Three-Volume History of Counterintelligence

CI Reader: An American Revolution Into the New Millennium, Volumes I, II, and III is published by the U.S. Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. (No, I've never heard of them, either.)

EDITED TO ADD (6/14): There's a fourth volume, too.

Posted on June 1, 2011 at 8:59 AM • 28 Comments


BF SkinnerJune 1, 2011 9:15 AM

COIN is usually the responsibility of agencies internal security backed by the feebies/DHS isnt' it?

To establish an office in DNI makes sense I guess if they are looking at the policy or strategic level.

Captain ObviousJune 1, 2011 9:32 AM

I figured the history of US politics would fill far more than three volumes.

Robert in San DiegoJune 1, 2011 9:39 AM

I wonder what they'll have to say about the US Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps in the aftermath of World War II. The CIC had a nasty proclivity for ignoring Nazi activities if the subject would just be a good anti-communist.

NobodySpecialJune 1, 2011 11:19 AM

"Volumes I II and II" - shouldn't there be volumes "I , III and IV" but nobody talks about II ?

Isaac RabinovitchJune 1, 2011 12:48 PM

According to Wikipedia, NCIX was created in response to the Aldrich Ames affair. Their current connection to ODNI dates from the post-9/11 bureaucratic reshuffle.

They've created a rather lame collection of "awareness" posters:

Particularly appalling are posters where Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and the First Amendment are quoted to *support* censorship, with fairly dubious logic.

Davi OttenheimerJune 1, 2011 1:26 PM

Most of it has a very one-sided perspective to the writing but I thought some of the McCarthy text was especially off-the-mark.

They fail to call him what he was in his early campaign trail -- a liar:

"McCarthy’s trademark style was an aggressive backslapping, baby kissing campaign in which he kept his opponent off balance with a barrage of charges and allegations, most of which were of
dubious validity."

Then they try to give statistical credibility to his infamously bogus Lee list:

"Undoubtedly there were disloyal persons named. However, many were apparently listed on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations or associations."

Yeah, ok, statistically there should undoubtedly be disloyal persons.

That's no excuse for McCarthy-ism.

And then their analysis seems to push us to believe that McCarthy lost popularity due to his poor homework if he could have been more successful. Is this a warning to McCarthy-ists of today?

"McCarthy had enemies, and as time went on, and his sloppy shotgun methods splattered more targets, an active opposition to the Senator began to build."

Suggesting McCarthy could have been less sloppy is like suggesting witch hunts could find more realistic-looking fake noses to strap on innocent victims (ala "that's not my nose, it's a carrot" in Monty Python terms)

A witch hunt starts with the premise that witches are evil before it gets to the point that someone must be a witch. It's a catastrophic failure of logic.

McCarthy's method was from the beginning a smear campaign that used drama and opaqueness to build support.

There's no excuse for it, especially not now.

Nonetheless, I find here the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive digs deep to find a reason to defend McCarthy, while taking a cheap shot at historians.

"The point could be raised in McCarthy’s defense that he was, along with the other legislative investigative committees such as the HUAC, exposing to public view elements of a national problem that had for too long been the exclusive domain of highly secretive government agencies. The judgement of contemporary historians, however, is clear. They condemn McCarthy as the 1950s version of a witch hunter, without any socially redeeming qualities. And historians always have the last word."

The judgement? Condemn? He *was* a witch hunter. He failed to raise any actual intelligence or security issue of any kind, let alone merit, while causing serious detriment to the country. What was the good part again? Raising public support for the intelligence agencies? Meh.

Tom VJune 1, 2011 1:39 PM

@Isaac Rabinovitch:
Are you sure the Lincoln and Jefferson posters aren't plagiarizing 1984?

Clive RobinsonJune 1, 2011 2:20 PM

@ Robert, BF Skinner,

"proclivity for ignoring Nazi activities"

There where a couple of reasons, one being the well known "cold war" which did not start untill a few years after the cessation of hostilities in Europe.

However prior to that where the "Nazi War Crimes Scandals". It turns out that much of the evidence provided at the trials was fabricated or tourtured out of those being tried. It included all the usuall forms of tourture we have seen of more recent times including mock trials and executions, starvation, sensory depravation, etc etc.

There was an investigation in Washington where a little known (at the time) McCarthy threw the toys out of the pram and stormed out of the investigation accusing the investigators of criminal activity.

The investigation unsurprisingly white washed as much as they could, however there was to much evidence to ignore so they went for the least they could get away with.

The simple fact was back then as now few Americans had any sympathy for those being put through the process and little stomach to accept that it was going on in their name. However back then few media outlets were interested in making it news.

