Volume 51, No. 2 (June 2007)

The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf

Volume 51, No. 2

Intelligence in Recent Public Literature
Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake
Enemies: How America’s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets-and How We Let It Happen — Bill Gertz
Inside The Jihad: My Life with Al-Qaeda: A Spy’s Story — Omar Nasiri
Intelligence in an Insecure World — Peter Gill and Peter Phythian
JIHAD Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US — Steven Emerson
Safe For Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA — John Prados
Shopping For Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity and the Rise and Fall of the A. Q. Kahn Network — Gordon Corera
Terrorism and Espionage in the Middle East: Deception, Displacement, and Denial — H.H.A. Cooper and Lawrence J. Redlinger
Triple Cross: How Bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI–and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him — Peter Lance
General Intelligence
Anticipating Surprise; Analysis for Strategic Warning — Cynthia M. Grabo
Handbook of Intelligence Studies — Loch Johnson (ed.)
Warning Analysis for the Information Age: Rethinking the Intelligence Process — John W. Bodnar
Churchill’s Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence — Gill Bennett
Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey — Bayard Stockton
Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counterintelligence — Nigel West
Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence — Nigel West
The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud — Brian Garfield
Spying For Empire: The Great Game in Central and South Asia, 1757-1947 — Robert Johnson
True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy — Scott W. Carmichael
Intelligence Services Abroad
At Her Majesty’s Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain’s Intelligence Agency — Nigel West

Bill Gertz, Enemies: How America’s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets–and How We Let It Happen (New York: Crown Forum, 2006), appendices, index.
In Enemies, Gertz uses case studies and interviews with counterintelligence (CI) experts to make the case that there are critical shortcoming in US CI efforts. Some of the case studies are well known, including Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and STAKEKNIFE–a British penetration of the IRA.1 Less so are the cases of agents recruited by North Korea, China, Cuba, the Philippines, and Al Qa’ida. His interview subjects include former key players Michelle Van Cleave, former director of the National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX) (whose article on strategic counterintelligence appears in this issue), Richard Haver, formerly with the Defense Department and Intelligence Community Management Staff, and David Szady, former special agent with FBI’s CI unit.
The chapter on North Korea shows a surprisingly high level of activity and describes its troubling and little-known “rendition” efforts. Chinese espionage cases the book documents include the PARLOR MAID (Katrina Leung) case. Treated in more than a chapter, it is the most detailed treatment of the case to date. The Chinese effort to acquire US technology is described in the chapter devoted to the RED FLOWER operation. Gertz devotes a chapter to Americans who have been caught spying for the Chinese, including three former CIA officers who were caught but for various reasons were never prosecuted. Russia’s intense post-Cold War espionage efforts are described in another chapter.
Enemies includes a chapter on DIA officer, Ana Montes, who spied for Cuba, and contains material–albeit unattributed–from Scott W. Carmichael’s book True Believer: The Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy, also reviewed in this issue. To underline weakness in current FBI CI abilities, Gertz devotes a chapter to Brian Kelly, the CIA officer wrongly suspected for three years of committing the espionage eventually traced to Hanssen. Gertz gets the details of the case right, but even he cannot explain how experienced FBI special agents could have been blind to evidence pointing to Hanssen for so long.
Oddly, it seems, Gertz treats cases in which agents were caught or confessed–presumed successes–yet he argues that “FBI is out of control” (199) and American CI isn’t doing anything right, largely because it takes too long to catch the culprits, a problem he blames on the lack of high-level attention. Like others before him, Gertz argues that more resources, better leadership, and proactive programs are needed.
Omar Nasiri, Inside The Jihad: My Life with Al-Qaeda: A Spy’s Story (New York: Perseus Books Group, 2006), 337 pp., glossary, maps, index.
Omar Nasiri, a pseudonym, was a multi-lingual walk-in to the offices of DGSE (the French foreign intelligence service) in Belgium in the mid 1990s. A Moroccan member of the Algerian terrorist organization Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA), Nasiri was something of a maverick–he drank, smoked, went to night clubs, and enjoyed western women; attributes he never gave up. To maintain his lifestyle–and replace the money he had stolen from his GIA cell–he sold his services to the DGSE. For the next six years he reported on the cell’s operations and membership, which included two of his brothers and his mother. Incredibly, Nasiri claims to have admitted to two cell members that he had contacted the DGSE. He asked for forgiveness and submitted to a test of his allegiance by successfully smuggling guns into Algeria, a feat that surprised his colleagues. When members of the Brussels cell were arrested, Omar “escaped.” The DGSE helped him reach Pakistan and from there Afghanistan. He was trained in weapons and explosives in Al Qa’ida training camps for more than a year.
Nasiri’s first Al Qa’ida assignment was to form a sleeper cell of Islamist recruits in London. He informed the DGSE, which, jointly with MI6 and MI5 in London, controlled his activities. These included attendance at local Mosques that served as sources of recruits. At some point he learned that members of his Belgian cell who who knew of his DGSE links were to be released from jail, and, fearing exposure and reprisal, he asked for and was denied French asylum and protection. Instead, he went to Germany to stay with a German girl he had met and whom he eventually married. The Germans were no more helpful than the French, however, and he was denied permanent resident status. Thus forced into menial work cleaning toilets he decided to write Inside the Jihad for the money and revenge. Not surprisingly, then, the book is hard on the DGSE, which Nasiri says “hung him out to dry” after faithful service.
