At Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain's Intelligence Agency -- Nigel West
Bill Gertz, Enemies: How America's Foes
Steal Our Vital Secrets--and How We Let It Happen (New York: Crown
Forum, 2006), appendices, index.
In Enemies, Gertz uses case studies and
interviews with counterintelligence (CI) experts to make the case that
there are critical shortcoming in US CI efforts. Some of the case
studies are well known, including Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and
STAKEKNIFE--a British penetration of the IRA.1
Less so are the cases of agents recruited by North Korea, China, Cuba,
the Philippines, and Al Qa'ida. His interview subjects include former
key players Michelle Van Cleave, former director of the National
Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX) (whose article on strategic
counterintelligence appears in this issue), Richard Haver, formerly
with the Defense Department and Intelligence Community Management
Staff, and David Szady, former special agent with FBI's CI unit.
The chapter on North Korea shows a
surprisingly high level of activity and describes its troubling and
little-known "rendition" efforts. Chinese espionage cases the book
documents include the PARLOR MAID (Katrina Leung) case. Treated in more
than a chapter, it is the most detailed treatment of the case to date.
The Chinese effort to acquire US technology is described in the chapter
devoted to the RED FLOWER operation. Gertz devotes a chapter to
Americans who have been caught spying for the Chinese, including three
former CIA officers who were caught but for various reasons were never
prosecuted. Russia's intense post-Cold War espionage efforts are
described in another chapter.
Enemies includes a chapter on DIA officer,
Ana Montes, who spied for Cuba, and contains material--albeit
unattributed--from Scott W. Carmichael's book True Believer: The
Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba's Master Spy, also
reviewed in this issue. To underline weakness in current FBI CI
abilities, Gertz devotes a chapter to Brian Kelly, the CIA officer
wrongly suspected for three years of committing the espionage
eventually traced to Hanssen. Gertz gets the details of the case right,
but even he cannot explain how experienced FBI special agents could
have been blind to evidence pointing to Hanssen for so long.
Oddly, it seems, Gertz treats cases in which
agents were caught or confessed--presumed successes--yet he argues that
"FBI is out of control" (199) and American CI isn't doing anything
right, largely because it takes too long to catch the culprits, a
problem he blames on the lack of high-level attention. Like others
before him, Gertz argues that more resources, better leadership, and
proactive programs are needed.
Omar Nasiri, Inside The Jihad: My Life with
Al-Qaeda: A Spy's Story (New York: Perseus Books Group, 2006), 337 pp.,
glossary, maps, index.
Omar Nasiri, a pseudonym, was a
multi-lingual walk-in to the offices of DGSE (the French foreign
intelligence service) in Belgium in the mid 1990s. A Moroccan member of
the Algerian terrorist organization Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA), Nasiri
was something of a maverick--he drank, smoked, went to night clubs, and
enjoyed western women; attributes he never gave up. To maintain his
lifestyle--and replace the money he had stolen from his GIA cell--he
sold his services to the DGSE. For the next six years he reported on
the cell's operations and membership, which included two of his
brothers and his mother. Incredibly, Nasiri claims to have admitted to
two cell members that he had contacted the DGSE. He asked for
forgiveness and submitted to a test of his allegiance by successfully
smuggling guns into Algeria, a feat that surprised his colleagues. When
members of the Brussels cell were arrested, Omar "escaped." The DGSE
helped him reach Pakistan and from there Afghanistan. He was trained in
weapons and explosives in Al Qa'ida training camps for more than a year.
Nasiri's first Al Qa'ida assignment was to
form a sleeper cell of Islamist recruits in London. He informed the
DGSE, which, jointly with MI6 and MI5 in London, controlled his
activities. These included attendance at local Mosques that served as
sources of recruits. At some point he learned that members of his
Belgian cell who who knew of his DGSE links were to be released from
jail, and, fearing exposure and reprisal, he asked for and was denied
French asylum and protection. Instead, he went to Germany to stay with
a German girl he had met and whom he eventually married. The Germans
were no more helpful than the French, however, and he was denied
permanent resident status. Thus forced into menial work cleaning
toilets he decided to write Inside the Jihad for the money and revenge.
Not surprisingly, then, the book is hard on the DGSE, which Nasiri says
"hung him out to dry" after faithful service.
Is his story true? The BBC thought it was
good enough for a 45 minute documentary in November 2006. His US
publisher said the facts they could check, for example the story of the
cell members arrests, checked out. They also consulted former CIA
terrorist specialist Mike Scheuer, who said the training story rang
Nasiri concludes his memoirs by noting that
"I am a Muslim. And to this day I would go to war for my faith.... Part
of me remains a mujahid. I think the United States and all the others
should get off our land, and stay off. I think they should stop
interfering in the politics of the Muslim nations. I think they should
leave us alone. And when they don't they should be killed, because that
is what happens to invading armies and occupiers." (318-19) This we can
Peter Gill and Peter Phythian, Intelligence in an Insecure World (Malden, MA: 2006), 228 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.
