Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
The Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf
Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, Charles S. Faddis
Intelligence and National Security Policymaking on Iraq: British and American Perspectives, James P. Pfiffner and Mark Phythian, (eds.)
Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, Mark M. Lowenthal
Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad, Devin R. Springer, James L. Regens, and David N. Edger
The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation, Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman
Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Thomas Graham Jr. and Keith A. Hansen
Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron, Peter Edwards
Hide and Seek: The Search For Truth in Iraq, Charles Duelfer
The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception, H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace
A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, H. P. Albarelli, Jr.
The Shooting Star: Denis Rake, MC, A Clandestine Hero of the Second World War, Geoffrey Elliott
Spying on the Nuclear Bear: Anglo-American Intelligence and the Soviet Bomb, Michael S. Goodman
TRIPLEX: Secrets from the Cambridge Spies, Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev (eds.)
East German Foreign Intelligence: Myth, Reality and Controversy, Thomas Wegener Frills et al. (eds.)
Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence, Jefferson Adams
The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism, Ami Pedahzur
Secrecy and the Media: The Official History of the United Kingdom’s D-Notice System, Nicholas Wilkinson
Charles S. Faddis, Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2010), 183 pp., endnotes, glossary, index.
This book is an argument that the existing Central Intelligence Agency is no longer capable of performing the task for which it was designed and must, rapidly, be replaced. (1)
“The failure of the CIA is structural,” he continues.(7) But replaced with what? Eight of the nine chapters in Beyond Repair deal with supposed existing inadequacies. Faddis offers the OSS, MI6, and other contemporary examples to illustrate what must be done to correct the problems. Chapter 9, “A New OSS,” discusses specific issues that need to be taken up. These include demanding individual initiative as a given, coupled with embracing less risk-averse policies; removing constraints imposed by privacy laws; providing adequate training and language skills; addressing leadership deficiencies; and using nonofficial cover officers. Of equal importance, he suggests, are excessive limits on command authority, the operational damage done by managers without field experience, too much authority allowed to in-country ambassadors, conflicts with the Defense Department, and the difficulties created by a Congress that often confuses oversight with management.
The OSS examples of the right way to run operations — permitting maximum initiative — that Faddis offers include the case of Virginia Hall operating in France behind German lines and Max Corvo operating in Africa and Italy. To illustrate the problem of “calcified” regulations and the value of nonofficial cover, Faddis discusses the case of British agent Sidney Reilly, “Ace of Spies,” who obtained essential details of German naval weapons after getting a job with the German manufacturer and stealing the plans — killing a man in the process. The story may make its point, but the choice of Reilly was a poor one as the operation was complete fantasy.1
Many of the problems that Faddis identifies will be familiar to current and former officers, and he recognizes they are not likely to be solved with a name change. In the final chapter Faddis offers 14 points as guidance for a “new OSS.” Although he begins his book by asserting that CIA’s problems are structural, his descriptions and guidance suggest they are fundamentally people related. If he has got that right, current CIA management could implement solutions. This is an option Beyond Repair does not explore.
James P. Pfiffner and Mark Phythian, eds. Intelligence and National Security Policymaking on Iraq: British and American Perspectives (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008), 296 pp., end of chapter notes, index.
In the age of GOOGLE, those interested in learning how intelligence and policy influenced the decision to go to war in Iraq have more than 2 million choices from which to obtain data. Their difficulty then is one of determining which ones are correct. George Mason University professor James Pfiffner and University of Leicester professor Mark Phythian have solved that problem with their uncommonly fine selection of 13 articles and supporting documents dealing with the key issues and personalities involved.
The 13 authors are a mix of intelligence professionals, academics, and independent scholars. Four of the articles have appeared elsewhere but this does not lessen their value. The topics covered include intelligence decision making and the rationale for war in the United States, Great Britain, and Australia; collection and analysis failures; the politics and psychology of intelligence and intelligence reform; parliamentary and congressional oversight; and the management of public opinion. Four of the five appendices are excerpts from key documents. The fifth is an open letter to then-DCI George Tenet from former intelligence officers.
The tone of the book is positive, which is not to say that one will agree with every assertion. For example, University of Georgia professor Loch Johnson’s comment that most observers agree “that lawmakers are performing below their potential when it comes to intelligence accountability … [and that] oversight remains the neglected stepchild of life on Capitol Hill” is open to challenge.
While most of the material has been discussed in bits and pieces elsewhere, the articles provide a concise and articulate summary. The subtitle of the book is slightly misleading, however, as it excludes mention of the Australian experience that is nicely formulated in a chapter by Professor Rodney Tiffen of the University of Sydney. But overall, this is an excellent book that analyzes, objectively and dispassionately, some of the worst experiences of intelligence professionals and decision makers. There are valuable lessons to be learned by all those who advocate speaking truth to power.
Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 4th edition, (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2008), 364 pp., indices (author & subject), appendices, further readings.
Since the first edition of this book appeared in 1984, former senior CIA analyst Mark Lowenthal has periodically revised the work to reflect changing conditions in the US Intelligence Community. While retaining the basic format, which provides a primer on IC personnel, functions, and organizations, this edition, adds some 30 pages covering the implementation of the reforms following the creation of the office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2004, the ethical issues raised by the war on terrorism, intelligence priorities, and the importance of transnational issues such as WMD and terrorism. There is new material on congressional oversight and a tendency toward politicization, which Lowenthal sees in the declassification of national intelligence estimates to sway opinion. Each chapter concludes with a list of readings, and these too have been updated. Appendix I adds still more readings and Web sites. While chapter 15, “Foreign Intelligence Services,” has been updated, the services included — British, Chinese, French, Israeli, and Russian — are the same as in previous editions. The addition of services from Middle East countries and how al-Qaeda handles the problem would be welcome in future editions.
Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy is now firmly established as the basic introductory text on the intelligence profession. Well written and well documented, it should be kept close to hand by students and the interested general reader alike.
Devin R. Springer, James L. Regens, and David N. Edger, Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009), 320 pp., endnotes, bibliography, glossary, index.
During the Cold War, those concerned with understanding what made a communist tick had to study the writings of Marx, Engels, Trotsky, and Lenin along with Stalin’s speeches and party publications. To grasp Soviet realities it was necessary to study transcripts of purge trials, the memoirs of émigrés and defector, and books by former gulag inmates and former believers. Today, an analogous but far more difficult situation confronts those who seek to comprehend terrorists motivated by a radical Islamic fervor. Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad provides an indispensable foundation for understanding the Islamic threat.
The authors are professors at the University of Oklahoma. Springer is an Arabic linguist and an expert on how the jihadist movement uses the Internet. Regens is an expert in biosecurity and nuclear countermeasures. Former senior CIA officer David Edger brings 35 years of Middle East expertise to the mix. Their approach explains how the “resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism has fostered among some Muslims the belief that a religious war (jihad) is required to fight the infidels” who seek to destroy Islam. The authors do this by clarifying “the nexus between global jihad and Islamic radicalism, including the use of terrorism, as a basis for restoring the caliphate.” (1)
After discussing the philosophical foundations of jihad — the authors address the major elements of jihadist ideology, doctrine, strategy, and tactics as expressed in jihadist writings, Web sites and al-Qaeda. There follow chapters on strategic vision, organizational dynamics, recruitment and training, operations and tactics, and the challenge to intelligence, which, they conclude, is “serious but not insurmountable…with respect to generating credible information.” (226) The final chapter is the authors’ perspective on a strategy to successfully counter global jihad, assuming no alteration in US policy — especially with respect to Israel — a continuing rise in political Islam, and a lengthy battle. They stress the importance of understanding vulnerabilities on both sides and the effective use of our national resources.
Islamic Radicalism and Global Jihad is not light reading. The rationale expressed in the writings that motivate the radicals, while clearly expressed, will not be familiar to those accustomed to Western thinking. But the benefit is worth the effort, because it is essential to know one’s enemy.
Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman, The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation (Minneapolis, MN: Zenith Press, 2009), 392 pp, footnotes, appendices, index.
The nuclear train wreck metaphor hinted at in the title and made explicit in the prologue of this somewhat alarmist book is illustrated by describing the damage that would have been done had Ramzi Yousef used a 5-kiloton nuclear weapon instead of fertilizer in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — millions dead in devastation reaching Central Park. The authors drive home the point adding a quote from Harvard professor Graham Allison: “The detonation of a terrorist nuclear device in an American city is inevitable if the U.S. continues on the present course.” (4)
The authors, both experienced nuclear weapons specialists, go on to review the history of nuclear weapons development in all countries that have them or have sought to acquire them since the end of WW II. They also look closely at the political motivations of nations that seek to circumvent international agreements and complicate efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons.
In discussing the Soviet Union’s program, they digress and speculate about a supposed Soviet agent at the nuclear weapons laboratory in Los Alamos in the 1940s and 50s, whom the authors came to suspect after the VENONA material was released in the mid-1990s. They call him “Arthur Fielding” but decline to mention his true name, which they say they know, or to describe his espionage activities. They claim Morris Cohen, a well-known KGB agent, recruited him and gave him the code name PERSEUS. They go on to acknowledge and then dismiss the positions of some historians who consider PERSEUS a KGB myth. Unfortunately, the authors provide no sourcing for their digression. Readers will get different perspectives on the subject by consulting other treatments.2
The authors recommend stiff policies to control nuclear weapons and prevent their acquisition by Islamic radicals. Their primary concern is a potential linkup of North Korea, Iran, and China The solution: a more realistic energy policy, strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency, taking China more seriously, and fixing the broken Intelligence Community, which is “disconnected at the top, arrogant at the bottom…and needs to refocus its efforts from the Cold War instruments…to human intelligence on the scene.” (326–7). The Nuclear Express lays out the problems but invokes less confidence in the solutions it outlines.