Is his story true? The BBC thought it was good enough for a 45 minute documentary in November 2006. His US publisher said the facts they could check, for example the story of the cell members arrests, checked out. They also consulted former CIA terrorist specialist Mike Scheuer, who said the training story rang true.2
Nasiri concludes his memoirs by noting that “I am a Muslim. And to this day I would go to war for my faith…. Part of me remains a mujahid. I think the United States and all the others should get off our land, and stay off. I think they should stop interfering in the politics of the Muslim nations. I think they should leave us alone. And when they don’t they should be killed, because that is what happens to invading armies and occupiers.” (318-19) This we can believe.
Peter Gill and Peter Phythian, Intelligence in an Insecure World (Malden, MA: 2006), 228 pp., endnotes, bibliography, index.
The conventional wisdom among academics working on intelligence holds that the British have tended to focus on the history of the profession while their colleagues in the United States write more about intelligence processes. The British authors of this volume have broken that mold. They argue that in the post 9/11 and 7/7 world “a systematic analysis of intelligence structure and processes is long overdue” and it should not be left to insiders to accomplish the task. “It is clear,” they state, “from both the regularity and costs of intelligence failures, that intelligence is too important to be left to the spooks.” (172) The authors would correct that error by outsourcing.
They get off to a weak start by justifying the need for outside help, citing specific intelligence failures, many of which weren’t. They even resort to quoting Aldrich Ames, after his conviction, although others more reputable are also included. They also contend that an intelligence theory must be developed and offer a redefinition of intelligence that demands it. Unfortunately, counterintelligence and covert action are excluded, though the latter is discussed in the text. The theory, based on the conventional intelligence cycle, involves adopting political and social science concepts not often encountered in the study of intelligence-positivism, modernism, postmodernism, critical realism, and surveillance, the latter in a context completely different from how that term is normally used by intelligence officers.
The authors then apply these concepts to each step of the intelligence cycle using familiar examples of failures and problems. But in the end, the reader is left wondering just how their ideas for a “more self-consciously analytical and theoretical” approach to intelligence will help–no examples are given. Ambiguity also follows their conclusion that “citizens have been excluded for too long from any knowledge of intelligence policies and practices.” (172) While the existence of this book and its bibliography suggest otherwise, it is by no means clear the objective is a worthy one. Intelligence in an Insecure World may help clarify the nature of the gap between intelligence professionals and elements of academia, but it does not close it.
Steven Emerson, JIHAD Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2006), 535 pp., end of chapter notes, photos, index.
In his 2002 book, American JIHAD, journalist Steven Emerson, reported on the extensive terrorist networks in 11 American cities.3 He presented unequivocal evidence that “infiltration of radical Islamism into our Society” was an ongoing reality as early as 1992. He concluded that, despite the successful arrests and trials that followed the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, further investigation of the organizations that carried it out might have prevented the 9/11 attack. In the post 9/11 world, Emerson decided to tackle that problem with his own organization, The Investigative Project on Terrorism. In the five years since, despite new laws and organizational changes in the United States, he concludes the problem has not been solved and in many ways has grown worse. JIHAD Incorporated reports the current situation and tries to answer the question: “to what extent does radical Islamic activity in the United States today pose a threat to national security at home and abroad?” (21) In searching for an answer, it should be kept in mind that Jihad is an old, well established and uniquely Islamic institution that regulates, with its own rules, the relations of Muslims with non-Muslims to this day.
This book has three parts. The first looks at al Qa’ida in the United States. The second examines other terrorist networks operating here–Hamas, Hizballah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Pakistani Jihadist Network. These he says are well trained and ready to “fight for Jihad.” The third part is the largest, covering networked groups operating in the United States–charities, foundations, and benevolence organizations, each with Web sites and sources of financing. KINDHEARTS, for example, is supposed to provide emergency relief to Muslims, including, sanitation services, medical and health care, vocational training and education to refugees. In fact, Emerson writes, it is a conduit for terrorist financing with connections to Hamas. A related organization known as the SAAR network, whose members are “scholars, businessmen, and scientists from the Middle East,” (383) is a 501(c)(3) foundation incorporated in Herndon, Virginia, with “known ties to radical Islamist groups.” Also discussed are the Mosques in America, which provides recruiting centers and other terrorist support functions. These are just three examples of anti-Western groups supporting the global jihad. Chapter 12, “Jihadi Webmasters,” is particularly disconcerting in describing how terrorists use the Internet to meet their communications needs. Whatever the answer to these problems, Emerson see cyberspace as a major player on both sides.
In covering what is being done by the FBI and intelligence agencies to counter these groups, he barely mentions, for reasons unexplained, the Department of Homeland Security. He lists the arrests that have been made since 9/11, but he concludes the battle is not close to being won because terrorist resources in money and manpower are just too great. This work is an excellent, though dispiriting, survey of radical Islamist activities in America. JIHAD Incorporated ends without proposing any solutions, which presumably is a task left to professionals.
John Prados, Safe For Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006), endnotes, note on sources, index.
Safe For Democracy is a revision of a Prados’ 1986 book on CIA covert action, The President’s Secret Wars.4 Revision is necessary, he says, because “public opinion polls in many countries [that] portray the United States as the greatest threat to world peace on the globe, worse than terrorism or any other nation.” (xiii) The basis for that judgment, he maintains, is in large part CIA covert action, the major policy tool of all presidents since World War II. The CIA, he argues, “attempts to pursue operations beyond the limits of the oversight system,” and this demands a critical and comprehensive examination of the “consistently disappointing” covert action results.
The documentation Prados provides is impressive and includes declassified CIA reports covering the 25 nations in which he maintains covert actions have caused untold suffering. The book goes into detail in cases from Iran to Bosnia. He does not question US pursuit of democracy throughout the world, only the methods used to achieve the goal. The Prados solution to the problem lies in greater Congressional oversight, which he acknowledges has increased dramatically since 1976. He does not address the point at which oversight becomes management by committee, however.
