Library

 

The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf

Intelligence in Recent Public Literature

Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake

 

Current

Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations, Roger Z. George and James B. Bruce

The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Shenon

Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century, Marc Sageman

The Search For WMD: Non-Proliferation, Intelligence and Pre-emption in the New Security
Environment, Graham F. Walker (ed.)

Still Broken: A Recruit’s Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, From Baghdad to the Pentagon, A. J. Rossmiller

Why Spy?: Espionage In An Age of Uncertainty, Frederick P. Hitz

 

General Intelligence

The Agency and The Hill: CIA’s Relationship with Congress, 1946-2004, L. Britt Snider

Communicating with Intelligence: Writing and Briefing in the Intelligence and National Security Communities, James S. Major

 

Historical

The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France, Simon Kitson

Military Intelligence and the Arab Revolt: The First Modern Intelligence War, Polly A. Mohs

Operation Freshman: The Hunt for Hitler’s Heavy Water, Jostein Berglyd

Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA, Jefferson Morley

RUSE: Undercover With FBI Counterintelligence, Robert Eringer

Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World, Kristie Macrakis

The Sixth Man: the extraordinary life of Paddy Costello, James McNeish

Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East, Pryia Satia

Spies in the Empire: Victorian Military Intelligence, Stephen Wade

STASI Decorations and Memorabilia: A Collectors Guide, Ralph Pickard

 

Intelligence Abroad

My Years In a Pakistani Prison: The Untold Story of Kishorilal, alias Amaril Singh, alias Saleem, an Indian Spy in Pakistan, Kishorilal Sharma
[Top of page]


Current

Roger Z. George and James B. Bruce, Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2008), 340 pp., end of chapter notes, glossary, index.

The definition of intelligence as the product of the collection, evaluation, and analysis of all available information occurs frequently in the literature of intelligence.[1]  But does this mean that the secret document obtained by an operations officer from his agent is not intelligence since analysis has yet to occur? Not according to the authors of this important book. Drs. George and Bruce, who are both experienced Intelligence Community analysts suggest that both explanations make sense—intelligence is collected from agents (and other sources) and, when combined with other relevant information and knowledge, remains intelligence in an enhanced state after analysis, a process analogous to the desalinization of water—water in, refined water out.

This is not the first book on intelligence analysis but it differs from the others in several significant respects. The principal difference is the broad scope of the 18 chapters that describe the discipline, how it has evolved, and where it needs to go. The introduction gives a fine description of what analysis is, and it provides prospective analysts with a good feel for the skills required that make analysis exciting and demanding. Subsequent chapters discuss the analytic track record at CIA, techniques for improving reliability, and the dominant issues that affect performance. Prime examples of the latter are the policy-analyst relationship—three experts discuss this issue in detail—the analyst-collector relationship that is critical to success, and the dangers of politicization. Other contributions examine the links between strategy and intelligence, what analysts should know about denial and deception, the unique characteristics of military intelligence analysis, and the distinct demands of homeland security intelligence.

Each of the articles addresses the difficult subject of analytic failures. Especially interesting on this point is the contribution by veteran CIA analyst Jack Davis, “Why Bad Things Happen To Good Analysts.” Producing accurate analysis is also examined from management’s point of view.

Another area of concern is the future of analysis. This is described in terms of managing analysis in the information age as well as the new techniques available for doing so—the use of teams, networks and the scientific method. The articles on this point do not deal with mathematical details or complex models of unproven value, but rather consider the conceptual issues that promote critical analysis.

Finally, the question of whether intelligence analysis is even a discipline is explored. Here the elements of a discipline are enumerated and compared with the current state of the art. It also considers whether there is or should be a right of passage for analysts analogous to the lawyer’s bar exam. In their conclusion, George and Bruce summarize what needs to be done to make analysis a profession, with emphasis on the analyst’s role and the techniques and knowledge they must acquire.

In short, Analyzing Intelligence is the most comprehensive book on the subject to date—a really valuable treatment for those anticipating becoming an intelligence analyst, as well as for those who already are.

[Top of page]

 

Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Commission (New York: Twelve, 2008), 457 pp., bibliography, index.

This book gets off to an unusual start: no introduction, no summary or conclusions, and only narrative endnotes without specific citations. It begins with the story of Sandy Berger’s surreptitious removal and destruction of classified documents from the National Archives and ends with descriptions of how various government officials reacted to the 9/11 report. In between, author Philip Shenon explains how the commission came about, describes the roles and contributions of its members, and, at much greater length, addresses the staff’s work in assembling the facts and writing the report—including the often vicious bureaucratic and partisan battles that ensued.

Shenon covered the commission from the day it first met in January 2003 until it closed shop in August 2004. He describes the interviews he conducted, identifying those involved where he could and preserving anonymity when confidentiality necessitated.

Still, there is little new in the book. The controversies over the release of documents and the reasons for the decisions made have all been reported before. He does emphasize some key issues and provides continuity. For example, when discussing the reasons the report omitted mention of accountability he explains that the commissioners “wanted no ‘finger pointing’ in the final report” in order to achieve a unanimous outcome: “Unanimity would cement their place in history.” (402–4)

In another of his judgments, Shenon notes that “George Tenet lost. Robert Mueller won.” (402) He then explains that Commissioner Kean disagreed, rationalizing that they did not call for Tenet’s resignation, they just recommended creating a Director of National Intelligence. One item, new to most, is an anecdote about former senior CIA officer and commission staff member Doug MacEachin, who briefed the commission on an NIE notionally written in 1997 that showed in great detail al-Qa’ida’s intention to attack the United States. After greatly alarming the commissioners, MacEachin revealed it was only an object lesson; the data were real, but, for reasons unknown, had never been used to write an NIE.

