the bureaucratic and personal conflicts that threatened operations. Equally important, Macintyre conveys the intricacies of running double agents when the volume of false data is high, the coordination links are many, and the possibility is ever present that agents have been discovered and turned. Fortunately, the ULTRA decrypts made it possible to know the Germans’ judgments on the information passed and to make adjustments when necessary.
The final chapter of Double Cross tells what happened to the agents after the war—double agents don’t always live happily ever after. Based in part on recently released MI5 documents and illustrated with pictures of key players on both sides, Macintyre’s book provides a good read and fills in some operational gaps in this famous tale. Informative and very enjoyable.
Enemies: A History of the FBI, by Tim Weiner. (New York: Random House, 2012) 537 pp., endnotes, index.
Pulitzer prize winner, Tim Weiner, has written several books about American intelligence. Betrayal was about the counterespionage failure in the Aldrich Ames case.7 Then came Legacy of Ashes, which alleged serial blundering at the CIA.8 In Enemies he has applied the same scrutiny to the FBI. All three of his books have been frequently, in most cases favorably, reviewed. In her review of Enemies, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston, writes that the book deals with “rumors about the FBI and its dirty tricks [that] have been circulating for years” and suggests Weiner “seeks to set the record straight on everything from providing Sen. Joseph McCarthy with secret reports to…surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr.”9
In fact, the book provides even wider coverage, focusing on civil liberties violations from the Palmer raids in the 1920s, to the Weathermen, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the Bureau’s growing role combating counterterrorism. The emphasis on each of these topics is on bureaucratic infighting and various political, legal, and moral issues. But aside from Mr. Weiner’s gloomy views of Mr. Hoover’s performance, there is little new in the book, and there are some discrepancies and omissions worth noting.
Examples of the former include the story of the 1944 black-bag job in which “the FBI broke into Amtorg’s New York office and stole reams of Russian-language messages and their enciphered equivalents” that were delivered to FBI special agent Bob Lamphere (155–56) as part the VENONA operation. That story was a cover. The messages were actually collected from commercial telegraph companies.10 Then there is the assertion that NKVD agent William Weisband’s penetration of VENONA “paralyzed progress.” (168) Not so, future decryptions were impossible since the Soviets had already stopped using duplicate pages for their one-time-pads. The statement that Allen Dulles had been “commissioned by the Pentagon to conduct a top-secret study of the shoddy state of American spying” (169) raises an eyebrow since the study is not identified or sourced. Perhaps Mr. Weiner meant the so-called Correa Report prepared by the Intelligence Survey Group established by the National Security Council, to which Dulles contributed.11 Two other examples indicate the scope of the errors. First, the KGB agent FAREWELL never defected as claimed, (353) and the Czech agent, Karl Koecher, did not work for the CIA for 10 years. (354)
The omissions include many familiar and important cases. For example, there is no mention of Yuri Nosenko or Anatoli Golitsyn and the conflict that resulted from differing judgments about them at the CIA and FBI. Similarly, Jonathan Pollard, Ronald Pelton, George Trofimoff, William Bell, and James Hall escape attention. Most curious of all, the Felix Bloch case is ignored though it figured prominently in the handling of the Robert Hanssen fiasco, which is otherwise well summarized. Lastly, the successful FBI investigation of the 11 Russian illegals—Operation Ghost Stories—is not included.
Overall then, it is fair to say that Enemies is first a review of Hoover and FBI intelligence operations—although some criminal investigations are mentioned—from the organization’s inception to the present—with intense emphasis on what Weiner deems the Bureau’s persistent disregard for legality during Hoover’s tenure. This is followed by the troubled times in the post-Hoover era and the transition to counterterrorist operations under Director Mueller. Only a few successful operations are noted, and many known successes are overlooked entirely. Given Weiner’s selectivity, one can’t help but wonder if his next book were to be about the history of the flight, whether it would deal primarily with crashes. Enemies is well written, however, with good documentation and a definite point of view.