This is not an objective study. Prados clearly held negative views of covert action before he set pen to paper, and set out to prove his point. Even the covert support given to resistance to anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan is a negative; the Soviet Union would have collapsed in any event in Prados’ view. Still, this is thorough review of covert action, and readers may well reach different conclusions.
Gordon Corera, Shopping For Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity and the Rise and Fall of the A. Q. Kahn Network (London: Hurst & Company, 2006), 288 pp., endnotes, photos, index.
Shortly after India exploded a “peaceful nuclear device” on 18 May 1974, A. Q. Kahn wrote to Pakistan’s prime minister suggesting a plan to match India’s accomplishment. It was accepted, and by the time Pakistan became a nuclear power on 28 May 1998, Kahn had become a national hero. In between, Kahn also created what Mohammed El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, termed the “Wal-Mart of private-sector proliferation,” (xiv) violating any number of national and international laws in the process. Khan’s efforts had not gone unnoticed, however, and thanks mainly to a joint effort by the CIA and MI6, Kahn was placed under house arrest on 31 January 2004. (207) In Spying for Bombs, BBC correspondent Corera tells how this came about.
As with many intelligence operations, the breakthrough came, Corera writes, when one of Kahn’s customers defected and contacted MI6 to offer details of the Khan network. Hard evidence was acquired when a ship carrying thousand of components needed for uranium enrichment was intercepted on the way to Libya. After cooperation from Libya was obtained the links to the Khan network were verified. Corera explains how Kahn acquired sources for the equipment on the no-export list from businesses in countries around the world and how he supplied the material to buyers in Iran, China, and North Korea, among others.
Corera’s documentation is impressive and he adds to the veracity of his story by including comments from Joseph Nye, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council during the Clinton administration, and from Peter Bergen, an expert on political machinations in the Middle East.
In his Epilogue, Corera raises disturbing questions about material known to have existed in the Kahn network that has yet to be located and which could play a role in the battle to end nuclear proliferation. How much damage Kahn did is a question yet to be answered. Corera’s story is well told and of value to intelligence officers and students of national security.
H.H.A. Cooper and Lawrence J. Redlinger, Terrorism and Espionage in the Middle East: Deception, Displacement, and Denial (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd., 2005), 773 pp., end of chapter notes, bibliography, name index, subject index.
Readers hoping to learn more about the relationship of terrorism and espionage from this massive work by professors Cooper and Redlinger will be totally disappointed. Those who read past the title will learn that the authors argue that Israel, not Arab factions or states in the Middle East, is the actual sponsor of terrorism there and elsewhere in the world. Their rationale is simple: cui bono; it is in Israel’s self-interest to convince the United States that the Arabs are the sources of terrorism even if it means Israel must commit the acts and attribute them to the Arabs. The authors suggest some provocative examples: Israel, it is theorized, “cleverly engineered” the episode in which Nizar Hindawi used his Irish girlfriend to unknowingly smuggle a bomb on to El Al flight LY016 from Heathrow to Tel Aviv. (264ff) Another implies that the blame for the “kidnappings and captivity of Westerners in Lebanon,” (vii) including both Terry Waite and CIA station chief William Buckley, (450) falls on Israel since these acts were to her “advantage…[and helped] keep the conflict going as long as possible.” (vii) The most outrageous example is that Israel, not Libya or any other Arab nation, was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103.
The authors’ approach to scholarship is clear from the outset where they state that while “the positions taken are most tenaciously defended….There is little room for true objectivity.” (4) They go on to claim they “have tried to use speculation judiciously,” (xix) but here they are only half right; they speculate extensively throughout the book.
This level of scholarship and application of fuzzy concepts has been achieved in only two other intelligence books–and they wrote those as well.5 This might be reason enough to skip this book, but its $170 price tag makes the decision a no-brainer.
Peter Lance, Triple Cross: How Bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI–and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him (New York: Regan Books, 2006), 604 pp., endnotes, appendices, photos, index.
In his first book, 1000 Years For Revenge, Peter Lance presented documentary evidence available to the FBI that he judged might have prevented the 9/11 tragedy had it not been ignored. One item concerned a source recruited by the Bureau as an al Qa’ida penetration: an ex-Egyptian army officer and member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad named Ali Mohammed. Lance reported that Ali had become an American citizen, a member of the US Army Special Forces, and a contract agent of the CIA before his dismissal for having unauthorized contacts with Hizballah. He had trained al Qa’ida terrorists in Khost, Afghanistan, and served as bin Laden’s bodyguard in Sudan. When bin Laden moved to Afghanistan, Al Mohammed helped with the arrangements. In between, he was a weapons trainer for an Al Qa’ida cell in New York City headed by Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Sheikh. His final contribution was to help plan the embassy bombing in Nairobi. He was arrested after the Nairobi bombing and confessed his al Qa’ida links. Case closed.
Left unexplained in that first book were the reasons for his arrest and his punishment. At the invitation of the 9/11 Commission Chairman, Thomas Kean, Lance told the Ali story and others to a staff investigator in secret session. When the final report was published, Lance’s testimony was not included and Ali Mohammed was not mentioned. Triple Cross is Lance’s attempt to explain the reasons.
Lance tries to make Ali Mohammad the central thread in Triple Cross, but he is only partially successful. It is a complicated book with many new names–a graphic in the center helps sort them out. Lance marshals new data to argue that if only Ali Mohammed had been better handled and debriefed, 9/11 might not have happened and bin Laden would have been caught or neutralized. For example the FBI eventually learned that Ali Mohammed’s 1998 confession and detailed debriefings produced only lies–nothing checked out. Indeed, Ali has never been sentenced and remains in witness protection. These facts tends to weaken the argument that he was central to the counterterrorism program.
