The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage

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9780375412103: The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage

In this fascinating analysis, Frederick Hitz, former inspector general of the Central Intelligence Agency, contrasts the writings of well-known authors of spy novels—classic and popular—with real-life espionage cases. Drawing on personal experience both as a participant in “the Great Game” and as the first presidentially appointed inspector general, Hitz shows the remarkable degree to which truth is stranger than fiction.

The vivid cast of characters includes real life spies Pyotr Popov and Oleg Penkovsky from Soviet military intelligence; Kim Philby, the infamous Soviet spy; Aldrich Ames, the most damaging CIA spy to American interests in the Cold War; and Duane Clarridge, a CIA career operations officer. They are held up against such legendary genre spies as Bill Haydon (le Carré’s mole in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Magnus Pym (in le Carré’s A Perfect Spy), Tom Rogers (in David Ignatius’s Agents of Innocence), and Maurice Castle (in Graham Greene’s The Human Factor).

As Hitz skillfully weaves examples from a wide range of espionage activities—from covert action to counterintelligence to classic agent operations—we see that the actual is often more compelling than the imaginary, and that real spy case histories present moral and other questions far more pointedly than fiction.
A lively account of espionage, spy tradecraft, and, most of all, the human dilemmas of betrayal, manipulation, and deceit.

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About the Author:

Frederick P. Hitz was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School. He entered the Central Intelligence Agency as an operations officer in 1967, where Aldrich Ames was in his training class. After 1973 he served at the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy, leading to a second stint with the CIA from 1978 to 1982 as legislative counsel to the director of Central Intelligence and deputy chief of operations for Europe. In 1990, Hitz was appointed the first statutory inspector general of the CIA by President Bush and served in this post until May 1998, when he retired to begin a teaching career at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.

Hitz has received medals for distinguished service in the Department of Defense and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Distinguished Medal. He lives in northern Virginia.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

One
Recruitment

To be blunt, leadership is the ability to dominate and get your way. To do that requires the ability to inspire and provide trust, self-confidence, recognizable professional skills, caring, and many other qualities.

I submit you need these same skills when recruiting an agent, whose cooperation with you, if exposed, holds risk of death, imprisonment, or at a minimum dishonor. As you move into the recruitment "pitch" and the full dimensions of what you are asking dawns on the prospective agent, he or she looks at you with consummate disbelief, even when he or she more or less expects something is coming. Although perhaps not articulated, their eyes scream that what you want is the most ludicrous thing ever requested of them. In the end you succeed through leadership, for through the development of the agent you have brought yourself into a position of dominance and trust.

This excerpt from Duane "Dewey" Clarridge's autobiography is an experienced spy runner's take on the qualities needed to effect recruitment of an agent. In order to collect secret information from foreign countries, which is the essence of spying, one must recruit human sources to gain access to that information. Clarridge has described the straight-up recruitment approach, at which he was adept, but that approach is obviously not the only way to acquire the keys to the secret kingdom. There are as many possibilities as there are human foibles and motivations to exploit. In the textbook case, recruitment occurs only after the potential spy has been identified as having access to the information being sought, has been assessed as vulnerable to a recruitment approach, and has been cultivated to bring him into a state of mind where he might consider a recruitment pitch without denouncing the recruiter to the authorities. The object of the recruitment pitch is to acquire control over the prospective spy so that he will accept direction from the spy runner.

Seldom does the saga unfold in the manner prescribed in the Sarratt (the British Secret Intelligence Service, known as SIS or MI6) or CIA training manuals. A good fictional illustration of this is contained in David Ignatius's account of agent operations in the Middle East, Agents of Innocence. The central character, CIA case officer Tom Rogers (who is loosely modeled on a real CIA officer killed in the Beirut embassy bombing in 1983), cultivates the deputy chief of Fatah intelligence as a secret informant on terrorist threats to U.S. citizens traveling and working in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Rogers is an experienced Arabist with good Arabic-language skills who painstakingly establishes rapport with PECOCK, as the Fatah official is encrypted. (A recruited or potential spy is given a cryptonym in order to protect his identity in normal correspondence between the field and Headquarters.) Rogers's recruitment philosophy is remarkably uncomplicated. It is based on the simple observation that people like to talk: old politicians want to tell war stories and young revolutionaries want to explain how they plan to change the world. Rogers observes that they should not be telling him these things but they always do. All of them, all over the world, seek the ear of an interested American, he believes, and with his open, straightforward approach, just listening beats all the gadgets and formal contractual procedures for obtaining useful secret information.

Recruiting someone is about getting him to do what you want, rather than just forcing him to do what he doesn't want. I learned a long time ago that it's easy to manipulate people-if you know what you want from them and don't tell them why you're being so friendly.