Franco’s Friends: How British Intelligence Helped Bring Franco To Power In Spain, by Peter Day. (London: Biteback Publishing, Ltd., 2011), 243 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
In his epic history of the Spanish Civil War, Burnett Bolloten wrote that Gen. Francisco Franco was in the Canary Islands when given command “of all the militarily significant units of the Spanish Army.” They were located in Morocco. “The De Havilland Dragon Rapide, piloted by Captain Cecil Bebb, that flew General Franco secretly from the Canaries to Spanish Morocco on 18 and 19 July 1936 was chartered on 8 July in Croydon, England, by Luis Bolin, the London correspondent of a Madrid monarchist daily, ABC.”12 What Bolloten didn’t write, and probably didn’t know, was that the flight was made with the help of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and carried one of its agents, Hugh Pollard, his daughter, and one of her friends. The cover story for the flight was that it was taking a group of vacationers to the Canaries. Franco’s Friends reveals the secret aspects of this story with all its political implications in great detail.
After dealing with the arrangements and the flight itself, author Peter Day describes Franco’s coup and the involvement of the SIS in keeping the Foreign Office informed of Franco’s progress. British support for the Spanish monarchy involved more than political and military considerations―.it also surreptitiously furnished planes and other materials to Franco’s government. Economic factors were equally important as for example, the United Kingdom’s mining interests in Spain. When the Second World War began, the British worked hard to keep Franco from siding with Hitler. Day explains the complex machinations—from persuasion to bribery—undertaken to achieve that end.
Many familiar names appear in Franco’s Friends. They include Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Samuel Hoare, Kim Philby, Graham Greene, Hugh Dalton (head of the SOE), and Ian Fleming, to name a few. Day has drawn on primary source documents and interviews to tell this heretofore unknown story, and he tells it well.
Gentleman Spymaster: How Lt. Col. Tommy ‘Tar’ Robertson Double-crossed the Nazis, by Geoffrey Elliott. (London: Methuen, 2011), 332 pp, end-of-chapter notes, photos, index.
“Agent” is one of the two most misused terms in media coverage of intelligence—“double agent” is the other. A recent example appeared in an article by Washington Post correspondent Ian Shapira subtitled “Ex-agents claim credit.”13In that case, the article discussed former intelligence officers who had recruited and handled agents and wrote memoirs about the experience. Such memoirs have become a staple in recent intelligence literature. But it was not always thus, and Geoffrey Elliott’s work is about a World War II MI5 officer who declined to write about his career.
Thomas Argyll “Tar” Robertson was born in Sumatra, educated at Sandhurst, and, shortly after leaving the Army, was recruited into MI5 by its director general, Vernon Kell. He had a natural ability for counter-intelligence work, and in WW II was the original architect of the Double-Cross system that controlled all the German agents sent to spy in Britain. Elliott describes Robertson’s early days in MI5, the agent-handling techniques he developed, how he came to recommend the use of double agents for deception, and the difficulties he overcame in supervising the Double-Cross system that deceived Hitler and his generals before D-Day. To add perspective, Elliott also provides background on the principal agents and the efforts Robertson made—in some cases dealing with them himself—to maintain their cooperation. A good example is the temperamental Russian émigré Nataliya “Lily” Sergueiew (TREASURE), whose affection for her dog nearly exposed the entire double agent operation. At times, agents’ reliability became suspect, and Robertson was forced to terminate their service or, as in the case of SNOW, have them operate from prison. And then there was the case of Yugoslav volunteer Dusko Popov (TRIYCLE), who came into contact with a not too friendly FBI. Not all of Robertson’s problems had to do with agents, and Elliott tells how he interacted with MI6 and the various deception committees in Britain as well.
MI5 had a unique advantage in managing the system —namely, the ability to monitor German reaction to agent reports by reading their cable traffic at Bletchley Park, where the codebreakers performed their magic. Elliott explains how Robertson used this capability to deceive.
After the war, Robertson, just 39, resigned from the service and became a gentleman farmer. His only concession to discussing his wartime service was made when he cooperated with author Nigel West in writing a history of MI5. Gentleman Spymaster provides unusual insights to both double agent operations and the life of one of the best at the task.
The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War, by Joshua Kurlantzick. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011), 264 pp., endnotes, index.
