Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations, Part III

Title:                      Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations, Part III

Author:                Paul W. Blackstock

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

LCCN:    74011567

Z6724.I7 B55


  • Strategic Intelligence

Date Updated:  March 20, 2017


Espionage is the clandestine collection of information through illegal means and methods carried on against the organized opposition of counterespionage agencies. As -a clandestine activity it is analogous to organized crime, such as international drug traffic. In the United States, for example, one organization, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has both counterespionage and police (or countercriminal) functions. Ironically, although there is a vast analytical literature in the field of criminology, much of it with police techniques, there is almost nothing comparable in the field of espionage/counterespionage. Here the literature is almost entirely episodic (or historical/episodic) of the “great, true spy stories II category. Occasionally in recounting the exploits of a “master spy,” an author will incidentally discuss methods and techniques, adding to. the “human interest” of his story, but only as a matter of peripheral interest. The reason for this state of affairs is that as a matter of national security most governments classify as secret any serious discussion of intelligence sources and methods. Former intelligence aides, especially those who have been engaged in clandestine operations, are enjoined by law from writing about such methods, even in the form of personal memoirs, until enough time has passed that there is no longer any “security violation” involved. Because of such legal restraint, the literature for the most part is necessarily historical. An exception to this rule occurs when someone in the position of Alexander Orlov, a highly placed Soviet intelligence expert, defects to another country and reconstructs from memory a training manual or handbook of espionage, or when such a clandestine activities training manual is stolen or bought, Another exception occurs when someone like Philip Agee, one-time officer of the CIA in Latin America, disregards the legal aspects and writes a diary of his activities in intelligence and covert political warfare (see Agee’s Inside The Company: CIA Diary[1]).

The field is further confused by the fact that beginning with World War II both the United States and Great Britain set up agencies (OSS and SOE, respectively) which trained agents not only to collect information behind enemy lines (espionage) but also to conduct sabotage and diversionary activities and to organize resistance and partisan movements. The strategic services mission, which Churchill called “to set Europe ablaze,” soon took precedence over the espionage function. Following World War II, as an integral part of its “cold war mission” the Central Intelligence Agency also mounted overt operations designed to extend U.S. political influence or control or to thwart Communist seizures of power in various parts of the world. Books dealing with such operations are listed in a special section on covert operations.

Chapter 14 Espionage

Chapter 15 Counterespionage

[1] Agee, Phillip (1975). Inside the Company: A CIA Diary. New York: Stonehill

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