Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources, Chapter 7

Title:                      Counterintelligence and Security

Author:                 Paul W. Blackstock

Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. “Chapter 7: “Counterintelligence and Security: United States,” Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co.

LCCN:    74011567

Z6724.I7 B55


Date Updated:  April 27, 2016

Chapter 7 Counterintelligence And Security: United States

Counterintelligence is often referred to as negative intelligence, since its primary objective is to block the efforts by those of inimical interests to obtain secret information and to conduct sabotage and subversion.

Active counterespionage, countersabotage, and countersubversion include specific and resolute operational measures designed to detect and identify individuals, groups, and organizations conducting espionage, sabotage, and subversion in order to neutralize their effectiveness or to exploit them through deception, disinformation, and manipulation.

Passive counterintelligence measures, on the other hand, ore designed to conceal or protect information, individuals, and installations. against espionage, sabotage, and subversion.

The security of classified information against unauthorized disclosure, access, or transmission is the responsibility of those who handle such information. Counterintelligence agencies assist them by providing (1) checks and inspections to detect weaknesses in security measures, (2) personnel security investigations to determine suitability for employment and to uncover espionage, and (3) security training and indoctrination which expose the methods of operation of foreign espionage organizations, For instance, during the 1950s and 1960s the FBI and various congressional committees published a number of works exposing Communist ,techniques of subversion. Other important passive counterintelligence measures are censorship and communications security, In order to evade censorship, microdot methods of concealing secret information were developed and used by agents to mail reports to their home bases. The burst or spurt radio transmitter was developed to reduce air time in agent reporting and thus to frustrate counterespionage communications interception end direction finding (DFing) efforts. The spurt transmitter used by Gordon Lonsdale in reporting to Moscow was captured by British counterespionage and photographs of the transmitter were later released in press articles and books describing the Portland Naval Secrets case in 1961. The importance of direction finding as a means of locating agent transmitters and as a wedge opening penetration to espionage networks is illustrated in H. J. Giskes’s London Calling North Pole.[1]

Library shelves are quite bare of comprehensive studies of overall counterintelligence organization, functions, doctrine, and tradecraft. The information available on negative intelligence is much worse than that available on the subject of positive intelligence. There is no counterintelligence source equivalent to Sherman Kent’s work on intelligence, Strategic Intelligence For American World Policy[2] or to Harry Hawe Ransom’s The Intelligence Establishment[3]. The growth of open societies, with attendant antisecrecy sentiment, freedom of information, deliberate leaks and disclosures of classified information (the Pentagon Papers, for example[4]), and resentment against surveillance, has created unique counter-intelligence problems and implications of national and international importance. In chapters 8 end 9 of Spy In The U.S., Pawel Monat and John Dille provide one of the few insights into the counterintelligence problems associated with free speech and freedom of the press.[5] In contrast, a considerable volume of literature has been created on the overclassification of government documents, the right to know, and the invasion of privacy by electronic surveillance methods.

The countersubversion role of counterintelligence has grown end altered significantly since most of the World War II I literature was written, although a corresponding unclassified literature of explanation has not developed. Combating Communist-inspired subversive insurgency in the United States has been a priority policy of the cold war. The countering of subversive insurgency abroad has come to be carried out through covert and clandestine operations by the CIA’s deputy directorate of operations (see part IV, Covert Operations) while countering domestic subversive insurgency has, as always, been the domain of the FBI. However, certain responsibilities have been delegated to other agencies, including the Army’s counterintelligence corps. In 1971 countering leaks and disclosures of classified information and other security problems became a matter of concern at the highest level, resulting in the establishment of the Special Investigations Unit under control of the White House staff—the unit later to be called the “Plumbers.” Literature available on these activities is generally restricted to exposures of operations by the press followed by reports of investigations by Congress. There is no comprehensive study which analyzes a necessary counterintelligence role versus involvement in the domestic affairs of foreign sovereign nations or the surveillance and repression of individual groups at home.

There is a fair amount of literature available describing the counterespionage, countersabotage, and countersubversion activities and operations of the FBI. These include counterespionage and countersabotage roles in World Wars I and II, plus positive intelligence activities in the Western Hemisphere, economic intelligence activities in Latin America, counterespionage and countersubversion activities against the Soviet Union immediately following World War II (the Atom Spies, for example[6]), and counterespionage and countersubversion during the “Big Red Threat Era.” Memoirs of FBI counterspies such as Herbert Philbrick’s I Led Three Lives and John Huminink’s Double Agent are illustrative of FBI counterespionoge techniques[7]. References to these memoirs and other reports of counterespionage operations and networks will be found in chapter 15, Comprehensive and objective literature describing more recent FBI counter-intelligence activities against various domestic groups and organizations is far from. adequate, and insights must be gleaned or pieced together from articles and press reports often written in the muckraking or expose tradition.


