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 -
What do you need to be an international CONTROL super spy fighting the forces of KAOS? A Shoe-Phone. A Cone of Silence. A Bulletproof Invisible Wall and a Laser Blazer. Then, and only then, can you Get Smart. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Dec 16, 2013 -
The Spies Inside Damascus
: The Mossad's secret war on the Syrian WMD machine.
On Aug. 20, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began shifting around or using his chemical weapons, Obama would consider that "a red line." The implication was that such a move would lead to American intervention in Syria. Some officials from the Israeli Foreign Ministry believed that Obama drew the line because he believed it would never be crossed. If that was his assumption, he made it based, in part, on assessments received from the Israeli intelligence services, which have waged a multidecade clandestine campaign to strip Assad of his deadliest weapons -- and which also have emerged as the United States' primary partners in collecting information on Middle Eastern regimes.
posted by andoatnp
on Sep 21, 2013 -
"The six CIA officers were sweating. It was almost noon on a June day in the Middle Eastern capital, already in the 90s outside and even hotter inside the black sedan where the five men and one woman sat jammed in together. Sat and waited. They had flown in two days earlier for this mission: to break into the embassy of a South Asian country, steal that country’s secret codes and get out without leaving a trace. During months of planning, they had been assured by the local CIA station that the building would be empty at this hour except for one person—a member of the embassy’s diplomatic staff working secretly for the agency." [The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue
posted by vidur
on Oct 9, 2012 -
Like James Bond movies? And box office grosses? And visualized data? Then today is your lucky day
posted by Egg Shen
on Aug 1, 2012 -
Our Man in Great Neck: 'In June 1982, my grandparents, Murray and Helene Cohen, traveled to the Soviet Union as part of a secret mission
headed by the Great Neck chapter of the long island Committee for Soviet Jewry in order to pass information and contraband goods to Jews attempting to leave Russia.'
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jun 14, 2012 -
The Feynman Files.
For the first time, FBI records for Dr Richard Feynman have been released to the public
. They document the Bureau's apparent obsession in the 1950's with outing him as a communist sympathizer, and include notations from several background checks as well as interviews with his colleagues, friends and acquaintances.
posted by zarq
on Jun 6, 2012 -
In March last year, the unmanned X-37B
US military spaceplane launched from Cape Canaveral on mission USA-226
, to "demonstrate various experiments", sensors and technology. Its original 270 day mission was extended in November
"as circumstances allow" for "additional experimentation opportunities", but a dedicated group of optical tracking specialists in the US and Europe believe that the X-37B is in fact spying
on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1
. [more inside]
posted by adrianhon
on Jan 5, 2012 -
Amazon has recently declared that tomorrow is Price Check day
. If you go into a brick and mortar retail store with Amazon’s new Price Check App
on your smart phone, and scan a barcode with the location settings active, and then report back to Amazon on the price of that product, Amazon will deduct $5 from your online purchase of that product. Amazon claims it’s trying to keep prices low for consumers, but others attribute the move to a less innocuous agenda
. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan
on Dec 9, 2011 -
The creators of Italian Spiderman
by Australia's multicultural TV network, SBS, to produce Danger 5
: "Set in a bizarre, 1960s inspired version of World War II, action comedy series DANGER 5 follows a team of five spies on a mission to kill Adolf Hitler." The six-part TV series will air in February 2012, but the trailer
and the first instalment
of a promotional web-series are now playing.
posted by robcorr
on Nov 24, 2011 -
If you met Phil Pressel at a party anytime over the past half-century, he couldn't tell you what he did for a living. If you were his wife, you didn't even know where he was staying on those mysterious business trips. Today, after 46 years,
the man who made the camera that prevented a war finally got to show off his magnum opus.
posted by Spike
on Oct 14, 2011 -
Earlier this year, the Washington Post exposed the increasing size of the US intelligence community: 1,931 private companies, 10,000 offices, and hundreds of thousands of employees (previously
). Today we have a better picture on how much it's costing taxpayers: 80 billion every year. [more inside]
posted by notion
on Oct 28, 2010 -
Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome and Somerset Maugham all spied for Britain, admits MI6
"The authors Graham Greene, Arthur Ransome, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the philosopher AJ "Freddie" Ayer, all worked for MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service admitted for the first time today . They are among the many exotic characters who agreed to spy for Britain, mainly during wartime, who appear in a the first authorised history of MI6."
posted by Fizz
on Oct 11, 2010 -
Reconnaissance will outlive the U-2, but there will always be a divot in the hearts of those who have seen the curvature of the earth, the stars seemingly close enough to touch, and known the satisfaction of having completed a mission with the Dragon Lady.
Former U-2 pilot and military correspondent Cholene Espinoza
writes a lovely adieu to these beautiful, difficult-to-fly
aircraft, as well as a requiem for the era of human pilots for surveillance, giving way now to UAVs
and other remote-control drones. The U-2 is, amazingly, still in service, but apparently soon to be grounded -- or not
-- half-a-century after Francis Gary Powers'
little Cold War incident
posted by chavenet
on May 12, 2010 -
"No one guessed the truth, which was simpler, and therefore stranger, than their wildest theories: that the scared young woman so hotly pursued by South Carolina police, the Secret Service, federal marshals and even the U.S. Army was actually on a bizarre and misguided journey of self-discovery." Rolling Stone reports on the strange case of Esther Reed: The Girl Who Conned The Ivy League
. (via Metachat)
posted by The Whelk
on Jan 17, 2010 -
Cyborg Spy Beetles
are no longer a thing of the future. UC Berkeley (funded by DARPA) has created cyborg beetles guided wirelessly via laptop. These spy beetles were created with the intent of bugging actual conversations, literally acting as the "fly on the wall". [more inside]
posted by scrutiny
on Oct 27, 2009 -
Matt Helm is a fictional character created by author Donald Hamilton. He is a U.S. government counter-agent—a man whose primary job is to kill or nullify enemy agents—not a spy or secret agent in the ordinary sense of the term as used in spy thrillers. ... The character appeared in 27 books over a 33-year period beginning in 1960... A movie series was made in the mid-to-late 1960s starring Dean Martin... the series bore no resemblance at all to the character, atmosphere, or themes of Hamilton's original books, nor to the hard-edged action of Bond. One reason was the attitude of the filmmakers that the only way to compete with the Bond films was to parody them.
- Wikipedia (links may be mildly NSFW) [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese
on Oct 14, 2009 -