THE DECEPTION GAME: Czechoslovak Intelligence in Soviet Political Warfare by Ladislav Bittman

THE DECEPTION GAME: Czechoslovak Intelligence in Soviet Political Warfare

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Gone are the days when the secret service agent was above all a highly sophisticated political connoisseur. The paladins of international intrigue have been superseded by a species of cynical bureaucrat and these repentant memoirs of a defector, a former officer in the Czech secret service who left after the 1968 invasion, describe politico-spy warfare as conducted by the crudest of agents. Bittman worked in Prague's bureau of ""black propaganda"" as a ""disinformation officer,"" concocting schemes and hashing out bogus rumors intended to embarrass the West. His function was to carry out a ""diversionary public relations program"" aimed at fomenting dissension in the enemy camp. In Argentina in 1965 Bittman oversaw an operation whereby Czech agents, under Soviet tutelage, forged documents verifying U.S. imperialist aspirations. (One wonders why forgeries were needed when a day's research in a public library would have served better.) International incidents were manufactured, likewise, in Africa when Czech agents produced documentary evidence of other imperialist cabals. The forgeries were crude, the game obvious to all; Bittman takes these machinations all too seriously. Other pseudo-exposes were just as unimaginative, e.g., Operation Neptune, where planted papers imported from the USSR were ""discovered,"" bringing to light the names of Nazi war criminals at liberty. The West Germans were chagrined: but wouldn't a press release have served equally well? Bittman exaggerates the influence of cold war ""disinformation"" -- as perhaps will his pro-Cold War reviewers -- and as expose the book's principal merit is that it unintentionally underscores the poor performance of ""diversionary public relations."" Prague was not, after all, Madison Avenue.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1972
Publisher: Syracuse Univ. Press