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An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in U.S. History

by Joe Navarro

Pub Date: April 18th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5011-2827-1
Publisher: Scribner

Firsthand account of Cold War espionage from the FBI agent who uncovered it.

Navarro (Dangerous Personalities: An FBI Profiler Shows You How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People, 2014, etc.), a founding member of the FBI’s National Security Division Behavioral Analysis Program, recounts his dogged efforts to court and prosecute a bedraggled but brilliant young spy in the late 1980s. What began as a routine interview for Navarro, who had SWAT team, aerial surveillance, and counterintelligence responsibilities in the Tampa office, turned into an all-consuming absorption with an unprecedented spy enterprise in West Germany. Over a year and a half, the author met repeatedly—eventually daily—with Rod Ramsay, a former soldier who had been the junior partner of an espionage mastermind at the 8th Infantry Division headquarters. Navarro and his superiors learned that the two men passed along incalculably important information, including war plans, to the Hungarians and the Soviets. At times, the author gets mired in government jargon, but he presents a riveting story of how he earned Ramsay’s confidence and slowly elicited a mountain of incriminating information. He was helped by the suspect’s loneliness and narcissism. Navarro provides a tutorial on interviewing technique, employing psychology, theater, and a well-honed understanding of nonverbal cues. In fact, several minor aberrations in body language triggered the case that led to one of the biggest spy busts in American history. However, throughout the investigation, Navarro was thwarted by intra- and interagency jealousies and turf concerns. The process affected his family life and eventually his physical and mental health. It took him more than 25 years to write this story of a serious breach in American national security.

A fascinating account of counterintelligence in the pre-cyber era and a reminder of how an astute interviewer can be an invaluable asset to law enforcement.