The commission members were very proud of the report. It was well written, and it sold more than a million copies. Shenon has provided an equally readable account of its history. But like the commissioners, he has avoided taking sides or commenting on the quality of the commission’s recommendations, even in hindsight. He reports, we decide.

[Top of page]

 

Marc Sageman, Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 176 pp., endnotes, index.

In publishing Leadersless Jihad, Marc Sageman, the forensic psychiatrist, former intelligence officer, and current international security consultant, has sparked a polemic in the journal Foreign Affairs on a key question of the day: what after seven years of US and Allied effort is the state of al Qaeda today?[2] In an exchange, conducted over two issues of the journal, Bruce Hoffman—Georgetown University history professor and author of Inside Terrorism[3] —and Sageman have taken opposing views of al Qaeda’s role in leading today’s Islamic terrorist movement. In reviewing Leaderless Jihad in the May/June 2008 issue, Hoffman argued that al-Qaeda has reemerged and is again actively directing terrorist operations, and he took issue with what he took to be Sageman’s judgment that “al Qaeda has ceased to exist as either an organizational or an operational entity.” This, Sageman wrote in response, is a misrepresentation of his position. His book, he added, explicitly states that “al Qaeda Central is, of course, not dead, but it is still contained operationally...the surviving leaders…are undoubtedly still plotting to do harm to various countries and have the expertise to do so.”

What Leaderless Jihad does argue, says Sageman, is that the al Qaeda can no longer exercise the direct leadership that resulted in 9/11. Instead, Osama bin Laden now serves as more of an inspiration for young Islamists who, when radicalized, will act on their own to continue his work in a “leaderless jihad.” Sageman stresses that his conclusions follow from applying the scientific method—developing and testing hypotheses based on data from 500 terrorist histories.[4] A key element of the story is his characterization of the process by which young middle-class well-educated Muslims become Islamic extremists, seeking self–glorification through violence against Western societies. Sageman explains the basic parameters necessary for success, describes the links among the loose networks that are formed, and considers how they can result in terrorist acts in Europe and the United States. He devotes an insightful chapter to the way networks communicate using the Internet to sustain their motivation and to plan operations. If ever there was an unintended consequence of a positive social development, this is a prime example.

Leaderless Jihad is not in complete conflict with Professor Hoffman’s views of al-Qaeda’s role; terrorist acts can be directed both from above and below. And even if al-Qaeda’s capacity is diminished, Sageman stresses that the eventual success of the “bottom-up” variation of global terrorism is not inevitable. Toward that end, he offers suggestions to counter the threat, though he makes clear his view that promoting democracy is not part of the solution. The answer is dependent on the United States recapturing “the high moral ground” (171), avoiding strategic mistakes, and keeping up constant monitoring of and interference with terrorist operations. Meeting these conditions will cause the threat to fade away. In short, there is no simple solution, but the path Sageman prescribes makes sense and is deserving of serious attention.

[Top of page]

 

Graham F. Walker (ed.), The Search For WMD: Non-Proliferation, Intelligence and Pre-emption in the New Security Environment (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Dalhousie University, 2006), 406 pp., end of chapter notes, appendices, no index.

The 25 articles in this volume were sponsored by the Center for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Most of the contributions deal with WMD and the Iraq war and with related proliferation issues, present and future. Six of the chapters address intelligence analysis and lessons learned from the WMD issue and Iraq. The analysis is generally fair and insightful. Prof. Robert Jervis (Columbia University), for example, cautions against asking “more of the intelligence community in both the narrow and general sense than is possible.” (173) Terrorism expert Lawrence Freedman considers the impact of politicization on limiting the application of high standards of proof, or validation, on critical assumptions. Doug Giebel, an investigative journalist from Montana, does not distinguish himself with the undocumented comment that hindsight shows “how grossly the U.S. war-makers (from both political parties) have elevated lying and disinformation to a high art.” (194) The Search For WMD is an interesting collection of viewpoints from outside the Intelligence Community about issues of crucial importance to intelligence analysts on the inside.

[Top of page]

A. J. Rossmiller, Still Broken: A Recruit’s Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, From Baghdad to the Pentagon (New York: Ballantine Books, 2008), 236 pp., appendix, no index.

After graduation from Middlebury College, A. J. Rossmiller joined the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2004. Within weeks he concluded the intelligence service was dysfunctional, badly managed, and generally crippled from top to bottom. Seeing little hope for improvement any time soon, he volunteered for duty as an analyst in Iraq. (xx)

Shockingly, he found the intelligence situation in Iraq little better. And when, after six months on the job, his suggestions for correcting things weren’t implemented, he returned to the United States. Back home he was astonished to find management still had not made the necessary upgrades; the system persisted instead on its “go-along,” stay “on-message” and be “a-member-of-the-team approach” to analysis. In short, after less than two years as an intelligence analyst, Rossmiller concluded that his only alternative was to leave government and make his incisive conclusions available to all in Still Broken. Thus, he rages about systemic incompetence and dysfunction while prescribing corrective measures, among them, for example, “intelligence professionals must go back to the basics.” (220).

