Title:                      Enemies

Author:                 Tim Weiner

Weiner, Tim (2012). Enemies: A History of the FBI. New York: Random House

LCCN:    2011005353

HV8144.F43 W45 2012


Date Posted:      February 23, 2016

Reviewed by Hayden Peake.[1]

Pulitzer prize winner, Tim Weiner, has written several books about American intelligence. Betrayal was about the counterespionage failure in the Aldrich Ames case.[2] Then came Legacy of Ashes, which alleged serial blundering at the CIA.[3] In Enemies he has applied the same scrutiny to the FBI. All three of his books have been frequently, in most cases favorably, reviewed. In her review of Enemies, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston writes that the book deals with “rumors about the FBI and its dirty tricks [that] have been circulating for years” and suggests Weiner “seeks to set the record straight on everything from providing Sen. Joseph McCarthy with secret reports to … surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr.”[4]

In fact, the book provides even wider coverage, focusing on civil liberties violations from the Palmer raids in the 1920s, to the Weathermen, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the Bureau’s growing role combating terrorism. The emphasis on each of these topics is on, bureaucratic infighting and various political, legal, and moral issues. But aside from Mr. Weiner’s gloomy views of Mr. Hoover’s performance, there is little new in the book, and there are some discrepancies and , omissions worth noting.

Examples of the former include the story of the 1944 black-bag job in which “the FBI broke into Amtorg’s New York office and stole reams of Russian-language messages and their enciphered equivalents” that were delivered to FBI special agent Bob Lamphere (pp. 155-56) as part the VENONA operation. That story was a cover. The messages were actually collected from commercial telegraph companies.[5] Then there is the assertion that NKVD agent William Weisband’s penetration of VENONA “paralyzed progress.” (p. 168) Not so, future decryptions were impossible since the Soviets had already stopped using duplicate pages for their one-time-pads. The statement that Allen Dulles had been “commissioned by the Pentagon to conduct a top secret study of the shoddy state of American spying” (p. 169) raises an eyebrow since the study is not identified or sourced. Perhaps Mr. Weiner meant the so-called Correa Report prepared by the Intelligence Survey Group established by the National Security Council, to which Dulles contributed.[6] Two other examples indicate the scope of the errors. First, the KGB agent FAREWELL never defected as claimed, (p. 353) and the Czech agent, Karl Koecher, did not work for the CIA for 10 years. (p. 354)

The omissions include many familiar and important cases. For example, there is no mention of Yuri Nosenko or Anatoli Golitsyn and the conflict that resulted from differing judgments about them at the CIA and FBI.

Similarly, Jonathan Pollard, Ronald Pelton, George Trofimoff, William Bell, and James Hall escape attention.

Most curious of all, the Felix Bloch case is ignored though it figured prominently in the handling of the Robert Hanssen fiasco, which is otherwise well summarized. Lastly, the successful FBI investigation of the 11 Russian illegals—Operation GHOST STORIES—is not included.

Overall then, it is fair to say that Enemies is first a review of Hoover and FBI intelligence operations-although some criminal investigations are mentioned-from the organization’s inception to the present-with intense emphasis on what Weiner deems the Bureau’s persistent disregard for legality during Hoover’s tenure. This is followed by the troubled times in the post-Hoover era and the transition to counterterrorist operations under Director Mueller. Only a few successful operations are noted, and many known successes are overlooked entirely. Given Weiner’s selectivity, one can’t help but wonder if his next book were to be about the history of flight, whether it would deal primarily with crashes. Enemies is well written, however, with good documentation and a definite point of view.

[1] Hayden Peake is a frequent reviewer of books on intelligence and this review appeared in The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies (19, 1, Winter/Spring, 2013, pp. 114-115). Hayden Peake is the Curator of the CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. He has served in the Directorate of Science and Technology and the Di recto rate of Operations. Most of these reviews appeared in recent unclassified editions of CIA’s Studies in Intelligence. These and many other reviews and articles may be found on line at http://www.cia.gov.

[2] Weiner, Tim (1995). David Johnston, and Neil A. Lewis. Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, An American Spy. New York: Random House, Inc.

[3] Weiner, Tim (2007). Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. New York: Anchor Books. It was reviewed unfavorably in Studies in Intelligence 51, 3 (September 2007).

[4] Dina Temple-Raston, “Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner,” The Washington Post (March23, 2012).

[5] Benson, Robert Louis (1996) and Michael Warner. VENONA: Soviet Espionage and the American Response 1939-1957. Washington, DC: National Security Agency: Central Intelligence Agency, p. xiii.

[6] Darling, Arthur B. (1989). The Central Intelligence Agency: An Instrument of Government, to 1950. Washington, DC: Historical Staff, Central Intelligence Agency, pp. 301-302.

This entry was posted in FBI and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s