Editor’s Note: The following background essay first appeared in a monograph published by the Center for the Study of Intelligence in October 1993.
The year 1975 was a watershed in literature about the CIA. Before that time, only a few outsiders, usually professional journalists, had written books critical of the Agency. Most of the others were neutral or even positive, especially those written by former Agency officials like Allen Dulles and Lyman Kirkpatrick. But in 1975 a disgruntled former Agency employee, Philip Agee, published his highly critical book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Books by other ex-employees–J. B. Smith, John Stockwell, Victor Marchetti (with J. D. Marks), and R. W. McGehee–followed in quick succession, each exposing highly confidential material.
These authors usually wrote about subjects of which they had special knowledge, and the cumulative effect was to breach the walls of confidentiality that had protected Agency operations and personnel. Although the net effect was damaging–especially in the case of Agee, who disclosed the identities of officers serving abroad under cover–information about sensitive operations against the Soviet Union and its intelligence organs was not compromised.
A Turning Point
The change that occurred in the mid-1970s began when Edward J. Epstein published a series of articles that later, in 1978, were the basis for his book, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald. The articles, and especially the book, publicized for the first time clashes that had occurred within the Agency between the Counterintelligence (CI) Staff and the Soviet Division over the bona fides of a KGB defector named Yuriy Nosenko.
Because Epstein’s writings contained so much information about sensitive CIA and FBI operations, it was generally assumed he had a willing and knowledgeable source, either a serving officer (considered doubtful) or a retired senior person with wide knowledge of anti-Soviet operations overseas and in the United States. Neither the articles nor the book was annotated, however. Epstein stated that he had spoken occasionally with James Angleton, the retired chief of CIA’s CI Staff, but did not acknowledge that he was the source. (1)
When Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William Colby dismissed him in 1974, Angleton for the next six months spent part of his time at Langley, introducing members of the new CI Staff to such people as his defector friend, Anatole Golitsyn. Gradually, however, the former counterintelligence chief realized that his career with the CIA in fact was finished. The dismissal was a terrible blow; he became embittered and withdrew for a time into alcohol.
Later, the press began to seek him out, and this revived his combative spirit. Angleton began to play off one writer against another, planting his ideas and opinions among them. He also changed his luncheon venue from a local Washington restaurant to the more politically congenial atmosphere of the Army-Navy Club. A counterattack was planned against the Agency, in particular the new CI Staff. His objective was to prove how wrong its assessment of Soviet operations was and to indict his successors for negligence of duty.
In this period, Angleton, while not neglecting the possibility of KGB penetration, stressed his belief that the main threat came from KGB deception and disinformation. To support his thesis, he continually cited evidence that Golitsyn had provided. Angleton’s ideas, propounded by Epstein and other writers, caught fire and created a virtual cottage industry of academic and think tank specialists on the issues he raised.
Angleton’s British allies took a different line. They concentrated on KGB penetration because events in the United Kingdom provided some exceptional examples, such as the treachery of Sir Anthony Blunt, which became public in 1979. Moles in Her Majesty’s Government became a public scandal when the traitors in the Cambridge “Ring of Five”(2) were exposed, embarrassing the Thatcher government and culminating in the 1986 Spycatcher trial in Australia.
The American and Canadian Scenes
In 1975, Aaron Latham, a young writer interested in the CIA, contacted Angleton. Latham, who held a doctorate in literature from Princeton and was editor of New York Magazine, was attracted by Angleton’s association with Ezra Pound and other American poets. An initial two-hour call was followed by luncheon and visits to Angleton’s home and orchid sheds. Latham wanted to write about the CIA and claims he decided to do a fictional work on the advice of Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer who had written one entitled The Rope Dancer. The result was Latham’s novel, Orchids for Mother, published in 1977, about a CIA officer who is fired by the Director over differences in policy.
The protagonists obviously are Angleton and Colby. The Angleton character, “Mother” in the story, is portrayed as a genius whose talents are wasted, and the Director is an ambitious bureaucrat of dubious loyalty. The dismissed CIA man decides he must rid the Agency of this DCI. Distraught and depressed, the old veteran accomplishes this by sacrificing himself to an assassin he hires. In the process the Director is implicated and accused of murdering his antagonist. This bizarre and vicious tale did not sell well. Mrs. Angleton called the book “garbage” and claimed her husband never read it.
