Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
This section contains brief reviews of recent books of interest to the intelligence professional and the student of intelligence.
Cees Wiebes. Intelligence and The War In Bosnia 1992-1995. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2003. 463 pages, index.
In 1994, a battalion of Dutch troops arrived in eastern Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission as part of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The Dutch area of responsibility included the nearby town of Srebrenica that was controlled by the Bosnian Muslim Army. On 6 July 1995, Bosnian-Serbs captured Srebrenica while the Dutch, who had no resources or mandate to stop them, stood by. Then the Bosnian-Serbs expanded their invasion and began eliminating Muslims--ethnic cleansing--while the Dutch, again, watched and thousands died. After peace agreements were signed in Dayton, Ohio, the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) initiated a study to determine what might have been done to prevent the massacres. One of the central issues raised concerned the role of the various international intelligence and security services, including the Dutch Military Intelligence units. NIOD tasked Dr. Wiebes to analyze the role of these intelligence elements and to determine what was known, when, and by whom.
At first glance, the task seemed straightforward: talk to the participants; find out what they knew and what their orders were; then write the report. But in the UN, things are not that simple, which becomes immediately clear as Dr. Wiebes considers the related question: how does the United Nations acquire and disseminate intelligence for its peacekeeping operations? The answer is that, since it has no organic intelligence collection elements, it must rely on input from cooperating nations, none of whom want to reveal sources and methods. Once this is recognized, the real problems of intelligence and the war in Bosnia are apparent even for those who have not been there.
Dr. Wiebes' study examines the UN intelligence function; the roles of the Western intelligence community and Dutch intelligence elements; the complications introduced by secret arms suppliers and multiple covert actions; the problems of SIGINT and imagery collection; and the difficulties associated with dissemination and use of the intelligence product. The final chapter addresses the question of intelligence success or failure in Srebrenica. Each of these topics is treated in considerable depth. To accomplish this, the author has relied on open and non-attributable confidential sources, because most intelligence services refused to comment for the record. He finds that a warning of the attack on Srebrenica was ignored by the Dutch units, American and German intelligence services, and UN elements, to name a few of the players. There is plenty of blame to go around, most of it reflecting the fact that the UN has not solved the intelligence problem--voluntary cooperation cannot be relied on.
This book is not easy reading. The names are strange, the acronyms profuse, the political alignments complex, and the geography often confusing. A few maps would have helped the reader grasp the complex situation. These shortcomings notwithstanding, it is an important work--the most thorough treatment of the topic to date--that makes unequivocally clear a problem that must be dealt with if the UN is to play a more successful peacekeeping role in the future.
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Corinne Souza. Baghdad's Spy: A Personal Memoir of Espionage and Intrigue from Iraq to London. Edinburgh, Scotland: Mainstream Publishing, 2003. 238 pages, bibliography, photos, no index.
This book begins and ends with letters written by the author to the then-Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Sir Richard Dearlove, in which she complains about the treatment of her father, Lawrence de Souza, during his service as an SIS agent that did not end well. She accuses SIS of "appalling personnel management and racism" and of unwanted attempts to recruit her as an agent. In the second letter, her somewhat distorted assessment of her father's unique value is exposed when she states that:
I have not the shadow of a doubt that, had my father been alive, he would have heard rumors concerning what was about to happen to the World Trade Centre...[he] had contacts within al-Qaeda, the Islamic world in general, as well as key law enforcement agencies...had the authority to ensure the Americans were warned...and the forcefulness to guarantee that his warnings were acted upon.1
In between these letters, she uses diaries kept by her father and her memory to tell of the life of an Iraqi who married a British woman and who worked two decades for SIS, first in Iraq and later in London, while running his own business.
At some point--probably when a teenager, though she is not clear on just when--she was told of her father's dual life. She came to know many of his case officers whom she describes and criticizes at length. Not surprisingly, there is little detail about just what information her father provided about his Arab business contacts. She does say that he came under suspicion from time to time, used safe houses for his work, and had several pseudonyms. So the value of the book lies not so much in its operational qualities as in the descriptions of an agent's family life and the strains that family members must endure. The author argues, unrealistically, that the father should have been made an SIS staff officer and judges his treatment on that basis. Things were made even more difficult because the daughter's political views were far to the left of her father and his SIS handlers. Why she was told as much as she was about her father's activities, under the circumstances, is not made clear. Still, despite her politics, she claims that the SIS pressured her to work for them as her father had done. And, with one exception, she tells how she avoided doing so at the cost of her job lobbying in Parliament. As to reliability, most of the important assertions by the author remain unsupported. The few end-of-chapter citations do not include page numbers, further complicating verification.