The book is filled with similar insightful observations, some of which are on the mark and, curiously, have been noted by others: Hitz (below), Paul Pillar, Judge Richard Posner, to name three well-documented accounts that Rossmiller gives no indication of having read.[5]  Still Broken might have acquired more traction had analyst Rossmiller used specific examples, cited sources, provided a bibliography, and included an index. As is, it is little more than the biased, sour-grapes rant of someone unwilling to pay his dues. It does not deserve serious professional attention.

[Top of page]

Frederick P. Hitz, Why Spy?: Espionage in an Age of Uncertainty (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008), 224 pp., index.

Answers to the straightforward question in the title to this book are likely to be a complex mix of at least five viewpoints: agent, intelligence officer, organizational, international, and the public. Author Fred Hitz, as a former CIA inspector general and now a professor at the University of Virginia, has firsthand experience with each. In the four parts of Why Spy? he proposes actions in the post 9/11 era to improve Intelligence Community performance from all perspectives.

Part one, “The Seven Motivations for Espionage,” provides a brief history of American espionage, the reasons it is necessary, and why it can be successful. He outlines the classic methods of recruitment and potential agent motivations so they may be considered when thinking about the operations he describes later. In part two. “America’s Spying Competence Today” he addresses lessons from failures, the evils of politicization, the evolution of the CIA’s role, plus Congress and the recent intelligence reforms. Part three, “Spying in the Twenty-first Century,” looks at legal issues, civilian and military intelligence organizations, the role of technology in collection and analysis, and liaison with foreign intelligence services. The final part raises two questions: Why Spy? Should We Do It? Neither is answered directly, though the response to both is implicit from the threats Hitz outlines in the beginning. This chapter also discusses the new demands on intelligence officers in the 21st century.

In his conclusion he addresses four conditions needed to “make espionage work.” The first is improved HUMINT, with quality personnel, leadership, and resources, while eliminating stifling bureaucracy. The second is the requirement to separate partisanship and politics from objective collection and analysis. The third deals with the problems of domestic intelligence and law enforcement when dealing with Islamic terrorism. The fourth is the need to reinvigorate Congressional oversight.

In Why Spy? Hitz candidly assesses what should and should not be done, but he does not offer implementing details, which he leaves to the professionals. Examples include encouraging elitism—in the sense of esprit de corps—despite the “hideous reputation” it has in some quarters (181). He goes on to suggest less reliance on intelligence officers operating out of embassies and resolution of the legal constraints on using “dirty assets.” (165) He also warns against the horrendous problems created by periodic downsizings that only create gaps in experienced officers.

With one exception the book provides some very practical guidance for improving intelligence performance and for understanding the intelligence profession. The exception is the criticism that today’s analysts do not have ready access to the internet—Google, Wikipedia and the like. (155–56) If this was ever a practical limitation, it was corrected long ago.

For those concerned with the current and future practical value of espionage, Why Spy? is very worthwhile reading.

[Top of page]


General Intelligence

L. Britt Snider, The Agency and the Hill: CIA’s Relationship with Congress, 1946-2004 (Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, CIA, 2008), 389 pp., footnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.

Two other important books have been written about congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community. The first, by Fred Smist, covers the period from 1947 to 1994. The second, by David Barrett, focuses on the period from 1947 to the Bay of Pigs in 1961.[6]  The Agency and the Hill differs with both in two respects: it covers a broader timeframe—1946–2004—and it is written by an insider with unusual credentials. Author L. Britt Snider served as CIA inspector general and as general counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The book is divided into two parts, each with functional chapters. Part one addresses the nature of the relationship itself; intelligence sharing and the changes after the Church and Pike Committee hearings; and CIA organizational arrangements. Additional topics are: budgets, covert actions, charges of domestic spying, routine interactions, and dealing with leaks and whistle-blowers. The first two chapters of part two examine specific legislation plus program and budget issues. The final five chapters consider oversight of intelligence analysis, collection, cover action, security matters, and the confirmation process. Each chapter covers the entire period from 1946 to 2004. The appendices list key personnel and positions on both the committees and at the CIA.

At the end of each chapter, Snider adds background and meaning in often extensive and important “author’s commentary” sections. For example, Chapter 3 outlines, inter alia, post-9/11 hearings and what was and was not done. Snider’s assessments elucidate the who and why of what was done. Similarly, his description of “the ideal nominee” after the chapter on the Senate confirmation process is enlightening whether applied to the DCI, DNI, or D/CIA. Overall, these contributions are valuable, if not the most important parts of the book.

The Agency and the Hill adds new well-documented perspective to the legal requirements of congressional oversight and the political realities that bound their implementation. It will be the principal reference book on the topic for the foreseeable future.

[Top of page]

James S. Major, Communicating with Intelligence: Writing and Briefing in the Intelligence and National Security Communities (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2008), 420 pp., bibliography, appendices, index.