Thomas Graham, Jr. and Keith A. Hansen. Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 300 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, index.
The end of the Cold War reduced the threat of superpower nuclear catastrophe but the potential for clandestine proliferation of WMD by nation states persisted. The problem was compounded after 9/11, when al-Qaeda’s intention to obtain and use WMD became a priority concern. In Preventing Catastrophe, two skilled analysts provide the background necessary to understand the new circumstances and the steps required to improve the intelligence-policy aspects of counterproliferation in the future.
The first four chapters discuss the types of WMD, the problems of detecting and monitoring secret programs, the US record of accomplishment in this area (mixed), and the role that intelligence is supposed to play. Chapter 5 gives a real-world example of how the intelligence-policy community stumbled badly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, identifies principal causes (failure to validate sources and politicization, the authors argue), and suggests lessons for the future. Chapter 6 considers the tools available “to limit and, if possible, reverse” proliferation in the future (5). Then follow two unnumbered chapters. The first addresses whether or not it is possible to prevent proliferation; the second looks at what might happen if the attempts fail. The 15 appendices discuss specific proliferation issues in greater detail. Topics include technical details of various types of WMD, the estimative process (with examples of estimates themselves), presidential influence, the role of the UN, and the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
Preventing Catastrophe stresses the need for a healthy intelligence-policy relationship when addressing the complexities of WMD proliferation. But it is particularly important for students of the issue — the analysts of the future — who lack the historical knowledge needed to deal with a problem whose parameters change frequently and is of critical importance in the international arena.[Top of page]
Peter Edwards, Delusion: The True Story of Victorian Superspy Henri Le Caron (Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2008), 344 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
The life of Henri Le Caron, according to author Peter Edwards, is best characterized by the term delusion: fooling oneself or others with false impressions or deception. Born in London in 1841 and christened Thomas Beach, Le Caron, as he is known to history, compensated for a lack of formal education with a grand sense of adventure. Leaving home for Paris as a teenager, he did odd jobs until beckoned to America by the Civil War. In the United States he adopted the name Le Caron and enlisted in the Union army, joining the Irish Brigade. He survived Antietam but was captured by the Confederates, only to escape with the help of a young lady who would become his lifelong wife. After the war he became an agent for the Fenian movement, which was promoting revolution in Ireland. He went to medical school, was arrested for grave robbing, and escaped again. Le Caron continued to spy for the Irish cause in Canada, the United States, Ireland, and England until 1889, when in a London open court trial of Irish “terrorists” he testified that he had been an agent for Scotland Yard all along.
In his telling, Edwards adds much history of the Fenian movement and its struggles. In addition, he corrects the many embellishments found in Le Caron’s 1892 memoir, Twenty-Five Years in the Secret Service: The Recollections of a Spy, and draws parallels with modern terrorist organizations. Delusion is a well-documented corrective to an intriguing spy story.
Charles Duelfer, Hide and Seek: The Search For Truth in Iraq (New York: PublicAffairs, 2009), 523 pp., endnotes, photos, index.
After nearly six years in the Office of Management and Budget and 10 years in the State Department, Charles Duelfer became deputy executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), whose mission was to determine the state of Iraq’s WMD program after Iraq was forced out of Kuwait in 1991. As UNSCOM conducted inspections toward that end for the next nine years, Duelfer became the American with the most experience in Iraq. After US entry into Iraq in 2003, George Tenet tapped Duelfer to head the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group (ISG), charged with locating Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Hide and Seek is an account of both missions, which he defined as seeking the truth.