In the end, her real complaint is that her father--a kind of Arab Peter Wright--did not receive the SIS recognition or pension he deserved. She hopes to correct the former with this book, and the latter through legal remedies.
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David T. Lindgren. Trust But Verify: Imagery Analysis in the Cold War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000. 222 pages, bibliography, photos, index.
For those who served in National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), this book will hold no surprises, but it will bring back some exciting memories. David Lindgren, a remote sensing specialist at Dartmouth College and one-time consultant to the Central Intelligence Agency, tells the story of the U-2 and Keyhole satellite imaging programs from their inception until the end of the Cold War. Using names many never expected to see in the public domain, Lindgren shows how imagery played the key role in monitoring Soviet progress in weapons system development and deployment. Many will recall the Soviet violation of the Anti-Ballistic-Missile (ABM) Treaty when they built the "early warning radar" at Krasnoyarsk, where it was not supposed to be. Imagery analysts did not find it until it was well along in its construction. But when they did, the evidence was persuasive and the Soviet Union, under Gorbachev, agreed to scrap the facility. Similarly, when Air Force Chief of Intelligence Maj. Gen. George Keegan pointed out the massive Soviet air raid shelter program, it, too, was abandoned. Lindgren also tells how imagery monitored the Chernobyl reactor disaster, leaving Gorbachev no recourse but to publicly acknowledge the accident.
Other examples of imagery analysis show how, from time to time, the judgments of analysts differed among elements of the Intelligence Community--the mission of the so-called Tallinn complex being one such case. The Central Intelligence Agency concluded it was part of an anti-aircraft system, while the Defense Intelligence Agency designated it ABM related. In the end the CIA was correct, but DOD did not give up until the signing of the ABM Treaty.
A continuing theme in the book is how imagery intelligence affected political decisionmaking. Lindgren tells of its impact on each president from Johnson to Clinton. Also included are the scandals that beset the National Reconnaissance Office. While not a consequence of imagery exploitation, they did have an effect on the organizations established to accomplish the imagery mission, including attracting more congressional scrutiny. DOD was finally to wrest the satellite mission from the CIA, and, with the formation of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), a singular achievement of Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch, the era of CIA contributions to the nation's satellite programs came to an end. Lindgren makes clear he does not agree with this decision.
While much in this book has appeared elsewhere and Lindgren is careful to cite his sources in the narrative, it is the first time that the role of imagery analysis has received such attention in one book by someone familiar with the details. And as most imagery analysts--and many of their former adversaries in the Soviet Union--will testify, Lindgren and President Reagan have the issue backwards: the more prudent approach is verify then trust.
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Richard L. Holm. The American Agent: My Life In The CIA. London, UK: St. Ermin's Press, 2003. 462 pages, photos, index.
How does someone join the CIA? What qualifications does a person need to become an officer in the clandestine service, to recruit and handle espionage agents, and to serve overseas, all while raising a family? There are no pat answers to these questions, but one can get a good idea from the experiences of those who have written about their careers in the Agency. Dick Holm's book is a particularly good example because it shows what happens when talent mixed with perseverance overcomes adversity.
Holm was a Boy Scout from the midwest who attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. After graduation he joined the Army and was assigned to military intelligence in France, where he learned the language and the tradecraft of espionage. He liked the profession. When his military obligation had been met, he applied to the CIA and was accepted. After training for the clandestine service, he was assigned to Southeast Asia for several years. Then it was on to Africa, where he nearly died in a plane crash that left him scarred for life. After years of rehabilitation with impressive support from friends and the CIA, he returned to the Directorate of Operations where, overcoming great odds, he had a distinguished career serving as chief in the Far East and in Paris.
The details of his experiences along the way--how he managed to raise a family, the importance of learning languages, how the Agency treats its employees, the impact of mixing intelligence operations and politics, the CIA's counterterrorism program--provide unusual insight into the life of a clandestine service officer. The reader will experience some frustration--tales of secret operations often lack detail and Holm's story is no exception. But to learn what it takes to be a CIA operations officer in all stages of a career, The American Agent is a great source and an enjoyable read.
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Colonel Paul Paillole. Fighting The Nazis: French Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1935-1945. New York, NY: Enigma Books, 2003. 492 pages, photos, charts, index.
After ten years in the counterespionage branch of the French military intelligence service--the Deuxiëme Bureau--Col. Paul Paillole resigned from the army in 1945. This memoir, the first of three autobiographical accounts, was originally published in French in 1975.2 Here he tells about his early life; his unexpected assignment to the intelligence service; his experiences during World War II when he rose to head counterespionage; and his decision to leave the service. It is a tale of French political maneuvering as much as counterespionage operations.