With the introduction of the first American commercial typewriter in 1873 by the Remington Company, handwriting began its gradual demise and replacement by the personal computer. But while technological developments eased the mechanics of putting words on paper, the choice of the right words themselves remains a challenge for all who attempt the task. Communicating with Intelligence is intended to help intelligence writers master the process.

Author James Major taught a writing and briefing course at the National Defense Intelligence College for many years, and his book lays out the practices he developed to help his students acquire the skill that is so essential to success in the intelligence profession.

The book has two parts, the first devoted to “writing with intelligence.” Here he covers the value of reading intelligence publications, the basic tools of writing, the critical drafting and polishing processes, and the techniques for reviewing analytical papers. Each chapter ends with practical exercises designed to reinforce to key points. The second part of the book deals with briefing techniques that lay out the elements of a good briefing and the manner in which it should be delivered. The appendices in the book include a glossary for writers, a briefing checklist, a sample briefing, and a self-evaluation form. Communicating with Intelligence is a welcome addition to intelligence literature and will be valuable to students and the teachers who must read their papers.

[Top of page]


Historical

Simon Kitson, The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 208 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

After the French surrendered to the Germans in 1940, the collaborationist government established at Vichy was permitted to rule the Southern half of France and maintain a security service. The Allied invasion of Africa in late 1942 ended that arrangement, and, as the Nazis occupied all of France, they seized the records of the Vichy government and shipped them to Germany. After the war, the Soviet Army sent them to Moscow. In the 1990s, they were returned to France. In 1997, while using the files to research anti-German counterespionage in France, scholar Simon Kitson discovered documentation of agent torture, not of French agents caught by the Gestapo, but of Nazi agents (French nationals) caught spying on the French by the Vichy counterintelligence (CE) service.

The Hunt for Nazi Spies tells the story of this unusual situation with emphasis on these issues: The fact that an occupied state was allowed to have a security service at all and that the CE service was permitted to arrest the occupier’s spies and execute several dozen of them. Kitson examines French motivations, the character of CE recruits, and the organization, methods and operations of the CE. The book also describes what happened to the French CE officers—many escaped to England and joined DeGaulle—and the agents captured when the Nazis occupied all of France. Kitson has filled an unexpected gap in our knowledge and will cause historians to modify the standard image of French collaboration during WW II.

[Top of page]

Polly A. Mohs, Military Intelligence and the Arab Revolt: The First Modern Intelligence War (New York: Routledge, 2007), 238 pp., endnotes, index.

The Arab Revolt during WW I that reconfigured the Middle East brought fame to T. E. Lawrence and has been recorded in books and movies. The role of British intelligence and the Arab Bureau in the revolt, plus the details of Lawrence’s contribution as an analyst and unofficial leader of guerrilla operations, were less well known until Polly Mohs wrote this precedent-setting book. After describing the geographical and political scene, she discusses how the traditional British policy of controlling the Empire from London failed to meet the intelligence and policy needs of the Middle East campaign in which Turkey had become an ally of the Germans. Mohs shows that the creation of the Arab Bureau—to “harmonize the various views and policies” from the British Foreign Office and the military—staffed with civilian and military experts, including Lawrence, was a major departure from standard practice in two ways. First, it ran its own field operations and analyzed the results without prior approval from London. Second, it “blurred” the distinction between intelligence and policymaking by “redefining the intelligence-policy dichotomy” and contributing directly to military-political decision making. (9)

Mohs shows how the policy issue worked in practice in her analysis of the Arab Revolt, which began in mid-1916. The British were faced with the question of whether or not to support the Arab attacks, and if so, whether ground forces should be used or whether guerrilla warfare tactics should be adopted. She describes how Lawrence’s dual role as an unorthodox field operator and analyst influenced the adoption of the latter approach. His recommendation—supported by the Arab Bureau—that the Arabs be allowed to fight their own battles, with Allied support, was, in the end, key to the Turkish defeat.

In what becomes the central theme of the book, Mohs goes on to show just how intelligence contributed to the revolt’s success. She argues that the relatively new techniques of aerial reconnaissance and signals interception, when combined with human sources—including POW interrogation—were more effective than in Europe because of local weather and military conditions. While possibly true with regard to aerial reconnaissance and communications intercepts—though no detailed examples are given in this otherwise extensively documented work—her comment that “conditions in German-occupied Europe made it impossible for Allied operatives to establish agent networks behind enemy lines” (4) is inaccurate as the White Lady network, to name one, illustrates.[7] 

While Mohs does not neglect the often-deceitful Allied political decisions kept from the Arabs during the war, her focus is on the “intelligence-led policy for the campaign,” (160) the development and application of the unorthodox military techniques, and the personalities that made it a success. Mohs does not suggest the success of an intelligence element advocating policy, as happened during the Arab Revolt, argues for abandoning the conventional intelligence-policy approach, but she does allow that it should be considered in the future when dealing with conflicts in the Middle East. Moh’s book is a valuable contribution to the study of military intelligence.

[Top of page]

Jostein Berglyd, Operation Freshman: The Hunt for Hitler’s Heavy Water (Stockholm: Leander & Ekholm, 2006), 202 pp., footnotes, photos, map, no index.