Duelfer writes that his UNSCOM experience was marked by bureaucratic frustration by the UN, persistent obstruction by the Saddam regime, and difficulties created by “extraordinarily ignorant” leaders in the White House and the Department of Defense. (xiii). It is also the story of data collection and analysis based on the results of surprise on-site inspections, defector interviews, contacts with friendly Iraqis, and input from friendly intelligence services — Great Britain and Israel, among others. The Iraqis resisted disclosing WMD data unless given no alternative. The case of Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, who defected to Jordan in 1995, is an example. Faced with the reality of what he would disclose, Saddam revealed a million and a half pages of WMD documents stored at Kamel’s chicken farm, which the Iraqis claimed they had only just learned about from one of Kamal’s girlfriends. Duelfer concluded the documents were part of a formal government attempt to keep them secret until the defection forced Baghdad to reveal them. (112) Kamel’s sudden redefection and execution was a surprise to all and raised further doubts about the data he provided. Duelfer reports that his behavior may have been due in part to a brain tumor operation he had undergone. (115)
Duelfer explains that his time with UNSCOM had been too controversial to expect he would be part of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission UNMOVIC — UNSCOM’s successor between 1998 and the US invasion — or the State Department for that matter. His new assignment was as a scholar in residence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But he remained in contact with the Iraq Operations Group at CIA and eventually deployed to Iraq with a CIA team after Baghdad had been secured in 2003. The chapters he devotes to this period are harshly critical of the Defense Department, especially its reliance on Ahmed Chalabi, who promised so much after the fall of Iraq and produced nothing but problems. The decisions to dismiss the Iraqi army and the Baath Party come in for equally severe criticism.
By July 2003, Duelfer realized his CIA work in Iraq was complete and he once again took an academic sabbatical, this time to Princeton. In January 2005, he was back at CIA as the new head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG). His mission from George Tenet was to find the truth in Iraq. Were WMD being hidden? Had there ever been any? By December 2005 he had answered the questions. In between, his team had discovered indications of experiments with ricin — left over from before the first Iraq war — dealt with an IED containing a nerve gas, reported to Congress that Iraq had not restarted its WMD programs, and survived a suicide bomber’s attempt on his life that killed two of his military escorts. The final chapter is a tribute to their memory.
Hide and Seek is much more than a record of Duelfer’s dogged, frustrating, and ultimately successful WMD efforts. His insights about intelligence analysis, interrogation techniques, the value of experience in the field, the penalties for inadequate planning, the need to pursue all diplomatic avenues, and the limits of the UN Security Council are worthy of serious thought. Similar conditions may be encountered in the future.
H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace, The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception (New York: William Morrow, 2009), 248 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, no index.
In his foreword to this volume, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin, an amateur magician himself, writes that “magic and espionage are really kindred arts.” (xi) The CIA had recognized this fact in the 1950s when, as part of the MKULTRA project, they hired magician John Mulholland to help teach young officers tricks of deception for use in the field. As part of his contract, Mulholland prepared two training manuals, Some Operational Applications of the Art of Deception and Recognition Signals. In 1973 when then-DCI Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all documents associated with the MKULTRA program, the manuals were thought to be gone forever. Then, in 2007, as he was going through some unrelated documents, Robert Wallace, a former director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services, discovered references to the manuals and tracked down poor-quality copies of each that had somehow escaped the weeding. Since portions of the manuals had been referred to in a published work, Wallace thought publication of the complete versions was warranted. With his coauthor, intelligence historian and collector Keith Melton, Wallace wrote an introduction to the manuals and commissioned illustrations. The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception was the result.
The introduction reviews the MKULTRA program and the clandestine operational concepts and devices that resulted. They include illustrations of stage deception — for example, Houdini’s walk through a wall — and details on Mulholland’s use of real coins “to create espionage magic.” (57) They also provide biographical information on Mulholland and other key personnel.
The first manual discusses deception and the handling of liquids and tablets, surreptitious removal of objects, deception for women, teamwork, and the importance of rehearsals. The second manual considers cleaver recognition signals — lacing shoes in a special way, placing pens in pockets, using special wrapping for packages, and the like. While some techniques, flowers in the buttonholes, for example, might not be practical today, the principles are clear.
In addition to satisfying inherent interest in the topic, The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception fills a historical gap. It is an unexpected and valuable contribution.
H. P. Albarelli, Jr., A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments (Walterville, OR: Trine Day LLC, 2009), 826 pp., endnotes, appendices, photos, index.
In the early morning of 28 November 1953, Frank Olson, an army scientist working at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, plunged to the street below his hotel room window on the 13th floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City. When the night manager reached him, Olson tried to speak, but he expired without saying a word. (18) His death was ruled a suicide, but the circumstances surrounding the death have been disputed ever since. The conventional wisdom is that Olson was the victim of a CIA LSD experiment gone awry.3 Olson’s son, Eric, eventually came to suspect a more sinister explanation and had his father’s body exhumed 40 years later for a new forensic study. Journalist Hank Albarelli began his own investigation in 1994 after reading about the exhumation in the Washington Post.4A Terrible Mistake presents his conclusion: Frank Olson was murdered by two CIA employees to keep him from revealing secrets.
