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The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Intelligence in Recent Public Literature

Charles Fenn. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004. 227 pages. Photos.

Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake

 

This section contains brief reviews of recent books of interest to intelligence professionals and to students of intelligence.

 


General and Current Intelligence Issues

 

John Robert Ferris. Intelligence and Strategy: Selected Essays (London: Routledge, 2005), 395 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.

What good is intelligence? How does intelligence input to diplomatic decisions and military actions correlate with the outcomes? While these questions can’t always be answered for contemporaneous issues and situations, University of Calgary history Professor John Ferris argues that the historical track record of intelligence provides patterns of use and indications of outcomes that suggest what may be anticipated and expected today and in the future. In the first six detailed and thoroughly documented chapters, he looks at that historical record in various periods. Each deals with a particular subject and time period to show the role of intelligence in major geopolitical issues and the subterranean bureaucratic and personal battles that led to the final policy. In the seventh, Ferris links the history with current reality.

The first chapter analyzes the influence of intelligence on British policy toward Russia and Central Asia in the late 19th century—the late Great Game period—when the future of Islamic states was already a major problem. Chapter 2 examines the evolution of British strategic intelligence between the World Wars as influenced by Robert Vansittart, who became permanent undersecretary of the Foreign Office, the man responsible for looking after MI6 for the prime minister. Vansittart used intelligence for political power. To make sure of its accuracy, he formed his own private intelligence service as a check on MI6. It is a fascinating story.

Chapter 3 appraises intelligence as used or misused by the major protagonists prior to WWII. In one example, Ferris shows how some statesmen and commanders underestimated Japan’s offensive capacity, while others recognized it accurately enough only to have it ignored in the field. Chapter 4, The British ‘Enigma,’ does not discuss the Ultra intelligence, but rather how Britain constructed its own “Enigma device” to encrypt its military and diplomatic cables. Chapter 5 describes the military problems experienced between 1940 and 1942 mainly in the North African desert as new radio equipment became available. Chapter 6 looks at uncertainty and intelligence in military operations. It discusses a case study of the use and misuse of intelligence in the Pacific during WWII and considers how bold risk-taking, military genius, and serendipity are influenced by intelligence and vice versa.

The final chapter is a discussion of network centric warfare and the Revolution in Military Affairs, as affected by the “infosphere” created by C4ISR (command control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), and information operations. Ferris concludes that these complex concepts and techniques have indeed increased American’s military strengths but they have not reduced its weaknesses—a most dangerous situation. Intelligence and Strategy suggests that the role of intelligence in both diplomacy and military operations today is quicker paced, subject to greater confusion, is still vulnerable to false data or interpretation and the refusal of decisionmakers to accept well-documented truth. No revolution has occurred in these areas, and thus the human role is even more important. This is an important work.

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Peter Jackson and Jennifer Siegel (eds.). Intelligence and Statecraft: The Use and Limits of Intelligence in International Society (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005), 285 pp., endnotes, index.

This book is exemplary proof that modern historians realize the importance of the role intelligence has played in world affairs. But it is also an indication of their struggle to come to grips with some of the basic elements of the profession. On the first point, authors from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, have contributed articles on 19th-century crisis management in Austria and the origins of the military attaché, Russian intelligence and the Younghusband expedition to Tibet, the instructions of intelligence officers in pre-WWI Britain, the Royal Navy intelligence assessments of Japan in the interwar period, British attempts to hamper Soviet scientific development in the post-WWII era, and the role the Stasi played in the Ostpolitik-era of Germany.

On the second point, University of Wales Senior Lecturer Peter Jackson, in his valuable historical survey of the uses and limits of intelligence, asks “What is Intelligence and What is it For?” His answers to the first question illustrate the confusion in academia on this issue. He makes clear the tendency to insist on a single definition of the term intelligence, without recognizing the practical difficulties involved. Although he does not use this analogy—intelligence is comparable to the generic medicine or medical, each is a contextual term. When one is said to serve the medical profession, a contextual explanation is immediately required to understand just what is involved—a physician, a dentist, a scientist, etc. Similarly, when one is identified as an intelligence professional more questions are necessary to identify analysts and operators. When discussing what intelligence is for, there is no disagreement that it serves national policymaking and strives to be objective while minimizing uncertainty. In any case, the contributors are not hampered by the definitional dilemma any more than professional intelligence officers, and their articles provide detailed and well-documented examples of how intelligence has influenced world affairs. The result is a valuable contribution to the history of the intelligence profession.