Lance does present a new analysis of what happened in the ABLE DANGER data mining operation, and he tables indications that the destruction of TWA Flight 800 east of New York City in July 1996 was a terrorist act, not the result of the internal fuel tank explosion the National Transportation Safety Board concluded was the most probable cause.
In the midst of all this Lance tells of an FBI sting against Ramsi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, that involved a mafia inmate who helped the FBI monitor Yousef’s telephone calls–calls that he was not supposed to have been making–to his fellow terrorists overseas. Lance leaves the significance of this operation dangling.
In the end, Lance asks if we will “ever know the truth?” (468) Of course, the answer is “maybe.” He is satisfied with knowing more now and Triple Cross does provide new dots, but unfortunately it is by no means clear how they connect.
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General Intelligence
Cynthia M. Grabo, Anticipating Surprise; Analysis for Strategic Warning (Lanham,MD: University Press of America, Inc., 2004), 174 pp., footnotes, index.
John W. Bodnar, Warning Analysis for the Information Age: Rethinking the Intelligence Process (Washington, DC: Joint Military Intelligence College, 2003), 189 pp., footnotes, illustrations, index.
Anticipating Surprise is a condensed version of a three-volume classified treatment of warning intelligence Cynthia Grabo, an experienced intelligence analyst, prepared between 1972 and 1974. Although its central theme is strategic warning, the concepts apply to intelligence analysis generally; put another way, it is a textbook for a 101 course in analysis. Among the principles it stresses are the importance of research, knowing one’s subject, reaching the right conclusions, and informing decisionmakers in a timely fashion.
Grabo provides examples of what she terms intelligence failures and the circumstances that led to them. In addition to Pearl Harbor, the most recognizable example, she includes failure to foresee Chinese military intervention during the Korean War. In this context she raises an interesting variant to the definition of “intelligence failure,” arguing that analysts then did have advance warning, but they were ignored by General MacArthur and President Truman. Failure in this case applies “because no action was taken.” (17) She reiterates the point later in the book. But nowhere does she explain why analysts should bear a burden for failing to convince superiors to accept their conclusions. One could argue that responsibility belongs to the decisionmaker alone–it should go with the pay grade.
Among other topics covered are: asking the right questions, knowing what methods to apply to collected data, understanding how the adversary thinks, order-of-battle warning issues–the only topic for which she supplies a list of warning indicators–the difficulties of developing and assessing warning indicators involving political issues, and deception. She also emphasizes assessment of probabilities as a technique for improving the quality of judgments. This is not new and others have supported the approach, but Grabo doesn’t explain just how guessing or estimating arbitrary numerical values in an iterative process can improve the result. Nor does she offer an example of successful intelligence analysis that used the approach.
Anticipating Surprise is valuable for young analysts wondering where to start and what to do next.
Bodnar’s Warning Analysis for the Information Age takes a different approach to the same topics Grabo covered. Dr. Bodnar quotes her book frequently in his early chapters to show that he is on the same page with her conceptually, but the differences are important. One observer quoted in the front material of Bodnar’s book asserts that “Dr. Bodnar sees the Information Age as signifying a fundamental shift away from a deterministic and linear Newtonian paradigm (the Grabo approach) to a complex adaptive systems perspective grounded in non-linearity and modern, quantum physics.” (vii)
The book will help just a little in elaborating that observer’s point; it is neither self-explanatory nor 101 course reading. Bodnar’s central theme is that in today’s complex, multipolar world, we require multidimensional analysis (MDA) applied by data-mining computer programs that, he seems to suggest, have yet to be written. At one point he asks, “how do we replace the missing historians with smart computer programs?” The implication is that the volume of data to be evaluated is so great that it exceeds human capacity to store and process quickly, so we don’t need or can’t use historians anymore. Dr. Bodnar provides many graphs and charts, but readers will not understand the points they are intended to make just by looking at them. In fact, this book would be best used if a knowing teacher is present to explain. Few will disagree with Dr. Bodnar’s premises concerning analysis in the Web-based world, some may even argue that we are not so far from reaching the goal as Warning Analysis for the Information Age seems to suggest.
Loch Johnson (ed.), Handbook of Intelligence Studies (London: Routledge, 2007), 382 pp., end-of-chapter notes, bibliography, appendices, index.
In the 1970s, despite anti-government student protests, college courses on intelligence gradually gained acceptance for two related reasons. First, the students liked the subject. Second, because the courses were consistently oversubscribed academia tolerated them–they made money. But there were few texts on the subject beyond Professor Harry Howe Ransom’s The Central Intelligence Agency (1965) and The Intelligence Establishment (1970). To provide current material, professors assembled readers–collections of articles–and brought in guest speakers. The turning point came in the 1980s, when professor Roy Godson of Georgetown University sponsored conferences on intelligence and published the proceedings, with contributions from academics and retired professionals.6 By the mid 1980s, a number of texts were available, and the trend has continued.7 But none of works provided anything like the broad, authoritative coverage of the subject found in The Handbook of Intelligence Studies.
Handbook editor and contributor Loch Johnson has assembled 26 articles from 27 academics and professionals that discuss aspects of the literature, history, and the intelligence cycle. They address how intelligence organizations function, the roles of counterintelligence, covert action, science and technology, the use of open sources, oversight, judicial intervention, and accountability. These are in-depth, up-to-date treatments that provide, with a couple of exceptions, a introductions to the topics they address.