Eric Olson had reached the same conclusion based on extensive tests performed on his father’s body. After contacting Eric and interviewing others involved with case, Albarelli reached a tipping point in his investigation in 1995 when he had a serendipitous encounter with two fishermen in Key West, Florida. During their conversation, Albarelli mentioned he was investigating the Olson case. The fishermen then revealed that they were former CIA employees and had known Olson. Promised confidentiality, they gave Albarelli the names of others involved, and he interviewed them all.
By 1999, Olson’s son had persuaded New York City District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau to reopen the investigation into his father’s death. According to Albarelli, detectives on the case reached him the next year and were told of the two “fishermen.” (2) The two claimed through a letter sent to Albarelli (688) that Olson, unwittingly to him, had indeed been given LSD, mixed with the stimulant pipradol (meretran) to facilitate an interrogation of him, but he showed “no lasting reaction.” (693) Further inquiries revealed that Olson was upset because he had talked to “the wrong people” concerning allegations that the Army and CIA had conducted an experiment in France and subjected an entire town to LSD, supposedly sickening many people and killing several. (690)
On the night in question, Olson was to stay in the hotel before flying to Maryland the next day for treatment. When his roommate and minder concluded he was “becoming unhinged,” it was decided to drive him to Maryland that night and two “CIA employees” were called to collect him. When he resisted, “things went drastically wrong…and in the ensuing struggle he was pitched through the closed window.” (692–93) The “sources” said only that the minder “was awake and out of the way.” When Albarelli refused to identify his “CIA sources,” the district attorney dropped the case.
That, in short, is the Albarelli account. Has he got it right? The author’s endnotes suggest the answer: There aren’t any worthy of the name, and some chapters have none at all. With a very few exceptions, the book’s many quotes, pages of dialogue, and the documents described cannot be associated with references listed in the notes. Moreover, some notes cover topics not even mentioned in the chapter they are tied to.5 With such notes, readers will be left wondering how to know what Albarelli writes is accurate.
Potential readers should also know that less than a third of this book is about the Olson case. The balance is a rehash of CIA mind-control experiments that have been in the public domain for years. Albarelli struggles mightily to link the program and Olson’s death with North Korean brainwashing; the Kennedy assassination; attempts on Castro’s life; the Mafia; Watergate; the suicides of James Forrestal, James Kronthal (a CIA officer), and Bill Hayward (an associate producer of Easy Rider), and the death of William Colby. (705) But it is all speculation, and the sourcing of this part of the book is as bad as the rest. Conspiracy theorists will no doubt overlook these weaknesses. Those who demand documentation for such serious charges will discover that investing time to find it in Albarelli’s narrative would be a terrible mistake.
Geoffrey Elliott, The Shooting Star: Denis Rake, MC, A Clandestine Hero of the Second World War (London: Methuen, 2009), 251 pp., footnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
In 1950 Denis Rake was the butler in the household of actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., When Fairbanks saw a letter addressed to “Major Denis Rake, MC,” he was astonished, as nothing his butler had ever said suggested he had served in WW II, let alone received a military cross for gallantry. When queried, Rake gradually revealed his exploits while in the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Fairbanks encouraged him to write a memoir, and it was published in 1968.6 Geoffrey Elliott became interested in the story after discovering variations in Rake’s account and the versions included in books written by those with whom he served. When the British National Archives released the SOE files he was able to sort out the discrepancies. The Shooting Star is the result.
When war broke out, Rake enlisted in the army. He barely survived the evacuation of British troops from France in 1940. Separated from his unit, he got aboard the overloaded HMT Lancastria, which Luftwaffe dive bombers promptly sank. He was among the few survivors of the attack, which killed thousands. Undaunted, he volunteered for SOE and was accepted.
Most SOE officers were college educated and many had substantial prior military service. Denis met neither criterion; in fact, he was a most unlikely candidate. He was middle aged, of uncertain parentage, had spent years in the circus and London theater, and was openly homosexual at a time when that was not accepted behavior. But he had three things in his favor: He was fluent in French, had been trained in Morse code, and he had volunteered as an interpreter at the start of the war, when the need was great. After training, he was landed in France in May 1942 and served as a clandestine radio operator for Virginia Hall, an American then working with SOE resistance networks. After the Allied invasion of North Africa and the Nazi occupation of southern France, Rake escaped over the Pyrenees. After a period in a Spanish jail, he returned to London. The demand for radio operators had not diminished, and Rake — by this time a major — returned to France in 1944, where he served with the FREELANCE network as radio operator for Nancy Wake. It was at this time that he was involved in heavy fighting. Wake described Rake’s gallant service in her own memoir.7
Elliott used the archival records to correct the discrepancies and embellishments found in Rake’s own memoir and other stories about him.8 He also documents the operations and frequent close calls that were a part of Rake’s daily life with the resistance. After the war, Rake served briefly with the Secret Intelligence Service in Paris before returning to civilian life in Britain. He had earned the admiration of all who served with him. He faded from public view until the publication of his memoirs and a French movie based on them in which he made a cameo appearance. Denis Rake died in obscurity in 1976. The Shooting Star sets the record straight for this war hero.