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Hans Born, Loch K. Johnson, and Ian Leigh (eds.). Who Is Watching the Spies?: Establishing Intelligence Service Accountability

(Washington, DC: Potomac Books, Inc., 2005), 254 pp., end of chapter notes, index.

In Federalist #64, John Jay wrote:

There are cases where the most useful intelligence may be obtained, if the persons possessing it can be relieved from the apprehensions of discovery…[and] who would rely on the secrecy of the president, but who would not confide in the senate, and still less in that of a large popular assembly…. In disposing of the power of making treaties… the president must act by the advice and consent of the senate, yet he will be able to manage the business of intelligence in such a manner as prudence may suggest.[1] (emphasis added)

Such were the conditions until the mid 1970s when Congress created the intelligence committees and began taking a more vigorous role in the intelligence affairs of the nation. Since 9/11 the calls for increased oversight and accountability have intensified in some quarters and Who’s Watching the Spies? addresses this issue in chapters covering the views of eight democratic nations—the UK, USA, Canada, Norway, Poland, Argentina, South Africa, and Korea.

The collection of essays in this book is divided into four parts. The first considers parameters of intelligence accountability in general terms before and after 9/11. Parts two and three look at specific circumstances in the countries involved. Part four discusses the balancing of operational efficiency and democratic legitimacy. The authors are all academics, and those writing on a particular country are not necessarily teachers in or citizens of the subject nation.

Oversight is defined in the book as

… maintaining public accountability over the intelligence services, without the sense of taking over a government’s responsibility for directing, tasking, and judging the priorities of the intelligence services. This process of accountability can only succeed if the overseers have the necessary legal authority and the will to exercise meaningful review. (5)

The experiences in each country vary widely. In the case of the United States, the country with the most experience in this area, author Loch Johnson finds Executive Branch oversight “anemic” and makes his case for increased congressional efforts. In the case of Poland, the nation with least experience in legislative oversight, the bureaucratic battles with former communists in government complicate attempts to establish effective procedures. At the other end of the scale, author Fredrik Sejersted notes that his country, Norway, has “no serious external or internal threats to national security…and the secret agencies are well-behaved.” (120) Thus it “should come as no surprise that Norway” has a model for legislative oversight that works well.

The experiences of each nation provide an interesting mosaic of desired goals and problems of implementation. The conclusions chapter includes a table listing the elements of “strong oversight” (237) developed by the authors, with assessments as to how well each nation currently measures up. It is a timely topic and worth the attention of all those who must deal with these issues everyday as well as the general public whose civil rights are affected when oversight is too robust or inadequate.

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William J. Daugherty. Executive Secrets: Covert Action and the Presidency (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2004), 298 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.

 
There is a tendency among academics who have never served as intelligence officers to denounce covert action in principle. They argue that interference in another nation’s politics is just not right under any circumstances.[2] In his Foreword to Executive Secrets, Mark Bowden, author of Blackhawk Down, tells of a scholar he interviewed in Tehran who blamed the CIA for supporting the Shah, for engineering his overthrow, for bringing down the post-Shah provisional government, and for secretly arranging the takeover of the US embassy in 1979. When pressed about the contradictions, the scholar explained that it is “necessary to view the world through the clear lens of Islam to see the logic of these things.” Bill Daugherty, an academic who did serve as an intelligence officer and who spent 444 days as a hostage in Iran, gives us a more reasoned prospective on this controversial topic. [3]

One of Daugherty’s assignments as a CIA officer in the clandestine service, was on the Evaluation and Plans Staff of the Directorate of Operations (DO), where he monitored every covert action operation run against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Based on this experience and that of his other DO assignments, Daugherty set as his primary object for this book “to show definitively that covert action programs managed by the CIA since its inception have been at the express direction of the presidents of the United States. (xv) He writes to correct the impression, held by many Americans, that the CIA “runs a rogue foreign policy” beyond executive branch control. (xvi) In Executive Secrets he sets about correcting the record.