In the summer of 1977, Angleton developed a new forum for his ideas. He and like-minded associates organized the Security and Intelligence Fund (SIF) to defend US security and intelligence organizations and to raise money for the defense of two FBI officers then under indictment by the Carter administration. Here, Angleton was on surer ground. He had the support of a large number of FBI retirees as well as many former CIA officers. This was the period when the Pike and Church Congressional committees were in full cry investigating and exposing CIA operations, and numerous ex-intelligence people believed they had gone too far. SIF raised more than $600,000 and within six months was reported to have more than 17, 000 members. Angleton was chairman, and his friends held senior positions.
Soon thereafter, however, the US Attorney General decided not to prosecute the accused FBI officers, and the purpose for which SIF was created more or less evaporated. Angleton then converted it into a forum for spreading information about Soviet deception. The Fund remained in effect into the 1980s until, after Angleton’s death and the coming of glasnost, it withered away.
Publication in 1978 of Edward J. Epstein’s Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald provided enormous stimulus to the deception thesis by suggesting that Yuriy Nosenko, a Soviet defector, had been sent by the KGB to provide a cover story for Lee Harvey Oswald, who, the book alleged, was a KGB agent. Epstein in effect wrote two books: one focused on Lee Harvey Oswald’s Marine career in Japan, his time in Russia, and his return to the United States; the second gave Nosenko the key role in an alleged KGB deception operation designed to cover Oswald (and the Soviet Government) and negate Golitsyn’s revelations.
Because Epstein cited so much classified information that could only have come from someone with intimate knowledge of the Nosenko case, blame for the leak naturally focused on Angleton and his supporters. Thus, it came as no surprise when, two years after the former CI chief’s death, Epstein admitted his sources had included Angleton, Tennent H. Bagley, N. S. Miler, and other ex-Agency associates who shared his views. Despite some negative reviews, the book sold well and was important in spreading Angleton’s theory of a super KGB manipulating American society and politics through its sophisticated deception apparatus.
The theme of Legend was extended in a 1980 novel called The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss. De Borchgrave, soon-to-be editor of the new Washington Times, and Moss were friends and admirers of Angleton, whose conspiracy theories were consistent with their own. Moss had been spreading Angleton propaganda for some time, such as the claim that Golitsyn had provided the lead to H. A. R. “Kim” Philby. This caught the eye of Adm. Stansfield Turner, who was then DCI. When he asked the CI Staff about it, the staff replied from solid knowledge that the claim was false.
The inferior quality and crudeness of The Spike exceed even that of the Latham novel. Briefly, it told the story of a young liberal who had been taken in by leftists. He came to realize his error, thanks to guidance from an elderly, former CIA counterintelligence officer who had been fired by a Director obviously acting at the Kremlin’s direction. Moscow’s secret designs are revealed by a high-level KGB defector whose escape is managed by MI-6 because the CIA is so penetrated it cannot be trusted with the mission. The KGB defector identifies the Soviet agents in the White House, the CIA, and elsewhere in the government, and the wise old counterintelligence chief, obviously meant to be Angleton, saves the country. Though far-removed from reality, the book was an alternate Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
The year 1980 was not entirely one of wine and roses for the Angletonians because Wilderness of Mirrors, written by David Martin, also appeared. Now considered a classic of intelligence literature, the book was the product of more than two years of interviewing CIA retirees, including Angleton. The latter at first favored the author with many secrets but then cut him off when he learned Martin was also in touch with Angleton’s CIA critics. One of these was Clare E. Petty, who had worked on Angleton’s staff and accepted his conspiracy theories but by this time had concluded his boss was either a giant fraud or a KGB agent. Martin originally intended to publish Petty’s view in Newsweek but abandoned that plan when Angleton threatened legal action.
Wilderness of Mirrors exposed Golitsyn as an unimportant defector who caused more trouble than he was worth, suggested Nosenko was genuine, and punched many holes in the Angleton myth. Publication provoked a lengthy and denunciatory review by Epstein in The New York Times and a long public statement by Angleton claiming Martin had robbed him of his phrase “wilderness of mirrors.” In fact, Angleton had himself lifted it from “Gerontion,” a poem by T. S. Eliot.
