[Paleopsych] CIA: The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage Reality of Espionage

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The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage Reality of Espionage

                  Intelligence in Recent Public Literature

    The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage Reality of Espionage

      By Frederick P. Hitz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. 211 pages.

                        Reviewed by [4]Hayden B. Peake

     For connoisseurs of intelligence fiction a few titles epitomize the
     essence of the craft. Rudyard Kipling's Kim is perhaps the most well
    known. John le Carré's The Spy Who Came In From the Cold has become an
        icon of the anti-hero spy. Somewhat less familiar but equally
        compelling works include Graham Greene's Human Factor, Erskine
       Childers Riddle of the Sands, Joseph Conrad's Secret Agent, and
     Somerset Maugham's Ashenden. But while entertained, most readers are
     left wondering whether these books reflect the real world of spying.
       In The Great Game, Fred Hitz, former operations officer, Agency
        inspector general, and more recently a professor at Princeton
         University, set out to answer that question. His approach is
    straightforward: he compares issues discussed in these and other great
        works of fiction--Ian Fleming and the like, excluded--with the
    writings of Kim Philby and his My Silent War, Dewey Clarridge's A Spy
     For All Seasons, Jerry Schecter's The Spy Who Saved The World, David
     Murphy and Sergei Kondrashev's Battleground Berlin, and David Wise's
              SPY, to name a few non-fiction books he included.

     The 17 chapters in The Great Game deal with a variety of functional
    espionage topics. For example, Hitz shows how agent recruitment in the
       literary world is seen to follow the classic real world model of
        spotting, contact, and development of potential agents by the
    recruiting agency. To illustrate his point, he uses the case contained
      in David Ignatius's book Agents of Influence, an account of agent
    operations in the Middle East. The central character, case officer Tom
      Rogers--"loosely modeled on a real CIA case officer killed in the
     Beirut Embassy bombing in 1983" (p. 10)--cultivates the deputy chief
       of Fatah intelligence. His intent is to get early warnings about
        planned terrorist threats to US citizens in the region. Rogers
     painstakingly develops a rapport with the prospective agent, called
       PECOCK, who gradually becomes a source of this vital data. This
      approach to recruitment, Hitz points out, is based on a very basic
     principle of human behavior that operates when someone is trying to
           get someone else to do something he might not otherwise
      consider--people like to talk and often say more than they should
     under the right conditions. Recruitment under these circumstances is
    more cooperative than coercive, at least initially. In this particular
     case, Ignatius shows how conflict can develop when CIA Headquarters
     decides to place tighter control on the agent than the relationship,
       as originally established, permits. The consequence is conflict
      between the officer in the field, the agent, and Headquarters. And
       while the story makes for good reading, Hitz uses it to make two
          points. The first of these is that, when it comes to such
    interpersonal issues, fiction can illustrate the basic human stresses
     of espionage as well as non-fiction, but it doesn't capture "all the
    ways in which a human spy can scheme, rationalize, justify, and alter
               his behavior to perform his espionage mission."

     The second point, which applies to both fiction and non-fiction, is
    that the classical recruitment approach is largely theoretical. In the
     real world, suggests Hitz, most CIA and KGB agents, at least during
     the Cold War, were walk-ins--volunteers. The challenge for the case
     officer in such an instance was whether the prospective agent should
    be accepted. This changes the control aspect in favor of the receiving
    agency, especially with agents who remain in place and supply secrets.
    Hitz uses Bill Hood's MOLE, as one example of how most Cold War agents
    came to work for the CIA. It tells the story of a Soviet intelligence
      officer who became a CIA agent in 1953--a GRU major, Peter Popov,
     stationed in Vienna. The CIA didn't notice him; he noticed them and
     eventually dropped a letter into an American's car, thus beginning a
    valuable relationship of many years. Popov was just the first of such
                  walk-ins who became valuable sources.[5]1

      The Great Game does point out that some recruitment techniques are
       encountered in both the real world and in fiction. Some coercive
     techniques, sexual entrapment (the honeytrap), for example, fall in
     this category. To make the point in the non-fiction world, Hitz uses
    the case of Marine Corps Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, whose lover in Moscow
         turned out to be a KGB asset (Swallow). A fictional coercive
    counterpart is found in Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Dimitrios, in which
       the target's gambling problems are used to gain his cooperation.

     In other comparisons, Hitz argues that both fiction and non-fiction
      can illuminate some issues equally well. In fact, some of the most
          basic concerns that surface in espionage cases are in this
      category-what motivates a person to become an agent and betray his
    country; the complexities of counterintelligence (CI), the problem of
     potential fabricators; spying on friendly countries, and the role of
          assassination in intelligence operations, are just a few.

        When it comes to motivation, Hitz finds le Carré's works most
     impressive. Those are followed by Philby's autobiography, My Silent
    War, and Graham Greene's Human Factor. In the non-fiction arena, David
        Wise's treatment of Robert Hanssen and Miranda Carter's recent
           biography of Anthony Blunt, are both good examples.[6]2

    A cautionary note is worth considering. Hitz does not directly suggest
     that fiction can be a source of learning the espionage business, and
                         this should not be inferred.