Prior to the war, Paillole reveals how his counterespionage element penetrated the Abwehr and other German intelligence organizations, including the SIGINT service, while developing relations with the British secret services that would one day pay dividends. On the Nazi side, of particular interest is the case of Hans Thilo-Schnidt (ASCHE), the German agent who provided material on the Enigma codes and was handled by then-Capt. Gustave Bertrand. Curiously, Paillole does not mention his subsequent interrogation of Bertrand in London just prior to D-Day, when the latter was suspected of telling the Germans the date of the invasion.3 In the course of describing his operational duties and because he remained in counterespionage his entire career, Paillole also provides a detailed look at the Nazi intelligence services and the changes they underwent as it became clear that the war was lost.
In 1942, after serving with the resistance in France, Paillole was forced to escape the Nazis and reached London via Spain. There he established contacts with Charles de Gaulle's intelligence chief, Andrè Dewawrin (aka PASSY)--although he avoided de Gaulle--and the head of MI-6, "C," assuring each that he wished for a cooperative arrangement among the various allied and French intelligence services. This was a risky and difficult path because of the ongoing power struggle between de Gaulle and his bitter rival for French power, Henri Giruad, for whom Paillole had been assigned to work in Algiers after leaving London. When de Gaulle emerged the victor and succeeded in establishing his singular authority as the French leader-in-exile in 1944, Paillole managed to retain his counterespionage duties because of his reputation for success. In the end, though, his loyalty to Giruad was not forgotten by de Gaulle. Against Paillole's strong opposition, the intelligence and counterespionage service was spilt into two organizations. When Paillole subsequently requested a command outside of counterespionage, it was denied. That was when he left the Deuxiëme Bureau and never looked back.
The story told in Fighting The Nazis is more than another interesting World War II intelligence biography. Paillole's assiduous application and articulation of counterintelligence principles demonstrate their universality while making clear that it is the people who make the difference.
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Giles Scott-Smith. The Politics of Apolitical Culture: The Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA and Post-war American Hegemony. London, UK: Routledge, 2002. 233 pages, endnotes, bibliography, appendix, index.
In her book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, Francis Saunders makes an impassioned argument that the person who pays the piper, calls the tune. Specifically, she argues that in establishing the Congress of Cultural Freedom (CCF) as a worldwide counterpoint to communist propaganda, the CIA inexorably exerted rigid political control over the intellectual product of the writers and artists that the CCF supported, without their knowledge.4 Pierre Grèmion, however, saw the "Congress as an important semi-autonomous transnational organization that contributed a great deal to the major intellectual debates of its time, whatever the CIA role." 5 Giles Scott-Smith takes a more theoretical look at the CCF as he seeks to determine the extent to which it was "a hegemonic instrument of American foreign policy?" For comparison purposes, he considers "the political, economic and cultural linkages" put forward by Marxist Antonia Gramsci as factors in determining hegemony. This approach is, he suggests, "necessary in order to better appreciate the CIA's role and the historical context in which these events occurred." The CCF, he goes on, had a "decidedly political impact during the Cold War" that was "institutionalized by the US government (in particular the CIA) as an ideological force representative of the free society of the West from which it emerged...in stark contrast to the cultural sterility that resulted from the doctrines imposed by both fascist and communist regimes." He acknowledges that discovery of the CIA role raised questions about the validity of the CCF's positions, which the left still exploits, but he concludes that the "anti-Communist convictions of the congress did not originate with the CIA." They had existed long before the CIA "began spending Washington's money on cultural warfare."
For those concerned with the political-economic approach to social progress and the battle between democracy and communism, this is an important work, its complex theoretical narrative notwithstanding.
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Knud J. V. Jespersen. No Small Achievement: Special Operations Executive and the Danish Resistance 1940-1945. Odense, DK: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2002. 594 pages, endnotes, bibliography, photos, maps, index (names only).
During World War II, German intelligence managed to double more that 40 of the agents parachuted into Holland and run them against their Special Operations Executive (SOE) controllers--they called it Operation NORTH POLE. After the war, when the Dutch sent representatives to London to examine files to determine why the operations went wrong, the British said the files had been burned in a tragic fire at SOE headquarters in 1945. The Dutch, in disbelief, expelled the MI-6 representative in Holland.