Events, however, were weakening Epstein’s faith in his master. In 1981, Prime Minister Thatcher was forced by the publication of Chapman Pincher’s Their Trade Is Treachery to admit that her government had investigated Sir Roger Hollis, the former Director General of MI-5, as an alleged Soviet agent. Mrs. Thatcher stated in Parliament that a high-level investigation of these charges found them to be false.
Some months later Epstein managed to interview Michel Goleniewski, a defector who had become convinced he was the last of the Romanovs but otherwise remained a sensible person. Epstein asked if Goleniewski thought Hollis was a KGB mole, an idea supported by Angleton. The defector replied in the negative and then listed the Soviet agents MI-5 had apprehended from the information he had provided, adding, “If the KGB had had a mole at the head of MI-5, you can be sure all these men would somehow have escaped.”
A further confusion of the issues occurred in 1979 and 1980 with the publication of a series of articles by Joe Trento, a reporter in Wilmington, Delaware. Trento launched a number of charges against Angleton, including some erroneous information about certain cases. Angleton’s response to the Trento articles was to attack DCI Stansfield Turner, who he assumed was the source of the classified information Trento cited. (3)
The next significant book involving Angleton was Henry Hurt’s Shadrin, published in 1981. While working on Legend as an assistant to Epstein, Hurt had become aware of the mysterious disappearance of Nicholas Shadrin, a Soviet defector. Sensing there was a story there, Hurt began interviewing the missing defector’s wife and her lawyer. The Reader’s Digest agreed to provide financial support for the project, which began as a magazine article but quickly grew into a book. Fulton Oursler, then the chief editor of the Reader’s Digest, was a man of strong rightwing views and much influenced by the Angleton-Epstein theories. The inability of the US authorities to provide an answer to the mystery of Shadrin’s disappearance had provoked wide criticism. Hurt’s account not only revived the old Golitsyn-Nosenko controversy but also made it more current by citing the appearance of a mysterious KGB man referred to as “Igor.”
Angleton doubtlessly contributed information to Hurt, but so did a number of FBI people who talked more than they should have. In sum, much classified information was made public that could only have endangered the safety of Igor, assuming he was genuine. This was a matter on which Agency people again divided: Angleton believed Igor was not genuine; others thought his valuable information proved his bona fides. The Hurt book, however, was essentially propaganda intended to benefit Mrs. Shadrin. Its attack on the Agency, the FBI, and the new CI Staff did not help her cause, and the book’s many inaccuracies distorted an already confused situation.
A number of other books appeared during the early 1980s: William Colby’s Honorable Men, in which he explains why he dismissed Angleton; Tom Powers’s The Man Who Kept the Secrets, highly praising Angleton (a position from which Powers later retreated); and John Sawatsky’s For Services Rendered, on the Bennett case in Canada.
Leslie James Bennett, a longtime civilian employee of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Security Service, was impugned by Clare Petty, then a major conspiracy theorist on Angleton’s staff. Angleton could have stopped the ensuing investigation but instead lent it impetus by suggesting that the Mounties consult Golitsyn. That sealed Bennett’s doom and in due course brought his dismissal from the service in 1972, even though there was no substantial evidence against him, and he passed his polygraph tests. The case tore the Mounties apart and gave ammunition to those who argued that the internal security service should be removed from the RCMP. Within a few years, Canada had a civilian security service. Sawatsky’s book drew considerable attention in Canada but little in the United States.
The Decline of Conspiracism
In the years after Legend was published, Epstein became a specialist on Soviet disinformation and deception that, along with “active measures” to which they are related, preoccupied a number of scholars and writers during the 1980s. They were encouraged by the testimony of several Soviet defectors as well as the indefatigable Golitsyn, who in 1984 added his own volume, New Lies for Old.
Epstein’s Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA was published in 1988, a year after Angleton’s death. Like Legend, its predecessor, it has two parts. The second part describes various deceptions practiced through the centuries and can be ignored; it says nothing new. The first 105 pages, however, are interesting. Therein Epstein repeats the old theories about Nosenko and, in his acknowledgments, names all his sources for the past years, including Angleton, Bagley, Miler, and the FBI’s William Sullivan. He also asserts that his informants wittingly gave him sensitive information.
This is an astonishing set of revelations. The feeling that this book is Epstein’s last hurrah, at least in the world of intelligence, is hard to avoid. With glasnost, he apparently sensed that the days of the conspiracists were numbered. It was time to take the money and run.
