Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

Recommended Reading  

The Secret History of the CIA

by Joseph Trento
2005 (SC), Carroll & Graf
ISBN 0786715006
560 pages.

From NameBase.org
This book covers roughly three intermingled topics. The first is the CIA’s early years at the Berlin base, where high-flying corruption and Soviet penetration was rampant, and even seemed to help one’s CIA career. William Harvey was a key player here. The second involves the migration of some of these players to Vietnam, and also to Chile. The primary source on Chile is Edward Korry, whose story is told here in some detail. The third aspect of this book is the mole wars, where Angleton plays a major role. Trento makes a strong case that Igor Orlov and George Weisz deserve top billing as moles, but is less convincing when he describes Angleton’s theories about Oswald. In the end, the point of the book — that the Soviets consistently ran circles around a corrupted and incompetent CIA — is rock solid. It wasn’t our self-serving Keystone Cops who won the Cold War; it was simply that our arms race outlasted the Soviet economy.

Joseph Trento has been an investigative reporter on the national security beat since 1968. He had some scoops in the 1970s, and kept at it through the 1980s and 1990s by cultivating insiders such as James Angleton, William Corson, and Robert Crowley. Through them he managed to interview dozens of other retired spooks. Now he is president of the Public Education Center in Washington DC.

Available commercially. Learn more about Joseph J. Trento.


6 comments for “The Secret History of the CIA”

  1. My question is in your opinion has the CIA improved any from those bumbling days of screw up after screw up or are continuing down the same old paths?

    Posted by William Eccleston | May 31, 2016, 4:29 pm
  2. @William Eccleston–

    I don’t see “improvement.” Indeed, I don’t think the CIA was really intended to be a good intelligence service.

    Truman intended it to be such a thing, but it really is more of a combatant secret service than an intelligence agency in the truest and normal sense of the term.

    Some good books: “Blowback” by Christopher Simpson; “The Devil’s Chessboard” by David Talbot; Hell even “The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer go into this.

    Also: “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters” by Gregory Douglass go into the agency and its failings as an intelligence service, per se.

    Acquaintances with [mostly military] intelligence backgrounds are contemptuous of CIA–they say it has employed so many liars and criminals over the years that it is beyond redemption.

    They say that its agents lie to, and about, each other.

    They are lousy intelligence officers in the opinion of these [again, mostly military] intel veterans.



    Posted by Dave Emory | May 31, 2016, 8:52 pm
  3. Hi Dave, I was wondering if you plan to produce any material on the recent NYT story, “U.N. Chief Presses to Unlock Mystery of Dag Hammarskjold’s Death”. Of course, the CIA is suspected of having a hand in it. Of course, considering the assassination of Lumumba, earlier that year (1961) – a famous photo of JFK finally hearing the news over the phone is featured in “The Devil’s Chessboard”. Any thoughts? Also, I see a connection with Olof Palme’s assassination — Swedish statesmen who were outspoken critics of the strategy of imperialism and despots to fight the Cold War.

    Posted by Ralph | September 8, 2016, 8:33 pm
  4. @Ralph–

    No, not likely. There is WAY too much going on in the present and auguring very, very darkly for the future.



    Posted by Dave Emory | September 9, 2016, 3:55 pm
  5. I liked the book “Secret History” by Trento, but want to note comment from military intel saying CIA agents are incompetent liars. You gotta be a good liar to be a good spy. Your whole life is a lie. Military guys trust each other more and have camaraderie. They have a team outlook. CIA you trust no one. Tough job.

    Posted by usmc retired | May 10, 2017, 8:29 pm
  6. @USMC Retired–

    First, thanks for paying attention to this website.

    Sadly, lying isn’t a tough job. Most people do it for free and as a matter of course.

    How many Marines died in Vietnam because of the fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident?

    How many Marines died in Iraq because of the WMD lies?

    Another good read I recommend on the intel community for your examination is “The Armies of Ignorance” by Colonel (USMC retired) William Corson.


    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 12, 2017, 3:49 pm

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