The Danes also wanted to record their contribution to the wartime resistance and the role they played under the guidance of SOE. During 1976-77, Danish historian Jorgen Haestrup published a three-volume study, which became the standard work on the subject from the Danish perspective, though it was recognized that it lacked the story of the British side.6
There matters stood until 1994 when Danish historian Knud Jespersen arrived in London to examine recently released SOE files concerning the Danish resistance. Many of the original 210 files were missing; Jespersen was told that most had been destroyed in the SOE headquarters fire. Like the Dutch, Jespersen had doubts, but he decided to examine the 86 files released (hundreds of documents, many with names excised) to determine, to the extent possible, what the SOE sought to accomplish through the Danish resistance. The result of his efforts was No Small Achievement.
The need for a more complete version of the story of the Danish resistance, writes Jespersen, was in part to show the nation and the world that after "the shameful capitulation of 9 April 1940," the Danes were active in the opposition to the Nazis. To give an idea of the kind of resistance undertaken, the book tells the stories of some of the groups that worked with Britain to sabotage German facilities. Typical, and perhaps most well known, is the Hvidsten group that received supply drops under wicked conditions at Mustard Point, located just outside the town of Hvidsten in the far north of Denmark. Its leader and seven members were captured on 26 June 1944, tried by military tribunal, and shot. This event became a symbol of the resistance to those involved. Younger historians, however, have taken a revisionist view of the Danish resistance, pointing out that earlier histories omitted mention of the communist role, which they did, and placed too much emphasis on the value of the Danish contribution. In this view, the real purpose of the resistance was less to oppose the Germans than to lay the groundwork for the correct postwar government--minus the communists.
Jespersen discusses all these views, providing chapters on SOE organization and overall mission; the planning for support of the invasion, including the Jedburgh teams; and the "Spectre of Communism." The balance of the book describes detailed planning and operations--often involving conflict with the Danes in London--over the five-year history of the resistance, adding details from British files not previously available. In several areas, Jespersen notes necessary adjustments in Danish histories--as, for example, the so-called "Princes Plan." The P-Plan, as it was called, which was developed by Danish general staff officers as a way to resist occupation, figures importantly in the narrative. It was accepted by SOE as part of its CHAIR Plan (code name for the build-up of a secret army). Another for-the-record example describes the transmission of microfilm to the Danish SOE controller in Stockholm by insecure means, allowing the materials to be confiscated by the Swedes. References to the British reports on this matter are included.
Jespersen ends with an assessment of the impact of the Danish resistance on the war, quoting SOE and SHAEF reports, while providing his own data on number of agents involved, supplies dropped, and the effects of sabotage. As SHAEF put it, the resistance in Denmark "caused strain and embarrassment to the enemy...[and a] striking reduction in the flow of troops and stores from Norway [that] undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the reinforcements for the battles East and West of the Rhine." In the British files, Jespersen found a report that assessed that the overall impact of Danish resistance was restored national pride and political unity. He views this achievement as SOE's most important contribution in Denmark.
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Willard C. Matthias. America's Strategic Blunders: Intelligence Analysis and National Security Policy, 1936-1991. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001. 367 pages, footnotes, index.
Former military intelligence officer and charter member of the CIA's Office of National Estimates Willard Matthias surveys "long term analytic intelligence" and the role it played, "or should have played," in the preparations for World War II and the conduct of the Cold War. The blunders he discusses include: the failure of the War and Navy Departments to focus on Japanese military and naval operations rather than diplomatic moves prior to 7 December--one of the few analysts to make this point; the unconditional surrender decision that prolonged the War; the failure to properly consider the plot to assassinate Hitler; the unnecessary decision to drop the atom bomb on populated areas; allowing the World War II military state of mind to persist during the Cold War; and the failure to understand that the Marxist conception of history was world domination without military conquest.
The bulk of the book concentrates on the Cold War. Using estimates written during that time--many written by the author--Matthias faults the United States for the Cold War's unnecessary length and vitality. In several instances--Korea, for example--he finds the CIA's analysis of Soviet intentions correct, but ignored by the policymakers in favor of the Defense Department. Matthias blames the arms race as much on "anticommunist paranoids" as on genuine threats from the Soviets. The reader learns much about the behind-the-scenes exchanges within the Board of National Estimates, the use of their product by the government, and the relationship between CIA analysts and academic experts. The latter, he suggests, fell apart during the Reagan administration as a result of the politicization of intelligence, which he condemns.
While many estimates are cited in the text, the lack of a bibliography is disappointing. Still, the book gives a unique look at strategic analysis from the inside and is worth serious attention by today's analysts and policymakers alike.
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Peter Hennessy. The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War. London, UK: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 2002. 234 pages, endnotes, photos, index.