Collins, Frederick L. (1962). The FBI in Peace And War. New York: Ace Books

Dulles, Allen W. (2006). The Craft of Intelligence: America’s Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press

Farago, Ladislas (1954, 1976). War of Wits: The Anatomy of Espionage And Intelligence. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press

Felix, Christopher [pseud.J. “Counterespionage Versus Security, and Other Deviltry.” In his A Short Course in The Secret War, pp. 143-54. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1963.

A retired intelligence operations specialist discusses some of the fundamentals of counterespionage and security. Counterespionage, he believes is an operational activity, conceived with intimate, controlled, and purposeful contact with the “enemy,” for the primary purpose of penetrating the opposition’s own secret operations apparatus with the objective of eventual deception. Security, on the other hand, is protective and defensive, and seeks to sever all contact with the “enemy” as being too dangerous.

Godfrey, E. Drexel (1971) and Don R. Harris. Basic Elements of Intelligence; A Manual of Theory, Structure And Procedures for Use by Law Enforcement Agencies Against Organized Crime. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Division, Office of Criminal Justice Assistance, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Dept. of Justice

Goulding, Phil G. (1970). Confirm Or Deny; Informing The People On National Security. New York, Harper & Row

Hoover, J. Edgar (1958). Masters of Deceit: The Story Of Communism In America And How to Fight It. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Hyde, H. Montgomery (1962). Room 3603: The Incredible True Story of Secret Intelligence Operations During World War II. Guilford, DE: The Lyons Press (republished 2002). Originally published as The Quiet Canadian. [London : Quality Book Club, 1962]

Ottenberg, Miriam (1962). The Federal Investigators. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

Perrault, Gilles (1965). The Secrets of D-Day. Boston: Little, Brown

Tully, Andrew. “The Hollow Nickel.” CIA: The Inside Story, in Tully, Andrew (1962). CIA: The Inside Story, pp. 230-42. New York: William Morrow

Ungar, Sanford J. (1975). FBI: An Uncensored Look Behind the Walls. Little, Brown & Company

Wise, David (1973). The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power. New York: Random House


Blackstock, Paul W. “Political Surveillance and the Constitutional Order.” Worldview (14, May 1971, pp. 11-14).

An analysis of the broad political and constitutional implications of surveillance of civilians by U.S. Army counterintelligence agencies investigated by Senator Sam Ervin’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. The author argues that political surveillance erodes the foundations of the democratic state.

“Classifying and De-classifying of Papers.” Washington Post (22 June 1971, p. A11).

A copy of an affidavit presented in open session in the U.S. District Court during the Pentagon Papers affair by George MacClain, director of security classification management in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Policy. The affidavit is a detailed and authoritative description of the classification and declassification process. The affidavit cites Executive Order 10501, “Safeguarding Official Information in the Interests of the Defense of the United States” (originally put into force by President Eisenhower on 5 November 1953, and amended over the years), as the basic authority for classification and declassification, and identifies Department of Defense Instruction 5210.47, “Security Classification of Official Information,” 31 December 1964, and Department of Defense Directive 5200. 10, “Downgrading and Declassification of Classified Defense Information,” 26 July 1962, as implementing regulations of the Executive Order. Other implementing instructions include “Industrial Security Manual for Safeguarding Classified Information” (available through the Government Printing Office) and Army Regulations 380-5, “Military Security.”

Goldberg, David M. “Cold War Thaw Revives U.S. Card-Carrying Communists.” Washington Post (26 August 1973, p. F1).

Columnist Goldberg describes the signs of the thaw that has convinced many Americans that the Communist threat has eased and there is no longer a danger of overthrow of the U.S. government.

“How Detente Opens Doors for Soviet Spies in the U.S.” U.S. News & World Report. (23 February 1976, pp. 18-19).

A survey article on the rise of the numbers of Soviet-bloc spies in the United States as relations with the Soviet Union expand and at a time when Congress is investigating U.S. spying abroad and in the United States. The article provides figures on the increase in the number of Soviet spies over the past five years, and lists those enlarged missions to the United States, 70 to 80 percent of the members of which are assigned some intelligence task by Moscow.

“Memorandums Urged Nixon to Set Up Program of Spying.” Washington Post, (8 June 1973, p. A15).

This article contains copies of top-secret memorandums written by ex-Nixon aide Tom Charles Huston in July 1970 recommending a comprehensive program for improving domestic intelligence. The decision memorandum proposes the organization of an Interagency Group on Domestic Intelligence and Internal Security (IAG) with members consisting of representatives of the FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and the counterintelligence agencies of the army, navy, and air force. The memorandums were first printed in the 7 June 1973 issue of the New York Times.

