Tag: espionage

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I discovered and read through the spy novels by Daniel Silva that included the Gabriel Allon Series. What I enjoyed the most was his continuation of the same group of characters in each novel. You got to know their personalities, quirks, weaknesses and strengths, so it was appealing because you became invested on a more […]

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Reading the Enemy’s Mail

 

One of the most storied commanders of World War II was German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.  A hero in his own country he was Britain’s most admired enemy during that war. He gained much of his reputation while commanding the Afrika Korps against the British in Egypt. Rommel claimed his success was due to his ability to think like his opposite number, putting himself inside the mind of his opponent. It turned out Rommel was not reading his enemy’s mind. He was reading his mail.

“War of Shadows: Codebreakers, Spies, and the Secret Struggle to Drive the Nazis from the Middle East,” by Gershom Gorenberg, examines espionage and signal intelligence during the 1940-42 African campaigns.

Gorenberg takes a fresh look at World War II in Africa using previously unpublished memoirs and interviews of surviving participants (some made years ago, saved and archived) and recently declassified war records. Many records, especially those relating to wartime espionage and signal intelligence remained classified into the opening years of the twenty-first century.

The Perfect Spy

 

The Soviet Union was known for its spies. Some were good at their craft. Others were hopelessly inept. “Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy,” by Ben Macintyre is a biography of a woman who might have been the Soviet Union’s best and most effective spy.

Ursula Kuczynsky was born into a rich, leftist Jewish German family in 1907. In 1924, Ursula became a committed Communist. She never deviated from that belief in socialism, although Communism’s collapse in the late 1990s disillusioned her.

Macintyre’s book describes her life and career. She joined the German Communist Party at 18, going to America in 1928 before returning to Germany. There she married architect Rudi Hamburger, also Jewish and leftist, but not then a Communist. With architectural jobs scarce in Depression-era Germany, Hamburger took a job in Shanghai in 1930.

Basia and the Squirrel: Scruton’s Tale of Eros Transubstantiated

 

“The apostolic church is a church of the heart. When you steal from it you steal the heart. Hence the theft is easy, and amends are long and hard.” A strange way to sum up a story of erotic love. Nonetheless, it was Scruton’s way, as he described, in the second half of his essay, Stealing from Churches, the thwarted love affair that taught him a “narrative of transubstantiation” transmuting body into soul. In truth, the love affair wasn’t thwarted at all, but one that fulfilled its purpose, a purpose his stubborn young beloved, Basia (pronounced “Basha”), saw more clearly than he did.

Scruton had organized a subversive summer school for the Catholic University in Poland, bringing together Polish and English philosophy students to resist communism. Under the codename “Squirrel” (in Polish “Wiewiorka”, for his red hair) and tailed by at least one jug-eared agent, Scruton had stumbled into more James-Bond mystique than most ginger-haired philosophy dons could hope for. It would be almost cliche, then, for an exotic young thing to throw herself at him. Wry-smiling, stunning Basia was no cliche, though. Or rather, if she were, it would be the cliche in a kind of story too little told these days to count as cliche anymore.

Basia, at 26, the oldest, most academically-advanced of the bright young things attending Scruton’s summer lectures and their unofficial leader, was an uppity young woman with a checkered past. She wasted little time with Scruton: after his second day in Kazimierz, she waylaid him in the woods to announce she noticed no ring on his finger. Such a frank admission of desire seems likely to end in embarrassment all round whether the desire is reciprocated or not, and perhaps it would have if it weren’t accompanied by her equally frank admission that consummating desire was not her aim:

Book Review: British Intelligence Gathers Germany’s Secrets

 

When World War II started, British Intelligence embarked on one of the war’s most audacious information-gathering projects.

They outfitted cells in the Tower of London for prisoners of war to secretly eavesdrop on inhabitants’ conversations.

“The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II” by Helen Fry, tells what happened.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America close the week with three crazy martinis and a champagne toast. They sigh as President Trump tweets that he is ordering U.S. companies to scale back in China in response to the very real practice of China ripping us off. They also evaluate former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s claims that he was ordered to conduct political espionage on four presidential candidates in 2015-2016 on orders from the FBI and Justice Department. They react to CNN hiring disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as an analyst. And Jim offers a toast to the late David Koch for his tireless efforts to expand freedom and opportunity to Americans.