In 1946, the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) concluded that "within the next fifty or perhaps a hundred years...the Soviet Union will inevitably become the most powerful, the richest and the best ordered country in the world." The Cold War that followed was waged to prevent the realization of that prediction and, notes University of London professor Peter Hennessy, quoting an MI-6 officer, "the hot end of the cold war was espionage." It was also a "specialists' confrontation, not a peoples' conflict," and many of those specialists sat on the JIC. Comprised as it still is of the heads of the intelligence services and various cabinet officials, it reaches the "agreed views, by consensus," which are then circulated to its government customers.
From World War II until the present, Hennessy reviews the JIC mechanism and its functions during various periods of the Cold War in considerable detail based on newly declassified cabinet documents. There are the Top Secret, color-coded Indications-and-Warning lists circulated to the Queen and other officials that indicate what the government considers important in predicting nuclear war. Then come the problems of going nuclear in spite of the restrictions imposed by the McMahon Act from the US Congress. No less significant were the impact of the Cambridge spies and the subsequent introduction of positive vetting, controversial for practical and political personal-privacy reasons. Also included is a discussion of the British continuity-of-government plans--code named TURNSTILE--including the "last train" scenario. The Mitrokhin archive material makes it possible to observe the reaction of the Soviets to the British defense planning and atomic attack exercises that were often misinterpreted by the Kremlin. The book is well documented, and, though without a bibliography, is a valuable JIC primer in light of the recent Hutton Report, which, inter alia, examined the JIC role in the British assessments of Iraqi WMD sent to the Prime Minister before Britain decided to go to war against Saddam Hussein.7
The Secret State ends with a comment on the current amorphous situation presented by "the apparently irrational Islamic fanatics" and a description of the Prime Minister's "end-of-the-world drills." Both are sobering and their dependence on intelligence is great.
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Richard K. Betts and Thomas G. Mahnken, eds. Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel. London, UK: Frank Cass, 2003. 210 pages, end-of-chapter notes, index.
This volume will come as no surprise to those who knew the late Michael Handel, technically a political scientist but more a historian, who was an expert on military intelligence and an authority on the theory of strategic surprise. While teaching at the Naval War College, Handel was caught by tactical surprise in his own life when he was given only a few months to live. But, with characteristic zest, he worked to shape the conference at which the papers in this volume were presented after his death.
Michael Handel received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and then achieved tenure at Hebrew University in Israel. Subsequently, he took US citizenship, returned to the United States, and taught at the Army War College until 1990, when he joined the faculty at the Naval War College. Among his many books and accomplishments was the founding, with Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew, of the journal Intelligence and National Security, which has provided a scholarly forum for the publication of serious research on intelligence since 1986.
Of the seven original articles in Betts and Mahnken's collection, the first is by Handel himself on "Intelligence and the Problem of Strategic Surprise." The other six are in honor of this original thinker, writer, and teacher, and draw on his work. Two are by CIA officers--Woodrow J. Kuhns, the Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Intelligence, and Mark M. Lowenthal, Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production. Kuhns writes on "Intelligence Failures: Forecasting and the Lessons of Epistemology," while Lowenthal's article looks at "Grant vs. Sherman: Paradoxes of Intelligence and Combat Leadership." Columbia professor Richard Betts discusses "Politicization of Intelligence: Costs and Benefits," while professor James Wirtz of the Naval Post Graduate School considers the "Theory of Surprise." Professor John Ferris at the University of Calgary addresses British military deception in two world wars, and Uri Bar-Joseph, senior lecturer at Haifa University, contributes an essay about intelligence failure and the case of the Yom Kipper War.
Each of these essays is well documented and calculated to make the reader think and learn. Michael Handel would have been proud of this book.
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Jessica Stern. Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2003. 368 pages.
The dust jacket on this book characterizes Jessica Stern as "the foremost US expert on terrorism," an accolade she is quick to deny, attributing it solely to the publisher's PR department. But this chemistry major from Barnard College with a Ph.D. in chemical weapons from MIT; this former NSC staffer in the Clinton administration; this Foreign Relations Council Fellow, Hoover Institute scholar, and Harvard University lecturer does know a good deal about terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists are what this book is about. And in doing her research she interviewed them in the United States, Pakistan, Israel, India, Indonesia, and Lebanon.
Of particular interest to some Studies in Intelligence readers is the case of Mir Aimal Kansi, who paid with his life for his attack on CIA employees outside the main entrance at Headquarters. Operating on the theory that one must deal with terrorists on their own terms if some trust is to be established and knowledge exchanged, Dr. Stern wrote to Kansi while on death row and after a while he granted her an interview. The results are at the same time illustrative, informative, and revolting. But they are depressingly typical of how the Islamists think and what they intend to accomplish.