Ron Kessler, an investigative journalist who writes frequently on espionage, in 1988 published Spy vs Spy: The Shocking Story of the FBI’s Secret War Against Soviet Agents in America. The book is an excellent review of the FBI counterintelligence division’s work against Soviet agents during roughly the past 20 years. In it, he chronicles the damaging activities of the US Navy spy, John Walker, as well as Ronald Pelton, who had penetratred the National Security Agency (NSA). Both worked for the KGB.
Kessler also recounts the disastrous career of Edward Lee Howard, the only CIA officer ever to defect to the USSR. For CIA people, his account of two penetrations of the Agency during the period James Angleton was chief of counterintelligence is riveting: one agent, Karl Koecher, worked for the Czech Intelligence Service, which passed his material to the KGB, and the other was a long-term agent of the Chinese Intelligence Service. Until the Aldrich Ames case came to light in 1994, these two were the only moles known to have penetrated the CIA. Spy vs Spy provides the layman an excellent inside view of how the FBI operated successfully against Soviet agents in the US. At the same time, Kessler is critical, when appropriate, of FBI errors.
In 1991 an English writer, Tom Mangold, published Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter, to which he devoted three years of intensive work and $300,000 of Simon and Schuster’s money. Mangold has carefully sourced his book, the research is impressive and impeccable, and the writing is good if at times a bit overwrought. But it is far more a history of the Agency’s CI Staff for the last 10 years under Angleton’s command than it is a story about the man himself. As history it is accurate and fair, although the absence of a chapter on liaison with Israeli intelligence (chopped out by the editor) is unfortunate.
The book caused considerable commentary because Mangold claimed he had interviewed 208 CIA retirees, until it was noted that John Ranelagh, another English author, had interviewed even more CIA retirees for his book, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA. Mangold’s conclusion that counterintelligence suffered at Angleton’s hands during the Cold War when the Agency most needed common sense and honesty is well established and supported by numerous examples.
A second book about Angleton and the old CI Staff followed only 10 months after Cold Warrior. Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered CIA by David Wise, the veteran intelligence writer, is also well researched and smooth reading. It concentrates on the hunt for “Sasha,” a Soviet agent who, Golitsyn claimed, had provided the Russians valuable information. That search for the supposed mole within CIA severely damaged the careers of some CIA officers. Because his sources did not have the complete “Sasha” story, however, Wise has presented a somewhat distorted account.(4) Otherwise, the Wise book is accurate and can serve as a useful cautionary tale for management.
The British Connection
The intelligence literature discussed below is by British authors and deals almost solely with British events. None of the books is anti-CIA. Several express some respect for James Angleton, although this attitude also was in retreat among British authors by the end of the 1980s. A few of the books explore the Golitsyn-Nosenko controversy, and some think Golitsyn helped British intelligence. Most of the writing in varying degrees criticizes MI-5, the British internal security service. Less attention is given to the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)–Britain’s foreign intelligence arm, otherwise known as MI-6–except where the Philby and Blake cases are discussed.
Angleton helped at least three of the authors, but poor sourcing makes it hard to determine the amount of information he gave them. He in fact played an important role in igniting a series of events that embarrassed the Thatcher government. Had Thatcher not enjoyed such strong majorities in the House of Commons, one or more of these affairs might have brought her government down.
Angleton, dating from his early contacts with Philby, had a keen interest in British intelligence affairs. Partly on his recommendation, Golitsyn spent nearly five months in Britain in 1963 and met with British security and intelligence people several times afterward. Golitsyn made a powerful impression on two British officers in particular: Arthur Martin, the senior counterespionage officer in MI-5, and Stephen de Mowbray, a junior officer in MI-6 who served in Washington in the mid-1960s. Both men admired Angleton and largely accepted Golitsyn’s ideas about penetration and deception, despite the fact that most of the earlier British believers in his allegations had become apostates.
Angleton’s influence in MI-5 and MI-6 declined further during the early 1970s, but Martin and de Mowbray remained in contact with Golitsyn. In the early 1980s, the two British officers helped Golitsyn prepare his book, New Lies for Old. De Mowbray fervently believed the West was not sufficiently alert to the threat of Soviet deception. He was especially annoyed when a paper he had prepared on Soviet penetration, with special reference to Hollis, received no response from 10 Downing Street, even after he had personally delivered it to Prime Minister Thatcher’s secretary.