However as with what has been going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, others have seen and noted it and have used it as propaganda to raise opposition to US activities or as Richard Steven Hack notes "blowback".

Eric SJune 1, 2011 4:44 PM

@Davi Ottenheimer,
Keep in mind there actually were rather a lot of Soviet agents operating in and around the US and Canada at the time. Rather more Soviet spies than you would expect from a "statistical" approach, these were in fact the product of a studied and methodical attack by the KGB. (c.f. Andrew, Christopher and Mitrokhin, Vasili. "The Sword and the Shield: the Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB.")

So NCIX is partly right, in that McCarthy was overall right (there were indeed Reds under the bed) but wrong in his details and accusations (he had no clue which the actual Reds were, and he was looking under the wrong bed).

If you read Mitrokhin, it does appear that the drama and horrible injustices of McCarthy's methods did, by reducing the popularity of the American Communist Party, reduce the number and ability of the Soviets to spy on the US. And even if he was way off in the details, the problem (from the US government point of view) was real. That's why NCIX defends them.

What NCIX doesn't quite get, and which you do, is that McCarthy's tactics were more than a little evil, probably unconstitutional, and (from a counter-spy's perspective, worst of all) hugely inefficient... they may have helped 'get the job done,' but a competent counter-intelligence program would have done a lot more to find and stop the actual spies without all the crap that had Americans punishing a whole category of people that had little to do with the real problem.

BF SkinnerJune 1, 2011 4:59 PM

@Clive Robinson " "cold war" which did not start untill a few years "

Exiengicies of war? I wouldn't give them that much leeway.

The scientists were being rounded up by both sides before Germany's surrender.
It was planned, like the world after the war was planned for.

Richard Steven HackJune 1, 2011 6:53 PM

It would be interesting to see what they have to say about Sibel Edmonds - given that during her work at the FBI she assisted agents in uncovering evidence of treason at the highest levels of the US government and various moles in the FBI translation department.

For which she was fired from the FBI, then gagged by the DoJ from ever speaking about what she learned (which hasn't stopped her entirely).

That's not how counter-intelligence is supposed to work.

Check her out:

And her current blog:

Trichinosis USAJune 1, 2011 8:06 PM

The two "trade secrets" posters are very interesting, given that a basic tenet of fascism is the merging of government and corporate interests. They're not even bothering to hide it anymore.

Dirk PraetJune 1, 2011 8:25 PM

@ Eric S / Davi

I went through page 47-49 of part III on Joseph McCarthy too. I believe his methods boiled down to carpet bombing an entire town based on questionable intel to smoke out potential terrorists and then failing to capture even one of them. In addition to that, his demeanour was nothing short of that of infamous nazi Chief Prosecutor Roland Freisler. For those who have never heard about him, youtube is your friend. McCarthy's acts are utterly indefensible for anyone but Macchiavelli afficionados.

The most striking part of the chapter on McCarthy to me however is not how mild the authors are on him, but the almost scary transposition you can make by replacing communism by terrorism and applying the content to today. The only difference I see is that in our days we are no longer dealing with one person, but with a beast with hundreds of heads that is the military industrial complex. The positive lesson to be learnt here is that maybe one day they too will overstretch themselves and have the general public turn against them. Remember that one of the primary reasons of the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's was that their economy just could no longer sustain their military-philosophical dogmas and keeping up with the US. One of the drawings in I believe volume II also says that "Americans will always fight for liberty". I certainly hope they haven't forgotten about it.

But even in this scenario, many scholars and historians in time to come will have a serious bone to chew on explaining the ease and willingness of both ordinary and highly educated Americans to conform to unparalleled military and "security" spending as well as unprecedented government attacks on their privacy and civil liberties.

Peter E RetepJune 1, 2011 8:59 PM

While seeming to provide specific research and analysis granularity,
these are cases preserved for study, as exemplars only.
Thousands of personnel, and billions of dollars were expended operationally
by each of the adversary powers, with varying results.
The identification of, and exercise of, purely economic deception operations
would be an interesting area for intelligent contemporary focus.

Clive RobinsonJune 1, 2011 11:22 PM

@ BF Skinner,

"The scientists were being rounded up by both sides before Germany's surrender"

Hmm it was much, much more, interesting than that.

The war in Europe was at best a loose confederation of compeating Alies busy infighting each other against one nation Germany and it's very weak axis partners (who had only "jumped on the train" when it looked like Germany was unstopable).

If you look at how the battle of the bulge nearly succeeded and the problems progressing up Italy you will get a real taste of "WTF were they doing".

