Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy
and the American Way of Life , Ted Gup
Intelligence: Why the CIA Gets It Wrong and What Needs to Be Done to Get It
Right, Richard L. Russell
and Surprise in War, Barton Whaley
Surveillance Technologies: Spy
Devices, Privacy, History, & Applications (Revised and Expanded), J. K.
The US Intelligence
Community: Fifth Edition, Jeffrey T. Richelson
The Lie Detectors: The History of an
American Obsession, Ken Alder
Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of
Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter & Vietnamese Communist Agent
, Larry Berman
Reclaiming History: The Assassination of
President John F. Kennedy , Vincent Bugliosi
Setting the Desert On Fire: T. E. Lawrence
and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918, James Barr
Skating On The Edge: A Memoir and Journey
through a Metamorphosis of the CIA, Carlos D. Luria
Intelligence Services Abroad
Apartheid's Friends: The Rise and Fall of
South Africa's Secret Service, James Sanders
CANARIS: The Life and Death of Hitler's
Spymaster , Michael Mueller
Death Of A Dissident:
The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB, Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko
India's External Intelligence: Secrets of
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) , Maj. Gen V. K. Singh
The Tao of Deception:
Unorthodox Warfare in Historic and Modern China, Ralph D. Sawyer with the
collaboration of Mei-Chu Lee Sawyer
Ted Gup, Nation of Secrets: The
Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life (New York:
Doubleday, 2007), 322 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.
Currently a journalism
professor at Case Western University and formerly an investigative reporter
with Time and the Washington Post, Ted Gup has spent nearly 30 "years
reporting from within the various subcultures of secrecy." (9) The subject
now obsesses him. In Nation of Secrets he attempts to make a convincing case
that secrecy is threatening the nation's democratic existence. The issue, he
concludes, is pervasive and its consequences are evident throughout society,
including the corporate world--the Enron scandal was the fault of excessive
secrecy, not illegal business practices--and even in the media. But his central
theme is excessive government secrecy and inadequate transparency. To that
topic he devotes most of the book, with the CIA his favorite exemplar.
There is little new in the
book. The cases and examples he summarizes have all been written about elsewhere.
Take the argument that there are too many government secrets. He gives numbers
in the millions, although he never says just what a secret is, how it is
counted, or what a satisfactory number of secrets is. As to the CIA, he is,
inter alia, upset with its classification authority, dislikes its cover
regulations, and is furious with its publication review policy. He cites
several examples of what he calls excessively redacted documents. What he
doesn't do is explain the constraints under which the reviews take place. The
performance of intelligence relative to 9/11 comes under similar attacks, with
secrecy, in his view, explaining why it happened.
Professor Gup hints at his
solution to unnecessary classification when he admits, "I have revealed a
number of secrets, but on occasion, where genuine national interests could be
adversely affected, I have also remained silent." (9) The reader is left
wondering whether letting journalists decide what is really classified would be
prudent or successful.
Richard L. Russell,
Sharpening Strategic Intelligence: Why the CIA Gets It Wrong and What Needs to
Be Done to Get It Right (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 214 pp.
The author is a former CIA
political-military analyst who resigned just before 9/11 after 17 years,
because the Agency prevented him "from honing expertise in international
security affairs." (ix) Now "unshackled," he has put his
thoughts on the intelligence profession on the record. Sharpening Strategic
Intelligence does three things: First, it is a brutally candid critique of the
bureaucratic and operational problems in the CIA and the Intelligence Community
that led him to leave. Second, it explains why the reforms instituted after
9/11 will not by themselves solve the operational problems they were intended
to correct. And finally, Russell outlines the fundamental changes required to
produce accurate and timely intelligence and, incidentally, to keep others from
quiting as he did.
To make his point that the
CIA track record is one of repeated strategic incompetence, Russell enumerates
nearly every failure attributed to the CIA since its creation. The result is,
in terms of pages at least, Legacy of Ashes-lite (702 vs. 214); the issues
covered are the same, although Russell focuses on 9/11 and the Iraq War.
