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Posts in “Espionage”

The Night Managers

Oct 7, 2016
We are currently living in the era of John le Carré, if the attention given to the recent biography, memoir, and the television adaptation of his 1993 novel, The Night Manager, is any indication. I’m a long-time le Carré watcher. No adaptation will beat Thomas Alfredson’s film of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as far as I’m concerned, especially not for capturing the weirdness of his plots and characterizations. Ian Buruma’s article covers the familiar (to le Carré scholars) territory of the image of the father in his various fiction.

Britt Hume under CIA Surveillance

Jun 26, 2007
I wanted to write something about this, but it turns out it’s old news. Oh well. (Page 27 of the “Family Jewels,” if you’re interested.) I should draft a letter to the Birchite county newspaper where I grew up and alert the credulous citizenry about this perhaps unexpected comsympy, but I’m sure it’s already been assimilated. Also, from p. 47: “Roselli was, along with four other individuals, convicted of a conspiracy to cheat members of the Friars Club of \$400,000 in a rigged gin gummy [sic] game.

The NSA in the Public Imagination

Mar 26, 2007
A fun example from this highly entertaining Jeffrey Goldberg article: Before opening the door, she instructed me not to write down anything I saw—the third time that this particular directive had been issued. In some ways, the home office is not unlike the headquarters of the National Security Agency—both contain a large number of windowless rooms and both are staffed by people who are preoccupied by the movement of strangers in their midst.

R. C. Zaehner, Orientalist

May 13, 2006
I read Mysticism Sacred and Profane in high school, like just about everyone else, I suppose (excuse me: “I reckon”), and I did not know until this day that Zaehner was involved in the great game. Even suspected of being a Russian spy, he was. There’s also the matter of what he would have thought about the current nuclear apocalypticon.

The Previous War with Iran

Apr 17, 2006
From Richard Clarke and Steven Simon’s NYT editorial While the full scope of what America did do remains classified, published reports suggest that the United States responded with a chilling threat to the Tehran government and conducted a global operation that immobilized Iran’s intelligence service. Iranian terrorism against the United States ceased. Clarke implies here that he of course knows that there was such a chilling threat and global operation.

As a Satisfied Reader of David Kahn's

Feb 9, 2006
The Codebreakers, I was alarmed to read this from James Bamford: What greatly concerns me as someone who has written more about NSA than any other writer is that in the past, when NSA was allowed to operate in absolute secrecy, without oversight, it became a rogue agency. When the agency discovered that another author, David Kahn, was planning to include a chapter about the agency in his book on the history of cryptology, The Codebreakers , they secretly placed his name on their watchlist and began monitoring his communications.

Heisenberg's Self-Stabilizing Reactor -- Item

Feb 5, 2006
Probably one of the most fascinating books you’ll have a chance to read is Hitler’s Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall (ed. Jeremy Bernstein, Springer Verlag [2001]). From Heisenberg’s lecture to Charles Darwin:* Such an apparatus stabilizes itself at a certain temperature. If one wants to fix the temperature of the reactor, this can be done by varying the amount of heavy water in it. If you have got enough uranium, more heavy water will raise the temperature.

Pesticides and Renditions

May 22, 2005
The Washington Post has a story about the House’s decision to ban the EPA from conducting tests that measure pesticide-levels in humans. Apparently, there was a program that would pay \$1000 to 60 Florida families over two years to measure their children’s exposure to these chemicals. A Bruce Sterling novel tosses off that health-conscious humans of the near future no longer eat fruits and vegetables because the chemical defenses were linked to cancer.

Howard Hart on the Universities and the CIA

Jan 17, 2005
I suspect that everyone with a blog has linked to this astounding Seymour Hersh story, about which I hope to have more to say later, but for right now I will note that I saw Howard Hart, who’s quoted therein, on CSPAN a while ago; and he suggested that the CIA could no longer recruit from Ivy League type universities as much as they used to because of the left-wing bias of the faculty there.