The conventional wisdom among academics
working on intelligence holds that the British have tended to focus on
the history of the profession while their colleagues in the United
States write more about intelligence processes. The British authors of
this volume have broken that mold. They argue that in the post 9/11 and
7/7 world "a systematic analysis of intelligence structure and
processes is long overdue" and it should not be left to insiders to
accomplish the task. "It is clear," they state, "from both the
regularity and costs of intelligence failures, that intelligence is too
important to be left to the spooks." (172) The authors would correct
that error by outsourcing.
They get off to a weak start by justifying
the need for outside help, citing specific intelligence failures, many
of which weren't. They even resort to quoting Aldrich Ames, after his
conviction, although others more reputable are also included. They also
contend that an intelligence theory must be developed and offer a
redefinition of intelligence that demands it. Unfortunately,
counterintelligence and covert action are excluded, though the latter
is discussed in the text. The theory, based on the conventional
intelligence cycle, involves adopting political and social science
concepts not often encountered in the study of intelligence-positivism,
modernism, postmodernism, critical realism, and surveillance, the
latter in a context completely different from how that term is normally
used by intelligence officers.
The authors then apply these concepts to
each step of the intelligence cycle using familiar examples of failures
and problems. But in the end, the reader is left wondering just how
their ideas for a "more self-consciously analytical and theoretical"
approach to intelligence will help--no examples are given. Ambiguity
also follows their conclusion that "citizens have been excluded for too
long from any knowledge of intelligence policies and practices." (172)
While the existence of this book and its bibliography suggest
otherwise, it is by no means clear the objective is a worthy one.
Intelligence in an Insecure World may help clarify the nature of the
gap between intelligence professionals and elements of academia, but it
does not close it.
Steven Emerson, JIHAD Incorporated: A Guide
to Militant Islam in the US (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2006), 535
pp., end of chapter notes, photos, index.
In his 2002 book, American JIHAD, journalist Steven Emerson, reported on the extensive terrorist networks in 11 American cities.
He presented unequivocal evidence that "infiltration of radical
Islamism into our Society" was an ongoing reality as early as 1992. He
concluded that, despite the successful arrests and trials that followed
the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, further investigation of
the organizations that carried it out might have prevented the 9/11
attack. In the post 9/11 world, Emerson decided to tackle that problem
with his own organization, The Investigative Project on Terrorism. In
the five years since, despite new laws and organizational changes in
the United States, he concludes the problem has not been solved and in
many ways has grown worse. JIHAD Incorporated reports the current
situation and tries to answer the question: "to what extent does
radical Islamic activity in the United States today pose a threat to
national security at home and abroad?" (21) In searching for an answer,
it should be kept in mind that Jihad is an old, well established and
uniquely Islamic institution that regulates, with its own rules, the
relations of Muslims with non-Muslims to this day.
This book has three parts. The first looks
at al Qa'ida in the United States. The second examines other terrorist
networks operating here--Hamas, Hizballah, the Palestinian Islamic
Jihad, and the Pakistani Jihadist Network. These he says are well
trained and ready to "fight for Jihad." The third part is the largest,
covering networked groups operating in the United States--charities,
foundations, and benevolence organizations, each with Web sites and
sources of financing. KINDHEARTS, for example, is supposed to provide
emergency relief to Muslims, including, sanitation services, medical
and health care, vocational training and education to refugees. In
fact, Emerson writes, it is a conduit for terrorist financing with
connections to Hamas. A related organization known as the SAAR network,
whose members are "scholars, businessmen, and scientists from the
Middle East," (383) is a 501(c)(3) foundation incorporated in Herndon,
Virginia, with "known ties to radical Islamist groups." Also discussed
are the Mosques in America, which provides recruiting centers and other
terrorist support functions. These are just three examples of
anti-Western groups supporting the global jihad. Chapter 12, "Jihadi
Webmasters," is particularly disconcerting in describing how terrorists
use the Internet to meet their communications needs. Whatever the
answer to these problems, Emerson see cyberspace as a major player on
In covering what is being done by the FBI
and intelligence agencies to counter these groups, he barely mentions,
for reasons unexplained, the Department of Homeland Security. He lists
the arrests that have been made since 9/11, but he concludes the battle
is not close to being won because terrorist resources in money and
manpower are just too great. This work is an excellent, though
dispiriting, survey of radical Islamist activities in America. JIHAD
Incorporated ends without proposing any solutions, which presumably is
a task left to professionals.
John Prados, Safe For Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006), endnotes, note on sources, index.
Safe For Democracy is a revision of a Prados' 1986 book on CIA covert action, The President's Secret Wars.