The first six chapters define and discuss the elements and role of covert action operations: Topics include some of the persistent myths—for example that Desert One was a covert action operation—that circulate in the media; the exemplary failures that have contributed to the negative public image of covert action; the process of initiation, approval, and review; and the relationship with the Congress. Chapters seven through 13 examine covert action policies and operations in each administration from Truman to Clinton. He shows that the level of activity varied more with international turmoil of the moment than with the party in power. The nature of the activity changed over the years as considerable effort had to be devoted to countering KGB deception operations and participating in counter-terrorist programs. Change will be part of the future too, he suggests, with the Internet playing an important role. Many well-known peacetime covert action cases are discussed—in Chile, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Poland, Italy, the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, to name a few. Where particular cases—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty—are only mentioned in passing, references for full coverage are provided. For each case treated in depth, whether a success or failure or some of each, Daugherty describes the circumstances that led to the operation, while documenting in meticulous detail the various presidential directives and legal authorities involved.

In conclusion, Daugherty argues that no matter how well he has put the case for covert action, it will remain controversial, but it will nevertheless continue as an instrument of presidential policy when conventional methods short of war are unsuccessful. Executive Secrets provides ample justification for this position while illuminating this contentious topic with facts. This is a fine textbook and a valuable contribution.

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Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon. The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2005), 330 pp., endnotes, index.

 
The authors of The Next Attack served on the National Security Council during most of the 1990s. Benjamin had had little prior contact with the terrorism problem. Simon, on the other hand, served in the State Department in Middle Eastern security affairs. Both hold degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Their fundamental argument is that the invasion of Iraq was wrong and the motivating consequences of that action prove what Bin Laden had been predicting; only more terrorist acts against the United States and the Western nations will accomplish the Islamist goals of world domination. As an indication of what is likely to come, they cite the bombings in Madrid and London, which followed Usama bin Laden’s call for new recruits to deal with the US-sponsored infidels that are bent on wiping out Muslims. These two events, they argue, were carried out independently of al-Qa’ida and show the capability of Islamist groups to act on their own. As they see it, Iraq has provided a new training ground that replaces the camps in Afghanistan, a situation that was foreseen by some and ignored by others. On the domestic front, they see the Department of Homeland Security as a collection of dysfunctional agencies bogged down in the minutia of bureaucratic battles that will take years to resolve before the department becomes something reliable in terms of protecting against another terrorist attack.

All but one chapter of the book are devoted to spelling out what is wrong with the current policies. As to a “strategy for getting it right,” they offer four, not exactly new, proposals. First, “stop terrorists from committing acts of violence by capturing them, disrupting their cells, or if necessary killing them.” Second, “keep the most dangerous weapons out of their hands.” Third, recognize “that there is no way to prevent all attacks; protect those facilities in the United States that, if struck, would cause catastrophic damage.” Fourth, “halt the creation of new terrorists by dealing, to the extent possible, with those grievances that are driving radicalization.” They expand on each of these points, but do not suggest any sure-fire methods of accomplishing them; nor do they appear to realize that the steps they recommend are precisely those now being attempted. Their comment that the intelligence services have not changed their Cold War operational methods is not only unhelpful, it is inaccurate. Similarly, the need to build a “true global coalition” (203) is not a new idea. Finally they conclude that “showing the Muslim world that the West does have a positive agenda to pursue with it and has the will to make improvements in the lives of Muslims, would dramatically change the environment in which the Islamists make their arguments. Conversely, if we pursue democratization through rhetoric and force,” (229) we risk failure. How this might be accomplished is a problem left to the decision makers.

The Next Attack provides a good summary of the problem but contributes little to the solution.