In 1978, Andrew Boyle, an English writer, came to Washington to do research at the National Archives on a book he was preparing on the career of an Englishman rumored to have been a Soviet agent during World War II. The subject was Sir Anthony Blunt, Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures, who had long been a target of gossip revolving around his homosexual lifestyle as well as his close association with Guy Burgess and Kim Philby. To avoid getting himself in legal difficulty, Boyle codenamed the subject of his book “Maurice” after a homosexual character in an E. M. Forster novel. During his research in Washington, Boyle met Angleton, and, as a result his book, The Climate of Treason, includes frequent respectful references to him.
The Climate of Treason appeared on 5 November 1979. Within 10 days, it forced Mrs. Thatcher to disclose in Parliament Blunt’s 1964 confession to having been a Soviet agent while working for MI-5 during World War II, and that he had been granted immunity from prosecution in order to obtain full disclosure of his treachery. This agreement had been kept a secret for 15 years, during which time he worked for the Royal Household and was given a knighthood by the Queen. The shock of Boyle’s exposure of Blunt was only the first and least damaging of several revelations of treachery that were in store for Mrs. Thatcher. At the time, however, her long and revealing statement about Blunt seemed to confirm that she was an exponent of unusual candor who intended to demystify the secret world of intelligence. The question of how much penetration there had been of the foreign, secret, and security services in the 1940s and 1950s seemed to be moving toward an answer. Mrs. Thatcher’s statement made the Boyle book a best seller, earning its author a reputation and much money.
For some inexplicable reason, Boyle included a story that brought him considerable trouble and damaged his enhanced reputation. In Chapter Nine, “Enter the Fifth Man,” he introduces a figure codenamed “Basil” who, he suggests, was a homosexual nuclear scientist serving in the British Embassy in Washington with Donald Maclean. From this slender evidence he offers this person as a likely candidate for “the fifth man,” the then-unidentified fifth member of the group of traitors from Cambridge University. The press soon found an elderly British scientist in Washington named Dr. Wilfrid Basil Mann, by then an American citizen who, during the period 1949-51, had served under Philby in the MI-6 office of the British Embassy as a scientific officer in liaison with the CIA.
Dr. Mann denied he was “the fifth man,” and rather belatedly the American authorities came to his rescue with assurances that he was not a Soviet agent and never had been. Both Boyle and Angleton remained silent, however, and it was left to Dr. Mann later to write his own rebuttal in which he set the record completely straight. Boyle had never interviewed Mann, nor did he apologize after the affair was resolved.
Dr. Mann, who had a personal friendship with Angleton in the Philby days, remains perplexed regarding the origin of the spurious story. We know that Angleton and Boyle had a close relationship during Boyle’s stay in Washington. Angleton probably confirmed Boyle’s suspicions of Blunt and, at some point in his circular and obscure way of speaking, very likely provided some information about Dr. Mann. For unexplained reasons, Boyle got the story wrong and foolishly included this distorted version in his otherwise quite admirable book. Dr. Allen Weinstein, author of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, later called the libeling of Dr. Mann a “case of blatant McCarthyism based on gossip from spook informants.”
The early 1980s were marked by more trouble for Mrs. Thatcher from the secret world. There was the union trouble at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the conviction of Geoffrey Prime for spying for the Soviet Union, but the worst blow of all came with the publication in 1981 of Their Trade Is Treachery by Chapman Pincher, an investigative journalist. The Pincher book was to prove a major political problem because it triggered a series of events culminating five years later in the Spycatcher trial in Australia.
To some extent the book was the result of a conversation between Jonathan Aitken, a Tory member of Parliament, and James Angleton in Washington in December of 1979, just a few days after Mrs. Thatcher had made her admission regarding Blunt. For reasons best known to himself, Angleton apparently hinted to Aitken that the Blunt revelations were just the tip of a mammoth problem, which might lead to an investigation of penetrations of MI-5 and MI-6. Aitken was fascinated and asked for more data, but Angleton demurred and said he would think about how next to proceed. Upon his return to England, Aitken found a letter from Angleton telling him to speak to Arthur Martin and Christopher Phillpotts, both of whom had been involved in molehunting for British counterintelligence. They told Aitken exactly what Angleton intended he should hear: that, beginning in 1963, the government had investigated Graham Mitchell and Roger Hollis as putative Soviet agents. The letter Aitken subsequently sent Mrs. Thatcher reflects what they told him, and a copy is in an appendix to the Pincher book, The Spycatcher Affair.