That’s the title of one of William F. Buckley Jr.’s novels: “Spytime.” Its subtitle is “The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton.” Jay asks his guest, H. Keith Melton, about Angleton – and about much else. Melton is one of the world’s foremost experts on espionage. He has amassed the greatest espionage collection. He is the author of many books, and is a founding director of the new International Spy Museum in Washington. He knows a lot of secrets – and shares some of them with us. Among the items in his collection, incidentally, is the ice pick used to kill Trotsky.

This Week’s Book Review – Code Name: Lise

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.

Book Review

“Code Name: Lise” reads like a thriller and a romance, yet is solid history

By MARK LARDAS

Apr 9, 2019

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I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday. Book Review ‘Gray Day’ details uncovering a cyber spy By MARK LARDAS Preview […]

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How To Catch a Spy and Enter the Navy for Dummies

 

So if you are trying to boost your resume to realize a lifelong dream of becoming a Navy Intelligence Officer, what would you do? Naveed Jamali did what any bright, bold, and determined American Millennial would do. He became a double-agent for the United States. Wait a minute … back up.

Naveed grew up like any other kid on the block. He loved G.I Joe, his Navy model airplane kits, his toy tanks, and guns. His parents were first-generation Americans, his mother from France and his father from Pakistan. They met at Columbia University, fell in love and married, and opened a book and research center in New York City. Working in his parent’s increasingly successful book business, they grew accustomed to a specific type of regular visitor, Russians under diplomatic cover at the UN.

For 30 years, a regular rotation of supposedly innocent diplomats came in with their lists, asking for specific books, reports, and publications. These visits would be followed up 30 minutes later with a visit from the FBI. The FBI tracked their movements and requests also for 30 years.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads in disgust as a straight Obamacare repeal appears doomed in the Senate, due to opposition from multiple Republican senators who voted for the very same bill two years ago – when they knew it would be vetoed.  They also react to reports that President Trump engaged in a dinner conversation with Vladimir Putin without any other members of his staff, including a U.S. translator.  And they wonder if an intervention is necessary for liberal writer Louise Mensch, after she tweeted that unnamed people might seek the death penalty for White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon due to his supposed espionage on behalf of the Russians.

Obama to Free Chelsea Manning

 

For the past month, Democrats have screamed about the danger of WikiLeaks and Russian hackers. But when it comes to a guy who damaged US military and intelligence assets instead of the DNC, Obama has decided even massive leaks are unimportant. From the New York Times:

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration, and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Sunday. When it appears, I post the previous week’s review on Ricochet. Seawriter Book Review ‘Spies in the Congo’ takes a look at the atomic […]

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Powell Aide: Snowden “Pure as a Driven Snow”

 

SnowdenSnowden “more helpful than dangerous” says ex-Colin Powell Chief of Staff:

The leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about US worldwide surveillance have helped rather than harmed America, and the leaks haven’t endangered lives.

Lawrence “Larry” Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the last Bush administration, said that he believed Snowden’s assertions that he leaked out of concern for the US breaking both domestic and international law.

Fun With Files

 

shutterstock_285175289China has scored an intelligence coup by breaking into the Office of Personnel Management database and making off with the files on millions of current and former government officials. Estimates of the number of officials whose information was taken range from a low of 4 million to 14 million. Of course, the Chinese are not going to be interested in every clerk in the bowels of the Department of Agriculture. But they will have gained access, according to reports, to the background information on all those who held sensitive national security positions in the government.

For those curious what the information contained in these files might be, here is the form for national security clearances. It basically asks for every place you have ever lived, everywhere you have gone to school and worked, any groups you have joined, the names of anyone who has known you in any of these stages of your life, extended family members, contacts with foreigners, medical information, legal affairs, and so on.  The form is 120 pages.

It is then supplemented by an FBI background investigation, which collects all information, truthful or not, unfiltered and unevaluated, about the official. As someone who has held these type of clearances, I don’t have a right to see my own file — although now I guess I can ask the Chinese for it.

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I am. It’s enjoyable seeing depictions of events happening during our war for independence, based on real life characters, including George Washington. The characters and situations are pretty real, even the characters from the mother country. The series is about how we learned the importance of developing spy networks at a crucial time in our […]

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