Michael S. Goodman, Spying on the Nuclear Bear: Anglo-American Intelligence and the Soviet Bomb (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 295 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
In his 1996 book, Stalin and the Bomb, David Holloway asked, “What role did espionage play in the Soviet nuclear project?”9 His answer, in the era before release of the VENONA decrypts, was understandably incomplete. Spying on the Nuclear Bear attempts to flesh out Holloway’s answer by examining detection, monitoring, and estimative efforts as they influenced the often bumpy Anglo-American nuclear relationship from 1945 to 1958.
In the first two chapters, author Michael Goodman, a lecturer at Kings College London, looks at the origins and development of the Soviet nuclear program, the British-American efforts to learn about it, and the consequences of the surprise Soviet explosion of their first atomic bomb — Joe-1 — in 1949. In his introductory comments about chapter 3, “Atomic Spies and Defectors,” Goodman asserts that “a characteristic of the 1950–54 period was the success of Soviet espionage in penetrating British and American political, scientific, and intelligence circles.” (2) In the chapter itself, he discusses specific agents, Klaus Fuchs, Bruno Pontecorvo, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross and Ted Hall.
But historians of espionage may take issue with aspects of this assessment. For example, the characteristic of Soviet atomic espionage in the 1950–54 period was failure, not success.10 By that time, each of those mentioned had been identified and dealt with. Moreover, Goodman does not refer to the impact of GRU defector Igor Gouzenko or the Rosenbergs that, together with VENONA, brought Soviet atomic espionage to a halt by the end of the 1940s. Finally, his assertion that “it was not until Kim Philby had been identified as a a Soviet spy that British intelligence realized just how extensive Soviet espionage was,” is just not supported by the facts.(84) The Soviet atom spies had all been neutralized by then.11
Spying on the Nuclear Bear goes on to give a fair and interesting account of the impact of the Soviet nuclear program on British-American relations and atomic intelligence in the early missile age. In the process it discusses the personalities involved, the various collection programs, and their influence on the estimates produced. Of equal value are the analyses of Anglo-American relations concerning the strategic value of the atom bomb, the comparison of US and UK estimative methodology, and the technical and political issues involved. As to the role of intelligence with regard to the atomic threat, the impact of the espionage cases should be assessed with caution, though the contributions of the technical sources of intelligence are on point.
Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev, eds., TRIPLEX: Secrets from the Cambridge Spies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 363 pp., index.
In their 1999 book, Crown Jewels, Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev discussed a variety of KGB operations based on material from the KGB archives, some provided originally by the Cambridge Five.12 The appendix reproduced some documents furnished by Blunt and Philby. The present volume reproduces still more material they provided.
TRIPLEX was the code name given to a secret MI5 operation during WWII that illegally acquired material from diplomatic bags of neutral missions. (To this day the code name has never been mentioned in any official or unofficial history of British intelligence, not even in Chris Andrew’s Defense of the Realm.) The operation itself was supervised by Anthony Blunt, who forwarded selected copies to Moscow. Some of the documents are reproduced in part I of the present volume. They include Swedish naval attaché reports, a report of Japanese networks in the United Kingdom, comments on neutral attachés in London, notes on the invasion plans, a list of agents being run by MI5 in various London missions, and the first draft of the then secret MI5 history. A much expanded version of the latter document was released and published in 1999 with some redactions that Blunt did not excise from his copy.13
But TRIPLEX, the book, includes more than the Blunt material. Part II, about half the book, is devoted to materials Philby supplied to his Soviet masters. Included here are reports on attempts to break Soviet codes, comments on SIS personnel and operations, a memo discussing efforts to penetrate Russia, and SIS codes and plans for anti-Soviet operations. Part III of the book reproduces four documents supplied by John Cairncross, one of them about Philby, who Cairncross did not know at the time was also a Soviet agent. Part IV of TRIPLEX departs from the “what the British agents provided” theme and reproduces six documents prepared by NKVD analysts that assess some of the material the Cambridge spies furnished.