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Scott Ritter. Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein (New York: Nation Books, 2005), 312 pp., endnotes, index.

 
In the Foreword, journalist Seymour Hersh points out that Scott Ritter got it right about WMD in Iraq. In the balance of the book, Ritter goes on to suggest that anyone with the same data he had would have reached the same conclusion. But, he states, “dissemination of accurate assessments was prevented by the US Government.” This was done to promote the “USA’s principal objective in Iraq after 1991…regime change.” He then alleges that the “CIA was designated as the principal implementer of this policy…through its manipulation of the work of the UN weapons inspectors and distortion of the facts about Iraq’s WMD programs.” (291) Ritter’s story of the problems experienced by the inspection team is interesting but not new. His depiction of the primacy of his role in the events is surprising and unlikely to be accepted by others familiar with the situation. His sources are mostly unnamed, confidential intelligence officers, and this leaves one wondering whether conclusions about government policies are accurate or products of the smug certainty and ignorance of events above his pay grade. Iraq Confidential should be read with caution, keeping in mind that his charges about the CIA will generate an angry silence among those who cannot respond publicly.

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Historical Works

Michael A. Turner. Historical Dictionary of United States Intelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2006), 291 pp., bibliography, appendices.

Scarecrow Press’s historical dictionary of intelligence series began rather well with the first volume on British intelligence by Nigel West (reviewed in Studies in Intelligence 50, no. 1: 91). The current work fails by any measure to compare favorably: it has just too many errors. It gets off to a poor start when Turner writes that George Washington organized “the first intelligence service” and the “Culper Spy Ring.” There was intelligence collection during the War of Independence but no service devoted to that goal, and Benjamin Tallmadge set up the Culper network. The alphabetical entries begin similarly when Col. Rudolf Abel is identified as a GRU officer, a surprise no doubt to the KGB. To say that the “CIA and FBI became suspicious of Aldrich Ames in the mid-1980s” suggests strongly that Turner never read any of the several books on the case. Sadly the litany goes on and on: Edward Howard was not as stated, an employee of the CIA when he defected; the KH-11 is not still in use; Golitsyn did not name Kim Philby as a Soviet agent; the Japanese code designated PURPLE was for diplomatic, not military, communications; William Stephenson’s MI6 designation was 2500, not Intrepid; Anthony Blunt did not recruit Burgess, Maclean, or Philby; the description of the family jewels as CIA illegal activities is incorrect; the FBI is not “legally prohibited” from engaging in foreign intelligence activities; and the VENONA decrypts do more than “suggest” the guilt of the Rosenbergs. This less than comprehensive list brings doubt upon the rest, though many are correct. The author and the publisher have left the fact-checking to the reader. Naughty.

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Amy Knight. How The Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 2005), 358 pp., endnotes, photos, index.

 
The defection of GRU code clerk Igor Gouzenko on 5 September 1945 in Canada, set in motion a series of counterintelligence investigations and arrests in that country, the United States, and the United Kingdom that eventually brought an end to the era of the communist-inspired ideological agents in the West. The Gouzenko case is not new to the public literature nor are the stories of the many Soviet agents exposed by the documents Gouzenko brought with him.[4] When combined with the agents identified in the VENONA decryptions, it was evident that Soviet intelligence in America had been severely weakened. Drawing from documents obtained under the Canadian freedom of information laws historian Amy Knight adds some new and relatively minor details to the Gouzenko story. While they do not change the substance of the case, they do describe more of Gouzenko’s personal life after the defection. But this is not enough to justify the book and only gradually does the real reason Knight wrote it become apparent: Ms. Knight argues that the primary product of the Gouzenko defection was the damage done to innocent lives due to the “unrelenting witch-hunt for spies.” (11, 295) This is a popular and loaded phrase, implying, as it does to many, that the putative spies, as with the mythical witches, did not exist. But even Ms. Knight identifies a number of Soviet agents caught by the RCMP, the FBI, and MI5. She goes on to ask rhetorically, whether “the harm that was done to the West by those who did spy, justified the widespread abuse of individual rights, the vast expenditures of public resources, and the shattering of so many innocent lives?” It is clear she prefers letting the spies spy.