After World War II ended in Europe, Major James Harrison Wilson Thompson was assigned to Thailand by William Donovan himself. He arrived during the final weeks of the war and never went home. In 1967, over the Easter weekend, he went to visit friends in Malaysia. One afternoon he left their cottage to go for a walk alone in the jungle. Thompson was never seen again. The 2010 book SOLVED! claimed that his disappearance had indeed been explained.14 But alas it had not; the book only presented speculation. The Ideal Man does not solve the mystery, either, but in it, journalist Joshua Kurlantzick offers the best account yet published, with new details from interviews with former OSS colleagues, CIA contacts, and Thai friends.
Kurlantzick covers Thompson’s early life in an affluent family in Delaware, his education at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, and his subsequent career as an architect in New York. Thompson lived well and traveled often to Europe. In 1940, at the age of 34, he enlisted in the National Guard as a private to be ready for war. Fluent in French, he was commissioned after Pearl Harbor and by late 1943 had found his way into the OSS. Following service in North Africa and France, he was transferred to Asia. He reached Thailand just after the Japanese surrender and was assigned to the OSS element in the US embassy. After the demise of the OSS, Thompson served as military attaché until late 1946, when he left the military and began a life in Bangkok business and politics. The postwar business atmosphere was positive, and Thompson formed what would become the very successful Thai Silk Company—still in existence—that would supply the silk for the costumes in the movie The King and I. Interestingly, the wife of Thompson’s OSS colleague Kenneth Landon had written Anna and the King of Siam, on which the movie was based.
The success of the silk company caused problems locally for Thompson, but it was his politics that were a source of concern to the Thai government. Kurlantzick dwells on this aspect of his life in detail. Thompson was a liberal, not procommunist but certainly anti-imperialist, and he eventually came into conflict with the State Department and the FBI. At one point he was put on the do-not-contact list at the US embassy, but when William Donovan became ambassador to Thailand, Thompson met with him frequently, and the two enjoyed a good personal relationship. One can only guess at the extent to which these issues contributed to his disappearance, and Kurlantzick attempts to do so.
Jim Thompson has become a legendary figure in today’s Thailand. His silk-decorated home, where he started his business, is a museum and restaurant. The Ideal Man is the story of a complex, patriotic idealist who at times cooperated with the local CIA representative but opposed the Thai military governments and US policies in Asia. Moreover, his business flourished even though his partners—mostly former OSS colleagues—held differing political views and sometimes opposed his positions on social welfare. Still, the real Jim Thompson remains a mystery in more ways than in his disappearance.
Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway, by Elliot Carlson, with a foreword by RAdm. Donald “Mac” Showers, USN (Ret.). (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011), 572 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
Joseph John Rochefort was born in 1900 in Dayton, Ohio, the youngest of seven children. Although a good student, especially in math, he dropped out of high school at 17 and joined the Navy to become a pilot. But the Navy had other ideas, and that is the story told in Joe Rochefort’s War. Author Elliot Carlson tells how this eager, opinionated, forthright, sometimes outspoken young seaman survived manpower reductions after WW I, married his high school sweetheart, obtained a commission, and went to sea. Then, by a stroke of luck or sound Navy personnel policy, he was selected in 1925 to attend an advanced cryptanalysis class in Washington, DC. He did well. Between 1932 and 1939, Rochefort learned Japanese in Japan, had sea duty on a destroyer, carriers, and a cruiser, and was assigned to Pearl Harbor, where he became commander of a new codebreaking section called Hypo.
Rochefort’s abilities had gained him strong supporters in the Navy, where Naval Academy graduates dominated the leading ranks. His personality and willingness to challenge superiors also made enemies. Carlson tracks these often conflicting forces as Rochefort worked to establish a code breaking capability under austere conditions. From a personal point of view, the Hypo billet was risky. Intelligence was not career enhancing, and future promotions were not assured. Moreover, in accepting the job, Rochefort had insisted on reporting to the commander at Pearl Harbor, Adm. Husband Kimmel, thus ruffling some feathers in OP-20-G, the Navy’s cryptographic headquarters in Washington. Until Hypo was established, OP-20-G had been the source of Kimmel’s intelligence, a mission it was reluctant to give up. But Rochefort prevailed and made more enemies in the process.