Revision is necessary, he says, because "public opinion polls in many
countries [that] portray the United States as the greatest threat to
world peace on the globe, worse than terrorism or any other nation."
(xiii) The basis for that judgment, he maintains, is in large part CIA
covert action, the major policy tool of all presidents since World War
II. The CIA, he argues, "attempts to pursue operations beyond the
limits of the oversight system," and this demands a critical and
comprehensive examination of the "consistently disappointing" covert
The documentation Prados provides is
impressive and includes declassified CIA reports covering the 25
nations in which he maintains covert actions have caused untold
suffering. The book goes into detail in cases from Iran to Bosnia. He
does not question US pursuit of democracy throughout the world, only
the methods used to achieve the goal. The Prados solution to the
problem lies in greater Congressional oversight, which he acknowledges
has increased dramatically since 1976. He does not address the point at
which oversight becomes management by committee, however.
This is not an objective study. Prados
clearly held negative views of covert action before he set pen to
paper, and set out to prove his point. Even the covert support given to
resistance to anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan is a negative; the
Soviet Union would have collapsed in any event in Prados' view. Still,
this is thorough review of covert action, and readers may well reach
Gordon Corera, Shopping For Bombs: Nuclear
Proliferation, Global Insecurity and the Rise and Fall of the A. Q.
Kahn Network (London: Hurst & Company, 2006), 288 pp., endnotes,
Shortly after India exploded a "peaceful
nuclear device" on 18 May 1974, A. Q. Kahn wrote to Pakistan's prime
minister suggesting a plan to match India's accomplishment. It was
accepted, and by the time Pakistan became a nuclear power on 28 May
1998, Kahn had become a national hero. In between, Kahn also created
what Mohammed El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, termed the "Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation," (xiv)
violating any number of national and international laws in the process.
Khan's efforts had not gone unnoticed, however, and thanks mainly to a
joint effort by the CIA and MI6, Kahn was placed under house arrest on
31 January 2004. (207) In Spying for Bombs, BBC correspondent Corera
tells how this came about.
As with many intelligence operations, the
breakthrough came, Corera writes, when one of Kahn's customers defected
and contacted MI6 to offer details of the Khan network. Hard evidence
was acquired when a ship carrying thousand of components needed for
uranium enrichment was intercepted on the way to Libya. After
cooperation from Libya was obtained the links to the Khan network were
verified. Corera explains how Kahn acquired sources for the equipment
on the no-export list from businesses in countries around the world and
how he supplied the material to buyers in Iran, China, and North Korea,
Corera's documentation is impressive and he
adds to the veracity of his story by including comments from Joseph
Nye, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council during the
Clinton administration, and from Peter Bergen, an expert on political
machinations in the Middle East.
In his Epilogue, Corera raises disturbing
questions about material known to have existed in the Kahn network that
has yet to be located and which could play a role in the battle to end
nuclear proliferation. How much damage Kahn did is a question yet to be
answered. Corera's story is well told and of value to intelligence
officers and students of national security.
H.H.A. Cooper and Lawrence J. Redlinger,
Terrorism and Espionage in the Middle East: Deception, Displacement,
and Denial (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd., 2005), 773 pp.,
end of chapter notes, bibliography, name index, subject index.
Readers hoping to learn more about the
relationship of terrorism and espionage from this massive work by
professors Cooper and Redlinger will be totally disappointed. Those who
read past the title will learn that the authors argue that Israel, not
Arab factions or states in the Middle East, is the actual sponsor of
terrorism there and elsewhere in the world. Their rationale is simple:
cui bono; it is in Israel's self-interest to convince the United States
that the Arabs are the sources of terrorism even if it means Israel
must commit the acts and attribute them to the Arabs. The authors
suggest some provocative examples: Israel, it is theorized, "cleverly
engineered" the episode in which Nizar Hindawi used his Irish
girlfriend to unknowingly smuggle a bomb on to El Al flight LY016 from
Heathrow to Tel Aviv. (264ff) Another implies that the blame for the
"kidnappings and captivity of Westerners in Lebanon," (vii) including
both Terry Waite and CIA station chief William Buckley, (450) falls on
Israel since these acts were to her "advantage...[and helped] keep the
conflict going as long as possible." (vii) The most outrageous example
is that Israel, not Libya or any other Arab nation, was responsible for
the bombing of Pan Am 103.
The authors' approach to scholarship is
clear from the outset where they state that while "the positions taken
are most tenaciously defended....There is little room for true
objectivity." (4) They go on to claim they "have tried to use
speculation judiciously," (xix) but here they are only half right; they
speculate extensively throughout the book.
This level of scholarship and application of
fuzzy concepts has been achieved in only two other intelligence
books--and they wrote those as well. This might be reason enough to skip this book, but its $170 price tag makes the decision a no-brainer.
