Academic journal article Military Review

CIA Spymaster

Academic journal article Military Review

CIA Spymaster

Article excerpt

CIA SPYMASTER, Clarence Ashley, Pelican Publishing Co., Gretna, LA, 2004, 350 pages, $24.95.

The continuing Global War on Terrorism highlights the importance of traditional, old-fashioned spying. In an age where the lone actor has replaced the nation-state as the prime threat, the importance of human intelligence (HUMINT) has superseded technical disciplines such as imagery and signals interception.

In CIA Spymaster, Clarence Ashley delivers a biography of perhaps America's best HUMINT-er, George Kisevalter, who, ironically, was born in Tsarist Russia. Kisevalter left Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and eventually became a case officer for the CIA. He possessed an excellent memory, had a way with people, and had a facility for languages. The White Russian expatriate was also an ardent anticommunist.

Ashley uncovers the guts of Kisevalter's operations, in particular how he handled, debriefed, and protected the identities of his most important agents, including two highly placed Soviet moles-lieutenant Colonel Pyotr Popov and Colonel Oleg Penkovsky. Popov gave the Agency its first serious look at the inner workings of Soviet Military Intelligence and identified several Soviet agents working inside the United States. Penkovsky delivered reams of documents, including details about Soviet missile and nuclear weapons systems-information that was later used to craft America's response to Khrushchev's deployment of missiles in Cuba. …

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