Rochefort assembled an impressive team of codebreakers, several with more ability than he. Hypo Station focused first on the Japanese naval code, JN-25, and then on its more difficult successor, JN-25b. Although it was evident from the results that Japan was planning a major operation in 1941, Rochefort was dismayed not to have uncovered the details by 7 December. By February of 1942, however, Hypo had made significant progress, and Carlson relates how this led to the discovery that an attack on Midway was planned. Despite continuing opposition from OP-20-G, where his superiors did not agree with him, Rochefort used a clever ruse to prove the Japanese navy was about to attack Midway. Admiral Halsey was convinced, and the rest is history.
Halsey recommended Rochefort for the Distinguished Service Medal, but his Washington enemies succeeded in denying him the award. It would eventually be awarded posthumously by President Ronald Reagan. After Midway, Rochefort was summarily transferred to a shipbuilding yard in San Francisco and later to OP-20-G. He did well in both assignments and was eventually promoted to captain. After one more sea duty assignment he retired in 1947.
Joe Rochefort’s War is a story of a talented, sometimes abrasive, but always effective, officer battling the bureaucracy and unjustified criticism in a tradition-bound Navy. RAdm. Donald “Mac” Showers, who worked with Rochefort in 1942, notes in his foreword to this book that it is “an account that is long overdue.” (ix) Well told and well documented, Carlson’s book has done a fine job.
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Malayan Spymaster: Memoirs of a Rubber Planter, Bandit Fighter and Spy, by Boris Hembry. (Singapore: Monsoon Books, 2011), 424 pp., bibliography, appendix, glossary, photos, index.
Nineteen-year-old Boris Hembry left England for Malaya in 1930 to work on a rubber plantation. He enjoyed the work, joined the local military volunteers, and married a girl from home. Then, in 1939, life was interrupted by WW II. Malayan Spymaster reviews his early years but is of interest here mainly because of his wartime service. When the Japanese invaded Malaya, Hembry joined a stay-behind unit and lived in the jungle until forced to escape to Java and then to India. There he joined V-Force, a British-led stay-behind reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering organization operating in the India-Burma border region. For the next two years he collected intelligence on Japanese movements from a network of agents who, it turned out, were also working for the Japanese. But V-Force paid more and had the better end of the arrangement.
Hembry’s account of his experiences adds much detail about this little-known WW II intelligence unit. His service with V-Force was interrupted when he was summoned to Calcutta for unspecified duty. He soon learned he had been “recruited” by the Inter-Services Liaison Department, the cover name for the MI6 (SIS) element in India, because of his knowledge of Malaya. After several successful clandestine missions to Sumatra and Malaya—he was delivered by submarine —Hembry was given command of the Malayan country section. He tells of the operations he planned and executed. Most had to do with tactical reconnaissance for the Army and Navy—unusual work for MI6. At the end of the war, Hembry returned to Singapore, where his unit interrogated former prisoners and then disbanded, ending his MI6 service.
Returning to his rubber estate, Hembry tried to resume life as it had been before the war, only to be interrupted by the Malayan insurgency. He again served the British and local governments in putting it down. The counterinsurgency methods Hembry describes are instructive. In 1955, Hembry and his wife returned to England and retirement. Malayan Spymaster reveals a different kind of intelligence experience in a little-known part of the Pacific war.
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Historical Dictionary of Chinese Intelligence, by I.C. Smith and Nigel West. (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2012), 359 pp., index.
China has assumed new importance in the post-Cold War era and thus justifies a reference book on its intelligence establishment. Toward that end, authors I. C. Smith and Nigel West have provided a valuable mix of case studies, institutional descriptions, organizational relationships, and commentary on key personnel. But with China’s reputation for secrecy, one immediately wonders whether they have it right. As is unhappily customary with Scarecrow Press, no sources are permitted for the entries. But the authors in this case are well suited to the task. West has written about British contacts with the Chinese elsewhere. Smith was a career FBI special agent and worked many of the Chinese cases discussed. A good example is the penetration of the CIA by the Chinese agent Larry Wu-Tai Chin. Chin was exposed after his retirement by a senior Chinese Ministry of Public Security officer who defected. Some sources have identified the defector as Yu Zhensan.15 Smith, who worked the case and knew the man, names Yu Qiangsheng as the culprit. Coincidentally, according to West and Smith he is the same source that gave up Bernard Boursicot, the French foreign ministry employee whom the Chinese recruited into their service through an affair with a Chinese man impersonating a female. (29)
Not all the cases and events will be familiar. Won Chong-Hwa, for example, was a North Korean recruited when she was 18. At one point she was sent to a North Korean prison, then escaped to China but was recaptured and sent to South Korea to assassinate defectors. (288-89)
The Historical Dictionary of Chinese Intelligence documents the extent of Chinese global reach in espionage, including cyberespionage, and is the best reference work on the subject to date.
