Your mission, if you choose to accept it …
Espionage is a mysterious thing by design. Practitioners generally keep quiet, especially if they are old school (per the old MOSSAD curse: “May we read about you in the newspapers!”). Virtually since the dawn of civilization it has been the “hidden hand” behind war and diplomacy. Journalists and screenwriters have filled the knowledge gap, though the efforts are customarily more exciting than accurate.
This blog represents an effort to discuss intelligence not just in a learned and informed way, but in a nuanced one as well. People overly interested in espionage easily forget that spies are seldom the prime movers of major events, and they always operate within a (sometimes stifling) context of bureaucracy and strategy, and of course among mere human beings with agendas and egos.
Counterintelligence is a particular interest of mine for years, and its worldview – based on a nagging sense that much in life is not quite what it seems to be – informs everything you will read here. America, and the West generally, understand counterintelligence poorly, and hardly ever in an intuitive sense; regrettably, many of our enemies have this angle down.
The blog takes its name from the legendary XX Committee of World War II fame. This small, super-secret body, led by Oxford professor John Masterman, created and managed the Double Cross System, the most successful counterintelligence operation in modern times. In the early years of the war, British counterintelligence identified and turned the entire German agent network in Britain – a strategic head-fake which the Germans never detected and which, thanks to excellent big-picture deception, cut months and possibly years off the war for the Allies.
So welcome to the ride … enjoy. Per the old counterspy’s mantra: Admit nothing; deny everything; make counter-accusations.