A close reading of the book leads to some problems on these points. First, she provides little, if any, evidence of those accused unjustly—failure to prosecute does not qualify. Some of her examples include Alger Hiss, of whom she suggests there is still good reason to doubt his identification in the VENONA decrypts (338, fn 8), though she doesn’t explain why. Then turning to Harry Dexter White, she admits that while he was “shown by VENONA decrypts to have met with Soviet agents (read intelligence officers) and passed information, there is no evidence that he was doing this with the intention of subverting American policies.”(301) She fails to realize that the intent was evident in the act. To strengthen her argument she notes that her position “is convincingly demonstrated” in Bruce Craig’s biography of White, Treasonable Doubt, while neglecting to mention that even Craig concluded White had committed “a species of espionage,” a term of art that still defies definition.[5]

Ms. Knight adds other examples, the best known being Canadian diplomat Herbert Norman, a Cambridge University communist in the 1930s who lied about it to his government and eventually committed suicide in Cairo. In this case, she blames the convenient scapegoats of McCarthyism and a US Senate investigating committee for harassing him to death. This is a popular myth in Canada, but there is still no evidence that anything but his lies led to his suicide. As a last example, though many others are available, she states that “even having one’s name listed in the address book of another suspected spy was tantamount to being guilty” (295); not inspiring reasoning. Another problem with the book is the author’s reading of counterintelligence history. To suggest, as she does, that the United States had “conducted surveillance against the Soviets and their Communist contacts throughout the war,” (5) is a gross exaggeration. It was spasmodic at best, despite informants with specific detail and other clues.[6] Similarly, she shocks those familiar with the case by suggesting —without evidence—that Gouzenko may well have been a British agent for some time before he defected. (42)

One the other side of the accuracy coin, she is probably correct when, after counting the number of pages of documents removed by Nosenko as revealed in the archival record, she casts legitimate doubt on Gouzenko’s story that he removed approximately 250 pages under his shirt on the night he defected, an observation so far overlooked. A prolonged period of extraction is indeed more likely.

In sum, while the case facts are accurate and well-documented, when conflated with the politics of the day, the conclusions reached amount to considered opinion, nothing more. The Cold War may well have begun with the Gouzenko defection and the espionage it revealed, but no evidence is presented that the treatment of Communist Party members was even a contributing factor. This is a weak case study.

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Louis J. Freeh with Howard Means. My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), 336 pp., photos, index. (Available in abridged audio CD.)


FBI Director Louis Freeh dealt with aspects of some important events during his seven-year tenure—1 September 1993–25 June 2001—though few details are provided here. Domestically, there was the fallout from Waco and Ruby Ridge. Then came the Unabomber manhunt and arrest and the Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center bombings. Overseas there were a few problems caused by Usama bin Laden and various terrorists, including the bombing of the Khobar Towers, the Somalia embassy bombing, and the attack on the USS Cole. In the area of domestic counterintelligence, for which the bureau has a mandate, he says nothing in the title and little in the book. Less than a page for the CIA’s Aldrich Ames, who is called the “chief of the Soviet Branch in the Directorate of Operations,” and Harold Nicholson (236), just a few more for the FBI’s Earl Pitts and Robert Hanssen. There is no mention in the latter case of the monumental delays and career damage caused to the CIA’s Brian Kelley, when the FBI insisted on focusing on him as the mole. Nor does Freeh mention identifying Hanssen by accident. President Clinton is covered in two chapters plus parts of others, and the Mafia doesn’t get much more attention. We get only a hint of the disastrous bureau computer problems, while learning a bit about Freeh himself, who seems to be a sterling character—just the right man for the job, although President Clinton did not share that opinion. (62) This book is FBI lite. GOOGLE will be more informative.

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Intelligence Around the World

Rodger W. Claire. Raid On The Sun: Inside Israel’s Secret Campaign that Denied Saddam the Bomb (New York: Broadway Books, 2004), 259 pp., endnotes, photos, index. (Available in abridged audio CD.)

