Intelligence / Agencies / General

Bledowska, Celina and Bloch, Jonathan. KGB/CIA: Intelligence and Counter- Intelligence Operations. New York: Exeter Books, 1987. 192 pages.

At first blush, Bledowska and Bloch's KGB/CIA looks like yet another oversized coffee-table picture book -- one that, inexplicably, turns out to feature Cold War spooks rather than English gardens or the restored Sistine Chapel. In fact, the book's well-chosen pictures tell a story in themselves. But Bledowska and Bloch have also produced a literate, fast-moving narrative that succinctly lays out their well-informed, independent perspective on forty-odd years of spooking. As freelance journalists based in Britain, the two have a salutary distance from apocalyptic Cold War attitudes. And as Bloch was once targeted by Britain's wretched Official Secrets Act (see his "British Intelligence and Covert Action"), they don't take at face value every claim about "the interests of national security."

Books about intelligence often suffer from a deficient sense of proportion -- overestimating the importance of some forgotten covert op, or getting bogged down in technical arcana. This one treats intelligence work as just one more human activity, one that ought to be subject to the same rational and moral standards we apply to anything else. For a beginning reader on the world of "intelligence," this is a reliable overview.

-- Steve Badrich


West, Nigel. Games of Intelligence: The Classified Conflict of Interna- tional Espionage Revealed. New York: Crown Publishers, 1990. 248 pages.

Nigel West, also known as Rupert Allason, is a British writer specializing in intelligence and security issues. Despite a pro- government bias that caused Allason to condemn the naming of names in 1985, up until then he had probably named more British intelligence officers than anyone. The son of a Tory MP, Allason ran for parliament himself as a Thatcher Conservative in 1986.

Games of Intelligence is a broad, name-intensive survey of British, French, U.S., and Soviet intelligence. Allason prefers attention to detail and the occasional anecdote to make his points, rather than the scholarly approach that would have to be used by those without Allason's impressive access to classified sources. This makes the book a good read as well as a good reference to some of the available literature.


Corson, William R.; Trento, Susan B.; and Trento, Joseph J. Widows. New York: Crown Publishers, 1989. 465 pages.

In the late 1980s, a slew of "insider" books appeared on the KGB, some by defectors and others by conservative U.S. authors with intelligence connections. Most tended to be anecdotal and alarmist. Then the USSR collapsed and the entire genre ended up in the proverbial dustbin.

"Widows" trades on the same theme, but the authors have a habit of excellence so the quality is better. They deal in depth with three specific cases; if the names John Paisley (134 pages), Nicholas Shadrin (155 pages), and Ralph Sigler (131 pages) don't mean anything to you, then it might not be useful. "We wrote this book to try to show the citizens of the West just how difficult and demanding a task it is to protect ourselves from the Soviet intelligence services. Our point is that sometimes in doing this job we seem to forget what makes our system different from the Soviet system. That's when we get into trouble as a nation. That's when we become a threat to ourselves." This sounds like a cautious approach to unconvinced readers.

Corson is a former intelligence professional who wrote "Armies of Ignorance" (1977), a highly-regarded overview of U.S. intelligence. Susan Trento is the author of "The Power House" (1992), and her husband Joseph Trento has racked up several scoops on CIA misdeeds since the 1970s.


Godson, Roy, ed. Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s: Collection, Analysis, Counterintelligence, and Covert Action. Lexington MA: Lexington Books, 1989. 271 pages.

This collection of essays and responses "highlights the major aspects of the discussion at the Colloquium on Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s, held December 1987 in Washington DC.... The participants included current and former senior intelligence and Department of Defense officials, members and staff of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, members of the National Security Council staff in the 1970s and 1980s, current and former members and staff of the congressional intelligence committees, academics, journalists, and other specialists in the subject." The text is academic and devoid of names, but the book was saved for us by Appendix B, a list of participants along with their institutional affiliation.

