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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