A book that the CIA won't be happy about. Richelson (Government/American University) is co-author of The U.S. Intelligence...



A book that the CIA won't be happy about. Richelson (Government/American University) is co-author of The U.S. Intelligence Community and author of The Ties That Bind His forte is in combing the available documents buried deep in Washington and then intuiting conclusions from those facts that authorities would prefer the public not to know. Here, he surveys each form of intelligence operation used by the US, starting with HUMINT (or human intelligence), including the fascinating story of Oleg Penkovsky, the Russian whom the CIA first thought to be only an agent provocateur, but who then provided scads of info on Soviet missiles, before being discovered and executed by the Soviets. Next, he turns to ground stations, describing technology so sophisticated that CIA personnel in Virginia for years were able to listen in on Kremlin conversations (mostly gossipy stuff about Brezhnev's health or Podgorney's sex life). Richelson describes peripheral reconnaissance aircraft that can occasionally ""peek"" inside the Soviet's airspace for photography. Beyond this, there is the question of actual overflights, including a fascinating description of US ""weather"" balloons in the 1950's that floated peacefully some 80,000 feet over the Soviet Union with intricate cameras aboard. Also of interest is his discussion of the RHYOLITE series of satellites, capable of intercepting signals across the VHF, UHF, and microwave bands. These satellites could pick up early-morning stock exchange and business calls, leading one agent to confess ""We listened to many business conversations and transactions. We could have made millions."" Lest one think that everything is super-technical, Richelson describes some programs as simple as citizens walking along the Alaskan coast picking up debris that originated across the Bering Strait in the Soviet Union. ""Data stencilled on a packing crate, or a manufacturer's part numbers have always been excellent sources of intelligence information."" A case of fact being more exciting than spy fiction.

Pub Date: March 24, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987