Peter Lance, Triple Cross: How Bin Laden's
Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI--and Why
Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him (New York: Regan Books, 2006),
604 pp., endnotes, appendices, photos, index.
In his first book, 1000 Years For Revenge,
Peter Lance presented documentary evidence available to the FBI that he
judged might have prevented the 9/11 tragedy had it not been ignored.
One item concerned a source recruited by the Bureau as an al Qa'ida
penetration: an ex-Egyptian army officer and member of the Egyptian
Islamic Jihad named Ali Mohammed. Lance reported that Ali had become an
American citizen, a member of the US Army Special Forces, and a
contract agent of the CIA before his dismissal for having unauthorized
contacts with Hizballah. He had trained al Qa'ida terrorists in Khost,
Afghanistan, and served as bin Laden's bodyguard in Sudan. When bin
Laden moved to Afghanistan, Al Mohammed helped with the arrangements.
In between, he was a weapons trainer for an Al Qa'ida cell in New York
City headed by Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Sheikh. His final
contribution was to help plan the embassy bombing in Nairobi. He was
arrested after the Nairobi bombing and confessed his al Qa'ida links.
Left unexplained in that first book were the
reasons for his arrest and his punishment. At the invitation of the
9/11 Commission Chairman, Thomas Kean, Lance told the Ali story and
others to a staff investigator in secret session. When the final report
was published, Lance's testimony was not included and Ali Mohammed was
not mentioned. Triple Cross is Lance's attempt to explain the reasons.
Lance tries to make Ali Mohammad the central
thread in Triple Cross, but he is only partially successful. It is a
complicated book with many new names--a graphic in the center helps
sort them out. Lance marshals new data to argue that if only Ali
Mohammed had been better handled and debriefed, 9/11 might not have
happened and bin Laden would have been caught or neutralized. For
example the FBI eventually learned that Ali Mohammed's 1998 confession
and detailed debriefings produced only lies--nothing checked out.
Indeed, Ali has never been sentenced and remains in witness protection.
These facts tends to weaken the argument that he was central to the
Lance does present a new analysis of what
happened in the ABLE DANGER data mining operation, and he tables
indications that the destruction of TWA Flight 800 east of New York
City in July 1996 was a terrorist act, not the result of the internal
fuel tank explosion the National Transportation Safety Board concluded
was the most probable cause.
In the midst of all this Lance tells of an
FBI sting against Ramsi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber,
that involved a mafia inmate who helped the FBI monitor Yousef's
telephone calls--calls that he was not supposed to have been making--to
his fellow terrorists overseas. Lance leaves the significance of this
In the end, Lance asks if we will "ever know
the truth?" (468) Of course, the answer is "maybe." He is satisfied
with knowing more now and Triple Cross does provide new dots, but
unfortunately it is by no means clear how they connect.
[Top of page
Cynthia M. Grabo, Anticipating Surprise;
Analysis for Strategic Warning (Lanham,MD: University Press of America,
Inc., 2004), 174 pp., footnotes, index.
Anticipating Surprise is a condensed version
of a three-volume classified treatment of warning intelligence Cynthia
Grabo, an experienced intelligence analyst, prepared between 1972 and
1974. Although its central theme is strategic warning, the concepts
apply to intelligence analysis generally; put another way, it is a
textbook for a 101 course in analysis. Among the principles it stresses
are the importance of research, knowing one's subject, reaching the
right conclusions, and informing decisionmakers in a timely fashion.
Grabo provides examples of what she terms
intelligence failures and the circumstances that led to them. In
addition to Pearl Harbor, the most recognizable example, she includes
failure to foresee Chinese military intervention during the Korean War.
In this context she raises an interesting variant to the definition of
"intelligence failure," arguing that analysts then did have advance
warning, but they were ignored by General MacArthur and President
Truman. Failure in this case applies "because no action was taken."
(17) She reiterates the point later in the book. But nowhere does she
explain why analysts should bear a burden for failing to convince
superiors to accept their conclusions. One could argue that
responsibility belongs to the decisionmaker alone--it should go with
the pay grade.
Among other topics covered are: asking the
right questions, knowing what methods to apply to collected data,
understanding how the adversary thinks, order-of-battle warning
issues--the only topic for which she supplies a list of warning
indicators--the difficulties of developing and assessing warning
indicators involving political issues, and deception. She also
emphasizes assessment of probabilities as a technique for improving the
quality of judgments. This is not new and others have supported the
approach, but Grabo doesn't explain just how guessing or estimating
arbitrary numerical values in an iterative process can improve the
result. Nor does she offer an example of successful intelligence
analysis that used the approach.
Anticipating Surprise is valuable for young analysts wondering where to start and what to do next.