Sharpening Strategic Intelligence, however, is a perceptive insider view. This
is not to say that he has got it right but rather that his observations deserve
The basic faults Russell
identifies are "spies who do not deliver," and "analysts who are
not experts," and he devotes a chapter to each. But he also takes a
broader view. On the subject of the post-9/11 reforms, he notes that "the
creation of the DNI position will do nothing to correct the fundamental and
root cause of the CIA intelligence failures." On the subject of the
objectivity of the 9/11 Commission, he quotes Judge Richard Posner, who argued
that allowing "several thousand emotionally traumatized people to drive
major public policy in a nation of almost 300 million is a perversion of the
democratic process." In fact, Russell concludes, "The American public
mistakenly believes that our intelligence problems have been fixed, when the
reality is that we have created even more problems with the reforms that have
been implemented." (2-3) Sharpening Strategic Intelligence examines them
Russell recommends a number
of solutions intended to improve CIA and Intelligence Community performance.
None are startling, and each concentrates on the "what," not the
"how." For example, he contends that human intelligence and analysis
"will have to be retooled and nurtured somewhere under the DNI's
authority," foreign language skills must be strengthened, and managerial
incompetence eliminated. (150) He also suggests separating the analytic
function from CIA and creating a new organization, without commenting on the
operational and personal turmoil this would produce (148). Whatever solutions
are imposed, he recommends that the "DNI and CIA director will have to
move decisively against the bureaucracies that have produced a dismal showing
against WMD threats for the past couple of decades." (169)
The bottom line on
Sharpening Strategic Intelligence is that it is specific on what is wrong with
operations, analysis, bureaucracy, and management but very general in its
suggestion for fixing the problems. But for the intelligence professional and
the decision makers, it is a book worthy of close and serious scrutiny.
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Barton Whaley. STRATAGEM:
Deception and Surprise in War (Boston: Artech House, 2007), 560 pp.
Barton Whaley has devoted
his professional life to the study of deception. In this, the second edition of
STRATAGEM1--an artifice or trick in war for
deceiving and outwitting the enemy and a synonym for strategic
deception--Whaley presents the early results of his research in two parts. The
first discusses the history, theory, and ethics of stratagem, as well as
counterdeception. It includes some "speculative conclusions" concerning
his theory, which he admits is only a guide and subject to "the awesome
tyranny of chance." (138). He also examines the background and deception
doctrines of nine practitioners--Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia,
Italy, Japan, France, Israel, and China.2
Part two contains
case-study summaries of 115 instances of surprise in warfare--68 strategic, 47
tactical, that formed the basis for his work. Case A6 covers the famous
"haversack ruse" supposedly conducted by Col. Richard Meinertzhagen,
since shown to have been a fabrication, although the principles described are
As he reviews the history
of his work, Whaley gently points out that one of the best known explanations
of deception, Robert Wholstetter's "signals-obscured-by-noise" model,
is incorrect and makes no provision for predicting deception. Whaley's model
does just that. It is a "cross-disciplinary attack" that relies on
specific clues that "point to deception." It is important to
understand, however, that his model is not a step-by-step approach to the
assessment or use of deception and surprise, it is a way of thinking or
reasoning about stratagem. He sees the principal value of the book as a
"template of how to study and analyze deception operations." (xiii)
Although STRATAGEM is well
footnoted and each case has its own bibliography, it lacks an index, which
complicates its use. Nonetheless, if one is after the basics of the subject,
STRATAGEM is a good place to start.
J. K. Petersen,
Understanding Surveillance Technologies: Spy Devices, Privacy, History, &
Applications (Revised and Expanded) (Boca Raton: Auerbach Publications, 2007),
In this second and revised
edition of Understanding Surveillance Technologies, the author describes the
basic concepts of various types of electronic surveillance--radar, sonar,
video, audio devices, and radio systems. In the electromagnetic category, she
includes ultraviolet and infrared cameras, aerial photography, and imaging
satellites. Other technologies included are ultrasound, cryptologic devices,
computers, chemical and biological surveillance, wiretapping, secret writing,
and techniques for genetic profiling. She describes the contemporary equipment
available and discusses the legislation that guides their use.
