David McKnight


McKnight, David. Australia's Spies and Their Secrets. London: UCL Press, 1994. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1994. St. Leonards, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1995. [pb]

McKnight, David. Espionage and the Roots of the Cold War: The Conspiratorial Heritage. London: Frank Cass, 2002.

Peake, Studies 47.1 (2003), finds this to be "a valuable, provocative, and well-documented study of Soviet COMINTERN espionage in its many forms from the Bolshevik days until 1950." The reviewer is, however, less enamored of the theoretical base within which the author tries to work. To Schecter, I&NS 18.3, this is "a sometimes fascinating but too often uneven study." The work's main "contribution is in tracing the links between Tsarist police repression and the growth of conspiratorial methods to avoid arrest." There is also "new material on the role of the Comintern and espionage, especially among the Asian communist parties."

[GenPostwar/CW; Russia/Overviews/00s]

McKnight, David. "The Moscow-Canberra Cables: How Soviet Intelligence Obtained British Secrets through the Back Door." Intelligence and National Security 13, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 159-170.

The Venona releases include over 200 decoded cables between Canberra and Moscow. The author draws three major conclusions from his analysis of the materials: (1) that communists in the Australian public service did give classified documents to the KGB; (2) that the testimony of the Petrovs "was largely accurate"; and (3) that the work of the 1954 Royal Commission on Espionage was not a politically motivated frameup of the Labor opposition.


McKnight, David. "Partisan Improprieties: Ministerial Control and Australia's Security Agencies, 1962-72." Intelligence and National Security 23, no. 5 (Oct. 2008): 707-725.

The author argues that "this study of the relationship between ASIO and Australian governments demonstrates that political partisanship did not primarily arise from the lack of accountability and executive autonomy of the agency.... The undoubted partisan behavior of ASIO largely stemmed from close 'democratic' control by ministers who sought to take advantage of the powers and secrecy of the security agency."


McKnight, David. "Western Intelligence and SEATO's War on Subversion, 1956-63." Intelligence and National Security 20, no. 2 (Jun. 2005): 288-303.

While SEATO's Committee of Security Experts (CSE) "provided a venue for liaison between security agencies in Southeast Asia and training for regional security bodies, its participating intelligence agencies proved unable to overcome broader differences at the strategic and diplomatic level of their parent nations." Clark comment: An egregious error occurs at p. 301, fn. 5, when "Charles" Colby is cited as the author of Honorable Men (1978).



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