In trying to "comprehend terrorists from the inside," Stern meets with a great variety of them, from an assistant to Osama bin Laden and his family to a twelve-year-old potential suicide bomber, who confides that he goes to the Madrassah because that is the only place where he can find food. Then there is a different kind of terrorist, one that chooses to kill doctors to prevent abortions. She talks to them, too, trying to learn whether there are generic qualities to the species.
In many ways, this is a disturbing book. But for those who want to understand the why of today's war on terror and the terrorists themselves, it is a valuable source of insights.
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Lauren Kessler. Clever Girl: Elizabeth Bentley, the Spy Who Ushered in the McCarthy Era. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2003. 372 pages, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
After nearly 50 years of public obscurity, Elizabeth Bentley--Vassar graduate, teacher, former NKGB espionage agent, the first woman guest to appear on the televised "Meet The Press,"8 author of Out of Bondage,9 and post-World War II FBI informant--is the subject of two well-written and informative biographies published within a year of each other. The first, by University of California (Davis) history professor Kathryn S. Olmsted,10 was reviewed by Michael Warner in Studies in Intelligence (Vol. 47, No. 2, 2003). Lauren Kessler, a professor at the University of Oregon, has given us the second and, by doing so, suggests there is still more to be learned about the enigmatic Miss Bentley. She is right.
Despite considerable overlap, there are significant differences in the details and emphasis of the two biographies. One example stems from Bentley's claim that she was descended from Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Kessler finds genealogical evidence that this was so and that it was part of the family lore before Bentley was born in New Milford, Connecticut, on 1 January 1908. Olmsted concludes, from different sources, that the link was fictitious to enhance the "shock value of her biography."11 Another example involves Bentley's studies in Italy after her graduation from Vassar. Kessler suggests that her thesis was more the work of her professor or his assistant than her own. Olmsted agrees but devotes more space than Kessler to the topic, describing the problems it caused when Bentley returned to Columbia University to finish her Masters Degree.
It was at Columbia that Bentley became a communist and set off down the road to becoming a Soviet agent in the mid-1930s. During World War II, she was one of the main Soviet agent-couriers servicing other communist agents who had penetrated nearly every department of the US government. By 1944, however, the Soviets had decided to replace her with Russians and her clandestine life began to crumble. Fearing exposure from other defectors, she went to the FBI field office in New York City on 7 November 1945 and began dictating a 112-page statement describing her espionage activities for the previous 10 years. Since Bentley mentioned British citizens with whom she dealt, the FBI notified MI-6, whose head of the Soviet counterespionage section, Cambridge spy Kim Philby, promptly notified Moscow. Thus, the American networks that Bentley compromised were shut down before she signed her statement on 30 November 1945, and the FBI came up with little prosecutable evidence. But, as Kessler makes clear, Bentley brought to an end the era of the communist ideological spy.
In 1948, Bentley testified before Congress in public hearings, naming all those prominent officials she had accused to the FBI. This brought on denials from those she exposed--Alger Hiss; the Rosenbergs; OSS officer Duncan Lee; former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Harry Dexter White; and Nathan Silvermaster, to name but a few--and vilification by the unsympathetic left-leaning press. With no documents to support her charges, those accused went free, but she continued life as an FBI informant. For a while, the proceeds from her book sustained her life style, including her excessive drinking. But the press coverage made it difficult to hold a job--there was no defector resettlement program then. From 1953 until her death ten years later, Elizabeth Bentley's life was a gradual descent into obscurity and poverty. It is here that there are other significant differences in the Kessler-Olmsted accounts. Olmsted finds evidence that Bentley's latent bisexuality became a factor in her life as her links to the Soviets deteriorated. Kessler does not mention this aspect. On the other hand, Kessler demolishes assertions that Bentley lied in her testimony. Olmsted tends to give credibility to this charge made by another FBI informant, Harry Matusow, who also claimed to have had an affair with Bentley. As Kessler notes, Matusow was a self-confessed liar who served five years in jail for perjury in between his 15 marriages--nine to the same women.
All of Bentley's difficulties might have been avoided but for a single decision by the US government: to keep VENONA secret. VENONA, a made up word with no etymological roots, was a cover name for the message product of a successful American code-breaking operation run against the NKGB. The results became available gradually beginning in 1946. Kessler tells how Bentley, aware only of the FBI's failure to arrest any of those she knew had spied and enduring daily trashing in much of the press, was unaware that she was codenamed UMNITSA or CLEVER GIRL in the VENONA cables and that the decrypted messages corroborated her charges. When the VENONA decrypts were made public in 1995, posthumous vindication appeared to be hers--she had not lied where it counted. But there were still some who challenged her allegations and the validity of the VENONA decrypts, calling them FBI forgeries. These VENONA-deniers--mostly journalists and scholars--are the progeny of those who called Bentley's book the hysterical musings of a neurotic spinster.