After 4 years of planning, on 7 June 1981, eight F-16 fighters, each carrying two 2,000 pound delayed-action bombs, flew 683 miles—600 at an altitude of 600 feet—at a speed of 6 nm/minute to arrive at Iraq’s OSIRAK nuclear reactor, while the Iraqi radar was, as usual, turned off because the operators had gone to dinner. Less than five minutes later, 14 of the bombs had struck the target and the planes turned homeward. Mission accomplished. Although all participants were sworn to secrecy, Prime Minster Menachem Begin quickly released an official statement admitting Israel had made the attack. World reaction was universally negative. UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick compared the attack to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (229) Privately, President Reagan commented that “boys will be boys.” (218)

Journalist Roger Claire fills in the details of Operation Babylon in an easy-reading style, though his grasp of administrative and technical detail sometimes falters. For example, there is no US agency called the National Security Administration, which substitutes for the National Security Council and National Reconnaissance Office (104 and 217), nor is the SA-6 a heat-seeking guided missile. (137) The contributions of France and Italy to Iraq’s nuclear program are spelled out, and the role of the CIA in the operation is mentioned. In the strongest part of the book, Claire describes the pilot selection process, the technical problems involved in the attack—for example, how to fly an F-15 round-trip to Baghdad without refueling—and the step-by-step execution of the mission itself. His account is based on interviews with seven of the eight pilots, many of the planners, recently released classified Israeli documents on the operation—although none are cited—some anonymous interviews, and related open-source material. The eighth and youngest of the pilots, Ilan Ramon, was interviewed by phone while training as an astronaut in Texas. He was lost when space shuttle Columbia exploded.

Raid On The Sun won’t be the final word for military historians, but even in its current form it is a fascinating account with implications for decisionmakers dealing with nonproliferation issues.

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Maloy Krishna Dhar. Open Secrets: India’s Intelligence Unveiled (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 2005), 519 pp., no index.

 
“Open Secrets…for the first time” offers “insight into the…prime intelligence organization of India—the Intelligence Bureau (IB). In India any open writing…about the intelligence community is frowned upon as an act of betrayal against the establishment. Such revelations are aplenty in ‘free democracies’ in the western world, where intelligence is regularly brought under public scanner through legal and constitutional means.” (5) Whether Maloy Dhar has got it exactly right is difficult to say since he provides no documentation. But the organizations and major events he describes and the people with whom he dealt in various countries can be easily checked. What he has offered for consideration is a professional intelligence officer’s view of India’s intelligence organizations based on his observations during a 29-year career. The central theme of the book is that legislative oversight of the organizations, which are subordinate only to the executive branch, has long been needed, and without it India’s historical politicization of intelligence will not end.

Entry into the IB, India’s security service, is normally through the Indian Police Service, where students are earmarked for intelligence duty. That is how Dhar began. He served in various Indian states and Canada, but most of his time was spent at headquarters, in New Delhi, on counterintelligence assignments—working the KGB desk, observing the Pakistani intelligence service, and monitoring the actions of Muslim and Hindu activist groups. Typical of his cases in his last years were the attempts to neutralize Pakistan’s penetration of India’s space program, something that had become a political scandal. He gradually made contacts with various government leaders, including Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, and was from time-to-time tasked to overlook certain acts by government officials, help the prime minister during elections, and perform illegal surveillance and related operations against political opponents. Many of these illegal, if not unethical, acts are admitted in the book more as a mea culpa than the disgruntled outburst of a former employee. Dhar provides much detail about the intensive and continuous bureaucratic battles among India’s foreign intelligence service—the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)—the Joint Intelligence Committee, and various other groups and government ministries. Aside from the on-the-job irritations this caused, Dhar uses these matters to illustrate the need for parliamentary oversight the lack of which he calls a “national shame.”