Aitken told Pincher most of what he had learned from Martin and Phillpotts, but then, in the early autumn of 1980, events took an even more bizarre turn. Lord Rothschild secretly brought Peter Wright, a former member of MI-5, to England from Australia and introduced him to Chapman Pincher. This led to a working partnership between Wright and Pincher resulting in the eventual publication of Their Trade Is Treachery, which revealed the investigations within MI-5 of Hollis and Mitchell as possible Soviet agents and many other MI-5 secrets. It was this book that forced Mrs. Thatcher, in yet another admission to the House of Commons, to confirm the investigations had taken place but that subsequent reviews revealed no evidence to support the charges.
When Pincher’s book became a best seller, it was not public knowledge that the major source for his sensational revelations was Peter Wright, who was quietly tucked away at his Australian stud farm. Nor was it common knowledge that Angleton had played a role in launching the project. There was, however, much speculation about the source for so much sensitive material.
The mystery was resolved in 1986, when Peter Wright had completed a book, Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, and was moving to have it published in Australia. Upon learning this, the British Government got an injunction to stop its publication. The trial that followed revealed that Wright had been the main source for Pincher’s allegations in Their Trade Is Treachery against Hollis and Mitchell. A small group within the British Government (including MI-5) knew this and could have stopped Pincher from publishing his book but decided not to do so. Pincher, in effect, thus had published with implicit government approval.
This revelation during the trial seriously undermined the British Government’s position and prompted publication of Wright’s Spycatcher in many countries. When the case finally made its way to a final hearing in the House of Lords, the judges found themselves unable to uphold the obligation of confidentiality on which the government depended. As the affair unfolded between 1985 and 1988, the government’s efforts to stop publication were perceived as absurd and desperate.
Mrs. Thatcher assigned Sir Robert Armstrong to present the British Government’s case in the Australian court. He did not do well: he was a reluctant witness and was harried by a disrespectful young Australian lawyer, Malcolm Turnbull. Armstrong admitted he was the government’s “fall guy” in the effort to exhaust every recourse against Wright’s book. He will always be remembered for his locution during the trial that in his job sometimes one had “to be economical with the truth.”
The book that prompted Mrs. Thatcher’s futile effort was Peter Wright’s but was ghostwritten by Paul Greengrass. Wright could not have anticipated that, by an accident of fate, it would be propelled onto the bestseller lists and thus make him a fortune. He had two grievances against MI-5, his former employer:
- Its failure to give him the full pension to which by any standard of decency he was entitled, a failure for which under secrecy regulations he possessed no redress.
- MI-5’s determination that it could not be proved that Hollis had been a Soviet agent, a position that was strongly reinforced in a subsequent official study by Lord Trend, a former Cabinet Secretary.
The Spycatcher trial in 1986 generated three books worth reading. The most spirited, although a bit prejudiced, is Turnbull’s account of the trial in Sydney entitled The Spycatcher Trial. The second is Pincher’s The Spycatcher Affair. Although self-exculpatory, it is a good account of what took place between 1980 and the trial. The third book is Molehunt by Nigel West, which summarizes the trial from a pro-Thatcher point of view. In addition, a chapter in David Hooper’s Official Secrets called “The Wright Case: A Tale of Perversity” is an excellent summary by a British solicitor who participated in the case as a member of Turnbull’s team.
In the end, a cartoon that appeared in a London daily after the trial perhaps summed it up best: A group of bewigged barristers is shown in the office of Her Majesty’s Attorney General, and one is commenting: “So far the legal fees come to approximately ten million pounds–wouldn’t it have been cheaper to have increased the old codger’s pension in the first place?”
Two books on counterintelligence history are Robert Lamphere’s The FBI/KGB War: A Special Agent’s Story, published in 1986; and Gordon Brook-Shepherd’s The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors, published in 1988. These two works describe the counterintelligence benefits flowing from defectors and other exceptional events, such as the break into the KGB ciphers achieved at the end of World War II.
Lamphere’s book concentrates on the FBI’s work against the Soviet intelligence services’ operations in the United States. Although Soviet espionage operations had been suspected for some time, details of these activities were obtained through the defection in Canada of Igor Gouzenko and in America of Elizabeth Bentley and others who had been involved in the Soviet spy apparatus. Their revelations were supplemented by an unusual accomplishment in the cryptographic field.