Bodnar's Warning Analysis for the
Information Age takes a different approach to the same topics Grabo
covered. Dr. Bodnar quotes her book frequently in his early chapters to
show that he is on the same page with her conceptually, but the
differences are important. One observer quoted in the front material of
Bodnar's book asserts that "Dr. Bodnar sees the Information Age as
signifying a fundamental shift away from a deterministic and linear
Newtonian paradigm (the Grabo approach) to a complex adaptive systems
perspective grounded in non-linearity and modern, quantum physics."
The book will help just a little in
elaborating that observer's point; it is neither self-explanatory nor
101 course reading. Bodnar's central theme is that in today's complex,
multipolar world, we require multidimensional analysis (MDA) applied by
data-mining computer programs that, he seems to suggest, have yet to be
written. At one point he asks, "how do we replace the missing
historians with smart computer programs?" The implication is that the
volume of data to be evaluated is so great that it exceeds human
capacity to store and process quickly, so we don't need or can't use
historians anymore. Dr. Bodnar provides many graphs and charts, but
readers will not understand the points they are intended to make just
by looking at them. In fact, this book would be best used if a knowing
teacher is present to explain. Few will disagree with Dr. Bodnar's
premises concerning analysis in the Web-based world, some may even
argue that we are not so far from reaching the goal as Warning Analysis
for the Information Age seems to suggest.
Loch Johnson (ed.), Handbook of Intelligence
Studies (London: Routledge, 2007), 382 pp., end-of-chapter notes,
bibliography, appendices, index.
In the 1970s, despite anti-government
student protests, college courses on intelligence gradually gained
acceptance for two related reasons. First, the students liked the
subject. Second, because the courses were consistently oversubscribed
academia tolerated them--they made money. But there were few texts on
the subject beyond Professor Harry Howe Ransom's The Central
Intelligence Agency (1965) and The Intelligence Establishment (1970).
To provide current material, professors assembled readers--collections
of articles--and brought in guest speakers. The turning point came in
the 1980s, when professor Roy Godson of Georgetown University sponsored
conferences on intelligence and published the proceedings, with
contributions from academics and retired professionals. By the mid 1980s, a number of texts were available, and the trend has continued.
But none of works provided anything like the broad, authoritative
coverage of the subject found in The Handbook of Intelligence Studies.
Handbook editor and contributor Loch Johnson
has assembled 26 articles from 27 academics and professionals that
discuss aspects of the literature, history, and the intelligence cycle.
They address how intelligence organizations function, the roles of
counterintelligence, covert action, science and technology, the use of
open sources, oversight, judicial intervention, and accountability.
These are in-depth, up-to-date treatments that provide, with a couple
of exceptions, a introductions to the topics they address.
The first exception is the article on open
source intelligence, which makes the bizarre assertion that "the US
government is still not serious about open source intelligence."(140)
It is true that the profession needs improvements in many areas, but
the use of open source material is not one of them. The CIA and its
predecessor organizations, with the help of the British, actually set
the pace in this field, beginning before World War II, and, with the
Foreign Broadcast Information Service--the predecessor to the Director
of National Intelligence's Open Source Center--have had an exemplary
track record since then. The second exception is the failure to
distinguish between counterintelligence and security. One case in
point, a case study of the FBI treatment of scientist Linus Pauling, is
not about counterintelligence as claimed, but about security practices
"run amok." There was no espionage suspected in the case.(269)
Executive Order 12333 specifically excludes the topics of physical,
document, personnel, and SIGINT security from the definition of
The Handbook is by no means an uncritical
examination of the profession. Failures and weakness are discussed in
every article. Perhaps the most pertinent is Professor Johnson's
chapter "A Shock Theory of Congressional Accountability for
Intelligence." In it he reviews the efforts of Congress to achieve this
goal over the past 30 years and makes a strong case for its validity
and the need for greater effectiveness, and the risks of failure to
achieve it. It is a timely argument.
The book's hefty, $170, price tag may limit
access to it. I hope a paperback edition will appear so that every
student of intelligence can have one as a foundation for further study.
[Top of page
For most of the 1930s Winston Churchill, MP,
held no cabinet office--his so-called wilderness years--but he still
managed to see secret government reports on the situation in Europe.
Desmond John Falkiner Morton (1891-1971), then a senior officer in the
Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Director of the Industrial
Intelligence Centre (IIC), was one of his sources. Some historians
argue Morton provided the service unofficially, acting as Churchill's
"mole." Others suggest Morton had the blessings of three prime ministers to keep Churchill informed.
Gill Bennett, former Foreign Office historian, working with full access
to the official record, concludes there is no smoking gun for either
position, a situation typical in the life of her inscrutable subject
who destroyed his personal papers and wrote no memoirs. (150ff)
Bennett gives the reader glimpses of
Morton's personal life from public sources, correspondence, and
interviews. An only child and life-long bachelor, Morton attended Eton
and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich before beginning his
well-documented government service as an artillery officer in World War
I. Wounded in France, he lived the balance of his life with a bullet
near his heart. It was in France that Morton met and became friends
with Churchill, who would help him enter SIS, and, during World War II,
call him to serve as the prime minister's liaison with the intelligence
services. Bennett's coverage of each phase of Morton's life, with
emphasis on his intelligence service, gradually makes clear why he was
considered an abrupt, abrasive, efficient, effective administrator,
"driven by impatience," but most of all, a man of mystery.