The first exception is the article on open source intelligence, which makes the bizarre assertion that “the US government is still not serious about open source intelligence.”(140) It is true that the profession needs improvements in many areas, but the use of open source material is not one of them. The CIA and its predecessor organizations, with the help of the British, actually set the pace in this field, beginning before World War II, and, with the Foreign Broadcast Information Service–the predecessor to the Director of National Intelligence’s Open Source Center–have had an exemplary track record since then. The second exception is the failure to distinguish between counterintelligence and security. One case in point, a case study of the FBI treatment of scientist Linus Pauling, is not about counterintelligence as claimed, but about security practices “run amok.” There was no espionage suspected in the case.(269) Executive Order 12333 specifically excludes the topics of physical, document, personnel, and SIGINT security from the definition of counterintelligence.
The Handbook is by no means an uncritical examination of the profession. Failures and weakness are discussed in every article. Perhaps the most pertinent is Professor Johnson’s chapter “A Shock Theory of Congressional Accountability for Intelligence.” In it he reviews the efforts of Congress to achieve this goal over the past 30 years and makes a strong case for its validity and the need for greater effectiveness, and the risks of failure to achieve it. It is a timely argument.
The book’s hefty, $170, price tag may limit access to it. I hope a paperback edition will appear so that every student of intelligence can have one as a foundation for further study.
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Gill Bennett, Churchill’s Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (London: Routledge, 2006), 404 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, index.
For most of the 1930s Winston Churchill, MP, held no cabinet office–his so-called wilderness years–but he still managed to see secret government reports on the situation in Europe. Desmond John Falkiner Morton (1891-1971), then a senior officer in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Director of the Industrial Intelligence Centre (IIC), was one of his sources. Some historians argue Morton provided the service unofficially, acting as Churchill’s “mole.”8 Others suggest Morton had the blessings of three prime ministers to keep Churchill informed.9 Gill Bennett, former Foreign Office historian, working with full access to the official record, concludes there is no smoking gun for either position, a situation typical in the life of her inscrutable subject who destroyed his personal papers and wrote no memoirs. (150ff)
Bennett gives the reader glimpses of Morton’s personal life from public sources, correspondence, and interviews. An only child and life-long bachelor, Morton attended Eton and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich before beginning his well-documented government service as an artillery officer in World War I. Wounded in France, he lived the balance of his life with a bullet near his heart. It was in France that Morton met and became friends with Churchill, who would help him enter SIS, and, during World War II, call him to serve as the prime minister’s liaison with the intelligence services. Bennett’s coverage of each phase of Morton’s life, with emphasis on his intelligence service, gradually makes clear why he was considered an abrupt, abrasive, efficient, effective administrator, “driven by impatience,” but most of all, a man of mystery.
Bennett portrays Morton’s service in SIS as a monument to expediency and rejection of bureaucratic formalities in favor of accomplishing a mission. He often ruffled feathers, but he usually got results. For example, soon after World War I, Britain needed to know what the European powers were doing economically and militarily. Meeting this objective required sources who knew what was happening. Some of these were British citizens. Ignoring the government stipulation that SIS/MI6 limit operations to foreign entities, Morton recruited knowledgeable Brits since no other intelligence agency would do so. Thus it happened that Maxwell Knight, later head of an important MI5 counterespionage section, first served Morton and MI6.
The increasing demand for foreign intelligence led to the formation within SIS of the IIC, which Morton headed for six years beginning in 1931, a period in which he learned to deal with horrendous bureaucratic rivalries. It was from this position that he passed material to Churchill and the ministries. In May 1940, after a short tenure as Director of Intelligence in the Ministry of Economic Warfare, Morton’s life changed for good when Churchill summoned him to be his assistant in a new government, taking on vaguely defined duties–a kind of gatekeeper for the PM–for which he would be best known to history. Here too he found conflict as he tried to play a role in setting up the Special Operations Executive and served as the PM’s liaison to SIS, MI5 and GCHQ. The latter duties brought him into contact with William Donovan the director of OSS. Bennett does a fine job of explaining how Morton got his jobs done in spite of the many obstacles encountered in each.
Morton’s influence with Churchill diminished near the end of the war, as other organizations established more direct links to the PM. When Churchill was voted out of power after the war, a somewhat demoralized Morton was left looking for work. He spent seven years with the Treasury working on reparations before retiring in 1953. He remained active in charity and church work during the final years of his life, which ended quietly in 1971.
Despite Desmond Morton’s best efforts to remain a very private man, Gill Bennett has produced a fine account that he would probably have admired.
Bayard Stockton, Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2006), 355 pp, endnotes, bibliography, appendix, photos, index.
The late Bayard Stockton served two years in Berlin under Bill Harvey, the legendary, gun-toting CIA chief of base, before moving on to Newsweek magazine and a career in journalism. Several years ago, encouraged by Harvey’s widow, he began Flawed Patriot, which was published soon after his death.
Stockton’s intriguing and complex subject left a sparse paper trail and this biography leaves some basic details unexplained, starting with his its subject’s real name. Bill Harvey was born “William Walker, son of Drenan R. Walker and Sara J. King,”(6) later known as Sara J. Harvey, both of Danville, Indiana. If his mother ever explained the name differences, Harvey never made them public. Harvey’s colorful career has been a topic in other books. Stockton draws on them and firsthand accounts from interviews and government documents to separate the Harvey myth from reality.
Stockton used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain Harvey’s heavily redacted personnel file for details of his early life. Dissuaded from seeking an appointment to West Point by his maternal grandfather, Harvey worked awhile at the family newspaper before entering, at age 18, Indiana University in 1933. He would marry, earn his BA and a law degree and move to Cincinnati, where he worked in his father-in-law’s legal practice before applying to the FBI, which he joined in 1940.