She also looks at the
historical background for the devices and techniques described, correcting, in
many cases, the conventional wisdom associated with their origins. For example,
she points out that radar was not invented during WW II as commonly supposed.
The concept and early devices existed in the 1800s. The book is intended as a
college-level guide for those working in law enforcement, forensics, military
surveillance, covert operations, counterintelligence, and journalism and
politics. It is well-illustrated, and, though there are no endnotes, each
chapter has many references. A very valuable reference.
Jeffrey T. Richelson, The
US Intelligence Community: Fifth Edition (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008),
692 pp., end of chapter notes, photos, index.
The first edition of The US
Intelligence Community (1985) had 358 pages. The 20 thoroughly documented
chapters in the current edition depict the organizations--with their wiring
diagrams, missions, functions, management structure, and interrelationships as
presently configured. The nearly doubling of its pages reflects both the
changes since 1985--most occurring since 9/11--and the amount of data available
in the public domain. As a reference book, it is mainly a descriptive rather
than a critical account of operations and organizations, though the final
chapter does discuss "issues concerning recent intelligence
performance," including leadership, HUMINT since 9/11, secrecy, data
mining, and related topics. Here Richelson suggests that the analytic functions
of CIA be placed under the ODNI.
The structure of the book
is functional, beginning with the nature of intelligence itself (chapter 1) and
then discussing each national-level organization. This is followed by chapters
and sections on collection, SIGINT, MASINT, space surveillance, HUMINT,
utilization of open sources, liaison with foreign services, analysis,
counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and covert action. Three chapters are devoted
to the management of these functions, focusing on the changes required since
9/11, with perceptive emphasis on the value of key personnel.
Some definitional errors
should be noted. In a discussion of the French FARWELL case, Richelson
describes the KGB officer involved as a "defector-in-place," an
oxymoronic term no longer in use; FAREWELL was just an agent. In the same
section, a mole is defined as "someone recruited prior to their entry into
the service, such as Kim Philby." (398) In fact, moles can be recruited
while in the service of another intelligence organization, as in the case of
Oleg Penkovskiy, for example. As to the definition of counterintelligence
itself, Richelson mentions Executive Order 12333 but elects to use "the
traditional notion of counterintelligence" (394), which is less specific.
Overall, the fifth edition
of The US Intelligence Community is well organized and written to make a
complex topic understandable. It is a valuable reference work.
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Ken Alder. The Lie Detectors: The
History of an American Obsession (New York: Free Press, 2007), 334
John Larson, the first
policeman in the country with a Ph.D., and Leonarde Keeler, his assistant and
amateur magician, were the Gilbert and Sullivan of polygraphy. Their patron was
August Vollmer, the chief of police in Berkeley, California. The device they
built was quickly dubbed by the press, a "lie detector." The
interrogation technique they applied was developed by a Harvard Ph.D. in
psychology, William Marston, who would later create the comic strip Wonder
Woman. The objective of their work in 1921 was to provide a scientific approach
that would replace subjective techniques for determining the truth, as for
example, the British practice of detecting the "liar's blush," the Indian
practice of observing suspects for "curling toes," and the American
use of "the third degree." But the device was not the
"foolproof" method claimed by the media and the resulting
controversies led to the breakup of the partnership.
history professor, Ken Adler, tells their story and describes the initial
applications by the government, law enforcement, and industry. In the process
he examines the technical development of the polygraph equipment, cites some
questionable successes and concentrates on its vulnerabilities. Adler
argues--incorrectly--that the United States is the only country to make use of
the device to any significant degree. And, using only anecdotal evidence, he
accuses the CIA and others of misusing the technique. As one example, he
characterizes then-Congressman Richard Nixon's request that Whittaker Chambers
and Alger Hiss submit to the polygraph (Chambers agreed; Hiss declined) as
"political theater." (219)
In the end, Adler cites a
number of scientific studies that judge the polygraph "does not pass
scientific muster," but he ignores contrary evidence of its current
reliability and benefits when used properly.4 He concludes
that when people are used as specimens with their careers and even liberty at
stake, "we create monsters like Frankenstein's." (267) Interesting
background, biased analysis.