TRIPLEX is a unique and valuable addition to the intelligence literature, perhaps the last from this source. It leaves no doubt about the damage moles can do when placed at the heart of an intelligence service.[Top of page]
Thomas Wegener Frills, Kristie Macrakis and Helmut Müller-Enbergs, eds., East German Foreign Intelligence: Myth, Reality and Controversy (London: Routledge, 2010), 272 pp., end of chapter notes, indices (people, places, cover and operation names)
Western historians studying the intelligence services of the former Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact surrogates have in most cases been dependent on data provided by defectors; the cases of former agents that became public; released SIGINT material, for example, VENONA; and the memoirs of intelligence officers. East German Foreign Intelligence is a refreshing exception. Using the files of the East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi) that became available after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic, the authors address two questions: How did the domestic security and foreign intelligence services of Stasi operate and how effective were they? To add perspective, the book also discusses the roles of the West German intelligence service (BND) and Soviet military intelligence service (GRU). Its 13 chapters are divided in three parts: intelligence and counterintelligence, political intelligence, and scientific-technical and military intelligence. Its authors come from seven countries: the United States, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Russia. The group is a mix of intelligence research scholars, academics, and former intelligence officers.
Part I starts with an overview of the KGB’s recovery from agent losses as a result of postwar defections and the VENONA material, showing how it recovered its operational effectiveness and how it imposed its influence over the East European nations under its control. Several authors document pre–Berlin Wall successes of the Western services, the CIA among them. Former CIA historian Ben Fischer looks at the other side of that story, demonstrating how the CIA became “deaf, dumb and blind” in East Germany as the Stasi improved its operational skills. Robert Livingston, senior fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC discusses the principal source material in his article “Rosenholz” (Rosewood) and explains why the documents created a controversy between the CIA and the BND.
In part II, University of Leiden professor Beatrice de Graaf takes an unusual view of East German intelligence activities in an article that examines them in each phase of the intelligence cycle. Professor Thomas Friis, from the University of Southern Denmark, explains the importance of East German espionage operations in Denmark. In part III, Georgia Tech professor Kristie Macrakis looks at the importance of scientific intelligence, while Matthias Uhl, a researcher at the German Historical Institute in Moscow, examines the GRU and its influence on the Berlin Crisis. The book concludes with a look at the BND and its struggles from 1946 to 1994.
East German Foreign Intelligence solidly documents what a dedicated and determined intelligence service, free of the constraints of democratic society, can accomplish. As a work of research and analysis, the book is a benchmark for historians and intelligence professionals.
Jefferson Adams, Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2009), 543 pp., bibliography, appendices, chronology, no index.
The Historical Dictionary series on intelligence services is intended to provide a single reference that covers the missions, personnel, operations, organizations, and technical terms that define the services of various countries. In this volume Jefferson Adams, professor of history and international relations at Sarah Lawrence College, has done just that in exemplary fashion. His chronology, which begins in 1782, lists major events in German intelligence history from then until the present. The introduction adds descriptive detail about the formative figures and principal organizations in the evolution of the German services. The dictionary portion has more than 1,000 entries that focus on Germany — East and West — but also includes some Austrian organizations and operations. In many instances new details are added to familiar cases. One example is the fact that Wolfgang zu Putlitz, a British agent who penetrated Nazi embassies in London and The Hague, also worked briefly for the OSS. Likewise, Adams identifies the man behind the Zimmermann telegram. There are also entries about lesser known spies, for example, James Sattler, an American recruited by the Stasi. The appendices list the heads of the various services beginning with the Austro-Hungarian Evidence Büro. There is an excellent bibliographic essay, followed by entries that concentrate on the Cold War period and the modern services.
Some may wish that terrorist operations and technical equipment developed by the services had received greater emphasis, but there is no doubt that Professor Adams has produced a major contribution to the literature of intelligence.
Ami Pedahzur, The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 215 pp., endnotes, bibliography, glossary, index.
“The literature of counterterrorism makes an analytical distinction between the war model, the criminal-justice and the reconciliatory model.” After defining each one, University of Texas professor, Ami Pedahzur, adds a fourth: the defensive model. (1) From these facts alone, it is safe to conclude he is a practicing political scientist — this is confirmed on the fly leaf. And carrying on in that tradition, he has produced an excellent study of the Israeli intelligence services and their battle against terrorism. At the outset, Professor Pedahzur makes three important assertions. First, Israel applies the war model to combat terrorism — kill the enemy until peace is achieved — but it hasn’t worked. Second, Israel has never developed a coherent doctrine for dealing with terrorism. And third, “terrorism, in most cases, should not be considered a major threat to national security of a country.” (10)
After a brief review of the origins of Israel and its intelligence services, Professor Pedahzur describes typical acts of terror that began when Israel become a nation and to which Israel often responded in kind — the war model. A sea change in tactics occurred after the Munich Olympics in 1972, when Israeli athletes were massacred and Mossad responded with Operation Wrath of God — an operation that targeted for assassination all the terrorists involved. It was only partially successful, and that makes the author’s point: the war model doesn’t bring peace, more likely it brings more terrorism. Several other operations, including four well-known rescue operations, are described in detail to emphasize this point. In the development of these stories, Pedahzur provides insightful attention to the organizational battles of the intelligence services — their struggle for power and position is a universal phenomenon.
