Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad: How to Be a Counterintelligence Officer

Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad: How to Be a Counterintelligence Officer

Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad: How to Be a Counterintelligence Officer

Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad: How to Be a Counterintelligence Officer


A Classic in Counterintelligence -- Now Back in Print

Originally published in 1987, Thwarting Enemies at Home and Abroad is a unique primer that teaches the principles, strategy, and tradecraft of counterintelligence (CI). CI is often misunderstood and narrowly equated with security and catching spies, which are only part of the picture. As William R. Johnson explains, CI is the art of actively protecting secrets but also aggressively thwarting, penetrating, and deceiving hostile intelligence organizations to neutralize or even manipulate their operations.

Johnson, a career CIA intelligence officer, lucidly presents the nuts and bolts of the business of counterintelligence and the characteristics that make a good CI officer. Although written during the late Cold War, this book continues to be useful for intelligence professionals, scholars, and students because the basic principles of CI are largely timeless. General readers will enjoy the lively narrative and detailed descriptions of tradecraft that reveal the real world of intelligence and espionage. A new foreword by former CIA officer and noted author William Hood provides a contemporary perspective on this valuable book and its author.


Espionage is most deftly defined as the theft of secrets. In contrast, counterintelligence is a grab bag of responsibilities ranging from keeping secrets beyond the grasp of hostile spies, the curious passerby, and even journalists, to the study of foreign intelligence agencies and individuals most likely to be involved in espionage.

Counterespionage is another, and surely more sensitive, highest-level element of counterintelligence. It involves the use of captured or detected foreign agents to deceive and mislead their sponsors. The best-known example of contemporary counterespionage is the Allied use of captured German spies operating under Allied control to report the “intelligence” that helped keep Hitler convinced that the actual invasion landings on the Normandy beaches in World War II were but a feint to cover the “real” landings many miles to the north of the actual invasion.

As a captain and battalion intelligence officer in the U.S. Second Infantry Division, William R. Johnson fought his way across the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944. By May 1945, he was in newly liberated Pilsen, Czechoslovakia.

After the war and a spell of postgraduate study and teaching, Bill asked an old friend with whom he had helped edit and publish Furioso at Yale—a much-respected undergraduate literary magazine that had attracted T. S. Eliot's attention—if there might be a job at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“Hell, yes,” Jim Angleton said. At the time, Angleton was chief of CIAs counterintelligence staff.

Bill's first assignments—in Europe—gave him a front-row seat and role in some of the most successful CIA operations of the early Cold War period. When Heinz Felfe, a ranking officer . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.