In 1965, the movie The Heroes of Telemark, starring Kirk Douglas, told a story about the destruction of the heavy water plant at Telemark, Norway. Brave British commandos and Norwegian resistance fighters were sent to prevent Hitler from acquiring heavy water needed to produce the atom bomb. In what would today be labeled “Oliver Stone history,” the movie departed from the truth in nearly every respect including the fact that Telemark was a region of Norway not the actual city, Vemork, where the plant located. Jostein Berglyd sets the record straight in this thoroughly documented and illustrated book. Operation Freshman, the SOE operation to sabotage the heavy water plant, was a failure. The aircraft carrying the sabotage team crashed in the Norwegian mountains, and the Nazis murdered the 14 commandos and three crewmen who survived the crash; in all, 37 men were lost. The plant was later damaged in a bombing raid and eventually destroyed by Norwegian saboteurs. Berglyd describes the planning for the operation, its faulty execution, how the Nazis tracked down the survivors, and the penalties collaborators received after the war. In the final chapter, Berglyd analyzes postwar books about these operations and points out their inaccuracies. Operation Freshman fills a gap in history and is a valuable contribution to the literature.

[Top of page]

Jefferson Morley, Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008), 374 pp., endnotes, photos, index.

Winston Mackinley Scott was born in 1909 in rural Jemison, Alabama. He spent his early years living in a converted box car, but he did well in mathematics and athletics in high school and earned a scholarship to a teachers college before getting his masters and then teaching at the University of Alabama. When one of his papers was published in the Annals of Mathematics, the FBI asked if he would be interested in a job.(17) He said he was, but when he heard nothing more he went to Scotland to study matrix theory. The FBI offer arrived when he returned after the war in Europe began. Following service in Cuba he was assigned to Cleveland. While in transit he visited Washington and was recruited by the OSS. In June 1944, he arrived in London becoming, after the war, chief of station, a position he retained after the OSS clandestine services became the Strategic Services Unit (SSU). In 1947, he joined the CIA. After nearly 10 years at Headquarters, Scott was sent to Mexico City as chief of station, a position he would hold until he retired in 1969. He remained in Mexico City, working as a consultant until his death of natural causes at age 62.

Jefferson Morley, a reporter for the Washington Post, decided to write a biography of Win Scott after a 1995 meeting with Scott’s son, Michael, then a movie director. Michael told the story of his father on two levels. The first was that of a CIA officer and closet novelist and poet, whose career touched Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination, the Bay of Pigs invasion, secret CIA agents high in the Mexican government, and many of the most famous British and American intelligence officers—Kim Philby, James Angleton, Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Bill Harvey, Howard Hunt, J. C. King, and David Phillips to name a few—and two presidents, JFK and Lyndon Johnson. Not much had reached the public about Scott’s career, and his son wanted to know more.

The second level of the story was Scott’s personal life, about which even Michael had spotty knowledge. What he knew—several marriages and numerous affairs—indicated it was a mess by any standard, curiously analogous to Philby’s. Michael’s queries disclosed some surprising detail, including the fact that he was adopted and had brothers.

Michael agreed to help Morley write the story, and he began by filing an FOIA request with the CIA for whatever documents it or the Agency had on his father. Of special interest was a copy of a fictionalized autobiography Scott had written but that disappeared—thanks, they suggest, to Jim Angleton and other senior CIA officers—soon after his death. Michael also went through his father’s papers and began a series of interviews with family members and acquaintances. The result of their collaboration was Our Man in Mexico.

Most of the book describes Scott’s 12-year service as COS in Mexico City. But there are interesting asides, for example, about Scott’s relationship with Philby in the UK and the United States. Here, Morley is careless about Philby’s background—he was never head of Section V in MI6, and he learned about suspicions of Maclean as a Soviet agent before a visit to the VENONA element at Arlington Hall. Moreover, Morley suggests Scott suspected Philby was also an agent at the same time it occurred to Bill Harvey, though he cites no source for this surprise.

Morley focuses on the high level agents—three presidents among them—Scott recruited in the Mexican government; Scott’s trusted staff; the Bay of Pigs invasion; his relationship with David Phillips; and, most of all, his knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in Mexico City. It quickly becomes clear that Morley is something of a conspiracy theorist. He is convinced Scott withheld surveillance information about Oswald at the request of CIA Headquarters. When lawyers from the Warren Commission visited Mexico City, Scott gave them a story “that was both true and untrue.” (234) Finally, Morley suggests that Scott too concluded that there was more to the CIA relationship with the assassination than the Warren Report allows, although he admits a lack of any compelling evidence.

Our Man in Mexico is a good title for an interesting book about a complex man dealing with sensitive issues in and out of government.

[Top of page]

Robert Eringer, Ruse: Undercover With FBI Counterintelligence (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2008), 215 pp., photos, no index.

The late Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the KGB, wrote a forgettable and largely fantasy memoir called Safe House.[8] According to private “intelligence consultant,” editor, and literary agent, Robert Eringer, the book proposal Howard submitted had serious weaknesses and the prospective publisher approached him with the idea of making it publishable. Eringer agreed but signed on only after securing assurance from the FBI that they would use the opportunity to capture Howard and return him for trial—hence the “ruse.”

