Philby's boss was Sir Stewart Menzies, who, we are told, "rode to hounds, mixed with royalty, never missed a day at Ascot, drank a great deal, and kept his secrets buttoned up behind a small, fierce mustache. He preferred women to men and horses to both." Menzies was an amateur at a time when his adversaries were professionals. Philby's fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean was a mess. But since he was a mess with the right accent and background he easily found a home in the British spy service. At one point, Macintyre says, Maclean "got drunk, smashed up the Cairo flat of two secretaries at the U.S. embassy, ripped up their underwear, and hurled a large mirror off the wall, breaking a large bath in two. He was sent home, placed under the care of a Harley Street psychiatrist, and then, amazingly, after a short period of treatment, promoted to head the American desk at the Foreign Office."
Kim Philby, the Soviet spy who infiltrated MI6, is the subject of a Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker
. Gladwell argues that Philby's story is not about spying but "the hazards of mistrust." He is interviewed on a New Yorker podcast
about his article. Gladwell's article is also a review of Ben Macintyre's book on Philby, A Spy Among Friends
. Gladwell reviewed Macintyre's previous book, Operation Mincemeat
and argued that spy agencies might be more trouble than they're worth
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 28, 2014 -
It doesn't matter whether you hate the spies and believe they are corroding democracy, or if you think they are the noble guardians of the state. In both cases the assumption is that the secret agents know more than we do. But the strange fact is that often when you look into the history of spies what you discover is something very different. It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.
—Bugger: Maybe the Real State Secret Is that Spies Aren't Very Good at Their Jobs and Don't Know Very Much About the World
by Adam Curtis. It's about the checkered history of the MI5.
posted by Kattullus
on Aug 9, 2013 -
WANTED: The Limping Lady.
The Gestapo's poster read "She is one of the most valuable Allied agents in France and we must find and destroy her"
but Virginia Hall, who used a prosthetic limb after losing a leg years before in a hunting accident, eluded them and saved countless Allied lives while working as a spy during WWII. Additional biographical information, as well as the biographies of other famous female spies, at WWII Female Spies
(which has many outgoing links to other great informational resources about female spies in WWII).
posted by amyms
on Feb 21, 2007 -
Bug Bug Buggy
- Electronic bugging devices have been found at offices used by French and German delegations at European Union headquarters in Brussels.
I think I can guess where fingers will get pointed....
posted by tomcosgrave
on Mar 19, 2003 -
You've probably heard of the WWII Navajo "code talkers"
who managed to baffle crack Japanese cryptanalysts and were credited with enabling US success at Iwo Jima. Civil engineer, journalist and photographer Philip Johnston
was the determined mind behind the "windtalkers". The son of missionaries, Johnston grew up on a Navajo reservation and was one of only a handful of outsiders fluent in the Navajo language. A bit of his background is included this article
, and you can read a complete history
of his plan, view an archive of photos by Johnston
, and see copies of his enlistment application
letter to the Marine Corps commandant, as well as a recommendation letter
from the Commanding General. (more inside...)
posted by taz
on Jan 22, 2003 -
An official Q&A with the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld,
alludes to some extremely scary/interesting tidbits-- the Office of Strategic Influence is still alive, John Poindexter can do anything he pleases with DARPA, we just might renew nuclear weapons testing.
Don't worry, though. Rummy sez: "Anyone who is concerned ought not be. Anyone with any concern ought to be able to sleep well tonight. Nothing terrible is going to happen."
posted by LimePi
on Nov 23, 2002 -
The Art of Espionage.
The ongoing tale of the massive spy ring that the U.S. media won't talk about. "The basis of the spy allegations is a 60-page document -- a compilation of field reports by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and other U.S. law enforcement officials.
posted by euphorb
on Mar 22, 2002 -