Larry Berman, Perfect Spy: The Incredible
Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter & Vietnamese Communist
Agent (New York: Smithsonian Books, HarperCollins, 2007), 328 pp.
He fooled them all:
journalists David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan, CIA officers William Colby, Lou
Conein and Edward Lansdale; the South Vietnamese military intelligence service;
and his employers, Reuters and Time magazine. For 20 years, American-educated
Pham Xuan An was a "South Vietnamese journalist" and North Vietnamese
intelligence agent with important contacts that gave him details of US policy
and operations that he passed to his masters, including General Giap, who
joked, "We are now in the US war room." (14) Ironically, though he
was never caught or even suspected of being a North Vietnamese agent, many
colleagues in the South thought he was working for the CIA. University of
California (Davis) professor Larry Berman tells a remarkable story based on
access to his diaries and hours of interviews with An and those that knew him.
An's career as an agent
began in 1957 with his selection to study at Orange Coast College, near Costa Mesa, California, to learn about America and its culture. Talented and
charming, he made many friends and worked on the college paper, eventually
becoming its editor. Later he went to work for the Sacramento Bee. He also served
an internship at the United Nations, driving across country to get there. After
graduation, he was offered jobs in the States, but decided to return, as
intended, in September 1959.
Although An had help
establishing his cover, and arrangements were made for getting his reports out
of Saigon, North Vietnam had no school for spies. He learned aspects of the
business on the job and others from a book by Ronald Seth, The Anatomy of
Spying: The Spy and His Techniques from Ancient Rome to the U-2 (New York: 1963)
given him by Saigon correspondent, David Halberstam.5 (122) An showed his oft-read copy to professor Berman in 2002. Why did
journalist Halberstam select this book? "So that An could improve his
reporting skills," Berman says. But An had already been a reporter as long
as Halberstam. Halberstam died before this issue could be resolved.
Most of Perfect Spy tells
of An's role in South Vietnam from the days of President Diem to the end in
1975. An described his mission as collecting "strategic
intelligence," adding that he "was a student of Sherman Kent, and my
job was to explain and analyze information."6 (124) After the war, An insisted his friendship with Americans was genuine and
not a matter of betrayal, although he admitted providing his masters with
classified US materials. (17) It is true, and paradoxical, that professor
Berman found no one who thought ill of An, even when they learned his true
After the war, An was
promoted to general, made a Hero of the People's Army, and served as
interpreter for President George W. Bush during his 2006 visit. But he was
never completely trusted. The implicit question was, how had he spied on the
Americans for 20 years without being caught or recruited? The answer escapes
Berman and perhaps the North Vietnamese as well. Even though he became an
official adviser to the government, all his requests to travel abroad were
denied. Professor Berman has given us a sympathetic but engrossing biography
that also says a great deal about North Vietnamese and American intelligence.
It is very worth reading.
Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History: The
Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (New York: W. W. Norton,
2007), 1,612 pp.