Eringer describes the operation’s set up with the FBI and his meetings with Howard in Russia, Switzerland, Hungary and Cuba and goes on to explain why the plan ended in failure. He also adds some new detail to Howard’s claims about making a secret trip to the United States in 1986, where the KGB arranged a meeting “with an authoritative American.” Eringer says he was told that the American was Aldrich Ames. But Howard said it was not Ames, and according to Eringer, this led the FBI to suspect another mole existed. (38) Later Eringer hints that Ames, like Hanssen, was caught because of a KGB informer, not CI analysis at CIA.[9]  (210) But are these revelations true? Eringer provides no evidence at all to support them. Along this same line he alludes to contacts with an unidentified “spymaster,” uses undocumented reconstructed dialogue with many fictitious names. The book falls squarely in the “trust me” category despite the inclusion of some 10-year-old photographs that tend to substantiate meetings with Howard and former KGB chairman, Vladimir Kryuchkov.

In a final curiosity, the Howard story ends at page 175 of the book. With the exception of the epilogue that attacks Vladimir Putin, the balance of the book deals with fugitive Ira Einhorn. It may serve as filler for the publisher, but it adds nothing of intelligence value. With these slender qualifications, Ruse struggles to attain mediocrity.

[Top of page]

Kristie Macrakis, Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 392 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.

In 1972, East German Werner Stiller defected to the West. He had been an officer in the Science and Technology Division of the HVA (the German Democratic Republic’s foreign intelligence service) and an agent of the West German foreign intelligence service, the BND. In 1986, Stiller published his memoir, Im Zentrum der Spionage (In the Center of Espionage)[10] and gave the West its first glimpse of the extensive HVA S&T espionage operations. History of science professor Kristie Macrakis has added to the Stiller story while providing a much broader look at Stasi scientific espionage organizations, functions and operations. Seduced by Secrets tells how the Stasi began—with KGB “assistance”—and shows how it gained fearsome proficiency in maintaining domestic security and grudging respect for its foreign espionage capabilities.

Professor Macrakis took a classic approach to writing her book while doing graduate work for her PhD at Harvard. After reading what was available in German and English, she went to the Stasi archives in Berlin and also interviewed former Stasi officers—including former HVA chief Markus Wolf. Her interviews with Werner Stiller add considerable detail to his story. (51ff) Part one of the book describes agent and technical operations. Several of the cases have not received much attention before, including one with an agent codenamed “Gorbachev”—named after a vodka, not the Soviet leader. (8ff) Where needed, she includes background on the often conflicting economic and political issues influencing priorities that resulted in inefficient use of resources. This is particularly apparent the story of “the computer fiasco.” (94ff)

Part two of Seduced by Secrets concentrates on the hardware and techniques of Stasi clandestine operations. Well-illustrated chapters cover technical surveillance—electronic, chemical (smell science), optical, visual—secret writing, and agent-officer communications. As to the technical terms, Dr. Macrakis translates the awkward Stasi expression for agent or informant—Inoffizieller Mitarbiter (IM)—as “unofficial staff member” rather than unofficial collaborator as used elsewhere.[11] In several instances, her use of English tradecraft terms is inaccurate—for example dead drops are used synonymously with dead letter boxes—and readers are cautioned to check other sources.[12]

Dr. Macrakis concludes with a brief comparison of the “strikingly similar” Stasi and Western uses of technology “to solve social or intelligence problems” (314) but errs when she suggests “the CIA attempted to use science to control agents’ minds.” (315) Seduced by Secrets is nevertheless fine scholarship and a valuable and unique contribution to intelligence literature.

[Top of page]

James McNeish, The Sixth Man: The Extraordinary Life of Paddy Costello (Auckland, NZ: Random House New Zealand, 2007), 414 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, glossary, index.

The “Cambridge Five” were not the only Soviet agents who attended that university during the 1930s. American Michael Straight, Canadian Herbert Norman, and New Zealander Paddy Costello share that distinction. Straight eventually admitted his recruitment, Norman and Costello only their communist party membership. In The Sixth Man, James McNeish portrays Costello as a gifted student, teacher, and military intelligence officer in WW II. After the war he served with the New Zealand foreign office in Moscow and Paris before entering academia in England. In between those years, as McNeish acknowledges with obvious irritation, several authors have alleged that Costello might have been or was in fact a Soviet agent.[13]  McNeish strives mightily to dismiss the idea as fanciful speculation. In support of his position, he notes that even Christopher Andrew cannot say absolutely that Mitrokhin got it right. (16) But the arguments McNeish makes are mere speculation and ignore important facts reported by others. For example, in the chapter entitled, “The Passport Affair” that discusses the false New Zealand passports issued to Soviet illegal’s Peter Cohen and his wife, McNeish neglects to mention that the hand writing on the passports was Costello’s.[14] 

James McNeish does justice to Paddy Costello’s life story but does nothing to dilute his reputation as one of the “Cambridge Spies.” Costello may indeed have been The Sixth Man.

[Top of page]

Priya Satia, Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 472 pp., endnotes, index.

From biblical times to the early 20th century, Uz was an accepted reference to the Arabian Peninsula. The unofficial British intelligence agent, George Wyman Bury, wrote a book about his adventures in The Land of Uz.[15] In Spies in Arabia, Stanford history professor Priya Satia has written about intelligence in the same region during and after WW I from the perspective of the 21st century. She provides little new about the events already described by other historians—the functions and staff of the Arab Bureau, Lawrence of Arabia as intelligence analyst and field operator, the Arab Revolt, and the postwar political deceptions.[16]  What she tries to do that is different is to explain the motivations behind “intelligence community” actions and consequences in psychological and epistemological terms. (23ff) Her principal theme is the development of Britain’s “covert empire.” Despite two chapters on the topic, the term is never defined and it doesn’t project an intuitive meaning. Still, she attempts to show that intelligence agents—influenced by British culture, a need to spread democracy, spy fiction, and aerial reconnaissance—played an important role in building and maintaining the so-called covert empire.