If you read the end of Prof RV Jones's book you will find an overview of how the various Alies "scientific intelligence" teams chased after the bits and pieces of German technology whilst more seriously concerned with fighting each other and stealing each others finds.

With regards the V2 rockets you will find that the reason the Americans got what they did was because the two men in charge of the German rocket development made a very very concerted effort to surrender to the US troops and hid various caches of documents and parts around the place to use as barganing chips. In one case it was sixteen tonnes of technical documents in a disused mine.

Stalin had agreed with both The American and British leaders to allow access to the german technology. However in reality what the Russians did was closely follow the teams and steal their finds, in one case thousands of parts that had been carefully packed and put in sealed crates on being opened had been replaced with broken and rusting old aero engines. But the same was happening with the British team and the Americans. On a number of occasions the Americans stole British finds and there is a wonderful story of highway robbery to get some of them back only to lose some of them again where for some "unacountable reason" they got diverted in the docks and put on an American ship etc. Most of the invaded Western Euopean countries have similar stories of having the US "Might is Right" doctrine shoved down their throats when it came to "the spoils of war".

Other countries in a less fortunate position of being in the East just got crushed under Stalin's boot and whole countries were treated as "spoils of war" and turned into vasal states to act as a buffer zone against envisaged European invasion.

This later became the US as well via the likes of various agreaments that gave rise to NATO etc as the cold war started.

It's arguable as to who's paranoia contributed most to the build up of the cold war, and in the modern context it is quite difficult to understand the fears prevalent at the time.

It is easy to see the Russian attitude as being due to Stalin alone, but this would be to simplistic and miss the important historical lessons. For instance "ethnic purity" in it's various forms was endemic across the whole of the western world prior to the second world war as well as anti semitic behaviour. Likewise the paranoia about communism which gave fascist organisations across Europe the legitimacy of main stream politics.

Most of the Russian hierarchy feared the Europeans fostering a "White Russian" uprising to depose them as had nearly happened in the 1917-23 Russian Civil War. And this fear was amplified by the concept of modern warfare that Germany had given rise to which had so easily got past the French defences and captured entire nations in just days.

Fascinating as the first half of the whole 20th Century European History is it takes quite concerted effort just to get a grip on one tiny part of it, and as a result what is taught in the main is vastly over simplified and in many cases portrays people incorrectly as heros and madmen.

Which is unfortunate because the real leasons to be learnt from the likes of Hitler and Stalin are being hidden, and sadly we are begining to see them repeated in other places.

Nick PJune 2, 2011 1:43 AM

@ BF Skinner

"The scientists were being rounded up by both sides before Germany's surrender. It was planned, like the world after the war was planned for."

Indeed. Nazi scientists were the best of the best in that time. Today, we know they invented or improved many technologies and bodies of knowledge that the modern age is built on. Some historians said they were about five years ahead of the rest of the world at any given time. The US used them in many areas: space program; MKULTRA mind control experiments; bioweapon research.

I remember watching a show where a guy laughed at the claim that Americans won the "space race" between "United States" and "Soviet Union." He said, "American? Our main capabilities were developed by German scientists. It was really a German space program." He had a point. Amazing how little of history makes it into the history books. I always wondered what a true history book would read like.

BF SkinnerJune 2, 2011 7:39 AM

What I did find interesting was an off hand report in Jacobsen's Area 51 that the Soviets kicked out their German slave scientists after they were done with them.

Clive RobinsonJune 2, 2011 11:34 AM

@ BF Skinner,

"... that the Soviets kicked out their German slave scientists after they were done with them."

Err there have been various differing reports about the fate of various German Scientists put under forced work by the Soviets.

Some reports make it clear that some of the scientists got "disapeared permanently" via a 9mm and a hole in the ground in some wilderness spot.

Others got sent to the Russian equivalent of Concentration camps to be worked to death.

Few if any got the chance of a normal existance either during or after they where put to work.

A few very lucky ones who had originaly come from land now under Russian control were alowed to move back to friends and family.

As far as the Russian hierarchy were concerned in general these German scientists were never ever to be trusted, nor were there relatives.

In many ways it was "blowback" for the German part in the Russian Civil war.

William LeeJune 7, 2011 6:57 AM

I would expect three volumes of mis- & dis-information, and propaganda. I mean, isn't that their job?

John SylvesterJune 16, 2011 9:59 AM

I referenced the Vol 4 page you listed above. Took a couple minutes to stop laughing about the irony in the Google Analytics hooks embedded in the page.


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