The assassination of
President Kennedy is a wearily familiar topic to those who frequent America's
bookstalls or Amazon.com. Hundreds of books have advanced as many conspiracy
theories claiming to reveal what really happened--all numbingly speculative and
inconclusive. Why then, should any attention be paid to one more? Criminal
lawyer Vincent Bugliosi answers that question in Reclaiming History. After 21
years researching and writing, Bugliosi demolishes with evidence and analysis
the "unprincipled frauds" perpetrated by the conspiracy theorists. He
names them and their books while citing detailed examples of their faulty
reasoning. His conclusion, that the Warren Commission was right, is supported
by overwhelming evidence in the text and among the 954 endnotes (provided on a CD
with the book). Historian Max Holland wrote that the main contribution of the
book is the focus on "what did not happen" as he got "to the
bottom of so many stories encrusted as they are by decades of falsehoods,
misrepresentation and outright hoaxes."7 It is here
that the frequent charges that the FBI and CIA played roles in the
assassination are disproved and those who allege otherwise are exposed. Though
the book went to press before Howard Hunt's American SPY appeared, there is
little doubt but that Bugliosi would have consigned it to the shredder.
Reclaiming History is a valuable reference and should diminish, if not end,
what Holland calls "conspiracy-mongering with superficially profound
James Barr, Setting the Desert On Fire:
T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918
(London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc., 2006), 362 pp., endnotes, bibliography,
photos, maps, index.
Thomas Edward Lawrence (of
Arabia) was an eccentric student, archeologist, intelligence officer, author
and ascetic historian who declined a knighthood before a motorcycle accident
ended his life at age 47. While studying history at Oxford in 1907 he seldom
attended classes. His knowledge was acquired by traveling alone in the Middle
East, studying crusader fortifications, military history, and learning the
language and customs of the Arab tribes--an ideal background for an
intelligence officer. He passed his exams with honors. When WW I broke out in
1914, Lawrence, too short (about 5 feet 4 inches) for the combat arms, was
commissioned and assigned to the intelligence element in Cairo, the so-called
Arab Bureau. There, his analyses displayed insights far beyond those expected
of a second lieutenant. In 1916, when the Ottoman Empire entered the war on
Germany's side, the sultan called for an Islamic jihad against all non-Muslims
except Germans. In response, Britain decided to support an Arab revolt against
the Ottoman Empire to counter the German-Turkish threat. Because of his
knowledge of the region and the tribal customs, Lawrence was tasked with
contacting the Arab leaders and gaining their cooperation. Setting the Desert On Fire
tells how he accomplished this mission and how this inexperienced army officer
became a major military player in what became known as the Arab Revolt.
Lawrence's life story has
been told many times before. A bibliography of his own writings and those about
him consumes 894 pages.8 James Barr has taken a narrow approach,
concentrating on Lawrence's role in the Arab Revolt. He describes Lawrence's
development, application and impact of guerrilla warfare tactics, which had not
been part of British military doctrine. He also emphasizes Lawrence's role in
the political consequences of victory sorted out in London and Paris. Barr also
examines the consequences--lasting until the present--of the violation of
promises to the Arabs when Britain and France dictated the postwar creation of
the Arab states in the Middle East. But, unlike other accounts, Barr puts
Lawrence's contribution in perspective by including the very significant role
of other players, often overshadowed by the legend of Lawrence of Arabia.
Barr concludes that the
Arab Revolt and Britain's failure to honor its initial promises created "a
reservoir of deep resentment," or as Osama bin Laden stated in 2001,
"Our nation has been tasting humiliation and contempt for more than eighty
years." The legacy of the Arab revolt, Barr argues, "remains
unforgotten, and largely unforgiven." (314) Setting the Desert On Fire provides a
valuable perspective for those concerned with the Middle East.
Carlos D. Luria, Skating On The Edge: A
Memoir and Journey through a Metamorphosis of the CIA (Salem, NC:
BooksurgePublishing, 2006), 114 pp., photos, endnotes, no index.
In this short but well
written memoir, retired CIA officer Carlos Luria acquaints the reader with his
early life in prewar Germany, his wartime experiences at school in England, his
emigration to the United States, and his "sailing years" after
retirement. In between, we learn of his career in the CIA. His first assignment
was in Germany, where he served both under nonofficial and official cover. He
describes his adventures working in Berlin with defectors, handling East German
agents, and his role in the Berlin Tunnel operation. On his return to the
States, he was assigned to the Technical Services Division (TSD, forerunner of
today's Office of Technical Service) as executive officer, a position he held
until his retirement in 1980. As one of the few case officers in TSD, he tells
of his role in some important cases--Oleg Penkovskiy, Ryszard Kuklinski, and
A.G. Tolkachev, to name three.