Dhar retired in 1995 after being passed over in 1994 for the top position in the IB, and he is critical of the man who got the job—D.C. Pathak. (See comments on Pathak’s book below.) But this doesn’t distract from the unique look Open Secrets provides into India’s intelligence services. Thus it is a valuable contribution and background for the intelligence officer.

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D. C. Pathak. Intelligence: A Security Weapon (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 2003), 197 pp., photos, index.

 
This is the first book published by a former director of India’s Intelligence Bureau, the organization responsible for domestic security. Educated as an organic chemist, the author first joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) and was subsequently selected for the IB, where he gradually rose to its top position. Unlike Maloy Dhar (above), who served under him briefly as a deputy and goes unmentioned in this book, Pathak has written a normative—how things should work—as opposed to a functional, description of how intelligence actually operates. His concepts are not radically different from those of services in other democratic countries, but so little has been published in the West about India, it, like Dhar’s book, is a valuable contribution. Pathak stresses his “philosophy of management,” which should be understood by the professionals and the interested public alike. He views the intelligence organization as “an umbrella” under which the individual remains the focal point of concern and around which the “methodology of intelligence operations revolves.” He hopes to convey the principle that intelligence is a noble profession on which the security of the nation depends. In describing what he calls his “philosophy of intelligence,” Pathak covers the qualifications, recruitment, and work atmosphere of intelligence personnel, the need to accept anonymity while emphasizing specialization, creativity and innovation, the value of historical experience and the impact of the “age of knowledge” which now dominates the world in which we live.

On the topic of what he terms “strategic culture,” he underscores the need for the “unfailing study of overt and covert plans of political adversaries” that leads to a “system of internal vigilance.” He concludes with an assessment of the critical role of intelligence in the age of global terrorism. Here he acknowledges that while the United States and its allies are the principal enemies of the Islamists, India is also a target, with Pakistan’s ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) requiring constant attention.

Intelligence: A Security Weapon, is a thoughtful book that provides an idealistic view of how the author hopes the Indian intelligence services practice their profession. It contrasts sharply with the views of Maloy Dhar. A reasonable conclusion is that India has a way to go before the influences of bureaucracy and political expediency no longer dominate.

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Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. MAO: The Unknown Story (London: Jonathan Cape, 2005), 814 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

 
In 1999, London Times journalist, Philip Short, published a 782-page biography of Mao Zedong. What more could be said only six years later? There are at least three answers. First, the primary author of this book was born and attended university in China while Mao was in power. Second, the authors found new source material—from Chinese archives and personal interviews. Third, and perhaps most important, the personality portrait of Mao that emerges is strikingly different: “a portrait of tyranny, degeneracy, mass murder, and promiscuity…the greatest monster of them all—the Red Emperor of China.”[7] To this the authors point out Mao, the one-time library assistant, eccentric teacher, and bookstore manager, was also an opera lover, poet, and a ruthless politician who wanted the Chinese Communist Party to take over the world. But the most significant trait uncovered, and the dominant theme of the book, was Mao’s self-centered lifelong pursuit of power, the steps he was willing to take to achieve and keep it, and his distaste for the peasant. Mao first expressed his views on this topic as a university student:

Of course there are people and objects in the world, but they are there only for me…. People like me only have a duty to ourselves; we have no duty to other people…. Great heroes are magnificently powerful, stormy and invincible. Their power is like a hurricane…like a sex-maniac in heat and prowling for a lover…there is no way to stop them. (13–14)

An essential element in both acquiring power and keeping it was a reliable security service. The authors blend Mao’s actions toward this end throughout the book, and they describe his mercurial relationship with Kang Sheng, Mao’s Felix Dzerzhinsky.[8]

Following directly from his obsession for power, the authors reach the surprising conclusion that Mao was not a Marxist. Marxism was a means to power. Furthermore, contrary to the popular image of Mao as the savior of the peasants—and Mao was from a peasant family—he cared little for them. They were merely useful—alive or dead. He killed over 70 million, putting Stalin, his mentor, to shame. At one point as the Great Famine was claiming over 30 million lives, Mao suggested they could be trained to endure or eat leaves. He needed the food for foreign exchange and that is what he did with it. His absolute control, his treatment of close advisers and wives, and his control over the Party, was brutal and unrelenting until his death.