Israel’s Silent Defender: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Israeli Intelligence, by Amos Gilboa and Ephraim Lapid (eds.). (Springfield, NJ: Gefen Books, 2012), 385 pp., appendices, photos, no index.
The Israeli Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC) is a nonprofit institution in Tel Aviv, founded in 1985 by Meir Amit, former head of both Israeli military intelligence and the Mossad. The IICC seeks to further public knowledge of Israel’s intelligence support to national security. It operates a website, high-tech library, information center, museum, and newsletter. And now it has sponsored this book on the Israeli intelligence community.
In the introduction by the current IICC chairman, Efraim Halevy, also a former director of the Mossad, readers are warned that for security reasons, many operations are not included or even mentioned. Nevertheless, the editors have assembled 36 firsthand accounts of intelligence operations that span the 60-year history of the three principal Israeli intelligence services—the military intelligence branch of the Israeli Defense Force, often called Aman (identified here as Israeli Defense Intelligence, or IDI); the security service, called Shabak or Shin Bet (referred to in this book as Israel Security Agency, or ISA); and the foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, whose name is the Hebrew word for “institute.”
The contributions are divided into six sections. In the first, the heads of the three services describe their missions. Section two tells how and why each branch was formed. The third section deals with operations, both successful and failed. Examples of the former include the attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, the Entebbe rescue raid in 1976, and intelligence preparations for the Six Day War. Operation Suzanna, or the Lavon Affair, is an example of a covert action gone wrong, and its political consequence is explained.16 Section four depicts intelligence challenges in various geographic areas of the Middle East, with emphasis on terrorism and the Iranian nuclear threat. Of particular interest is the chapter on how terrorist organizations influence believers to support aggression. Section five gives is a brief tutorial on principal intelligence functions and the roles of the military services. The final section, “The Dynamics of Israeli Intelligence Activity,” includes a substantial article on the Mossad by Halevy.
There are also chapters on the operational demands put on the services, the relationships between decisionmakers and the services, and the Revision Department. This department, also known as the Devil’s Advocate Department, may be unique to the Israeli intelligence community. It analyzes current operational plans with an eye toward avoiding past mistakes. The final chapter considers problems that can result from collective thinking. The author encourages open discussion of decisions made by persons “at the top of the pyramid.” (316) There are also three appendices. The first is a chronology of key events and the leaders involved, the second contains brief summaries of operations not covered elsewhere, and the third lists the heads of the intelligence services from their origins to the present. The photographs, in color and black and white, illustrate important buildings, people, and events in Israel’s intelligence history. Altogether, Israel’s Silent Defender provides a fine summary of the origins and present-day configuration of Israel’s intelligence community.
Learning from the Secret Past: Cases in British Intelligence History, by Robert Dover and Michael S. Goodman (eds.). (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), 313 pp., end-of-chapter notes, index.
Books on intelligence with contributions from practitioners and academics are generally of two types. The first is the “reader” with articles that cover a broad view of the profession. The second examines a narrower perspective. Learning from the Secret Past falls into this second category, and with a unique twist based on British experience. The editors preface the work by arguing that the “failure to appreciate historical lessons is a widespread problem…particularly within intelligence communities.” (xi) An introduction by David Omand—a former director of Britain’s GCHQ and onetime intelligence and security coordinator in the Cabinet Office—reviews the importance of considering history in analysis. Following are 11 contributions divided into four sections: “The Organization and Oversight of Intelligence,” “Political Interference in Intelligence,” “Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism,” and “Avoiding Surprise.” Each chapter in these sections is based on real-world cases, and each includes excerpts of relevant official documents.
