Frank Cain


Cain, Frank. The Australian Security Intelligence Organization: An Unofficial History. Richmond, Australia: Spectrum, 1994. London: Frank Cass, 1994. 1994. [pb]

Surveillant 4.1 notes that this book provides an "analysis ... of the innovative administrative and parliamentary controls which have been established for intelligence bodies in Australia as well as a discussion of the future of ASIO." Peake, WIR 16.3, hangs a "Reader, beware" sign on this work. Primary in this determination is Cain's "assertion that Petrov ... was a 'planted defector'" and his wildly inaccurate generalizations about Golitsin.

According to Rich, WIR 14.1, Cain's work includes "an excellent summary of the operations of the forerunners" of ASIO. This is "a well-documented book," and its failures "are those of judgment rather than scholarship. Dr. Cain does not ... think that the Communists were a real threat to Australia. So the security measures seem draconian and highly intrusive.... Nevertheless, the Communists had a worldwide agenda, and this would have been a better book if Dr. Cain had demonstrated an awareness of that fact."

For Lustgarten, I&NS 11.1, the historical part of Cain's account is "well-researched" and his analysis "generally persuasive." However, his "discussion of more recent developments ... seems ... somewhat less so. It is unduly grudging in its appreciation of the changes set in train by the appointment of Mr Justice Robert M. Hope ... to inquire into ASIO."

Clark comment: Perhaps the strongest negative comment to be made on Cain's work is retrospective in nature, that is, the author's doubts about the existence of the Venona material and, consequently, his disbelief in Australian nationals' involvement with Soviet espionage organizations. His strongest criticisms of ASIO ring even more hollow today than they did when written.


Cain, Frank. "Missiles and Mistrust: US Intelligence Responses to British and Australian Missile Research." Intelligence and National Security 3, no. 4 (Oct. 1988): 5-22.

The focus here is on the period from the end of World War II to late 1950. The author's position: Those big bad Americans got more than they gave. Yeah, sure.


Cain, Frank. The Origins of Political Surveillance in Australia. Sydney, Australia: Angus & Robertson, 1983.

This work concerns the Investigation Branch of the Australian Attorney-General's Department which functioned from 1920 to 1949. Cain picks up the story in his later work, The Australian Security Intelligence Organization: An Unofficial History (London: Frank Cass, 1994).


Cain, Frank. "The Right to Know: ASIO, Historians and the Australian Parliament." Intelligence and National Security 8, no. 1 (Jan. 1993): 87- 101.


Cain, Frank. "Signals Intelligence in Australia during the Pacific War." Intelligence and National Security 14, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 40-61.

Australian Sigint people worked alongside their American counterparts in the Central Bureau after MacArthur and his people arrived from the Philippines in 1942. Personnel at the Bureau were "roughly 50 per cent American, 25 per cent Australian Army and 25 per cent Australian Air Force."


Cain, Frank. "Venona in Australia and Its Long-Term Ramifications." Journal of Contemporary History 35, no. 2 (Apr. 2000): 231-248.

The central conclusion here -- that the information contained in the Canberra/Moscow Venona materials exacerbated tensions between the U.S. government and the Labor government in Australia -- is primarily a yawner. The author's clear distaste for R.G. Menzies clouds many of his judgments.


Return to Australia A-G

Return to Cai-Cal