Agents of Deceit

Title:                      Agents of Deceit

Author:                  Paul W.Blackstock

Blackstock, Paul W. (1966). Agents of Deceit: Frauds, Forgeries And Political Intrigue Among Nations. Chicago: Quadrangle Books

LCCN:    66012134

DK61 .B55


Date Updated:  April 20, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

A collection of case studies of frauds and forgeries either of Russian origin or concerning Russia, from the “Testament of Peter the Great” in the early nineteenth century to Soviet forgeries in the 1960s. Blackstock, with experience in army intelligence and as a Russian expert and translator (he translated one of Solzhenitsyn’s books), evaluates the effect of these forgeries as weapons in covert action and brings to bear his background in psychological warfare. He also analyzes and tries to judge the authenticity of documents, including some that are still subjects of controversy. The results are surprisingly extreme. There is an excellent and early rejection of the Penkovsky papers’ origins and claims. In his penetrating look at these claims, he joins the critics who rejected explanations about the papers at the time of their publication (see Oleg Penkovsky, The Penkovsky Papers[2]) and was perceptive in discerning probable authorship and reasons for publication. There is an appendix by George F. Kennan on the Sisson Documents of 1917-1918 that adds substance to this work. (The documents purported to prove that the leaders of the Bolsheviks were at one time paid agents of the German General Staff.) At the other extreme, Blackstock’s theory that the Zinoviev Letter was “a perfect example of Soviet provocation” lacks similar analytical quality or evidence. He comes to the overall conclusion that it is hard to make any general statements about the use of forgeries for political warfare since there is a small basis of documents for such covert operations. William R. Harris, in his notation on this book, calls it “sensationalistic but occasionally informative” but provides no explanation of this judgment.

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[3]

An interesting look into several case studies of political forgeries, from Peter the Great’s Testament to the Cold War. Particularly pertinent with respect to “disinformation” operations.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[4]

A scholarly analysis of such historical forgeries as the Testament of Peter the Great, and the Protocols of Zion and the Zinoviev letters, an examination of the use of disinformation for political warfare purposes in the 1920s and the cold war period. The appendices include an article on the Sisson Documents by George F. Kennan and an official briefing, ‘‘The Soviet and Communist Bloc Defamation Campaign,” originally introduced into the Congressional Record (September 28, 1965). Among the cold war forgeries discussed are Protocol M, the Bluebird Papers, false Soviet memoirs (such as Maxim Litvinov’s Notes For A Journal), and the Penkovskiy Papers.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, p. 85

[2] Penkovsky, Oleg (1965). The Penkovsky Papers: Introd. and Commentary by Frank Gibney. Foreword by Edward Crankshaw. Translated by Peter Deriabin Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

[3] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature (7th ed Rev.). Washington, DD: Defense Intelligence School, p. 8

[4] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 223


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3 Responses to Agents of Deceit

  1. Pingback: The Zinoviev Letter | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Penkovsky Papers | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  3. Pingback: Disinformation, Deception, Frauds, And Forgeries, Chapter 21 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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