In her words—that are typical of the narrative’s pervasive semantic ambiguity—the book pieces together:

the world of British intelligence in the Middle East…. I want to unpack the enduring fascination with Arabia as a spy-space which colored this British effort…. My focus is on the formation and fallout of the cultural imagination that shaped agents’ approach and methods…on thinking about intelligence and agents’ skills rather than on the agents’ actual abilities. (4)

More specifically, she writes, “this book argues [that] in the influence of their tactical imagination and epistemological outlook…lies the explanation for the gradual transformation” of British informal intelligence gathering to “the paranoid preoccupation of a brutal aerial surveillance regime after the war.” (5) Unfortunately, although Satia devotes a chapter to “Air Control,” she does not substantiate the charge of brutality.

Likewise, her attempts to link British agent operations in the Middle East to the fiction of Erksine Childers, Joseph Conrad, John Buchan, Rudyard Kipling, and John Le Carré, among others, and then to the “uncanny connections between them and the Cambridge Five,” (17, 334) are creative, even colorful, but they are not convincing.[17]  She tries but fails to make the case that the real world of intelligence is inspired by espionage fiction. (96) Similar issues are raised in the chapter on “conspiracy theories,” which explains the troubles in the occupied lands. Here, too, she only leaves readers wondering why it was included.

Spies in Arabia is filled with well-documented conjecture about the complex psychological motivations of British intelligence agents in the Middle East. But it provides no basis for determining whether the author got it right. Thus the more traditional explanations—patriotism, curiosity, duty, and professional competence—remain equally plausible. Professor Satia ends this self-inflicted standoff with a surprising though somewhat Delphic conclusion:

The United States is not repeating what…Britain did in Iraq decades ago [that laid the groundwork] for what is happening today. To this Marx might offer the correction, and I would agree, that those conditions of possibility were material and as much epistemological. (337)

Spies in Arabia is a surprisingly confused and confusing book.

[Top of page]

Stephen Wade, Spies in the Empire: Victorian Military Intelligence (New York: Anthem Press, 2007), 276 pp., end of chapter notes, bibliography, photos, chronology, index.

Military threats to the British Empire were a major concern of the government from Victorian to Edwardian times, and secret agents were routinely employed to determine what potential enemies were planning and what actions were required of the British Army. These are not new topics and they have been covered in more detail in other books.[18]Spies in the Empire gives, in a single source, a broad overview of how the needed intelligence was acquired, used, and misused throughout the British realm.

From the beginnings in northern India, spying on Russians in Afghanistan in the early 1800s, to WW I when the threat was German, author Stephen Wade reports how military and political officers—the “heroes of the Great Game” (29ff)—collected the needed strategic intelligence. Initially all were amateur intelligence officers, and they traveled as explorers and political representatives, or simply on holiday. This relatively relaxed pace came to an end with the Crimean War (1853–1856) when “a powerful lesson regarding the neglect of intelligence” (66-69) emerged in the disastrous charge of the Light Brigade. With the formation of the Intelligence Department in 1873, British military intelligence was on the path to professionalism. Wade describes the progress through the Zulu Wars, the Boer War, the operations against the Fenians, and the growing threat from the German Empire.

Wade departs briefly from the strictly military intelligence role in the empire in the final chapters, when he examines the foundations of what became a military intelligence department spinoff—the security service (MI5)—after WW I. At one point, he discusses what he terms “spy mania” and its influence on the press, playwrights and novelists in particular—Childers, Le Queux, and Conrad being well-known examples. But he does not make a strong case that MI5 was established because of these social pressures as opposed to operational need.[19]

Spies in the Empire concludes with the thought, not fleshed out, that “the Victorian years have much to teach us today.” (245) The book is an interesting summary, but it has few original insights.

[Top of page]

Ralph Pickard, Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia: A Collector’s Guide Lorton, VA: Frontline Historical Publishing, 2007), 248 pp., bibliography, photos, index.

Heraldry has been described as “the shorthand of history” and “the floral border in the garden of history.”[20]  Although the term originally applied to military and familial coats of arms and related badges, the communist nations created a new form of heraldry, substituting political and industrial insignia for military symbols in badges and awards. Since the communist forms of heraldry cannot be found in standard reference works on the subject—though the topic has received new attention with the fall of communism—Ralph Pickard has taken a step in the direction of preserving a piece of the East German heraldic record with his new reference work, Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia. All the items in the book are in his private collection. As Ambassador Hugh Montgomery notes in his foreword to the book, Soviet heraldic influence prevailed and the Stasi “abandoned all efforts to retain any ties to German historical precedent.”

After a short historical overview of the Stasi organization, the book contains high quality color photographs of most of the medals, awards, and commemorative coins—even document covers—issued by the Stasi. Detailed specifications are indicated for each item so one may in verify authenticity. An unusual aspect of Stasi heraldry are the coins honoring former spies and espionage networks even when the officers involved included Soviet agents. The Rote Kapelle network is an example; native German, but GRU agent, Richard Sorge and his radioman Max Clausen are another (238-44).