Bennett portrays Morton's service in SIS as
a monument to expediency and rejection of bureaucratic formalities in
favor of accomplishing a mission. He often ruffled feathers, but he
usually got results. For example, soon after World War I, Britain
needed to know what the European powers were doing economically and
militarily. Meeting this objective required sources who knew what was
happening. Some of these were British citizens. Ignoring the government
stipulation that SIS/MI6 limit operations to foreign entities, Morton
recruited knowledgeable Brits since no other intelligence agency would
do so. Thus it happened that Maxwell Knight, later head of an important
MI5 counterespionage section, first served Morton and MI6.
The increasing demand for foreign
intelligence led to the formation within SIS of the IIC, which Morton
headed for six years beginning in 1931, a period in which he learned to
deal with horrendous bureaucratic rivalries. It was from this position
that he passed material to Churchill and the ministries. In May 1940,
after a short tenure as Director of Intelligence in the Ministry of
Economic Warfare, Morton's life changed for good when Churchill
summoned him to be his assistant in a new government, taking on vaguely
defined duties--a kind of gatekeeper for the PM--for which he would be
best known to history. Here too he found conflict as he tried to play a
role in setting up the Special Operations Executive and served as the
PM's liaison to SIS, MI5 and GCHQ. The latter duties brought him into
contact with William Donovan the director of OSS. Bennett does a fine
job of explaining how Morton got his jobs done in spite of the many
obstacles encountered in each.
Morton's influence with Churchill diminished
near the end of the war, as other organizations established more direct
links to the PM. When Churchill was voted out of power after the war, a
somewhat demoralized Morton was left looking for work. He spent seven
years with the Treasury working on reparations before retiring in 1953.
He remained active in charity and church work during the final years of
his life, which ended quietly in 1971.
Despite Desmond Morton's best efforts to
remain a very private man, Gill Bennett has produced a fine account
that he would probably have admired.
Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot: The Rise
and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey (Washington, DC: Potomac Books,
2006), 355 pp, endnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, index.
The late Bayard Stockton served two years in
Berlin under Bill Harvey, the legendary, gun-toting CIA chief of base,
before moving on to Newsweek magazine and a career in journalism.
Several years ago, encouraged by Harvey's widow, he began Flawed
Patriot, which was published soon after his death.
Stockton's intriguing and complex subject
left a sparse paper trail and this biography leaves some basic details
unexplained, starting with his its subject's real name. Bill Harvey was
born "William Walker, son of Drenan R. Walker and Sara J. King,"(6)
later known as Sara J. Harvey, both of Danville, Indiana. If his mother
ever explained the name differences, Harvey never made them public.
Harvey's colorful career has been a topic in other books. Stockton
draws on them and firsthand accounts from interviews and government
documents to separate the Harvey myth from reality.
Stockton used the Freedom of Information Act
to obtain Harvey's heavily redacted personnel file for details of his
early life. Dissuaded from seeking an appointment to West Point by his
maternal grandfather, Harvey worked awhile at the family newspaper
before entering, at age 18, Indiana University in 1933. He would marry,
earn his BA and a law degree and move to Cincinnati, where he worked in
his father-in-law's legal practice before applying to the FBI, which he
joined in 1940.
Harvey's years in the FBI began with routine
criminal investigation duties in New York City, but he was soon
transferred to intelligence-related duties. He handled some of the most
important FBI espionage investigations of the time, including the TRAMP
case, which ended with the arrest of some 31 German agents. After the
World War II, he was an early handler of Elizabeth Bentley, although he
left the Bureau before she began testifying in 1948. Harvey's Bureau
career had ended abruptly the year before when he earned the life-long
displeasure of J. Edgar Hoover for violating FBI rules after a drinking
incident. In researching this phase of Harvey's career, Stockton did
not find Harvey's name in any files covering Bentley or other cases he
worked--probably the result of Hoover's displeasure.
Joining CIA in 1947, Harvey was assigned to
Staff C, the counter espionage branch, and soon became acquainted with
Kim Philby, the British head of station and liaison to the CIA. When
Philby's colleagues and fellow KGB agents Guy Burgess and Donald
Maclean defected in 1951, it was Harvey, not James Angleton, as some
have reported, who concluded Philby was also complicit. He notified DCI
Walter Smith in writing that Philby should be withdrawn, which is what
happened. Harvey next went to Berlin Base, where he built a reputation
for solid counterintelligence work and managed the Berlin tunnel
project. "Harvey's Hole," as it came to be called, proved to be the
positive highlight of his career. Stockton devotes several detailed
chapters to this portion of what by then had become a successful,
though colorful, gun-toting career.