Writing from memory, Luria
gets a few details wrong. For example, the first operational meeting with
Penkovskiy was in London, not Paris. (57) And Edward Howard was fired, not
hired, in 1983 (69). Luria was also concerned with the events surrounding the
Church Committee hearings and, for reasons not explained, employs
"fictitious" testimony to comment on the domestic mail opening
Sprinkled among his stories
are comments on TSD's technical and tradecraft advancements and his humorous
account of the "dead rat-dead drop" briefing to a Senate
subcommittee. Luria concludes his chronicle with some reflections on the
"crucial contributors to the 9/11 failures...none of which will be
affected by legislation or organizational changes." (72) Skating On The
Edge is a balanced, honest, firsthand account of CIA life definitely worth
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James Sanders, Apartheid's Friends: The
Rise and Fall of South Africa's Secret Service (London: John
Murray, 2006), 539 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
Graham Greene's novel The
Human Factor9 tells the story of MI6 officer
Maurice Castle, recently returned from service in South Africa. His assignment
had required extensive contacts with BOSS, that nation's intelligence service,
which Castle describes as unscrupulous and often brutal. Readers wonder, was it
really as bad as Castle said or did Greene exaggerate his description of BOSS
for literary purposes? James Sander's book leaves no doubt that, if anything,
Greene understated the South African intelligence reality under BOSS.
recounts the origins of South Africa's domestic and foreign intelligence
services after WW II. Sir Percy Sillitoe, then-director general of Britain's
Security Service (MI5) helped the country in forming Republican Intelligence
(RI), a domestic security organization that mirrored Britain's MI5. In August
1968, the then-politically independent nation reformed the RI into the Bureau
for State Security. The media promptly replaced the "for" with
"of," and the service has been known as BOSS ever since. BOSS was
given responsibility for foreign intelligence while retaining the domestic
security mission. In 1979, BOSS became the National Intelligence Service (NIS),
and later the South African Secret Service (SASS) under the post-apartheid regime.
Domestic security was separated from the NIS in the 1980s and placed in a new
organization, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)--it retains that title
today. Under the current government, additional intelligence elements were
formed to create South Africa's own intelligence community.
Sanders, who describes
himself sparsely as an "academic and journalist," uses case studies,
official documents, academic journals, and press accounts in his comprehensive
review of the evolution of the South African intelligence services. It is the
story of constant and intense internal organizational and bureaucratic
conflict, clandestine operations including the "Z Squads," which
conducted assassinations, and the often testy relations with military
intelligence, all shaped by the politics of apartheid. Dealing with these
events was complicated by the attempts of friendly foreign nations to influence
South African policies. Although MI6 and MI5 are prominently featured, the CIA
gets detailed though balanced attention. The most controversial topic in this
connection addresses the accusation that the CIA is to blame for the arrest of
Nelson Mandela in 1962. Sanders looks at all sides and cites his sources. Also
mentioned is the South African support of the CIA in Angola and the case of KGB
illegal Yuri Loginov, who was arrested by the RI and interrogated intensively
without confessing to spying against South Africa. The one new detail Sanders
adds to the Loginov case is that the West German intelligence service not the
CIA, as was reported by Tom Mangold in his biography of James Angleton,10 suggested Loginov be traded to the Soviet Union for agents in its custody.
Sanders also provides an interesting version of the pressures applied to South
Africa to give up its nuclear program--which it eventually did.
Although several individual
accounts of South African intelligence operations have appeared previously,11 Apartheid's Friends provides the most detailed and best documented treatment of
the evolution of intelligence in South Africa.