The non-German reader will need a dictionary because the German terms on the items are not translated. Likewise, the table of contents is in German. Future editions of the book would do well to include translations.

Overall, this is a valuable and impressive reference work.

[Top of page]


Intelligence Abroad

Kishorilal Sharma, My Years in a Pakistani Prison: The Untold Story of Kishorilal, alias Amarik Singh, alias Saleem, an Indian Spy in Pakistan (Olympia Fields, IL: Lancer Publishers, 2008), 224 pp., photos, maps, index.

A series of memoirs by retired senior Indian intelligence officers has provided top-down views of intelligence careers in India.[21]  Kishorilal writes from a different perspective, as a junior military intelligence officer whose career lasted 10 years (1966–1976), seven of those in Pakistani jails.

The book doesn’t reveal the details of Kishorilal’s operations in Pakistan. It does describe in considerable detail his recruitment as a recent graduate of an automobile college in the Jullundur at age 19, his espionage training, his capture, and unpleasant treatment in several Pakistani prisons. These circumstances and the suspicions he endured from his own service after repatriation are still intense memories.

When finally discharged, Kishorilal was “encouraged” by his former service to remain silent about his experiences in prison and his handling when released. After 30 years in business he has chosen to share them because “the treatment of detainees held on charges of spying is…not known.” But he adds a qualifying comment that despite “unspeakable interrogations” he found some “extraordinarily good human beings” among his jailers. (viii) As to his handling as a possible turncoat by his former colleagues, he is less forgiving.

Kishorilal’s experiences will be of interest to anyone concerned with life in South Asia but especially to intelligence officers and those contemplating similar service. The professional similarities and differences they reveal are valuable benchmarks.

[Top of page]


[1] See for example: Martin T. Bimfort, “A Definition of Intelligence,” Studies in Intelligence 2, no. 4 (Fall 1958): 78.

[2]Bruce Hoffman, “Review Essay: The Myth of Grass-Roots Terrorism,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008, and Marc Sageman and Bruce Hoffman, “Debating the Containment of al Qaeda’s Leadership,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2008.

[3]Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, rev. ed., (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).

[4]See also Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) reviewed by Dwight P. Pinkley in Studies in Intelligence 49, no. 2 (2005)

[5]Richard A. Posner, Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Publishers, Inc., 2005).

[6]Fred Smist, Congress Oversees the United States Intelligence Community 1974-1994 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1994, 2nd edition); David M. Barrett, The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005).

[7]Captain Henry Landau, Secrets of the White Lady (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1935).

[8]Edward Lee Howard, Safe House: The Compelling Memoirs of the Only CIA Spy to Seek Asylum in Russia (Bethesda, MD: National Press Books, 1995).

[9]See Pete Earley, Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames (New York: Putnam, 1997).

[10]Werner Stiller, Im Zentrum der Spionage (Mainz, Germany: Hase and Koehler, 1986). The English edition—Beyond The Wall: Memoirs of an East and West German Spy (Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 1992)—was written with Jefferson Adams.

[11]See for example, John O. Koehler, Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000). British author Anthony Glees designates IM as Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter which he translates as “unofficial collaborator.”

[12] For example, Robert Wallace and Keith Melton, Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda (New York: Dutton, 2008).

[13]See: Chapmen Pincher, Their Trade Is Treachery (1981), Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (London: Penguin: 2000).

[14]For more detail on this episode, see Graeme Hunt, Spies And Revolutionaries: A History of New Zealand Subversion (Auckland, NZ: Reed Books Ltd., 2007).

[15]Abdullah Mansur (Bury’s pseudonym), The Land of Uz (London: Macmillan, 1911). A naturalist by training, Bury accepted intelligence tasks from the government when he traveled, though he was not paid.

[16]See for example, Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biogrpahy of T. E. Lawrence (London: Heinemann, 1989), and James Barr, Setting the Desert on Fire: T.E. Lawrence and Britain’s Secret War in Arabia, 1916–1918 (London: Bloomsbury, 2006).

[17]There are also factual errors—Philby was the double-agent, Philby’s father was a communist—that come from unreliable sourcing, in this case Anthony Cave Brown’s book, Treason in the Blood.

[18]See for example, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (London: John Murray, 1990) and Thomas G. Fergusson, British Military Intelligence, 1870-1914: The Development of a Modern Intelligence Organization (Frederick, MD: University Press of America, 1984).

[19]See Christopher Andrew, Her Majesty’s Secret Service (London: Heinemann, 1995)

[20]See Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, A Complete Guide to Heraldry (London: Thomas Nelson, 1925) and John Pottinger and Sir Iain Moncreiffe, Simple Heraldry (London: Thomas Nelson, 1953).

[21]See for example, D. C. Pathak, Intelligence: As Security Weapon (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 2003); Maloy Krishna Dhar, Open Secrets: India’s Intelligence Unveiled (New Delhi: Manas Publications: 2005); Maj. Gen. V. K. Singh, India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 2007).

[Top of page]


All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.


Historical Document
Posted: Sep 16, 2008 01:25 PM
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2008 01:25 PM