MOLEHUNT: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA by David Wise

MOLEHUNT: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This Kafkaesque chronicle from CIA maven and novelist Wise (The Samarkand Dimension, 1987; The Children's Game, 1983, etc.) might just as easily be titled Damage: damage to an agency's morale, to its officers and their families, to civil liberties, and ultimately to US military and foreign policy in some of the hottest years of the cold war. The 1961 defection of KGB officer Anatoly Golitsin came just as the CIA was finally installing the first chief of its critical Moscow station, but the defection was anything but a harbinger of better things to come. The renegade spy's tantalizing clues about a traitor deep within the CIA--who had a last name beginning with ""K,"" a KGB code name of ""Sasha,"" a Slavic background, and several years of service in Germany--fell on all-too-fertile soil in the hyperparanoid mind of counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, already concerned about two turncoats (and about to be burned even worse by lunch companion Kim Philby). Although the alleged spy was never unmasked, the resulting hunt for the elusive mole had devastating repercussions for more than two decades: suspicions that British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a Communist agent; the forcible detention for nearly five years of a later defector believed (but never proven) to be a Soviet plant; the possible ""burning"" of other defectors by the CIA; stalled recruitment of spies within the USSR; and, worst of all for CIA personnel, the investigation of over 120 suspects (including Angleton himself), several of whom were compensated by Congress in the 1980's for the harm done to their careers. Wise has uncovered the quiet agony of the molehunt victims through interviews with more than 200 people, many of them Company alumni. A solid journalistic contribution to one of the enduring controversies in cold war spookery, with close attention paid to the byzantine mind-games that the CIA waged against its enemy and, ultimately, its own staff.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Random House