Michael Mueller, CANARIS: The Life and Death
of Hitler's Spymaster (London: Chatham Publishing, 2007), 388 pp.,
endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
German journalist Michael
Mueller begins his biography of Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Nazi's foreign
intelligence service, the Abwehr, by noting that after 60 years and several
other biographies, the real Canaris eludes the printed word. One reason for this,
he suggests, is the perpetuation of errors accepted as fact. Another is that
"the wealth of archival material" that must be examined "is so
enormous that little of it has yet been assessed." This book, he admits,
"neither answers all the questions, nor resolves all the
contradictions." (xv) Quite right he is. Moreover, the book does not
correct or even identify previous errors or erroneous impressions. Second, he
omits at least one important and well documented operation--the case of Madame
one of Canaris's voices to the
West through MI6 and OSS. And third, Mueller's description of Canaris's life
and career--especially his role in the resistance to Hitler that cost him his
life--though interesting, adds nothing new. Finally, the mission and structure
of the Abwehr, which varies from book to book, is not clarified by Mueller; an
appendix on this point would have helped greatly. In sum, the real Canaris
still eludes the printed word.
Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko, Death
Of A Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB (New York:
Simon & Schuster, 2007), 369 pp.
Alexander Litvinenko joined
the KGB domestic security directorate in the 1980s and remained in its
successor organization, the FSB, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In
November 2000, with the help of American Alexander Goldfarb, he defected to
Britain and settled there with his wife Marina and their children. Six years
later he was poisoned in London with polonium-210. In a dramatic final
statement from his deathbed, Litvinenko charged his former Russian employers
with responsibility for his murder. He died on 23 November 2006. The subsequent
investigation identified several foreign suspects but never explained the
source of the extremely hard-to-get polonium-210. These events and the
unanswered questions left in their wake have been well covered in the world
media.13 Publication of a book by two
participants in the case gave hope of learning new details--it didn't happen.
Marina Litvinenko adds little beyond her name. Goldfarb, a sometime employee of
anti-Putin oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, himself a major player and Litvinenko
supporter, raises only more speculation in the final chapter, in which he asks:
where did the polonium come from? A fair but not a new question that he cannot
answer. As to why the polonium was detected in several places in London and in
Europe, he suggests that it was an "operation...that went wrong." (341)
In a final speculation, Goldfarb sees a connection between the poisoning of
former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar in Dublin and Litvinenko's attack in
London a few days earlier. But he doesn't know what the connection is and
leaves the reader wondering too. Death Of A Dissident, unburdened by answers,
broods on coincidence and implies the return of the KGB when what is needed is
a rigorous scholarly treatment of this unusual case.
Maj. Gen. V.K. Singh, India's External
Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) (New Delhi, India:
Manas Publications, 2007), 185 pp., bibliography, index.
At first General Singh was
adamant: changing the title of his book was unthinkable. But when his publisher
Googled The RAW Experience and got more than 36 million hits like "loving
food.com," "Gourmet RAW.com," "down and dirty...,"
etc., the general surrendered. The story he tells does not reveal the origins
of this less-than-intuitive official designation of India's foreign
intelligence service (R&AW).14 General Singh is concerned
with larger issues, as for example, moles, procurement mismanagement,
politicization of intelligence, oversight, leadership and accountability.
He begins with a summary of
his career in government, 35 years of which were spent in the Army Signal
Corps. His twilight tour assignment was a rotational to R&AW, where he
headed the Telecom Division for four years. As an outsider, he found
deficiencies in many of the existing R&AW administrative and operational
communication practices, and he is candid in describing the corrections he
implemented. He also devotes a chapter to a suspected penetration of the
service by a high-level mole and "the chinks" that were exposed
"in the counterintelligence apparatus of the country's external
intelligence agency." (143ff) The final two chapters are devoted to more
general and unresolved problems--interservice rivalries, mission ambiguity,
lack of accountability and the absence of a suitable supervisory mechanism. The
solutions in these areas, he argues, are too important "to be left to
General Singh has given us
insightful views of India's intelligence community that are worthy of serious
attention and have much in common with the services of other democratic
Ralph D. Sawyer with the
collaboration of Mei-Chu Lee Sawyer. The Tao of Deception: Unorthodox Warfare
in Historic and Modern China (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 489 pp.