Lamphere had the good fortune to be assigned to handle the FBI’s liaison with NSA. While there, he was the Bureau’s principal contact with Meredith Gardner, the cryptographic wizard, about the time he broke the KGB cipher system. Using the fragmentary but valuable information obtained from this breakthrough, Lamphere participated in uncovering some of the major Soviet espionage rings then in operation. His work included the Philby case as well as interrogating the atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs, pursuing Harry Gold, assisting in the Judith Coplon trial, and participating in other memorable cases of the immediate postwar period.
Conflicts with J. Edgar Hoover led to Lamphere’s early resignation from the Bureau. In writing his book, his excellent memory was reinforced by access to FBI records. NSA, after considerable pressure was brought to bear, gave Lamphere permission to describe in elementary detail Gardner’s magnificent achievement against the KGB cipher system. It is a gripping story well and accurately told.
The Storm Birds, Brook-Shepherd’s excellent history of the postwar Soviet defectors, benefited from assistance by the British intelligence and security services and the CIA. As a result, the author produced an accurate and complete story about most of the major Soviet defectors, all but one of whom (Shevchenko) had served with the KGB or GRU. He eschewed the controversial issues featured in many of the other books in this collection, although he devotes a chapter each to Anatole Golitsyn and Yuriy Nosenko and gives each objective and fair consideration. Brook-Shephard’s summaries of those defections are probably the most accurate evaluations available to the public and help to make comprehensible the two men and the issues associated with them.
These two histories constitute a mine of important information on the early defectors, both American and Soviet, as well as detail on later ones, like Oleg Gordievsky, who provided inside information at critical periods in history. The books also illustrate how important the defectors were, not only in helping Western intelligence and security services but also in alerting the Western public to the Soviet threat. Counterintelligence officers should read both.
Two More of Special Note
Finally, two other books are essential reading for the counterintelligence specialist and for anyone else interested in recent events affecting that field of intelligence. The first is the magisterial work by Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of its Operations From Lenin to Gorbachev. Published in 1990, it is the only complete and definitive history of the KGB at this time. As such, it demands inclusion in this study. The second work is The Spy Who Saved the World: How a Soviet Colonel Changed the Course of the Cold War by Jerrold L. Schecter and Peter S. Deriabin, published in 1992. This is a detailed story of Col. Oleg Penkovsky, easily the greatest Anglo-American espionage success of the Cold War. Its counterintelligence significance rests on the fact that this superb operation was run under the nose of the KGB in Moscow, an embarrassment of major significance to the Soviets.
Both books also make important contributions to the conspiracist controversy. On the one hand, Gordievsky, from his unique position in the KGB, was able to assure his British friends that Hollis, Mitchell, Liddell, and Lord Rothschild were never Soviet agents. Equally important is a definitive chapter in the Schecter-Deriabin book that makes clear that, for the major period of his intelligence production, Penkovsky was not under Soviet control, and his product was not and could not have been deception. The controversy over whether he was bona fide (fueled largely by Angleton and Golitsyn) had arisen after Penkovsky’s arrest on 22 October 1962 and was only put to rest within the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in 1979 by a long-overdue study of the case. That the Agency made important documentary material available to Schecter and Deriabin so they could provide many of the details to the public via their excellent book was a laudable action by Dr. Robert Gates, who was DCI at the time.
(1) Subsequently–in Deception, published in 1989, two years after Angleton’s death–Epstein was more forthcoming regarding his sources. He admitted that, from 1977 onward, he had obtained large amounts of information from Angleton, N. S. Miler, Tennent H. Bagley, and others formerly in the CIA, all of whom shared Angleton’s controversial views on the nature of the threat posed by Soviet intelligence operations.
(2)H. A. R. “Kim” Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, and, identified later, John Cairncross.
(3)At the time, this writer had interviewed Angleton on several occasions in conjunction with a history being written of the years when he was in charge of counterintelligence at CIA. (The interviews had ended because it had become evident that his judgment and veracity could no longer be trusted.) When Angleton queried the writer about whether he was responsible for the leaks to Trento, he was assured they had come from others. Angleton then proceeded to accuse Admiral Turner of being the source–a totally unfounded accusation.
(4)The complete “Sasha” story resides in the archives of CIA’s Counterintelligence Center, where access to it remains highly restricted.