Roy Godson has taught at Georgetown University since 1971, specializing in international relations and national security. During the 1980s he directed the Washington office of the National Strategy Information Center, a think tank for right-wing militarists. Godson has also been a consultant to the National Security Council and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. No mere academic, in 1985 Godson helped Oliver North channel contributions from private donors to the contras by using the Heritage Foundation to launder the funds.


Peake, Hayden B. The Reader's Guide to Intelligence Periodicals. Washington: National Intelligence Book Center, 1992. 250 pages. With a foreword by Walter Pforzheimer.

In the Washington DC area one finds a subculture of semi-retired intelligence-community officials who are now actively promoting the study of intelligence as a scholarly discipline. Hayden Peake (Georgetown), a former DIA and CIA officer, and Walter Pforzheimer (Yale), former assistant general counsel at the CIA and expert on intelligence history, are two examples. Elizabeth Bancroft (Harvard), the publisher of this volume, also fits the mold: upper-class and/or Ivy League without pretense or apology, and supportive of a stronger U.S. intelligence community with less oversight from the hoi polloi. They are polite and professional, believe everything written by Soviet defectors, and raise an eyebrow only when you have an appreciative word for someone like Philip Agee. These days this subculture is the only game in town on intelligence issues.

Peake has collected information (including addresses and telephone numbers) on 155 intelligence periodicals, newsletters, and databases from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The task of tracking down all this esoterica would overwhelm most bibliophiles, but then he goes on to offer well-written, interesting descriptions averaging almost two pages for each. In the course of these, individuals are named who could be of interest to NameBase users.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. Foreign Intelligence Organizations. Cambridge MA: Ballinger Publishing, 1988. 331 pages.

Richelson has written several books about the U.S. and Soviet intelligence services, and one on cooperation between the services of the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (The Ties That Bind, with co-author Desmond Ball, 1985). "Foreign Intelligence Organizations" treats some the topics not covered earlier. It offers organization-chart overviews of the services of several countries, and summaries of some of the current issues. Included are the United Kingdom (GCHQ, SIS, MI5, DIS, Special Branch); Canada (RCMP, CSIS, CSE, FIB); Italy (SISDE, SISMI, and the P2 problem); West Germany (Nazis, Gehlen, BND, BfV); France (SDECE, DGSE, DST, and the Rainbow Warrior scandal), Israel (Mossad, Aman, Shin Bet, Lakam); Japan (Naicho, PSIA, commercial trade intelligence); and China (ILD, UFWD, MSS, MID, New China News Agency).

China wins the award for domestic repression, and Italy comes in second with their neo-fascist plots and terrorism that they blame on the Left. (Italy's intelligence services are better-behaved than the Mafia, but not by much.) In the international dirty tricks department, little Israel probably wins on a per capita basis, but then the U.S., Soviets, Libya, and Iran aren't considered. This book includes almost 900 endnotes.


Schmidt, Olivier. The Intelligence Files: Today's Secrets, Tomorrow's Scandals. Atlanta GA: Clarity Press, 2005. 240 pages.

Olivier Schmidt, a citizen of both the U.S. and France, is based in Paris. He founded the Association for the Right to Information (ADI in French) in 1980, which published newsletters under the titles of Parapolitics, Intelligence/Parapolitics, Intelligence Newsletter, and Intelligence. Each chapter in this book is on a different subject.

The best (and longest) chapter has 30 pages on the secret history of the wildlife conservation movement, by British journalist Kevin Dowling. It seems that British and American intelligence elites loved nature, which dovetailed nicely with Western imperialism in Africa. Other chapters are on the FBI and Judi Bari, police surveillance in Switzerland, an American radar station in Norway, the trumped-up proof of Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie terrorism, the fight for the public's right to use encryption, the case against Augusto Pinochet, the inquiry into the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" in Northern Ireland, institutional corruption in Belgium, Gerald Bull's "supercannon" and Jonathan Moyle's "suicide," the FBI's Wen Ho Lee scandal, Executive Outcomes and Sandline International, and finally a couple of chapters on incidents too obscure to interest us. Although it's very much a mixed bag in terms of subject matter, the quality of the investigative reporting and writing is uniformly good.


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