Rogers's superiors do not share his philosophy. In order to secure PECOCK's cooperation as a penetration of Fatah, they want a more businesslike arrangement in which control is exchanged for money. When Rogers is unsuccessful in getting PECOCK to plant a bug in the conference room of a rival Palestinian terrorist organization, the recruitment issue comes to a head:

In the world of recruiting agents, playing by the book meant contracts that were clearly understood by both sides, ones that imposed on the slippery and deceitful world of espionage, some of the order of the legal world. Marsh liked relationships that were clear and straightforward. I buy your services for an agreed-upon price; you agree to deliver certain material in exchange; we both profit by the relationship. He understood that sort of arrangement, and he believed in it. Each side knew the risks and rewards. It was a transaction between adults. What troubled Marsh were relationships that were more complicated, where subtler and less orderly moti-vations prevailed. Those relationships-based on frail human emotions like friendship, respect, and loyalty-were the dangerous ones. And perhaps also less moral.

Marsh, of course, acts on his philosophy, and in a showdown meeting with PECOCK in Rome tries to put the harness on him, at which point, in an outburst of rage, PECOCK bolts from the meeting site in disgust. It turns out that PECOCK's relationship with Rogers had been sanctioned by the political head of Fatah from the beginning. It was never a unilateral recruitment into a clandestine relationship, but it had worked because there had been a useful exchange of undertakings by both sides. The United States had not joined the Israeli effort to eliminate Fatah, and PECOCK had kept the U.S. informed of terrorist plots against Americans-a beneficial bargain. When Rogers is able to reestablish the relationship on that basis with PECOCK, the two collaborate until they are both killed, in separate bombing incidents.

Sometimes intelligence services attempt a more coercive approach. In Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Dimitrios, Karol Bulic, a Serbian employee of the Yugoslav Defense Ministry, is suborned by appealing to his self-conceit, greed, and zest for gambling. After the spymaster has established Bulic's access to Yugoslav plans to mine the Adriatic against incursions by the Italian fleet, Bulic is invited to a gambling den by an "international businessman" who implies a promise of future employment. Bulic is then lent some capital with which to gamble and maintain his pose as a worldly figure. He proceeds to lose badly, and the "businessman" pulls the string, forcing Bulic to steal the plans in order to satisfy his debt. The scheme eventually disintegrates into a farcical double cross by an operative named Dimitrios Makropoulos, but the point is established. In this espionage-for-hire caper, blackmail is the tool chosen to mount the recruitment. A Coffin for Dimitrios represents one of the better spy novels of the 1930s, after the epoch of the spy as protagonist and before the beginnings of World War II and Cold War spy fiction.

In real life, the British and American intelligence services have seldom banked on coercive recruitments because such recruitments contravene Anglo-Saxon legal and cultural norms and have been found, by and large, to produce unsatisfactory results. Whether that is because we are simply inept at blackmail, one can only conjecture. By contrast, the Soviet and

Eastern European intelligence services have used women operatives to entrap Western businessmen and government officials in sexual liaisons in order to secure their cooperation in intelligence tasks. This technique, in spy vernacular a "honey trap," was particularly prevalent in Berlin and Vienna from 1946 on, but it was utilized most effectively in Moscow in the 1980s to ensnare U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Clayton J. Lonetree. After he was confronted with photographs of his sexual dalliance with a female Soviet intelligence officer, Sergeant Lonetree was induced by the Soviet intelligence service to open the vaulted area of the U.S. embassy in Moscow to the Soviets for espionage purposes.

In addition to the traditional fee-for-service espionage recruitment, coerced or voluntary, there are some specialized versions. For example, Clarridge talks about "false flag" recruitments. While serving in India in 1963, he targeted a minor weekly newspaper which was espousing a strong pro-Chinese line in the ideological struggle between Soviet and Chinese Communism then taking place in southern India. He proposed to push the paper further and further to the left with the hope of prompting government intervention to suppress it. The publisher was Tamil, so to get in touch with him, Clarridge "borrowed" a support agent named Petros from outside India.

Petros didn't look Chinese, but on the other hand, he didn't look Indian either. "Eurasian" might fit. I brought him to Madras and gave him specific instructions: "Go see the pro-Chinese publisher. Tell him you have come from Beijing, or "the Center," as they call it. Offer him this stipend that he can't refuse, and recruit him on behalf of Beijing."

This would be a "false flag" recruitment-when an intelligence service recruits a target while pretending to represent another nation-a common piece of tradecraft. When you finally recruit the target, he believes he is providing information to some other nation. The Israelis have often used this technique by impersonating CIA officers when trying to recruit Arabs.

In the event, the scheme worked brilliantly. The pro-Chinese publisher took the bait and was proud that his work had come to Beijing's attention. Again, the Soviets made abundant use of this technique during the Cold War. They succeeded in getting Soviet Bloc intelligence services to make recruitments on their behalf-West Germans were recruited by their East German brethren, for example. It permitted the sponsoring service to insulate itself from blowback if the recruitment attempt failed, and achieve greater success as well.

Some recruitment approaches stand very little chance of success but are mounted anyway, because the downside risk is dwarfed by the potential gain if the pitch is accepted...

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