“1970 Intelligence Plan.” Washington Post, (23 May 1973, p. A10).

Text of the statement issued by President Nixon relative to his efforts in 1970 to improve domestic intelligence and to stop leakage of national security secrets. Noting that coordination among intelligence agencies had fallen short of national security needs and that the FBI had shut off liaison with the CIA and other agencies, the president sought advice, established an Intelligence Evaluation Committee, and approved the creation of a special investigations unit, later to become known as the “Plumbers,” to stop disclosures and leaks and to lock into other sensitive security matters.

Political Rights Defense Fund. A Challenge To The Watergate Crimes. New York: 1974.

Produced for the purpose of raising money, this brochure reproduces documents concerning the $27 million damage suit filed in July 1973 by Leonard Boudin, the defense lawyer in the Ellsberg case, on behalf of the Socialist Workers Party. Also included in the collection are copies of numerous press clippings about the suit, the government reply, and FBI documents regarding a counterintelligence program against the New Left movement and directives placing a mail cover (censorship) on the Socialist Workers Party.

Rositzke, Harry. “America’s Secret Operations: A Perspective.” Foreign Affairs (53, January 1975, pp. 334-51).

In an important article concerned mainly with counterintelligence functions, the author, a twenty-seven-year veteran of the OSS and the CIA, argues convincingly that propaganda and paramilitary operations do not belong in a secret intelligence service even if they are worth doing at all. Further, the author does not believe that covert political operations designed to sway elections in foreign countries or to overturn governments be long in a secret intelligence organization. The author argues, however, that there will continue to be occasions when support of a few individuals for intelligence purposes cannot (-and should not) be separated from a measure of support for their political ends. There should be a means whereby the president, or a local ambassador, would be able to support a foreign political or labor leader who cannot afford to accept American largesse publicly. See also the annotation for this article in chapter 16.

Shloss, Leon. “DOD Security: The New Look.” Government Executive, (October 1969, pp.44-46).

The article, by Government Executive’s senior editor, describes new efforts by Director for Security Policy Joseph J. Liebling to get the “gumshoe” stigma off security, and to replace it with a reasonable policy consistent with national security and national interests. The changes noted in the article occurred when Secretary of Defense Laird gave Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert F. Froehlke new responsibilities in both intelligence and security. Liebling worked under Froehlke.

Szulc, Tod. “Secret Reports Keep Air Force Informed on Radicals”. New York Times, (29 January 1971, p. 10).

A detailed article on the activities of the Office of Social Investigations (OSI) of the Air Force, which has responsibility for both counterintelligence and criminal investigations. Specially noted is the Significant Counterintelligence Briefs (SClB), a secret bi-monthly publication of the OSI, intended to keep Air Force commanders apprised of internal threats.

Ungar, Sanford J. “Internal Security Dies Quietly at Justice.” Washington Post, (27 March 1973, pp. A1, A9).

The article announces the abolition of the Internal Security Division of the Justice Department and the transfer of its functions to the Criminal Division. The background of the Internal Security Division is traced, and it is suggested that its abolition was a sign of diminishing fear of the threat of subversion and the requirement to fight it.

U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities. 87th Cong., 2d sess., 1961. House Doc. no. 398. xxxvii (1961). Guide To Subversive Organizations And Publications (and appendix), prepared and released by the Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, DC: The Committee

United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights (1973). Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off

U.S. Department of Justice (1973). Report of The Attorney General To The Congress of The United States On The Administration of The Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, As Amended For The Calendar Year 1972. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office

[1] Giskes, H. J.(1953). London Calling North Pole. London: William Kimber

[2] Now dated, but still useful: Kent, Sherman (1966). Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. Hamden, CT: Archon Books

[3] Another dated, but quite useful book: Ransom, Harry Howe (1970). The Intelligence Establishment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press

[4] See Sheehan, Neil (1971), Hendrick Smith, E.W. Kenworthy, and Fox Butterfield. The Pentagon Papers: As Published By The New York Times, Based On Investigative Reporting By Neil Sheehan. New York: Bantam Books. More recently we have the case of Edward Snowden.

[5] See Monat, Pawel (1962) with John Dille. Spy in the U.S. New York: Harper & Row

[6] See, for example: Pilat, Oliver (1952). The Atom Spies. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; and Hyde, H. Montgomery (1981). The Atom Bomb Spies. London: H. Hamilton

[7] See Philbrick, Herbert A. (1952). I Led 3 Lives: Citizen “Communist” Counterspy. McGraw-Hill; and Huminik, John (1967). Double Agent. New York: New American Library

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One Response to Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources, Chapter 7

  1. Pingback: Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations, Part II | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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