Harvey’s years in the FBI began with routine criminal investigation duties in New York City, but he was soon transferred to intelligence-related duties. He handled some of the most important FBI espionage investigations of the time, including the TRAMP case, which ended with the arrest of some 31 German agents. After the World War II, he was an early handler of Elizabeth Bentley, although he left the Bureau before she began testifying in 1948. Harvey’s Bureau career had ended abruptly the year before when he earned the life-long displeasure of J. Edgar Hoover for violating FBI rules after a drinking incident. In researching this phase of Harvey’s career, Stockton did not find Harvey’s name in any files covering Bentley or other cases he worked–probably the result of Hoover’s displeasure.
Joining CIA in 1947, Harvey was assigned to Staff C, the counter espionage branch, and soon became acquainted with Kim Philby, the British head of station and liaison to the CIA. When Philby’s colleagues and fellow KGB agents Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean defected in 1951, it was Harvey, not James Angleton, as some have reported, who concluded Philby was also complicit. He notified DCI Walter Smith in writing that Philby should be withdrawn, which is what happened. Harvey next went to Berlin Base, where he built a reputation for solid counterintelligence work and managed the Berlin tunnel project. “Harvey’s Hole,” as it came to be called, proved to be the positive highlight of his career. Stockton devotes several detailed chapters to this portion of what by then had become a successful, though colorful, gun-toting career.
He returned to Headquarters in 1959, having divorced, remarried, and adopted a child while in Berlin. He headed Staff D (covert communications) for two years. During this period he was sent to the White House to meet President Kennedy. Stockton tells a story Harvey told a friend about handing over to a secret service guard two weapons before entering the Oval Office and not bothering to declare a third. (120)
In the run-up to the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Harvey was assigned to head Task Force W with a mission to get rid of Castro.(121) Stockton devotes the balance of the book to the career-ending problems this assignment created. He describes the various attempts of Task Force W to accomplish its mission, including the convoluted effort to enlist the Mafia. After too many failures, Harvey had a savage run-in with Robert Kennedy, who ordered his dismissal from CIA. Richard Helms managed to save him temporarily by assigning him to Rome, where things continued downhill as Harvey’s lifelong drinking problem became unmanageable. Returning to Headquarters, he walked the halls, fought off persistent questions about his Mafia links, and eventually retired in 1968. Called to testify before the Church Committee in 1975, he was again asked about his Mafia connections and his possible links to President Kennedy’s assassination. Infuriated at the implications, and with much he found wrong with Agency performance, Harvey made his views clear in simple declarative sentences and left Washington for good. He died a year later.
Richard Helms characterized Bill Harvey as aggressive, demanding, and conscientious, with a good knowledge of operations. Flawed Patriot adds meat to these bones while tempering the contrary Angletonian view found in David Martin’s Wilderness of Mirrors and the image of Harvey as the “weird eccentric” portrayed by Norman Mailer in his novel Harlot’s Ghost. The story of Harvey’s often controversial career has lessons for all readers interested in intelligence.
In Stockton’s view Bill Harvey never received the recognition he thought he deserved, even in death: only two of his former colleagues attended his funeral.
Nigel West, Historical Dictionary of International Intelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2006), 330 pp., bibliography, chronology, index.
——, Historical Dictionary of Cold War Counterintelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2007), 438 pp., bibliography, appendices, chronology, index.
These volumes are the fifth and sixth in Scarecrow Press’s historical dictionary intelligence series. The first, on international intelligence, has the broader scope but fewer entries than the second. In both cases some topics appear in both volumes, though the level of detail differs. Elizabeth Bentley, for example, gets half a page in the first volume and two pages in the second, while Romanian defector Ion Pacepa has a short paragraph in the first and more than a page in the second. The reverse is also true: the Philby entry in the international intelligence dictionary is a page and a half while it gets only half a page in the counterintelligence dictionary. These differences do not appear to be related to any intrinsic definition of the categories used in the dictionaries–Philby is both an international and a counterintelligence case. Similarly, the absence of an expected case or topic does not mean it belongs elsewhere, it is more likely absent because of a space limitations or oversight. Thus, readers should consult other volumes and sources in the bibliographies.
The CI volume has an impressive selection of cases, some little known, and a valuable bibliographic essay covering the evolution of books during the Cold War. Scholars will appreciate the appendices, which list espionage prosecutions in the United States, US defectors to the Soviet Union, plus Soviet and Soviet Bloc defectors to the West. Curiously, similar data for the UK are absent.10
Both volumes have factual errors worth noting. The international volume states Philip Agee won a court challenge to recover his US passport; he did not. Nor did James Angleton identify Canadian counterintelligence officer James Bennett as a KGB mole; the Canadians did that on their own. And the comment that the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) was originally designated the Third Department is inaccurate; it was the Fourth Department.11 The counterintelligence volume has similar difficulties. Elizabeth Bentley told her story of espionage to the FBI in November of 1945, not September; Hede Massing did not try to recruit Alger Hiss; Alexander Orlov “emerged from hiding” in 1953, not 1954, and Joseph McCarthy claimed in his West Virginia speech, to have a list of 205 communists in the State Department, not 57.12 Concerning the KGB, Yuri Nosenko did not seek to defect in 1962; that happened in 1964. And Line X is the designation for a science and technology specialist, not an illegal support officer; that designation in Line N.13
While these volumes are useful additions, especially with their indices, to the intelligence dictionary (really encyclopedia) series, the editorial practice of leaving the fact-checking and source determination to the reader diminishes their utility. Corrected paperback editions would greatly increase their value.
Brian Garfield, The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2007), 352 pp., endnotes, bibliography, photos, glossary, index.