Mao is still on display in Tiananmen Square and, despite the truth about this “hero,” is likely to remain there so long as China has a communist government. For those who study China, its government and its politics, understanding Mao’s legacy is essential. The book is a fine place to start.

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Alexenia Dimitrova. The Iron Fist: Inside the Archives of the Bulgarian Secret Police (London: Artnik, 2005), 205 pp.

 
By the time the post-Soviet era government in Bulgaria opened the former State Security Service files to the public, 30-year-old journalist Alexenia Dimitrova knew she would apply for access. Her father had disappeared for months during the Soviet era and life had been restricted in many ways. One grew up knowing the security service played a role in these events, and Alexeniz Dimitrova decided to find out the details. The Iron Fist is the product of her efforts. In the first of its two parts, the book tells of uncovering a story of state repression that will surprise no one. What is new here are the details unearthed—numbers and names—and Dimitrova’s perspective. She was shocked by the dominance of the Security Service, the concentration camps, the informers—some her friends—her father’s dossier, the links of State Security to the KGB, the censorship of all publications, the bugged hotel rooms, the corruption of the clergy, and the harassment of dissidents.

The second part of the book begins with the attempt on the pope’s life in 1981 when the author was 18. Even in the repressive society of the day she learned of the charges of Bulgarian involvement “despite the fact that there was no real evidence.” (161) Later, after her work in the Bulgarian archives, she studied in the United States and decided to use the Freedom of Information Act to see just what facts, if any, the CIA and FBI possessed that would either support or reject a Bulgarian role. She was surprised that she even got a reply but was not pleased with the parsimonious magnitude—20 redacted CIA documents, less from the bureau. Still, she was encouraged to continue her research using the public record, which she found contradicted the official position. Her conclusion, that Bulgaria was not involved, is not surprising, nor is the fact that it is a judgment call. She found no smoking gun but suspects key documents supporting her view were withheld. In the final chapters she explains how she expanded her study of espionage during the Cold War in Eastern and Western Europe and discovered Bulgaria played a role in the illegal acquisition of technical data from the West. This only leads her to conclude that the Western security services are as bad as those behind the Iron Curtain, and she is especially hard on the CIA, asserting, based on Western newspaper accounts, that it had targeted and jailed innocent Bulgarians for the purpose of trading them for Western agents held in the East. Here she allows journalistic emotion to rule over solid research.

In the final chapter Dimitrova reverts to an old, domestic Bulgarian case. Based on Bulgarian documents she found in the archives, she concludes that the first head of the Bulgarian communist government, Georgi Dimitrov, had been poisoned by mercury on the orders of Stalin. The Iron Fist gives an unusual Bulgarian glimpse of life behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

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Footnotes:

 

[1]Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, The Federalist or The New Constitution— #64,The Powers of the Senate (New York: The Heritage Press edition, 1945), 433.

[2]See for example, Charles Ameringer, U. S. Foreign Intelligence: The Secret Side of American History (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1990); Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1982); Loch K. Johnson, America’s Secret Power: The CIA in A Democratic Society (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1989); John Prados, The Presi­dent’s Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Secret Operations Since World War II (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1986).

[3]Dr. Daugherty is an associate professor of government at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia.

[4]Igor Gouzenko, The Iron Curtain (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1952); Reg Whitaker, Canada and the Cold War (Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2003).

[5]Bruce Craig, Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case (Laurence: University Press of Kansas, 2004).

[6]See Robert Lamphere, The KGB-FBI War: A Special Agent’s Story (New York: Random House, 1986).

[7]See review by Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Sunday Times, 29 May 2005.

[8]For a biography of Kang Sheng see: John Byron and Robert Pack, The Claws of the Dragon: Kang Sheng—The Evil Genius Behind Mao—And His Legacy of Terror in People’s China (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992).

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Historical Document
Posted: Apr 15, 2007 10:01 AM
Last Updated: Jun 26, 2008 07:48 AM