     Readers of spy fiction often do not realize that CI is the theme of
     most espionage books, with the mole and the double agent dominating
      the topics. Hitz cites John le Carré's Smiley trilogy as excellent
    examples and spends considerable space on the CI problems developed in
     several non-fiction books about the Ames, Hanssen, and Edward Howard
    cases to illustrate the complexities. CI is less of a problem for some
       countries, Hitz suggests, and he quotes "Paul Redmond, America's
     version of George Smiley--and a profane, brash, outspoken, caustic,
     courageous one at that" [p. 62]--as saying that "Americans are just
                  too nice to do counterintelligence well."

        With regard to assassination in the world of spy fiction, Hitz
     describes the dilemma created when the British intelligence service,
      as described by Graham Greene in The Human Factor, poisons a staff
        member erroneously thought to be a KGB penetration. The issue
       developed is not so much whether the death solved the immediate
        problem but whether it is ever right. In the nonfiction world,
       although the KGB under its legendary leader Lavrenty Beria once
        employed this alternative, Hitz shows that today the method is
       "emphatically not on among the Western intelligence services in
             handling problems with their countrymen." (p. 115).

    In the chapter titled "Sci-Fi," Hitz discusses the technology employed
        by fictional characters, including the time-honored tradecraft
    described in the George Smiley trilogy.[7]3 "None of this does justice
      to the real world of espionage," he concludes (p. 129). And while
        there is an element of truth here that becomes evident as Hitz
    discusses the role of satellites and codebreaking in the Cold War era,
       there is irony too when one considers that George Smiley's "time
    honored tradecraft" is still in use, as Hitz's own account of the Ames
                     and Hanssen cases makes quite clear.

       Throughout The Great Game Hitz provides a number of interesting
    details. Unfortunately, some of them are contradictory or inaccurate.
      For example, his asssertion on page 13 that "Sergeant Lonetree was
    induced by the Soviet intelligence service to open the vaulted area of
      the US embassy in Moscow to the Soviets for espionage purposes" is
         contradicted on page 105, where he says it didn't happen "as
    originally thought."[8]4 Of a somewhat lesser nature, Arnold Deutsch,
    the man who recruited Kim Philby, was Austrian, not Hungarian; Philby
    defected in 1963, not the "early 1950s" (p. 33); Ames was arrested on
     21 not 22 February 1994 (p. 35); Larry Wu-Tai Chin was caught in the
     1980s not the 1970s; and Greville Wynn was anything but "the unsung
     hero of the Penkovskiy operations" (p. 94). It is also incorrect to
      say that Robert Hanssen "alone selected the hiding places or 'dead
     drops,' where he concealed the spy information he was providing them
      and received the cash in payment" (p. 69). He did choose the first
         one, but the KGB selected the rest, although he was asked to
    approve.[9]5 Finally, the "first CIA intelligence chief in Moscow" was
      not compromised in a honeytrap and sent home; it did happen to the
    first intelligence officer sent to Moscow in connection with the Popov

    In answering his original question, Hitz concludes that, "no fictional
      account adequately captures the remarkable twists and turns that a
    genuine human spy goes through in pursuit of his mission of treachery
       and betrayal" (p. 189). This is a remarkable position when it is
      remembered that many of his academic colleagues hold the opposite
    view.[10]6 They would do well to rethink their positions. On the other
    hand, what he doesn't say is that no non-fiction account portrays all
     the vicissitudes of the espionage world either, although some of the
      recent studies of Cold War cases based on archival materials come
    close. The Great Game shows the real value of fiction when it examines
    the morality of espionage. Even when dealt with in the abstract, such
    issues are worth thinking about before the fact, and fiction does that

    If precedence is an indicator, one thing seems certain. As long as the
    Great Game continues, we can expect more fiction and non-fiction books
    about this calling. As Kipling wrote, "When everyone is dead the Great
                     Game is finished. Not before."[11]7


        [12]1. For the story of another walk-in, see Barry G. Royden,
    "Tolkachev, A Worthy Successor to Penkovsky," Studies in Intelligence
                               47, no. 3: 5-33.

       [13]2. David Wise, Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert
     Hanssen Betrayed America (New York: Random House, 2002) and Miranda
       Carter, Anthony Blunt: His Lives (New York: Farrar, Straus, and
                                Giroux, 2001).

     [14]3. Although Smiley appeared briefly in The Spy Who Came In From
       The Cold, the Smiley trilogy generally refers to Tinker, Tailor,
    Soldier Spy (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1974); Smiley's People (New
     York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980); and The Honorable Schoolboy (New York:
                           Alfred A. Knopf, 1977).

       [15]4. See Pete Earley, Confessions of A Spy: The Real Story of
             Aldrich Ames (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1997).

                               [16]5. See Wise.

     [17]6. Wesley Wark, Espionage: Past, Present, Future? (Portland, Or:
                              Frank Cass, 1994).

            [18]7. Rudyard Kipling, Kim (London: Macmillan, 1949).

        [19]Hayden B. Peake manages the CIA's Historical Intelligence


    4. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#author
    5. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn1
    6. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn2
    7. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn3
    8. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn4
    9. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn5
   10. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn6
   11. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#fn7
   12. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn1
   13. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn2
   14. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn3
   15. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn4
   16. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn5
   17. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn6
   18. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rfn7
   19. http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/vol48no3/article08.html#rauthor

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