While serving in the Sinai during World War I, British Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen was on a scouting mission when he was spotted by Turks. A chase ensued and a wounded Meinertzhagen escaped after dropping his haversack containing documents describing British army plans for advancing on Jerusalem. The Turks recovered the spoil and, accepting their good luck, prepared to defend the point the maps said the British would attack. This realignment of forces weakened the front where the main attack actually occurred and succeeded. The Haversack Ruse, as it became famously known, was conceived and executed by Meinertzhagen. We know this because Meinertzhagen’s diaries tells us so.
After the war Meinertzhagen kept active through his hobby, bird watching, and his practice of collecting rare species throughout the world. Each was catalogued, including place and time and date observed/captured, and eventually he gave over 25,000 specimens (skins as they were called) to the British Museum. He was given awards for sighting several rare species in locations where they had never been seen before; some were even thought to be extinct. Meinertzhagen also hunted in Africa and worked on his wartime diaries for publication.14
Then, in September 2005–Meinertzhagen had been dead since 1967–an article in Nature Magazine by Rex Dalton accused him of ornithological deceit. A year later John Seabrook’s New Yorker article, “Ruffled Feathers: Uncovering the Biggest Scandal in the Bird World,” stated the accusations more forcefully.15 The upshot: Meinertzhagen had not observed his birds when and where he stated. Worse yet, he had stolen most of them from museums and friends and forged the critical acquisition details that became part of the official record. Meinertzhagen was so well known and liked that even when caught removing skins from the British museum his response that he was testing security was accepted. His fabrications were not suspected even when his “finds” defied history. When the truth emerged a monumental database correction, still unfinished, was undertaken. Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence, some authors deny his deception in all matters.16
As the bird controversy got underway, Brain Garfield and some colleagues came across Meinertzhagen’s name while studying the War for Kilimanjaro (1914-15) which the British lost, despite superior forces, due to poor intelligence. Captain Meinertzhagen was the British intelligence officer for the campaign. They soon concluded his accounts of the African theater were false. This led to examinations of other adventures described in his diaries and the discovery that many were fake or distorted–including the Haversack Ruse. It was not, as he claimed, his idea, and he didn’t drop the haversack. Nor was he wounded, and he was only a captain at the time. The tendency to take credit due others never left him. Garfield’s documentation is thorough and well corroborated.17 The charming, popular Meinertzhagen, roommate of Lawrence of Arabia in Paris, trusted friend of David Ben-Gurion, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, was a fraud.
The Meinertzhagen Mystery gives many more examples of unresolved controversies surrounding this extraordinary character, e.g., did he, as some alleged, really murder his wife? It is a British variation of Catch Me If You Can based on rigorous scholarship.
Robert Johnson, Spying For Empire: The Great Game in Central and South Asia, 1757-1947 (St Paul, MN: MBI Publishing Co., 2006), 320 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendices, photos, index.
In June 1842, those in the main square of Bokhara, Uzbekistan, witnessed two British spies lose their heads to an executioner’s axe–a Muslim problem solving technique not unknown today. Colonel Charles Stoddart had been detained first. Captain Arthur Connelly went to rescue him; both became victims of the Great Game, a term coined by Connelly years earlier and made popular by Rudyard Kipling in his novel, Kim.18
In Spying For Empire, British historian Robert Johnson defines the Great Game as the “struggle to secure and maintain geo-strategic supremacy in Asia in order to protect India.”(21) Britain viewed the Russian empire as the main threat. The British army had to know the possible and probable routes of Russian attack through Central Asia. The presence of hostile tribes in Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountain range complicated data collection. Johnson tells of two approaches. One used military officer/explorer/agents to go where they could. The second employed pundits, the term applied to Asian surveyors/agents, who operated clandestinely and were sent to map high risk regions. There was also a political dimension to the Great Game and Johnson deals with this too. These efforts often had short term positive results, but usually ended in fighting. Britain fought two wars with Afghanistan during the 19th century and lost both to determined tribal leaders. In the end, they would keep out the Russians too.
A major objective the book successfully accomplishes is to demonstrate a not often recognized fact: by the end of the 19th century, British military intelligence in India had become a professional service that did more than monitor the northern frontier. It also maintained India’s domestic security through collaboration with the local Indian police. Finally, it was to become the source of experienced officers who would achieve high positions in the War Department and the civilian intelligence services.
The Great Game changed in the 20th century after Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese war. As World War I approached, the threat shifted to Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Persia. Spying For Empire shows how British intelligence met these challenges successfully just in time to be faced with a new and unfamiliar threat–political subversion from the Soviet Union. Johnson concludes that British intelligence eventually learned to work well in the south Central Asian nations at least until 1947. He leaves unasked the question of whether the lessons learned then, became lessons forgotten after 9/11.
Scott W. Carmichael, True Believer: Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007), 187 pp., photos, index.
The “Queen of Cuba” was what some of Ana Montes’s fellow DIA analysts called her. Fidel Castro may have agreed. Montes was one of Cuba’s best agents in America during much of her 16-year DIA career. She was arrested on 21 September 2001, sentenced on 16 October 2002, and is serving her 25 years. Author Scott Carmichael, a DIA senior counterintelligence investigator, was instrumental in bringing her to justice. He tells much of the story in this memoir, but many of the details one would like to know–just when and how she was recruited, precisely what was it that made DIA security and the FBI think she was an agent–have been omitted, probably for security reasons.