The first chapter, by Michael Herman, a former secretary of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), deals with a January 1945 report, The Intelligence Machine, which made recommendations for the organization and functions of peacetime intelligence organizations. Herman discusses the report’s influence on today’s intelligence community and what might have been if some of its recommendations had not been rejected. This is followed by a chapter on the Intelligence Services Act of 1994, which established a formal oversight mechanism and publicly acknowledged SIS, among other things. A section on political interference includes two chapters with examples. The section on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism has one chapter on the British experience in Malaya and two chapters on aspects of Northern Ireland. The final section has four chapters, the first of which addresses the Suez Crisis. The second examines Oleg Penkovsky’s contribution to the Cuban missile crisis, whether was he “an instrument of disinformation,” (250) and the importance of communicating with decisionmakers. The third chapter discusses the 1980 Nicoll Report, commissioned by the JIC, which analyzed how well the intelligence services had done in predicting foreign acts of aggression—the report, submitted 29 days before Argentina surprised the British by invading the Falklands, highlighted various “analyst traps.” The final chapter, “Lessons Learned: What the History of British Intelligence Can Tell Us about the Future,” reemphasizes the importance of learning from history while recognizing that lessons don’t always apply directly to current situations.
This is a thoughtful, informative book that applies to the profession generally and makes a unique contribution in another way: it is the first book on British intelligence that does not mention the so-called Cambridge Spies.
Main Intelligence Outfits of Pakistan, by P.C. Joshi. (New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2008), 484 pp., bibliography, photos, no index.
P. C. Joshi is a lawyer and a former Indian civil servant who served in Pakistan for four years in the early 1990s. His book deals with the three primary Pakistani intelligence agencies—Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Military Intelligence (MI)—although it mentions other smaller units from time to time. It is organized in three parts preceded by a brief history on the importance of intelligence. Part I, some 50 pages, describes the IB, the security agency concerned with “collection of political intelligence inside the country” and “intelligence pertaining to crimes, espionage, and anti-national activities.” (21) Part II, nearly 400 pages, discusses the ISI organization, which Joshi says “from all accounts is decidedly a rogue agency.” (71) He finds its tentacles in all aspects of Pakistani domestic and foreign affairs, something of an invisible government. Part III, a mere 12 pages, is titled “Military Intelligence,” and it provides only cursory treatment of the topic. Organization charts are provided only for the first two parts.
Several aspects of the book are worth keeping in mind. First, most of the book consists of articles written by others, inserted without explanatory comment. Second, its organization is disjointed, and in some cases the chapter titles don’t match the table of contents. Finally, there are legitimate reasons for asking if the author got it right—it becomes clear after he discusses Pakistan-Indian disputes, that Mr. Joshi views ISI encirclement as a genuine, continuing threat—and the answer in this case is that one cannot tell. Where there is mention of a source, it is secondary, usually an opinion piece.
Main Intelligence Outfits of Pakistan is an intriguing title but it doesn’t add much to public knowledge, and it is badly in need of editing. Use with caution.
The Politics of Counterterrorism in India: Strategic Intelligence and National Security in South Asia, by Prem Mahadevan. (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2012), 297 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, index.
Author Prem Mahadevan is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies in Zurich. In this book, which is based on his doctoral work at King’s College, London, he analyzes the role of intelligence in countering terrorism in India and concludes that “counterterrorist failures in India are caused by the poor responsiveness of decisionmakers (that is, intelligence consumers) to strategic intelligence.” (11) And he goes on to suggest that his results also apply to other nations faced with the same problem. These are bold assertions for an analyst without any hands-on experience, and one is justified in asking whether decisionmakers and intelligence officers should take him seriously. It is a help that in the foreword, Ajit Doval, the former director of India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB), makes it clear that he supports Mahadevan’s methodology and conclusions.
Mahadevan studied the work of other researchers and applied it to a model he developed. He found that “there was no demonstrable correlation between Indian counterterrorist performance and purely organizational factors that affect national intelligence agencies.” (13) Thus the key variable in these situations was personnel. With this in mind, he examined track records of the two principal Indian intelligence agencies—the IB and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), as related to the counterintelligence capabilities of terrorist groups. As metrics, he examines political consistency, operational capacity, and operational coordination of the main players—all of which he seems to have found lacking. These are admittedly subjective measures, and he devotes a chapter to each one, explaining the concepts and applying them to historical Indian terrorism cases. Examples include selected Sikh and Kashmiri separatist clashes and the many attacks on Mumbai.