He returned to Headquarters in 1959, having
divorced, remarried, and adopted a child while in Berlin. He headed
Staff D (covert communications) for two years. During this period he
was sent to the White House to meet President Kennedy. Stockton tells a
story Harvey told a friend about handing over to a secret service guard
two weapons before entering the Oval Office and not bothering to
declare a third. (120)
In the run-up to the Bay of Pigs invasion in
1961, Harvey was assigned to head Task Force W with a mission to get
rid of Castro.(121) Stockton devotes the balance of the book to the
career-ending problems this assignment created. He describes the
various attempts of Task Force W to accomplish its mission, including
the convoluted effort to enlist the Mafia. After too many failures,
Harvey had a savage run-in with Robert Kennedy, who ordered his
dismissal from CIA. Richard Helms managed to save him temporarily by
assigning him to Rome, where things continued downhill as Harvey's
lifelong drinking problem became unmanageable. Returning to
Headquarters, he walked the halls, fought off persistent questions
about his Mafia links, and eventually retired in 1968. Called to
testify before the Church Committee in 1975, he was again asked about
his Mafia connections and his possible links to President Kennedy's
assassination. Infuriated at the implications, and with much he found
wrong with Agency performance, Harvey made his views clear in simple
declarative sentences and left Washington for good. He died a year
Richard Helms characterized Bill Harvey as
aggressive, demanding, and conscientious, with a good knowledge of
operations. Flawed Patriot adds meat to these bones while tempering the
contrary Angletonian view found in David Martin's Wilderness of Mirrors
and the image of Harvey as the "weird eccentric" portrayed by Norman
Mailer in his novel Harlot's Ghost. The story of Harvey's often
controversial career has lessons for all readers interested in
In Stockton's view Bill Harvey never
received the recognition he thought he deserved, even in death: only
two of his former colleagues attended his funeral.
Nigel West, Historical Dictionary of
International Intelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2006),
330 pp., bibliography, chronology, index.
------, Historical Dictionary of Cold War
Counterintelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2007), 438 pp.,
bibliography, appendices, chronology, index.
These volumes are the fifth and sixth in
Scarecrow Press's historical dictionary intelligence series. The first,
on international intelligence, has the broader scope but fewer entries
than the second. In both cases some topics appear in both volumes,
though the level of detail differs. Elizabeth Bentley, for example,
gets half a page in the first volume and two pages in the second, while
Romanian defector Ion Pacepa has a short paragraph in the first and
more than a page in the second. The reverse is also true: the Philby
entry in the international intelligence dictionary is a page and a half
while it gets only half a page in the counterintelligence dictionary.
These differences do not appear to be related to any intrinsic
definition of the categories used in the dictionaries--Philby is both
an international and a counterintelligence case. Similarly, the absence
of an expected case or topic does not mean it belongs elsewhere, it is
more likely absent because of a space limitations or oversight. Thus,
readers should consult other volumes and sources in the bibliographies.
The CI volume has an impressive selection of
cases, some little known, and a valuable bibliographic essay covering
the evolution of books during the Cold War. Scholars will appreciate
the appendices, which list espionage prosecutions in the United States,
US defectors to the Soviet Union, plus Soviet and Soviet Bloc defectors
to the West. Curiously, similar data for the UK are absent.
Both volumes have factual errors worth
noting. The international volume states Philip Agee won a court
challenge to recover his US passport; he did not. Nor did James
Angleton identify Canadian counterintelligence officer James Bennett as
a KGB mole; the Canadians did that on their own. And the comment that
the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) was originally designated the
Third Department is inaccurate; it was the Fourth Department.
The counterintelligence volume has similar difficulties. Elizabeth
Bentley told her story of espionage to the FBI in November of 1945, not
September; Hede Massing did not try to recruit Alger Hiss; Alexander
Orlov "emerged from hiding" in 1953, not 1954, and Joseph McCarthy
claimed in his West Virginia speech, to have a list of 205 communists
in the State Department, not 57.
Concerning the KGB, Yuri Nosenko did not seek to defect in 1962; that
happened in 1964. And Line X is the designation for a science and
technology specialist, not an illegal support officer; that designation
in Line N.
While these volumes are useful additions,
especially with their indices, to the intelligence dictionary (really
encyclopedia) series, the editorial practice of leaving the
fact-checking and source determination to the reader diminishes their
utility. Corrected paperback editions would greatly increase their
Brian Garfield, The Meinertzhagen Mystery:
The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books,
2007), 352 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, glossary, index.