In Clever Girl, Lauren Kessler tells the Bentley story with an easy reading style adding many well-documented personal details about her life that had escaped public attention.
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Robert J. Stove. The Unsleeping Eye: Secret Police and Their Victims. San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2003. 367 pages, endnotes, bibliography, index.
Domestic surveillance carried out by a nation's secret police is a topic that historically has received too little attention, according to Australian journalist Robert Stove. He acknowledges that terms such as Gestapo, Securitate, OGPU, and KGB are familiar to many today, but he argues that little has been written about how excessive domestic surveillance came into being. The Unsleeping Eye is intended to correct that deficiency. His approach is historical. He presents five case studies that illustrate the progression of domestic secret police operations from Elizabethan times under Sir Francis Walsingham to the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. In between, we learn how the French protected the government from within, during the times of Cardinal Richelieu and under Napoleon's secret police chief Joseph Fouchè, who started a national identification system. Then comes the system developed by the Tsars for the same purposes, which evolved into the practices of the NKVD. Finally, the Germans, starting from a different political model, created the Gestapo and its variants.
As an introduction to the subject, this is a useful book, provided the reader is aware that the sources cited are inadequate--too much must be accepted on faith. And relying on the book can sometimes be a risky endeavor even when a source is identified. Take, for example, a statement about the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller: On page 235, Stove states that "it now seems certain that he [Müller] fled to Switzerland...was interviewed by the OSS...to offer him a job. He subsequently laboured for the CIA as a dedicated, extraordinarily knowledgeable anti-Communist, and apparently ended his days at--of all places--Honolulu in 1973." The source for this extraordinary assertion is Gregory Douglas, putative author of Gestapo Chief: The 1948 Interrogation of Heinrich Müller.12 Douglas also writes that Müller had dinner at the White House with President Truman and knew Alan Dulles, both patent falsehoods.
The subject is of interest today, and Mr. Stove closes with comments on the problems in the area of domestic surveillance exacerbated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001. He ends with a warning that we may be witnessing a "re-emergence of outright secret police terror..." and then admonishes us, in the words of Ben Franklin, not "to give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety." This quote is not sourced either.
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Anonymous. Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. Washington, DC: Brassey's, Inc., 2002. 394 pages, endnotes, bibliography, index.
For those who ask themselves why the Islamists are conducting terrorist acts against the West, Through Our Enemies' Eyes is a sobering read. The author is quick to answer the question in part, noting that since 1996, Osama bin Laden has:
...repeatedly warned America--always in public--that he would incrementally increase the lethality of his attacks on U.S. interests until we stopped supporting Israel, withdrew our military forces from Saudi Arabia, and ended the embargo on Iraq. If the United States did not yield to his demands, he would bring the war he was waging into the continental United States...promise made, promise kept.13
The United States, Anonymous concludes, "has never had an adversary who has more clearly, calmly, and articulately expressed his hatred for America and his intention to destroy our country by war or die trying." Furthermore, he continues, never have we so badly underestimated a foreign threat. For example, contrary to US official statements that Osama bin Laden did not believe we would invade his sanctuary in Afghanistan, the reality, Anonymous tells us, is that he "sought to prompt the attack." Why should this be so? The answer comes in recognizing that bin Laden is not a traditional terrorist, but the leader of a "worldwide, religiously inspired, and professionally guided Islamist insurgency against Christians and Jews." The invasion was proof of his claims about the Americans.
Through Our Enemies' Eyes seeks to explain bin Laden the man, provide context and reasons for his abhorrence of the West, and describe the religious basis for its intensity. Initially, Anonymous suggests a parallel between bin Laden's views and the thinking of five Anglo-American leaders--John Brown, John Bunyan, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine. Each American fought for a cause in his own determined way, a cause that succeeded even if the man did not live to see it. While Anonymous suggests no moral equivalence in their behavior, the power of a fervent, even passionate, pursuit of their divergent goals as a factor in success, is worth scrutiny. Thus, one of the main purposes of the book--to better understand bin Laden and therefore the enemy--can be achieved by "reflecting on the origins of [our] own country" and comparing the words of our founders with those espoused by bin Laden in his Declaration of Jihad against the United States. The point is reinforced with quotations beginning each chapter that leave the reader no choice but to infer eerie correlations with the Islamists and our past, and ponder the differences.