Still we learn that signs of a mole in the Latin American area of the Intelligence Community had appeared during the late 1980s. What alerted an observant DIA employee to Montes is obscured, but when Carmichael was told, he began in April 1996 what turned out to be an on-again off-again investigation–there was an incredible unexplained 4-year lapse of activity. Besides providing a narrative chronology of investigative events, True Believer tells us something about Montes’s background, her relationship with her colleagues, and the level of classified intelligence to which she had access. Of particular interest is Carmichael’s persistence as he sought to convince the FBI and his DIA superiors that Montes was very likely involved in espionage. And then, having done that, he describes the elaborate and clever schemes developed to keep her from suspecting she was under suspicion as her access to sensitive materials was minimized. This became difficult after she was accepted as an analyst in the National Intelligence Council at CIA headquarters, but with the help of a clever, bad-tempered admiral, her assignment was changed.
Throughout all this, perhaps most frustrating to Carmichael were the legal details that had to be observed during the investigation to protect its integrity. In the Epilogue, Carmichael releases a surprising bit of pique over what he perceives as a diminished sense of urgency within “my community about detecting and countering the effects of Cuban penetrations of the US government.”(176) He encourages greater efforts to prevent another Montes and concludes with a “well done” to the Cuban service for running her so long. He also warns Havana that he won’t give up. There is more to be said about the Montes case, but True Believer is a worthwhile start.
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Intelligence Services Abroad
Nigel West, At Her Majesty’s Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain’s Intelligence Agency, MI6 (London: Greenhill Books, 2006), 296 pp., endnotes, bibliography, appendix, index.
In 1932, British author and former Secret Intelligence Service officer, Compton Mackenzie, decided that the requirement to keep secret the existence of the service itself and the name of its Chief “C” no longer made sense. So when he mentioned both details in his book Greek Memories, the government promptly responded to his progressive contribution to the freedom of information by confiscating all copies–well, almost all–the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection has one.19 Mackenzie was convicted in court of violating the Officials Secrets Act and fined £200. Despite the exposure, the official existence of “C” and the service remained a secret until 1994. At Her Majesty’s Secret Service explains why, and then provides short biographical essays on each of the 13 “Cs” since Mansfield Smith-Cumming, who Mackenzie revealed. Each entry offers the officer’s personal details, reviews his career, notes controversies he encountered, and summarizes the circumstances that led to his appointment. Some entries include commentaries from peers about their abilities. The appendix lists SIS stations around the world. Compton Mackenzie would be pleased.
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1. Gertz devotes a chapter to STAKEKNIFE as an example of a penetration of a terrorist organization. But he is preaching to the choir and offers nothing new. He digresses in the middle of the chapter to comment on ethical dilemmas in intelligence, citing the long-disproved story about Churchill supposedly declining to warn of an impending attack on Coventry to protect ULTRA. See: F.H. Hinsley et al., British Intelligence in the Second World War, Volume 1 (London: HMSO, 1979), 536.
2. New York Times, 17 November 2006.
3. Steven Emerson, American JIHAD: The Terrorists Living Among Us (New York: The Free Press, 2002). It was in this book that he reported on the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA), which issued coloring books instructing its young members on “how to kill the infidel” and preached “extermination of Jews and Christians.”
4. John Prados, The President’s Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations Since World War II (New York: William Morrow, 1986).
5. H.H.A. Cooper and Lawrence J. Redlinger, Catching Spies (Paladin Press, 1988); Making Spies (Paladin Press, 1986).
6. E.g., Roy Godson (ed.), Intelligence Requirements For The 1980s: Clandestine Collection (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1982).
7. E.g., John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA; Loch Johnson, A Season of Inquiry; and former CIA officer Scott Breckinridge, The CIA and the U.S. Intelligence System
8. Roy Jenkins, Churchill (London: Macmillan, 2001), 479-80.
9. Christopher Andrew, Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community (London: Sceptre, 1986), 503. Andrew notes that the permission from the PMs to give Churchill sensitive reports was put in writing. Bennett records that Morton had made this claim and that the letter was in his safe deposit box. But she reports that it has never been found and hints that it may never have existed.
10. Neither do they appear in West’s Historical Dictionary of British Intelligence (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005). “Appendix D, US Defectors to the Soviet Union” places Michael Peri on that list, but the entry for Peri shows his defection was to East Germany, before he redefected to the West several months later.
11. The accurate GRU data can be found in Robert Pringle’s Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence, which was published before the volumes reviewed here.
12. The figure 57 was entered into the Congressional Record with the official copy of the speech in reaction to the controversy raised by the higher figure. Neither number was accurate. See Richard Gid Powers, Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 235, 239.
13. See Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (London: Penguin, 2000), 959.
14. See: Col. Richard Meinertzhagen, Army Diary, 1899-1926 (London:Oliver & Boyd, 1960); Kenya Diary, 1902-1906 (Oliver & Boyd, 1957); and Middle East Diary, 1917-1956 (London: Cresset Press, 1959). In addition, there are 82 volumes of his unpublished diaries in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
15. John Seabrook, “Ruffled Feathers: Uncovering the Biggest Scandal in the Bird World,” The New Yorker, 29 May 2006: 51-61.
16. Michael Occleshaw, Dances in Deep Shadows: Britain’s Clandestine War In Russia 1917-20 (London: Constable, 2006).
17. Garfield had problems with documentation in an earlier book, The Paladin, a story of a schoolboy spy for Winston Churchill. The tale was a fabrication passed on to Garfield. Nigel West exposed it in Counterfeit Spies (London: St. Ermin’s Press, 1998).
18. Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: On Service in High Asia (London: John Murray, 1990), 1-2. Rudyard Kipling, Kim (London, Macmillan, 1901).
19. Compton Mackenzie, Greek Memories (London: Cassell, 1932), 90.
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Historical Document
Posted: Jun 12, 2007 09:45 AM
Last Updated: Jun 26, 2008 07:14 AM