While serving in the Sinai during World War
I, British Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen was on a scouting mission when
he was spotted by Turks. A chase ensued and a wounded Meinertzhagen
escaped after dropping his haversack containing documents describing
British army plans for advancing on Jerusalem. The Turks recovered the
spoil and, accepting their good luck, prepared to defend the point the
maps said the British would attack. This realignment of forces weakened
the front where the main attack actually occurred and succeeded. The
Haversack Ruse, as it became famously known, was conceived and executed
by Meinertzhagen. We know this because Meinertzhagen's diaries tells us
After the war Meinertzhagen kept active
through his hobby, bird watching, and his practice of collecting rare
species throughout the world. Each was catalogued, including place and
time and date observed/captured, and eventually he gave over 25,000
specimens (skins as they were called) to the British Museum. He was
given awards for sighting several rare species in locations where they
had never been seen before; some were even thought to be extinct.
Meinertzhagen also hunted in Africa and worked on his wartime diaries
Then, in September 2005--Meinertzhagen had
been dead since 1967--an article in Nature Magazine by Rex Dalton
accused him of ornithological deceit. A year later John Seabrook's New
Yorker article, "Ruffled Feathers: Uncovering the Biggest Scandal in
the Bird World," stated the accusations more forcefully.
The upshot: Meinertzhagen had not observed his birds when and where he
stated. Worse yet, he had stolen most of them from museums and friends
and forged the critical acquisition details that became part of the
official record. Meinertzhagen was so well known and liked that even
when caught removing skins from the British museum his response that he
was testing security was accepted. His fabrications were not suspected
even when his "finds" defied history. When the truth emerged a
monumental database correction, still unfinished, was undertaken.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence, some authors deny his
deception in all matters.
As the bird controversy got underway, Brain
Garfield and some colleagues came across Meinertzhagen's name while
studying the War for Kilimanjaro (1914-15) which the British lost,
despite superior forces, due to poor intelligence. Captain
Meinertzhagen was the British intelligence officer for the campaign.
They soon concluded his accounts of the African theater were false.
This led to examinations of other adventures described in his diaries
and the discovery that many were fake or distorted--including the
Haversack Ruse. It was not, as he claimed, his idea, and he didn't drop
the haversack. Nor was he wounded, and he was only a captain at the
time. The tendency to take credit due others never left him. Garfield's
documentation is thorough and well corroborated.
The charming, popular Meinertzhagen, roommate of Lawrence of Arabia in
Paris, trusted friend of David Ben-Gurion, David Lloyd George and
Winston Churchill, was a fraud.
The Meinertzhagen Mystery gives many more
examples of unresolved controversies surrounding this extraordinary
character, e.g., did he, as some alleged, really murder his wife? It is
a British variation of Catch Me If You Can based on rigorous
Robert Johnson, Spying For Empire: The Great
Game in Central and South Asia, 1757-1947 (St Paul, MN: MBI Publishing
Co., 2006), 320 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.
In June 1842, those in the main square of
Bokhara, Uzbekistan, witnessed two British spies lose their heads to an
executioner's axe--a Muslim problem solving technique not unknown
today. Colonel Charles Stoddart had been detained first. Captain Arthur
Connelly went to rescue him; both became victims of the Great Game, a
term coined by Connelly years earlier and made popular by Rudyard
Kipling in his novel, Kim.
In Spying For Empire, British historian
Robert Johnson defines the Great Game as the "struggle to secure and
maintain geo-strategic supremacy in Asia in order to protect
India."(21) Britain viewed the Russian empire as the main threat. The
British army had to know the possible and probable routes of Russian
attack through Central Asia. The presence of hostile tribes in
Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountain range complicated data
collection. Johnson tells of two approaches. One used military
officer/explorer/agents to go where they could. The second employed
pundits, the term applied to Asian surveyors/agents, who operated
clandestinely and were sent to map high risk regions. There was also a
political dimension to the Great Game and Johnson deals with this too.
These efforts often had short term positive results, but usually ended
in fighting. Britain fought two wars with Afghanistan during the 19th
century and lost both to determined tribal leaders. In the end, they
would keep out the Russians too.
A major objective the book successfully
accomplishes is to demonstrate a not often recognized fact: by the end
of the 19th century, British military intelligence in India had become
a professional service that did more than monitor the northern
frontier. It also maintained India's domestic security through
collaboration with the local Indian police. Finally, it was to become
the source of experienced officers who would achieve high positions in
the War Department and the civilian intelligence services.
The Great Game changed in the 20th century
after Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese war. As World War I
approached, the threat shifted to Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and
Persia. Spying For Empire shows how British intelligence met these
challenges successfully just in time to be faced with a new and
unfamiliar threat--political subversion from the Soviet Union. Johnson
concludes that British intelligence eventually learned to work well in
the south Central Asian nations at least until 1947. He leaves unasked
the question of whether the lessons learned then, became lessons
forgotten after 9/11.