The story of bin Laden is unpleasant and disturbing, but well told. For him and his followers, Islam is the superior religion and way of life. That is his political correctness. And since the behavior of the United States appears to Muslims as inconsistent with that view, its physical elimination is warranted. Understanding how bin Laden reached these beliefs is important and Anonymous devotes several chapters to his background, personality, exile in Sudan--where he began his chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons acquisition program, and assisted Iraq--and tenure in Afghanistan. We also learn of the formation of al-Qa'ida, the differences between it and more familiar Arab terrorist organizations, and the rationale for using violence to achieve a goal and for accepting civilian casualties--all allowed by Islam, says bin Laden.
Then comes an assessment of what can be expected for the future, based on past actions. To bring this point home, chapter 13 presents a sobering summary of al-Qa'ida events just since 1996. Chapter 14 explains why the Western crusaders are the target, noting that between 1980 and 1995, the United States "engaged in seventeen military operations in the Middle East, all directed at Muslims. No comparable pattern...occurred against any other people of any other civilization."14 One sees that bin Laden has remained focused on a single goal: a Muslim world, through a World Islamic Front, with an international army, and with America as the bull's-eye.
The view of the future offered by Anonymous is less than hopeful: "violent clashes between the West and Islam will be a central feature of world affairs for the foreseeable future," with or without Osama bin Laden. Anonymous offers no alternative to this assessment, but suggests that if we are to find one, understanding bin Laden and his crusade is the first step.
On the point of understanding, Anonymous is critical of what he calls the "obsolete experts" in the media and government who do not grasp the differences between bin Laden and the terrorists. The portrait presented here is intended to elucidate those differences. This volume is a gutsy declaration by a serving "decorated member of the US intelligence community" (as the dust jacket describes him) and, according to the acknowledgments, approval to publish did not come smoothly.
From the reader's perspective, Through Our Enemies' Eyes lays out a basis for understanding a man who has declared openly that his goal is world Islamist domination. There are echoes of the early days of communism and fascism here, and Anonymous urges us to pay attention to bin Laden sooner than we did to Lenin and Hitler.
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1. Souza, p. 232.
2. Col. Paul Paillole. Services sèciaux 1935-1945 (Paris, France: Laffont, 1975). His second book was Notre espion chez Hitler (Paris: Laffont, 1985), and his third, L'homme des services secrets (Paris: Julliard, 1995).
3. See David Stafford, Ten Days to D-Day: Countdown to the Liberation of Europe (London, UK: Little Brown, 2003), pp. 176-77, 121-22. Bertrand was one of the few who knew about ULTRA and the date of the invasion. He was captured and interrogated by the Gestapo in France before being released and allowed to go to England. He told the British that he had fooled the Germans into thinking he would become their agent and that is why he was let go. The British wanted to know if this was true and, more importantly, what he had told the Germans. Paillole was asked to interrogate. He did and concluded that his old friend had likely said nothing about ULTRA or D-Day. Bertrand was kept under house arrest until after D-Day.
4. Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York, NY: The New Press, 2000). For a review of Saunders's book, see Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 46, No. 1, 2002.
5. Pierre Grèmion, Intelligence de l'anticommunisme: le Congress pour la Libertè de la Culture, Paris 1950-1975 (Paris, France: Fayard, 1995).
6. Jorgen Haestrup, Secret Alliance: A Study of the Danish Resistance Movement 1940-45 (New York, NY: New York University Press, 1976-77), 3 vols., endnotes, maps, index.
7. Lord Hutton, Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr. David Kelly C.M.G (Ordered by the House of Commons, 28 January 2004).
8. Washington, DC, NBC-TV, 6 December 1953.
9. Elizabeth Bentley, Out of Bondage (New York, NY: Devin-Adair, 1951).
10. Kathryn S. Olmsted, Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 268 pages, endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
11. Resolution of this question would require the examination of the genealogical data used by both authors. Olmsted admits hers was not complete. Kessler relies on a privately published history of the Turrill family.
12. Gregory Douglas, Gestapo Chief: The 1948 Interrogation of Heinrich Müller (San Jose, CA: James Bender, 1995, 1997), 3 vols. Douglas has used the pseudonyms Peter Stahl and Walter Storch on the Internet. He claims a former CIA officer is one of his sources, a claim that officer has denied to me. The documentary evidence he purports to have remains his secret. Those facsimile documents he includes in his books are said by experts to be of his own making and cannot be found in the National Archives. Whatever happened to Müller, the one certainty is that he never came to America.
13. Anonymous, p. x.
14. Cited in Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1997), p. 217.
Hayden B. Peake manages the CIA's Historical Intelligence Collection.
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