Citing contemporary events, Professor Pedahzur, goes on to show how Israel has gradually adopted elements of the defensive model — the building of a wall, seeking negotiations, establishing diplomatic relations with recognizing Egypt and Jordan — though this has not defeated the terrorists either. What to do? In the end the author recommends applying a mix of the four models as circumstances demand and allow, but he does not promise success.
The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism is a well-documented exposition of the problem and what has and has not worked in efforts to resolve it. Whatever the ultimate solution, he is convinced that use of the war model alone will only prolong the conflict.
Nicholas Wilkinson, Secrecy and the Media: The Official History of the United Kingdom’s D-Notice System (London: Routledge, 2009), 613 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.
The British, it is said, taught the Americans everything the Americans know about intelligence, but not everything the British knew. Whether this applied to controlling what intelligence officers could publish is unknown, but the practice the OSS adopted during WWII did follow the British precedent — publish nothing. The only known exception to this policy occurred in October 1944, when an article attacking the Soviet conspiracy in America, by former Red Army general and then OSS officer, Alexander Barmine, appeared in the Reader’s Digest. Barmine was dismissed the next day.
During the war both countries imposed strict censorship to prevent damage. In the postwar world some form of prepublication review was implemented. In the British case, dealing with the media to prevent publication of information potentially damaging to national security was accomplished through the D-Notice System. The Americans found this precedent “impossible to implement.” (382) Secrecy and the Media presents the official history of the so-called D-Notice System and, in the process, confirms the American judgment.
From 1999 to 2004, author Nicholas Wilkinson served as secretary to the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC), the body that oversees what is informally called the D-Notice System. In practice the system represents a “compact between the British Government and the British media to prevent inadvertent damage to national security through public disclosure of highly sensitive information.” (xi) Participation is strictly voluntary. The committee is composed of media members and government representatives. When an issue arises, it is discussed among the members and if possible a solution agreed to. But where judgments differ, the editor involved has the final decision. After publication, if circumstances warrant, the government can resort to legal action under the Official Secrets Act.
Secrecy and the Media reviews the historical origins of the system, which follows closely the growth of the press beginning in the 18th century. In those days there was no formal way to prevent publication of information useful to the enemy, and a reporter’s judgment was not always in the military’s interest. In 1810, the Duke of Wellington could only complain to the War Office when newspapers reported fortification details. Later, a frustrated Sir Herbert Kitchener vented his anger with reporters by addressing them as “you drunken swabs.” (4) In 1912, with WW I looming, the first “D-Notice’ committee to prevent damaging disclosures was established. Wilkinson traces the committee’s evolution in great detail from then until 1997.
Some examples of the D-Notice System in action will illustrate how it differs from the US approach. The first book considered for clearance by the Committee in 1945, They Came to Spy, was submitted voluntarily by its author, Stanley Firmin. It was published in 1947. This practice continues to this day. Historian Nigel West has submitted each of his books. Journalist Chapman Pincher, on the other hand, has submitted none. In preparation for the trial of KGB agent and MI6 officer George Blake, a D-Notice was issued asking the media not to mention his MI6 and Foreign Office connections. It was uniformly honored. But a D-Notice prohibiting mention of serving intelligence officers was ignored in the case of a book, The Espionage Establishment, by Americans David Wise and Thomas Ross that included the names of the heads of MI5 and MI6, then not permitted in the UK. Section 7 of Secrecy and the Media deals with the “Lohan Affair,” a complex case involving author Chapman Pincher, Prime Minister Harold Wilson, editors, and politicians and illustrates the sometimes bitter battles the system allows. Examples of D-Notices are given in appendix 3.
In the final chapter, Wilkinson notes that while the history ends in 1997, the D-Notice System continues to operate and evolve in the internet-terrorism era — it now has its own Web page: http://www.dnotice.org.uk. Secrecy and the Media is documented by official sources that are cited. It should be of great interest to all those concerned with national security, intelligence, and freedom of the press.[Top of page]
1For details on the realities of Reilly’s exploits, see: Andrew Cook, On His Majesty’s Secret Service: The True Story of Sidney Reilly Ace of Spies (Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing, 2002). 238–39. This well-documented account shows that the story of Reilly in the shipyard could not have happened.
10For details see: John Haynes and Harvey Klehr, VENONA: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999); Nigel West, VENONA: The Greatest Secret of the Cold War (London: HarperCollins, 1999).[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.