Intelligence Tradecraft

P - Z


Pincus, Walter. "The Spies Who Are Really Out in the Cold." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 22-28 Jan. 1996, 18-19.

"[O]ne of the most sensitive debates in the U.S. intelligence community is whether to step up the overseas use of NOCs ["nonofficial cover" officers], not only by the CIA but also by the Pentagon's Defense Humint Service and the FBI, both of which also can work abroad under cover." Pincus quotes a former official for a host of problems associated with the use of NOCs: expense, control difficulties, support costs and complexities, and stress on the individual, among others.

Pribbenow, Merle L. "The Man in the Snow White Cell: Limits to Interrogation." Studies in Intelligence 48, no. 1 (2004): 59-69

The author reviews the South Vietnamese and U.S. interrogation of Nguyen Tai, "the most senior North Vietnamese officer ever captured during the Vietnam War." His conclusion that there is no place for physical torture in the American ideal has much to recommend it.

Schnell, Jane. "Snapshots at Random." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 2 (Summer 1961): 17-23.

"If you have a batch of photos taken anywhere abroad, properly identified and preferably with negatives, the [CIA Graphics] Register would like to look them over.... And if it knows in advance that you are going to have a tour in some less well frequented place, it may be interested enough ... to supply you with camera and film."

Stanton, George. "Defense Against Communist Interrogation Organizations." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 4 (Fall 1969): 71-101. In Inside CIA's Private World: Declassified Articles from the Agency's Internal Journal, 1955-1992, ed. H. Bradford Westerfield, 415-436. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

This article constitutes a cogent manual on how to resist interrogation by counterintelligence organizations.

Steinmeyer, Walter. "Installation Penetration." Studies in Intelligence 6, no. 3 (Summer 1962): 47-54.

"Objectives and techniques of acquiring assets in East European official missions around the world."

Weiner, Tim. "Master Creator of Ghosts Is Honored by His Kind." New York Times, 19 Sep. 1997, A11 (N).

At an 18 September 1997 ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Tony Mendez, a retired technical services officer, was honored as "one of 50 all-time stars of the spy trade.... He helped create the escape plan, the false identities and the disguises that got six Americans out of revolutionary Teheran while others were held hostage in 1980."

Weiser, Benjamin. A Secret Life: The Polish Officer, His Covert Mission, and the Price He Paid to Save His Country. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. New York: PublicAffairs, 2004. [pb]

The paperback edition includes a brief addition to the "Postscript" noting Kuklinski's death on 11 February 2004 and the return of his ashes to Poland.

Clark comment: This may be the best book on human intelligence ever published. The people -- on both sides of the case officer/spy tandem -- are real people. The author allows their humanness to come through in both their words and actions. The dilemmas faced by Kuklinski and his handlers are presented in such a way that even those who have never had to face such decisions can readily understand and even identify with the potential harm that could come from a wrong move. The use of tradecraft -- the excellent use of tradecraft -- by the CIA officers and Kuklinski is carefully blended into the fabric of the story and is not overstated. Tradecraft is given the appropriate appearance of being little more than a normal part of the life of those who have to live by what otherwise would be rather strange-seeming activities. As Tom Troy says in Studies 48.2, "A Secret Life is a joy to read. Col. Ryszard Kuklinski is a hero, and Benjamin Weiser has written a great book about him." See also, my review in Defense Intelligence Journal 16.2 (2007): 155-156.

Eisner, Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2004, comments that "this well-done biography ... reveals the passions and tensions faced by Polish leaders under the thumb of Moscow during the 1970s and '80s. Weiser has produced a fascinating portrayal of Kuklinski, who decided that the best way to serve Polish nationalism was to become a spy for the West." The author's "lively narrative describes Kuklinski's nine years working for U.S. intelligence, converting interviews and a mountain of documentation into a page-turner."

For Jajko, Intelligencer 14.1, this is "a lucid, tightly organized book" and "a magnificent tale." The author's "narrative flows smoothly, explaining clearly and concisely all the main events of Colonel Kuklinski's double life without descent into tedious detail."

Troy, Studies 48.2 (2004), says the author's "riveting account .. of Kuklinski's life as a spy is superb; it should be 'must reading' for anybody interested in intelligence matters, the Cold War, or simply a good read.... Weiser never introduces extraneous material, embellishes the story, or speculates about what people were thinking, saying, and doing.... Col. Ryszard Kuklinski is a hero, and Benjamin Weiser has written a great book about him."

To Fischer, IJI&C18.1 (Spring 2005), this book offers insights into CIA tradecraft in "denied areas." However, Weiser approaches Kuklinski's story "from a human-interest angle and with a strong desire to recount the life of a courageous man to whom his Polish countrymen and Americans owe a debt of gratitude."

Chapman, IJI&C 18.2 (Summer 2005), reminds us that this "book was the first to detail the secret tradecraft used to run an agent deep inside the Iron Curtain in the face of competent counterintelligence police." This review is worth reading as an essay on the subject of its title: See Robert D. Chapman, "Patriot or Traitor?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 364-374.

For Hansen, JIH 5.2 (Winter 2005), Weiser's "is an important work done by a writer who ... has a fascinating way of telling an ex[c]iting story." Arnold, AIJ 24 (2006), finds the book "more engaging and much easier to read than many biographies that examine complicated and covert lives." In addition, Weiser "offers much to students of HUMINT tradecraft."

Szalacha, I&NS 22.2 (Apr. 2007), calls Weiser's work "an eminently readable volume that tells a controversial story in a relatively straightforward fashion." In what seems to be a rather strange interpretation, the reviewer thinks that A Secret Life "was written with an eye to glorifying the CIA as an institution, rather than to praise or vindicate Kuklinski."

Weiser's remarks to a CIRA luncheon on 6 October 2004 are well worth reading. See "Speech by Ben Weiser," CIRA Newsletter 26, no. 4 (Winter 2004): 3-14.

White, Ralph K. "Empathy as an Intelligence Tool." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 1 (Spring 1986): 57-75.

Wiant, John. A. "Reflections on Mail-Order Tradecraft: The Sears Catalog." Studies in Intelligence 37, no. 5 (1994): 59-61.

The author finds an alternative way to pay indigenous agents in Vietnam in 1966-1967.

Return to Tradecraft Table of Contents

Return to Culture & Components Table of Contents