Searching for an Agent
Establishing how and when British authorities learned about and then dealt with the embassy leakage is complicated by the gaps and discrepancies in available information and by a basic disagreement over what the Cicerro affair had represented. The reluctant postwar consensus that the spy had escaped detection and caused substantial harm was challenged in the mid-1970s by several writers who argued that the valet had been discovered quite early and had been used to deceive the enemy. Their contentions of British control of the situation as part of a broad deception aimed at Berlin gained considerable attention. Former intelligence officials denied the spy operation had been managed, however, and influential analysts were quick to reject the revisionist claims. Still, the questions underlying the controversy are fundamental: When did the possibility of espionage first arise? What was then done? Had the spy been effectively controlled? Given the array of assertions and opinions that are now readily found, it is essential not only to identify the most trustworthy evidence and credible view of what occurred, but also to explain why the deception theory is unsound.
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Officials at the embassy clearly suspected a leak before obtaining any confirmation of its existence. London received a warning in midDecember from Washington about a report from neutral Stockholm: the Americans had learned through the Hungarian legation there that Germany had information about the current Cairo talks. British representatives sought a further explanation from the State Department, but background details were unavailable until late January. It developed that on 4 December, Hungarian diplomats in Stockholm had received a report via Budapest in which the Hungarian consulate-general in