Ralph Sawyer's first book on the history of
Chinese intelligence, The Tao of Spycraft, was written to help correct what he
perceived to be a general "lack of interest in China's achievements in the
thorny field of intelligence." He adds that a detailed historical treatment
is needed for two reasons. First, "no nation has practiced the craft of
intelligence or theorized about it more extensively than China." Second,
the current government in China employs the ancient precedents and practices
that have proved successful for thousands of years.15 The
result was a very detailed account of the techniques employed long before the
Christian era by Chinese warring states. These methods were informed by the
principles elucidated in Sun Tzu's Art of War and concentrated on the theory of
agents, evaluating men, and the importance of terrain. In The Tao of Deception,
or the way of the unorthodox,16 Sawyer extends his approach to
espionage, surprise and deception in warfare.
Since Chinese warfare is
and has been guided by fundamentally different principles--with the emphasis on
the unorthodox--from those applied by European military tacticians, Westerners
must learn the oriental approach, and Sawyer provides examples drawn from
events throughout the dynastic periods (2853 BCE-1911). Sawyer acknowledges the
use of deception in the West, but he contends it is not yet as integrated into military thinking and
planning as it is in China. The final chapter discusses deception's
applicability to intelligence operations in today's Peoples Republic of China,
including their implications for possible future conflict. The book is
extensively documented with both Chinese and English sources, many of the
latter translations from Chinese.
Neither of Sawyer's volumes is easy
reading--they are not introductory texts. And for readers unfamiliar with
Chinese history and language, the task is doubly difficult. The names and
relationships require considerable concentration. Nevertheless, for those who
are concerned about China's historic and contemporary approaches to
intelligence and deception operations, it is worth the effort.
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George Constantinides, Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography
(Boulder, CO: 1983), 480-81, for a review of the first edition. For reasons not
explained, it was never published and existed only in typescript form.
Sun Tzu is mentioned from time to time, the references to China do not mention
historical views on the unorthodox in warfare.
Brain Garfield, The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal
Fraud (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2007).
for example, John Sullivan, Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner
(Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2007).
was a British author and WW II intelligence officer thought to have been a
German double agent, although he was cleared after the war.
officer Ed Lansdale acquainted An with Kent's Strategic Intelligence for
American Foreign Policy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949).
Holland, "Assassination Chronicle," Wall Street Journal, 19 May 2007:
O'Brien, T.E. Lawrence: A Bibliography (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2000),
2nd edition, revised and updated. For a comprehensive treatment of Lawrence of
Arabia, see: Jeremy Willson, LAWRENCE: The Authorized Biography of T.E.
Lawrence (New York: Atheneum, 1990).
Greene, The Human Factor (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978).
10. Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA's Master Spy
Hunter (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991).
for example, Gordon Winter, Inside BOSS: South Africa's Secret Police (London:
Penguin Books, 1981); and Riaan
Labuschagne, O n South Africa's Secret Service: An
Undercover Agent's Story (Alberton, South Africa: Galago Books, 2002).
Jozef Garlinski, The Swiss Corridor: Espionage Networks in Switzerland During
World War II (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1981).
for example, Martin Sixsmith, The Litvinenko File: The True Story of a Death
Foretold (New York: Macmillan, 2007)
has been reduced to RAW by the Indian Press. One of the first books about RAW,
Asoka Raina, Inside RAW: the Story of India's Secret Service (New Delhi, 1981),
12, mentions the "search for a name" but adds only that R&AW was
selected from a long list.
D. Sawyer, The Tao of Spycraft: Intelligence Th eory and Practice in Traditional China, xiii.
uses the word tao (pronounced dow as in DowJones), the general meaning of which
is the "way" or "guiding principle," as the essential or
guiding principles of the craft of espionage and deception.
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