He sums up by offering some alternatives to the current Indian approach to countering terrorism in general and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in particular. But he is firm in his judgment that India’s counterterrorist failures are not the fault of strategic assessments, but “rather in the inability or unwillingness of consumers to follow up on them.”
The Politics of Counterterrorism in India is a very detailed conceptual analysis, supported by case studies, and backed by secondary sources. It is well worth serious attention by those concerned with the analyst-decisionmaker relationship.
Stalin’s Man in Canada: Fred Rose and Soviet Espionage, by David Levy. (New York: Enigma Books, 2011), 265 pp., footnotes, photos, index.
Fishel Rosenberg, aka Fred Rose, was born in Poland in 1907. He emigrated to Canada with his family during WW I and settled in Montreal. At 18, encouraged by his older brother and enamored of the promises of communism, he joined the Young Communist League and later the Canadian Communist Party—long before the party became legal. His participation in labor activities brought him to the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and in 1931 he was arrested for sedition and spent a year in prison. He was more careful after his release and gradually developed a talent for pamphlet writing and for speaking at rallies. By 1940 he had been recruited by the NKVD and had contacts with Elizabeth Bentley and Jacob Golos, who ran a network of agents that included Rose. During the WW II, Rose was elected to Parliament, the first communist to become an MP. After the war, his espionage activities were exposed by the GRU defector Igor Gouzenko and later confirmed by Bentley. The resultant investigation led to Rose’s arrest in 1946, along with a number of other agents. His supporters declared the process a witch hunt, but he and several of his fellow agents were ultimately convicted. Rose spent the next five years in prison and, stripped of his Canadian citizenship, was subsequently deported. He died in Warsaw in 1983, a disillusioned believer.
In Canadian historian David Levy’s depiction, Rose comes across as what Lenin called “a useful idiot.” He didn’t accomplish much, and Levy devotes considerable space to stories of the more productive agents who crossed his path. While this book is generally accurate, Levy’s claim that NKVD illegal Gaik Ovakimyan collected “bomb material from Klaus Fuchs through Harry Gold” (52) can’t be true. Ovakimyan had left the United States before Fuchs arrived. Stalin’s Man in Canada illustrates the power of the communist ideology and the consequences that befell so many who followed Stalin to the end. It is well documented and a useful contribution to the literature of espionage.
Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia: Volume II, by Ralph Pickard, with a foreword by Ambassador Hugh Montgomery. (Lorton, VA: Frontline Historical Publishing, 2012), 350 pp., bibliography, photos, no index.
Volume 1 of Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia, reviewed in Studies in Intelligence in 2008, focused on certificates, medals and other awards presented to members of the Ministry for State Security (MfS), or Stasi, during its notorious existence.17 As Ambassador Hugh Montgomery points out in his foreword, the current volume continues where the first left off and adds new categories, with color reproductions and photographs of the various awards.
The first chapter depicts items that could not be not included in chapters 12 (“Additional DDR award documents presented to MfS personnel”) and 13 (“Foreign presentations to MfS personnel) of the first volume. Succeeding chapters are devoted to Stasi units, most notably the Wachregiment F. Dzierzynski, the Free German Youth, the MfS Academy, and the Dynamo sports clubs sponsored by the MfS. There are also chapters on miscellaneous topics, for example, the rank and structure of the MfS, birthday and anniversary documents, KGB awards given to the Stasi officers, and the use of numerous seals and ink stamps to maintain security—a practice identical to that of the KGB. A special chapter on Richard Sorge and Felix Dzierzynski memorabilia expands on the brief attention they received in volume 1. The final chapter updates and expands on decorations and memorabilia mentioned in volume 1.
Each chapter starts with introductory background information. To assure authenticity, author Ralph Pickard enlisted former Stasi officers to validate the commentary and descriptions for each item. Despite the great quantity of awards, photos, statues, and certificates in both volumes, Pickard stresses that only a portion of the total has been included here. For those concerned with Stasi history and culture, the Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia volumes are invaluable.
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1Henry S. A. Becket, The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak into English (New York: Stein and Day, 1986).
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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.